StorageDNA – file based backup and archive down the pipeline

StorageDNA offers a complete media archive software solution using LTO-5 tape as the storage medium. Functionality includes immediate backup/archive of source materials (so expensive solid state media cards can be wiped), active backup of current projects, migration of media between different workstations (with understanding of AVID and Final Cut XML data) as well as the final archive of your project.  Their web based interface allows you to search,  browse and preview your files before restoring them from tape. Cost for the server is around $5000 and each client is licensed at about $250. The system can work with a single LTO drive or a tape robot.

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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 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:

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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.

Interactive projection system

Hitachi’s interactive projector (iPJ-AW250N) lists for around $1800 ( that ceiling mount is about $200) and comes with software that allows you to mark up on the screen (in this case was just a piece of white poster board) with a battery operated IR Pen. Images and Powerpoint slides have to be imported into the application, but they showed it was really easy to do this, dragging an image from a web browser right into the application and then drawing on it. It also featured handwriting recognition. You can easily create multiple pages of work and then save it all out as a PDF file for distribution. Here’s a closer up picture of the projector.

The Future of 3D by James Cameron

At the NAB Keynote, James Cameron (director Avatar, Titanic, etc)  came out with his new partner in a production services business to discuss 3D. He provided a really interesting take on 3D production. He thinks that much like how you used to have some channels in color and some in black and white during that transition, until there was only color – and now you have some channels in SD and some in HD, but you can’t really find any SD camcorders anymore – 3D will soon be just everywhere. I posted this on Facebook and a lot of my film purist Hollywood friends became incensed. But Jim was not taling about 3D for 3D sake – things flying at you from the camera (although many of his clips had the confetti scene) – but using 3D to create beautiful lifelike images. Afterall, we see that depth in real life, why not in TV and movies? They are promoting the idea of allowing 2D production professionals to shoot their movies and TV shows the same way, and then layering 3D on top to enhance. He is against the gratuitous 3D shots that marked the start of the genre. They showed some footage from the masters golf tournament that was really breathtaking – the depth of the image was astounding. The 3D cameras were mounted co-incident with the 2D cameras and the 2D camera operators commands of zoom and focus were relayed to the 3D camera. 3D specialists were in broadcast trucks controlling aspects of the 3D recording/broadcast. NAB was displaying the content using huge screens with the Real 3D passive glasses.

I’m hoping the work we are doing in DDI will help our faculty and students stay with the coming 3D technology changes because I really believe the possibility for what we do is pretty great.

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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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SONY’s New 3D Offerings

SONY has two versions of a new 3D video camera that is really taking 3D videography one step forward in both quality and ease of use.

The HXR-NX3D1U is aimed at professionals with 96GB of storage, XLR mic inputs and support for formats such as 24P and lists for around $3500.

The consumer version of this camera, the HDR-TD10 is identical in almost every regard with, no XLR inputs,  less storage at 64GB (but supports SD Cards or Memory Sticks) and no support for progressive formats. At only $1500, this camera’s quality and ease of use will make it very interesting for further experimentation on campus with the Duke Digital Initiative.

Right now, support for editing the content is only available in SONY Vegas, but they expect support for plugins for Adobe Premiere and Final Cut Pro within the next few weeks/months. The format requires active 3D glasses by SONY, but just looking at the live video feed on the monitor was astounding the depth that this format adds.

I also was able to meet with Rob Willox, Director, 3D business development for SONY as well as 3D evangelists from SONY Imageworks to plead my case for the need for a greater amount and more compelling 3D content for education. One of the benefits of traveling to these shows is to make that connection and get an audience with someone that has the ability to help shape the interest in Duke’s benefit. Hopefully. 🙂

Although it wasn’t at the show, we are very excited about the new SONY 3D Bloggie which brings HD 3D videography in a “Flip” like form factor for around $250.

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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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