Tag Archives: SDI

Another Use for a BlackMagic Design Hyperdeck Shuttle

Many of you already know about BlackMagic Design’s new SDI/HDMI recording device, the Hyperdeck Shuttle. If you don’t know, then the short of it is that the Hyperdeck Shuttle takes an incoming video feed from either SD/HD-SDI or HDMI, and transcodes it to 10-bit uncompressed Quicktime on the fly, and writes it to a 2.5″ SSD drive. There are several good products that do this, but none that do it so cheaply, at US $350.00. I think the closest competitor is the Atomos Ninja at $995.00. What makes the Hyperdeck Shuttle so cheap is that fact that it’s so simple. No display, no menus (unless you’re using the computer interface app). Just standard record/play deck buttons to worry about, and you’re off to the races. Plug your camera in, hit record, and go.

The only drawback to the Hyperdeck Shuttle, in my opinion, and the only reason why I won’t buy one yet, is the fact that you have to hit RECORD manually; the unit will NOT detect time code from the camera and start on its own. When BlackMagic fixes this issue, I’ll probably buy two of the things. My friend Ed, however, DID buy one, and last week, we found another great use for it: acting as a real-time record backup unit for a TriCaster.

BlackMagic Design Hyperdeck Shuttle
BlackMagic Design Hyperdeck Shuttle recording from a TriCaster

If you don’t know, a TriCaster is a miracle machine made by the folks at NewTek. It is, essentially, a TV studio in a box. It takes in multiple camera feeds and allows the operator to switch, add titles, graphics, transitions, etc. and output a ready-made show while simultaneously outputting to a live web stream if desired, and it’s only the size of a small desktop computer case. However, the TriCaster does have one very annoying trait (at least the model I have): Once your show is finished, instead of copying the final file off of the machine’s internal hard drive for delivery to the client, you have to actually PLAY the file out from SpeedEdit in whatever format the client wants, just like you were writing to — shudder — tape. You can’t copy the original AVI from the hard drive because it is written in some proprietary NewTek codec, and it can’t be played unless it’s on the TriCaster, or at least, taken into SpeedEDIT.

But, thanks to the Hyperdeck Shuttle, we have a workaround. Simply take the TriCaster’s HD-SDI out feed, plug it into the Hyperdeck Shuttle, and hit RECORD. While the show is in progress, the Hyperdeck Shuttle writes the program to a .mov file on the SSD, which you can then simply hand to your client when the production is over. Just bill the cost of the SSD into the job, and you’re golden. DON’T leave it up to your clients to supply the drive; they will inevitably cheap out and think that a slower drive is just as good, and you will end up with an SSD that isn’t fast enough. You should have a drive that can sustain a 250mb/sec write speed, especially if you are recording an HD feed.

BlackMagic Design Hyperdeck Shuttle – First Impression

 blackmagic design hyperdeck shuttle
Hyperdeck Shuttle
My partner in crime, Ed Lozano of LCTV Inc. ordered a Hyperdeck Shuttle from Markertek a few months back, and it finally arrived yesterday. I’ve been very curious about this new, exciting, and attractively-priced external HDMI/SDI recorder from BlackMagic Design, so I met him at his place for the unboximg.

The first thing we noticed was that the device was larger than we thought it was going to be. Scale is difficult to gauge from the product photos, and I guess my subconscious was expecting it to be smaller (I have to stretch my hand to palm the thing). It isn’t too big, mind you, it’s just bigger than I was expecting.

The second thing we noticed was that it looked like it was incomplete. The gray insert that cradles the SSD drive was missing. After double-checking the box and styrofoam inserts, we discovered that yes, it was indeed left out… I’m not quite sure how the thing could leave the factory without its drive caddy, but that’s what happened. To their credit, BMD was cool and offered to send Ed an advance replacement. Obviously, we couldn’t test it, so there’s my first impression; it’s bigger than I thought, and it was incomplete. More later, when the replacement arrives.

OH, one impoortant thing… The SDI ports on the Hyperdeck Shuttle are not the standard BNC connectors. They are the mini DIN connectors, so you will need to buy an adapter cable (I think it’s the Mini DIN 1.0/2.3 cable) in order to record via SDI from your camera. The cable is NOT included in the box.

The second important thing is that the Hyperdeck Shuttle does NOT record automatically from time code detection; you MUST hit RECORD on the device in order to start recording. Booo. BMD said that there may be a firmware update in the future that would add time code detection, but they guy on the phone wasn’t sure about that. More on the topic when I hear about it…

For that reason alone, I wouldn’t buy a Hyperdeck Shuttle yet. But, once BMD adds TC detection, my tune will likely change. At US $345.00, it will be just too cheap to pass up.

First Day with the Ki Pro Mini on my AF100

I took delivery of my AJA Ki Pro Mini yesterday (I lucked out and found one at Adorama – they had two at the time, but I suspect the other one is already gone), and after ferreting out two CF cards that are fast enough to handle the ProRess422 (HQ) stream that the Mini will drop onto them, I took it to set this evening to shoot another scene for the “Piracy” trailer.

But before I did that, I made sure to do a couple of comparison tests with footage that was captured to the camera’s SD card. Below is a combined screen cap of the scopes in Final Cut Pro of frames that were recorded simultaneously.

The top image is if a frame that was recorded to the camera’s SD card via the AVCHD codec, than transcoded to Apple ProRes422 (HQ) with the FCP log and capture function. The bottom image is of a frame that was recorded to the AJA Ki Pro Mini from the camera’s HD-SDI port, and converted on the fly to ProRes422 (HQ) by the mini. Visually both clips were very similar, with the slight nod going of course to the HD-SDI frame. However, the real advantage to the native ProRes recording comes in post.

Both clips were dropped into the same FCP timeline and had the same [very] basic color correction filter applied to them. Note the difference in the histograms between the two after the color move was applied. The frame that was recorded with the Ki Pro Mini held together nicely, while the AVCHD frame broke apart immediately. Imagine how much worse it would be with larger color moves applied to it.

AJA Ki Pro Mini and Panasonic AVCHD post color data comparison
AVCHD>ProRes422 (HQ) on the top, and HD-SDI>ProRes422 (HQ) on the bottom, with the same simple color filter applied to each.

The AJA Ki Pro Mini is really easy to use on set. It automatically detects timecode in your SDI signal and starts recording when you hit the button on the camera. By my estimation, a 32GB card gets you about 20 minutes of storage. Not bad.

It’s also smaller than I thought it was going to be. It actually fits on the rails quite nicely behind the camera. One thing that I do find unsettling about it, though, is that it gets quite hot. That’s understandable, considering the amount of work it’s doing, converting uncompressed video to ProRes422 in real time. That takes a lot of horsepower. Still, though, when you pull the cards out of it, they can be very hot indeed. Not sure if that affects the life of the card or not.

 

AJA Ki Pro Mini with Panasonic AF100 video camera
AJA Ki Pro Mini with Panasonic AF100 video camera

 

AJA Ki Pro Mini with Panasonic AF100 video camera
AJA Ki Pro Mini with Panasonic AF100 video camera

 

Frame Grab from the feature length motion picture, "Piracy," currently in production
Frame Grab from the feature length motion picture, "Piracy," currently in production

Look for more Ki Pro Mini updates to come…