Blackmagic UltraStudio SDI & UltraStudio 3D

At $395, Blackmagic’s UltraStudio SDI is an extremely affordable SDI capture and playback solution for computers that have USB 3.0 support (Mac users see below) The device provides 10 bit SDI capture and playback, plus HDMI monitoring all powered from the USB connection on your computer. HDMI monitoring allows you to use consumer displays for monitoring.  You also get genlock and RS-422 deck control built in.

The good news, newest generation Mac users and Macbook Pro users can now have HDSDI capture. Bad news? It will cost you $995 (as compared to above). The Blackmagic UltraStudio 3D uses Intel’s new Thunderbolt™ technology (10 Gb/s connection that’s up to 20 times faster than USB 2.0) to allow for SD, HD or 2K captureand  even supports two streams of full resolution video up to 1080p HD for new stereoscopic 3D workflows.

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Adobe Creative Suite 5.5

Adobe announced version 5.5 of their Creative Suite which includes Photoshop, After Effects and Premiere among others. These packages are quite deep and feature rich so I have to imagine that it is getting more and more difficult to introduce new versions and compel people to upgrade. The biggest advantage to this new version is 64-bit operating system support to allow more efficient use of memory and thus increase performance as well as an enhanced process across all the tools to deliver your content to multiple platforms – including multiple mobile formats.

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Squeezing In The Clouds With Sorenson’s Managed Encoding Solution

Sorenson Media makes tools to convert video from one format to another.  They sell licensed software solutions that are usually installed on premise. They are now offering this as a managed, cloud based service.  Depending on cost (not released at this time) and minimum subscriptions, quantities, this could be a good solution on a project or as needed basis for some folks around campus.

Costs range from $499/month to $1500/month depending on the version you need – with a 1 year commitment.  Squeeze Server for On-Premise installation pricing is: $5900/license, per server due upfront for the 1st year which includes all on-boarding, upgrades, maintenance and support.  Then is it $900/license, per server from years 2+ that you wish to continue using the on-premise license.

Electronics Raincoat

Without fail I find an inventor with some sort of interesting product they whipped up in their garage. Last year, I found a really cool counter balanced streadycam type device that was made in North Carolina and this year, I found AAdyn Technology whose products are made right in Durham, North Carolina – and Apex. I met their chief  scientist who was a retired toy maker (pictured below) with a tons of ideas and just a great personality.

The “raincoat” pictured above  is made of a patented “Polyzen” plastic that is strong and flexible. What’s really cool is that red hose you see is for compressed air. If your camera lens gets covered with water, you press a button and compressed air blows the water off that screen – like the car wash.

They have a similar item made with a lighter weight version of their plastic to protect things like iPads, phones, microphones. This still allowed his finger to fully use the touch screen and it passes audio unfettered somehow.

They had a bunch of other ideas including an extremely bright LED lights – one that can change colors he is getting a patent on. They are talking to hospitals about installing it in operating rooms – beyond reducing heat, apparently different organs show up better under different color lighting so this might help surgeons. They may be dropping by Duke – quite an interesting guy.

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Roland’s portable production system

The Roland VR5 was recently released and offers a really cost effective way to record or do production for streaming on something like uStream. It is standard definiation and not nearly as full featured as the NewTek Tricaster but at under $5k it is a fraction of the cost. For streaming on uStream, you really don’t need HD. You can load media on to it to use as program video and can mix  up to three audio/video and 2 additional audio feeds. It does some really basic keying – doesn’t  honor transparency, you actually have to make your graphics with blue or green to do chroma key which is kinda lame, but again, for the price, it’s pretty sweet.

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Professional Firewire & USB Media Converter

The new Roland VC30 is a professional level media converter that converts to either firewire or USB. The cost is around $2000, but I discussed a possible use with video conferencing software and they indicated it should present itself to any application as a USB webcam. The unit is going to be released this summer and we are on a list to evaluate. This could allow us to deploy PTZ cameras with applications such as Movi or Skype if it works.

Broadcast Pix New Compact Switchers

Broadcast Pix seems to be channeling the Flintstones with the names of their new compact PC based switchers the  Granite 500 and the Slate 500 both of which feature  a new small control panel (shown above). New features include playlists, ProRes clips and QuickTime Animation playback, as well as an enhanced Harris CG or an optional Chyron CG system. These systems are at new, lower price points of $24,900 for the Granite and $14,900 for the Slate. The control surface provides  monitoring of video and files, as well a  control of the system’s clip store, CG, cameras, and other devices. The new 1 M/E control panel supports up to 18 sources and six keyers for overlays of picture-in-picture boxes and graphics in a compact design.

Broadcast Pix is a pretty popular video switching system used by our friends at UNC and even WRAL has it installed. And of course, there’s an app for that:

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Rushworks – studio suitcase

So it may appear I’m intrigued with production suitcases. OK, I am. There are so many out there in the Duke community that have small studios that could benefit from having something in this form factor – to use in their school or be able to take out to stream or record live on location.

This is a Panasonic based system called Remo integrated by It runs off a Windows PC, the middle screen there is a touch screen an the mutliview monitor is installed into the lid of the case. It has a Panasonic HD Compact switcher integrated into the case to support up to 4 HD cameras. You can also put H.264 videos on the PC to include it in your program output. It comes complete with (4) Panasonic HD PTZ cameras for $56k or the case alone for $26k.

And just because I’m a total nerd, here’s a look at the switcher and  the back of the suitcase. Beautiful.

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NewTek new tech: Tricaster 850

OK. I admit it. The TriCaster Demo’s at NAB are like the Veg-A-Matic or Sham Wow demos at the fairgrounds. I’m totally in love. The new Tricaster 850 Extreme is amazing.  You can simultaneously record up to eight channels of video from any input or output and broadcast, record and stream all at the same time. The suggested list price will be around $40k with recording and about $26k without – not including the control surface –  and its due out in October. It is literally a complete production studio in a box. Since they bill it as a portable production system, I asked if people have installed it in a fixed location. The answer was yes and I asked to follow up with some references.

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Sounds Quiet – new sound absorbtion technology from Japan

No, I’m not in a phone booth. This is a demo “room” of some sound control panels called “Room Creator” developed by a small company in Japan called House 119 Company Limited. The material is only 2” thick and can be covered in a number of different types of fabrics. It was really amazing compared to materials like Sonnex that is much thicker. A 3 foot by 2 foot panel will be less than $100. They’ve been impacted by the earthquake/tsunami so they won’t be shipping for a while, but this may allow us to build a cost effective isolation chamber for the Duke bird.