NAB this year offered several additions to evolving technologies, most notably CMOS camera sensors and solid-state recording. CMOS technology made its debut at NAB last year. This year, production models from several manufactures, as well as preliminary models, were shown. One particularly attractive capability of CMOS is its ability to switch between various video formats to provide different native resolutions.
Tape-based camcorders have been the norm in the industry, while disc-based cameras have started to make an impact with hard drive and optical variants. This year, Panasonic showed working prototypes of its P2 technology. By not using moving parts, P2 technology provides more reliability with fewer maintenance costs. With a P2 camcorder, video is recorded on a series of PCMCIA RAM cards. These cards then can be inserted into either a standard PCMCIA slot on a laptop computer or into Panasonic’s P2 studio deck. The video then is available instantly for playback or editing without any capture process required. P2 cards offer 100,000 rewrite cycles and immunity to severe shocks and vibration. The P2 studio deck includes a DVD-R drive to archive or restore video to and from the P2 cards. A P2 card drive is also available to attach five P2 cards to a computer. Current cards offer 4GB capacity and provide 16 minutes of DVCPRO25 recording time.
The AJ-SPX800 P2 camcorder has five slots for P2 cards, which allows continuous recording onto all five cards in a sequence. Cards can be hot swapped to allow for essentially continuous recording. The camcorder can record in 24p, 30p and 60i using 2/3-inch IT sensors with 520,000-pixel resolution.
Panasonic also introduced the AJ-SDC905 DVCPRO50 camcorder and the AJ-SDC615 camcorder, both with firewire capabilities. Both cameras use 520,000-pixel CCDs, are switchable between 16:9 and 4:3, have a sensitivity of F13 at 2000 lux and use 12-bit A/D. The AK-HC900 was introduced with Vari-Frame/CineGamma options.
The 900 series camera with the AJ-RC905 CCU and AJ-CA905 camera adapter had 26-pin camera control functions added. Clarity Image also displayed a vari-speed controller for the AJ-HD27F VariCam. It offers smooth, real-time frame rate changes with user-defined custom ramps that can be stored on SD memory cards.
Sony introduced the HDC-X300 compact HD camera. Based on new ½-inch 1.5-megapixel HD CCDs, it offers 1440x1080 effective pixels with a low smear level of -120db and 54dB SNR. It can be used as an HD POV camera for a variety of HD applications including studio, HD security and analysis. Slow-shutter mode allows the CCD to operate from between 2 to 64 frames. Coupled with +48dB gain, it offers 0.003 lux of illumination. It supports frame rates of 23.976PsF/25PsF/29.97PsF progressive and 50i/59.94i. Output signals include HD SDI and analog component signals.
The HDW-730S is a reduced-feature version of the HDW-730. It is a more cost-effective 1920x1080 interlaced camera, with a price comparable to high-end SD camcorders. It offers HD SDI output standard and interfaces to most existing Sony optional products.
The Sony BRC-300 is a three-chip robotic pan/tilt camera in a small footprint with three high-performance1/4.7-type advanced HAD CCDs. A 12x auto focus lens is provided with an additional 4x digital zoom. A combined 48x zoom is possible. Optional cards offer component analog or digital outputs.
The BVP-E30/E30WS camera uses Power HAD EX CCDs and new 14-bit A/D conversion. It operates in progressive or interlaced modes and offers sensitivity of F11 at 2000 lux with an S/N ratio at 66dB. Slow-shutter mode allows CCD exposure of up to seven frames with +42dB gain. The camera offers a minimum illumination of 0.035 lux. The E30 interfaces to existing Sony CCU and VTR models, including the WLL-55 wireless camera system. The wireless system converts the camera’s signals into an MPEG-2 bitstream for transmission over the 2.4GHz band, and does not require any licensing. It is compatible with many existing Sony cameras.
Hitachi introduced the Z2500 camera, based on 2/3-inch IT sensors with 900 lines of resolution and a 65dB SNR. Designed as a low-cost studio configuration system, it is targeted to the educational, corporate video, cable television and house of worship markets. The HVD15 box camera has three ½-inch IT sensors, a bayonet lens mount and an SDI output, and features 900 TV lines of resolution at 64dB.
Hitachi also featured the SK31B and SK31C HD camera backs. The B version has a fiber-optic cable from the camera back to the CCU, and the C version is multicore.
JVC unveiled a prototype three-chip HD camera recording to HDV-format DV media. Full-sized cassettes offer 276 minutes of recording time, while MiniDV provides 60 minutes. The camera will use 2/3-inch CMOS imagers with a native resolution of 1920x1080 pixels. The camera will be capable of both SD and HD recording, including 24p.
The KY-F650 and KY-F550 box cameras were introduced based on ½- and 1/3-inch CCDs. They offer 850 lines and 800 lines respectively. Both cameras have an SNR of 62dB. They are designed for various box camera applications, with options available to turn them into cost-effective studio cameras with CCUs and other options.
The KH-F87U HD CMOS-sensor-equipped box camera features three 2/3-inch CMOS sensors with on-sensor 12-bit A/D converters, which feature a 54dB signal-to-noise ratio. The camera operates at either 1080i or 720p natively, with a dynamic range of 68dB and two HD SDI outputs.
Ikegami introduced the HDK-725P and HDK-75EX handheld HD cameras. The HDK-725P is native 720/60p, and the HDK-75EX is 1080 at 60i. The 75EX also offers an integrated fiber adapter.
The HDL-40C CMOS camera is based on two million-pixel CMOS sensors operating natively in 720p, 1080i and 1080/24p formats. The box camera is designed for a variety of applications, including a version to offer slow motion at 120fps with dual-link HD SDI output to a server for slow-motion playback. A prototype of the HDK-79EC CMOS camera was also shown.
An improved HD triax, fiber camera back and CCU, the TA-79HD series, was shown. It offers the capability to switch between fiber and triax cabling.
In the interesting technology department, the HDK-79NAR has a rotating optical block that allows an operator to spin the picture without having to rotate the camera. It also has a feature that holds the image block level, regardless of the angle of the camera.
Ikegami also offered the SD HK-399PW, which incorporates 14-bit A/D converters with a 68dB signal-to-noise ratio. The Editcam system was shown with the DNS-33W.
Thomson Grass Valley announced the LDK 6200 HD Super Slow Mo digital camera providing 120fps in 1080i. It uses a DPM sensor and an EVS disc recorder. It is slated for use in the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece.
New SD cameras included the LDK 500 and LDK 300. The LDK 500 is based on the popular LDK 200 camera head with 14-bit A/D conversion and remote-controllable optical and digital filters. It has a configurable processor, second-order color correction, vertical shift for locking the camera to computer monitors and a framestore. The LDK 500 is available in DPM, FT, IT and ITW versions. The LDK 300 is replacing the 100 and 200 series cameras. It has 12-bit A/D and does not include a framestore or vertical shift.
HD CHARACTER GENERATOR
Also new for Thomson Grass Valley was its Triax Repeater, offering HD transmission with 1000-meter capabilities with 8mm mini triax, 1400-meter with 11mm triax and 2000-meter with 14mm triax. The C2IP camera control system offers up to 99 LKD series cameras over Ethernet via TCP/IP. It is compatible with all series 9000 control systems.
Dalsa announced that the Origin CCD camera offering 4K image size is being targeted for commercial availability by Nov. 1, 2004. ARRI also displayed updates to its D-20 project camera, released at IBC2003. The camera features a six-megapixel single CMOS sensor that has an image area comparable to a 35mm full-aperture film frame, allowing 35mm cine-lenses to be used.
This year’s NAB certainly highlighted some wonderful emerging and existing technologies. Next year’s NAB promises to bring these ideas and concepts to market in production models. Practical cameras with CMOS sensors and non-tape-based camcorders will be the technology to watch.
Dan Stark is president of Stark Raving Solutions.
Miranda Oxtel Imagestore
Interfaces to automation for branding graphics, clock insertion, lower-third text crawls; operators can build on-air graphics from a desktop gallery; two layers of animation/still insertion from internal storage.
Dolby Digital Plus
VIDEO CAPTURE AND EDITING CARD
Expands capability of Dolby Digital; backward compatible with Dolby Digital 5.1; increased efficiency, less complex and more cost efficient; currently an ATSC candidate standard for Enhanced AC-3.
BROADCAST MONITORING SYSTEM
Records and plays HDV; features a 3.5-inch LCD monitor and digital iLink interface for NLE and dubbing systems; component for multiformat playback and an SD memory card slot for capturing still from tape.
Aurora Pipe HD
Works in either HD or SD; connects to most A/V devices; offers 10-bit I/O; can monitor video via composite, S-video or component analog outputs; genlock input provided; outputs two channels of 24-bit, 48kHz analog audio for monitoring.
HD EDITING SYSTEM
Identifies and corrects failures and errors in transport streams over an entire network, and specific channels, through all stages of transmission; multichannel and centralized controlled environments supported.
Silicon Graphics Tezro
Workstation platform accommodates up to four 700MHz MIPS RISC processors with 4MB L2 cache; supports seven PCI-X slots, internal DVD-ROM and external drives; 48-bit RGBA with 16-bit Z buffer capability; includes support for HD, dual-channel and dual-head display options; DmediaPro options with support for dual streams of HD 10-bit 4:4:4:4 RGBA video.
Avid DS Nitris 7.5
Real-time finishing system for SD, HD and digital intermediates 2K/4K; provides 10-bit HD encoding; fully compatible with the Media Composer Adrenaline system; operates in 4:2:2 color space; available in three user-selectable bandwidth configurations: 220Mb/s for 10-bit and eight-bit video; eight-bit configuration at 145Mb/s for 720p and 1080p/i HD resolutions; supports MXF.
SeaChange BMC 60000
MASTER CONTROL EFFECTS AND GRAPHICS
Supports up to eight MPEG-2/IMX codecs operating at up to 62Mb/s per codec, four MPEG transport I/O cards, or three HD decoders; can combine up to seven I/O cards for up to 56 channels of 50Mb/s IMX I/O and more than 1600 hours of storage using 300GB SCSI drives.
Uncompressed real-time recording for SD to 2K; stores video data directly as BMP, YUV, TIFF, TGA, Cineon or DPX; audio stored as AIFF and WAV files; formats and resolutions handled include NTSC and PAL, 720p, 1080i, and film (2048×1556) in RGB 10-bit at data transfer rates of up to 306MB/s.
Utah Scientific SqueezeMAX
Versatile dual-channel video effects with built-in graphics display capabilities; for on-air squeezeback effects, logo insertion and other channel branding operations; available for stand-alone use or integrated with the company's MC-2020.