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Crews Control University is a series of educational seminars on new technology, equipment, and software. The most recent Crews Control University was held at the Crews Control offices, and a couple representatives from Abel Cinetech gave demonstration of a vast array of mobile recording device. Mobile recording devices are recording devices that attach to a camera and can record different formats, codecs, resolutions, and other options.
The initial driving point of the demonstration was that current clients are asking less about the camera their material is shooting on and more about the file that they are receiving. Mobile recording devices allow tape cameras to become tapeless, and they allow one camera to record in a different format than what is native to the camera. There are all several different brands and kinds of mobile recording devices, all of which have their own personalities.
The Cinedeck EX is a behemoth device with a hefty price tag. But it will record in 12 bit uncompressed 4:4:4 HD in DNxHD, Cineform, and ProRes. It is a powerful device with intuitive menus, but is a battery drainer. The Cinedeck is mostly used for high-end productions like feature films and not for the every location corporate video production.
Convergent Design Gemini 4:4:4
Take a step from the Cinedeck EX and you will get one of most talked about devices from 2011 NAB Show, the Convergent Design’s Gemini 4:4:4. The Gemini looks, feels, and acts like the Cinedeck EX’s little brother. It is much lighter, 1 pound as opposed to Cinedeck’s 4 pounds, much more portable, and does just a little less. It can create 10 bit 4:4:4 files in uncompressed DPX with Avid DNxHD due for release. The Gemini 4:4:4 is a powerful high-end mobile recording device without the top-of-the-line price.
AJA Ki Pro Mini
Stepping down from the high-end recorders to the more everyday recorders, the AJA Ki Pro was one of the first mobile recording devices and their newest recorder. It has an efficient portable design that allows multifaceted mounting. It will record 10 bit 4:2:2 ProRes HQ files to compact flash. But, the Ki Pro Mini will not span recording between the two cards, it will not do 2:3 pulldown removal. Although it’s portable, it does not have a fan on it, so has the potential to overheat. It has only a tiny screen so menus are a little more difficult to access. Although the AJA Ki Pro Mini has an idiosyncratic personality, it still is one of the better devices.
Atomos is a new company who jumped in the game last year. The Samurai is a limited devices that has a lower price point than the AJA Ki Pro Mini. It has a portable simple design with a 5” LCD screen and several large colorful buttons that appear on the LCD screen for simple to use, though it lacks the depth of some of the other devices. The Samurai can take either Panasonic or Sony batteries. It can take two of them which give you the ability to hot swap. Like the AJA Ki Pro Mini,it also records ProRes HQ 4:2:2. While not the most intuitive device because of the interface simplicity, the device works for those looking for a quick and easy mobile recording device.
The price for Blackmagic’s Hyperdeck Shuttle 2 is the first thing that jumps out at you. At nearly one fifth the price of the nearest mobile recording device, the Hyperdeck Deck Shuttle 2 seems too good to be true. It is a bare bones recording device that doesn’t come with a mounting plate (additional cost) or transfer drive (additional cost), plus it has no screen on it, so any changes to its limited menus are done through a mini-USB connection to a computer. Even with these add-on costs, the Hyberdeck Shuttle 2 is relatively inexpensive.
Convergent Design Nanoflash
For those freelance Directors of Photography who have been around the block a lap or two, they probably have used or heard about Convergent Design’s Nanoflash. The Nanoflash is a couple years old and has received good reviews. It uses Quicktime or MXF format so your files will appear smaller that many modern mobile recording device. But the Nanoflash records to compact flash cards, so it makes it one of the more inexpensive mobile recording devices in terms of availability of media and price of media. The Nanoflash has performed admirably through the years, but is now one of the older devices on the market.
Sound Devices PIX 240
The Sound Devices PIX 240 serves as the new kid on the block. It has become extremely popular since being showcased at the 2011 NAB show. The PIX 240 is portable with a 5” LCD screen. It has intuitive menus and as Sound Devices always produces in-depth audio menus. One of the PIX 240’s biggest selling points is that it can cross convert HD footage between 1080i, 1080p, 720i, and 720p. It does a plethora of file formats at 10 bit 4:2:2 and can take either compact flash cards or use a 2.5 Solid State Drive. As far as popularity among the aforementioned mobile recording devices, the PIX 240 is the clear winner.
Podcast: Mobile Recording Devices
If you thought all of the different camera models were overwhelming, then mobile recording might send you over the edge. But these popular devices can make one-camera give you the codec of several cameras. They give you the luxury of telling your well-informed client that you can certainly provide them with Quicktime files or a specific codec. Or you can match the codec of a camera with another when doing a multi-camera shoot. Instead of frequently purchasing new cameras, mobile recording devices give you the flexibility of file types with the HD cameras you already own.
Do you have any of the above mobile recording devices? Send us an email if you want Crews Control to review one or more of these recorders at firstname.lastname@example.org
Would you like a Crews Control University to come your city? Email email@example.com to let us know where the next Crews Control University should be!