Contour GPS – Small Like the GoPro but knows where it is

At $349, the 1080p wearable HD camera from Contour includes a built-in GPS receiver tracks your location, speed, and altitude. This added bit of metadata might be helpful to students or field researchers as they gather video footage for their projects.

Another unique feature is their storyteller application which allows you to edit and upload your footage to contour.com and watch it via interactive map and video player that allows you to rewind, fast forward or click to different points in your footage. It also features built-in Bluetooth and a mobile App to turn your phone into a wireless viewfinder. This allows your iPhone or iPod Touch to view your shot and change your settings in real-time.  (There is no viewfinder on the GoPro for example).

Here’s a sample video someone posted that shows the GPS and video playing together:

http://youtu.be/5V_AJIW6qlA

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SONY Takes on Canon

Sony unveiled their first Super 35mm Digital Production Camera – the F3 – at the SONY education event. Although they didn’t mention it by name, it seems as if this is a direct competitor to the Canon 5D. They mentioned some salesy things like, “yes the image sensor is much smaller than some 35mm still cameras that people are using to shoot HD, but our image quality is much better because this camera is designed to be a motion camera.

The camera records to Sony’s SxSTM ExpressCard-based recording media format. Its Super 35mm CMOS imager delivers shallow depth of field, with high sensitivity and low noise levels (ISO 800, F11; and S/N ratio of 63dB in 1920×1080/59.94i mode), as well as wide dynamic range.

I’ll hold my opinion until I see the output because last year, the 5D absolutely floored me. Cost on this guy is $23,000 list but that includes 3 lenses. The cost of the body of the Canon 5D is about $3500 but lenses do get pricey.

The F3 is far, far cheaper than any digital cinema camera SONY has released. It has some impressive features like the ability to track lens metadata, but to me, its still bigger than the 5D and we’ll have to see what the captured video looks like.

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Dual Video Camera & Video Microscope

My work at these conferences start the moment I get on the plane! I always seem to find one or two things in the SkyMall catalog that are interesting and this flight delivered more than just Lord of the Rings chess sets and miracle hair growth laser treatment devices.

This dual video recorder records 640 x 480, 30 fps video onto a standard SD card from both the front and rear cameras simultaneously. It also allows you to swap, zoom of the different streams on the camera so you don’t have to edit separately. You can shoot up to four hours of video on a full charge.

The video screen microscope at $300 has up to 1600x magnification and a 320×240 LCD screen. I’m thinking for non-critical study for high school students with glasses or other vision issues, this could be an interesting tool. The  built-in 128MB memory can store up to 120 still shots or up to 40 minutes of video at 1600 x 1200 resolution with expansion by way of an SD card slot. There is USB connectivity to a computer for downloading media, but its not clear if it would stream live video from the microscope

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GoPro Go 3D

I visited our friends at GoPro since I had heard a lot of rumbling about 3D. Pictured above is a special mount that will hold two GoPros at the correct optical separation to record 3D. What was most impressive at their booth was the 3D production/editing software they have recently aquired. The Cineform software product has four different packages that add functionality and cost as you move up. The Studio product is free and offers basic functionality for gopro 2D/3D files and can export as file specifically for YouTube. The Neoscene product sells for $59 and adds plugin support for Final Cut and Premiere and can handle AVCHD or HDV format files. The neo product is $299 and adds support for most any current video file format as well as HD-SDI capture and playout and Neo 3d at $1000 offers advanced 3D functionality such as keyframeable 2D convergence and ghost busting to minimize left/right cross talk.

I saw it in action inside Final Cut and it was really cool. You get context aware menus that allow you to view files in your time line in say left eye only so you are editing what appears to be a single file – but then you can output 3D in side by side or MPE format if you have a 3D capable screen and glasses. Definitely seems like a big step in making 3D production more accessible to the average user.

3D lens for 2D cameras

Here’s a unique idea from a company from Korea, Wasol – putting a dual 3D lens in front of a normal, single lens camera for doing live 3D. It looked quite good. It puts out a standard HDSDI image that allows you to use all your “standard” production pipeline and uses the sequential field approach for 3D. For the pro Ikagmi camera pictured here, the cost is around $56k, but they are looking into developing similar systems for prosumer cameras that should be much less expensive. This is still in research so there’s no info available on their website. If you are interested, I have their one sheet I can share with you.

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Vaddio CLearVIEW HD Pan/Tilt/Zoom Camera

The newly released Vaddio ClearVIEW HD-20 pan/tilt/zoom camera features a 20x optical zoom with a 1/3 type SONY 3.27 megapixel CMOS sensor with a LUX rating of 1.6 to give good quality images in low light. There are a number of really interesting integration possibilities with this camera. For short distances the Quick-Connect short range sends power and video (component HD video) over a single Cat5 cable. For distances up to 500 feet, the Quick-Connect CCU can be used with (3) Cat 5 for control, video and power. SDI and HDMI options are also available. At around $6,000, this is a really flexible camera that may have many applications here at Duke.

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Panasonic Pan/Tilt/Zoom Cameras

I spent some time in the Panasonic booth as part of my quest for a low light pan/tilt/zoom camera (PTZ) for a project we are working on for the Lemur Center. I also spent some time trying to find our long lost Panasonic rep for eduction. While SONY has been quite proactive, since our original rep left a few years ago, my general inquiries to Panasonic have gone pretty much unanswered. I ran into my old Disney rep and he mentioned he would assist as would the Sales Manager for Media and Production Services who got me info on the range of PTZ cameras in the Panasonic line.

At the high end, and of course the best performing, was the AW-HE870. With its 2/3″ 3-CCD sensor, this camera would do very well in low light or in applications where quality is key. They mentioned this camera is installed widely in the House of Representatives, used by CSPAN I’m guessing. Once you purchase the camera, motorized lenses, and motorized base, you are looking at something in the $30k range for this camera. Beyond possible use in sports, I can’t imagine too many applications for a camera of this quality in any of our current projects.

At around $8k, the AW-HE100 features a 12x optical zoom and comes complete with lens and motorized mount. The camera features three 1/3″ CCDs, a f1.6 zoom lens so it should still do well in low light with minimal noise.

The AW-HE50 is the least expensive of the line at just under $5k and offers a single1/3″ Full HD 1920 x 1080 MOS Sensor and 12x optical zoom. With a single sensor, this would probably be the poorest performer in low light conditions, but it’s price and overall zoom makes it a contender for many other applications around campus.

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