Articles tagged #XDCAM
NAB Show 2016 - Day 1 Highlights
The first day of the NAB Show has wrapped up in Vegas. The Videocraft team on the ground have been posting snippets of what is on the show floor and we have been wading through the press release announcements here at the office. Here are a few things that caught our eye and there will be more, make sure you are following us on social media (see the links in the footer of this page) for the most up-to-date information.
We highlighted the Sony Press conference on our social media yesterday but in case you missed it, you can view it here . Sony's key announcements were across a wide range of products including a NEW 4K HDR Monitor the PVMX550 which supports High Dynamic Range display and a wide colour gamut supporting DCI-P3 and most of the ITU-R BT.2020 standard. It also has inbuilt a quad view display, with Individual settings of EOTF(SDR/HDR), colour space, Transfer Matrix, Color Temperature, contrast, brightness, SDI/HDMI, RGB/YCBCR, etc. for each display There was a new recorder for F5 and F55 Cameras announced - the AXS-R7. Compared to previous Sony 4K recorders, the AXS-R7 Portable Memory Recorder doubles 4K RAW recording from 60 fps up to 120 fps from the F55 camera*. For shooting at higher frame rates, the recorder captures 2K RAW at up to 240 fps from the F55 and F5, for playback with 10x super slow motion.** Note that the 4K RAW 120 fps recording only available for F55. And also the AXS-R7 Portable Memory Recorder is not compatible with the HXR-IFR5 interface unit. Another interesting camera development was the NEW PXW-Z450 an XDCAM Camcorder with a wide range of recording options including 4K QFHD (3840x2160) at 50p/59.94p, as well as a variety of HD formats including XAVC Intra, XAVC Long GOP, MPEG HD 422 and MPEG HD 420. Thanks to a specially-developed 4K 2/3-type Exmor R CMOS sensor, the PXW-Z450 is ideal for a wide variety of 4K operations, allowing you to use a wide range of commercially available B4 mount lenses without having to use an adapter. It also has great networking features such as built-in wireless module, embedded RJ-45 Ethernet 100B-T connector and Near Field Communication (NFC) function for easy Wireless LAN setup and operation via a mobile or tablet with Sony’s Content Browser Mobile™ application. There was also some great discussion on the 2nd generation of their Optical Disc Archive solution and a release of generation 2 products including a stand alone disk archive drive unit and new 3.3TB write once optical discs. Sony has a long white paper on their generation 2 ODA solution which is a lengthy read, but if your're interested, you can find it on their website here
A surprise is not that Ross Video just keep innovating, but how great to see them hit the ground at NAB with a camera offering. If you missed our social media posts about it yesterday, Ross Video have released the Acid Cam purpose built for Studio production. It integrates perfectly with their robotics systems such as the Furio Remote Control system in Videocraft's rental fleet (you would have seen it on the Arias Red carpet). There are two models in the range - the ACID H200 is a full HD 1080P, 3 imager camera that utilizes the very latest 2/3” UAIT CMOS sensors that provide unrivaled performance of the very highest quality. Sensitivity, Signal to Noise and overall picture resolution are unmatched by any competitor with its three 2.6 Mega Pixel image sensors and standard 2/3” B4 lens mount. For moderate budgets and less critical applications, there is the ACID Z50. This is an excellent three CCD sensor 1080i/720P HD camera. This camera is also equipped with the UltraChromeHR output to provide a cost effective solution for awesome keying when combined with the Ross UltrachromeHR chroma keyer. Its lightweight, yet rugged construction also makes it the perfect companion for the Ross Robotic Furio Pan/Tilt heads for legislative bodies, House of Worship, educational, and corporate communication systems. For more information check out the Ross Video webpage
An interesting one for Post-Production was the announcement of Avid NEXIS. Avid NEXIS is the world’s first and only software-defined storage platform, enabling fully virtualized storage for all media environments. What does that translate to for you? The NEXIS intelligent software system does some incredibly powerful things like offer a real-time scalable set of definable/resizable workspaces and a solid protection scheme that can cover you for up to 5 drive failures. Intelligent also means it is a media aware next-generation file system with pre-integrated hardware, which means it’s purpose built and tested to work as a cohesive system (unlike generic storage and third party software). The bottom line is that NEXIS delivers unrivaled flexibility, scalability, control, and extensibility not only to the Avid MediaCentral™ Platform, but also key workflow enabling third-party media applications like Adobe Premiere and Final Cut Pro X, so you can meet any production challenge. From the smallest production teams to the largest media enterprises, NEXIS is the only storage platform with the flexibility to easily scale and grow with you at every stage of your business. For more information check out the Avid Blog page about NEXIS.
Miller Tripods announced a new Arrow X Series of fluid heads - key feature is the 16 Counterbalance PLUS settings so you can add in half settings and are able to rig or re-rig your setup as required. Watch the launch video which covers most of the main points or read their press release for more details. There are three new models in the Arrow X Series - X3, X5 and X7
As always, there was lots to say from our friends at Blackmagic Design in press releases. They also released a 50 minute video overview of all their announcements on their site and you can view it here - yes, there are more than a dozen and we found these ones were certainly interesting. First up was the new Blackmagic URSA Studio Viewfinder, a high resolution 7” studio viewfinder with variable tension mounting points, tally, external controls. For those of you who have already purchased an URSA Mini, then you will be excited by the announcement of the FREE OS providing URSA Mini with a new user interface and heads up display, which dramatically reduces the number of menus and sub-menus needed to find specific settings and commands. You can now quickly change settings such as ISO, white balance, shutter angle, iris, frame rate, frame guides and more without ever having to navigate through any menus. There are now custom white balance and white balance presets, along with tint control settings. Customers also get more accurate shutter angle selection, including a large easy to use on screen keyboard for easy entry of settings. When entering the shutter angle, the new URSA Mini camera OS will even offer smart flicker free shutter angle suggestions to assist the camera operator. For recording and monitoring you could also take a look at the Blackmagic Video Assist 4K features two built in high speed UHS-II recorders that work with the latest high performance SD cards, making them fast enough to record Ultra HD video up to 2160p30 on widely available, inexpensive SD cards. Files are saved as broadcast quality 10-bit 4:2:2 video in either ProRes or DNxHD formats, making them compatible with all popular editing software, so you can start editing immediately without having to transcode or convert files. Recording can be triggered to start and stop using LANC or over HDMI or SDI from the camera. With two built in recorders, customers get non-stop recording because when one card is full it automatically continues onto the next. Not sure if Blackmagic are going for best pocket-sized product awards - they introduced the Blackmagic Micro Converter SDI to HDMI and Blackmagic Micro Converter HDMI to SDI, two new super small, pocket size broadcast quality video converters. This converts signals from professional broadcast equipment such as cameras, decks, switchers and routers into HDMI so customers can monitor video using big screen televisions and projectors. The Micro Convertors are powered via the same micro USB connection that’s used on smartphones so customers can use the included DC plug pack, any USB device, or even a smartphone charger to power the converters. If multiple inputs and monitoring are your thing, then check out the Blackmagic MultiView 4, a new multi viewer that lets customers monitor 4 completely independent SDI video sources on a single display. Customers can monitor any combination of SD, HD and Ultra HD formats and frame rates all at the same time. Blackmagic MultiView 4 can output to regular HD monitors, however, when customers plug in an Ultra HD display, they will get four times the resolution of a simple HD only multi viewer. Connecting and controlling formats is hard work, so why not try the latest product announcement from Blackmagic Design featuring the latest 40Gb/s Thunderbolt 3 technology. UltraStudio 4K Extreme 3 has a wide range of digital and analogue connections and is designed to work with virtually all formats ranging from SD and HD all the way up to Ultra HD and digital cinema. Thunderbolt 3 performance allows customers to work with the highest quality 12-bit RGB and highest frame rate video, including stereoscopic 3D and DCI 4K, making it perfect for high end feature film, television and commercial work. UltraStudio 4K Extreme features a hardware codec that can encode in real time into the new H.265 format. Well, with the Shogun and Ninja Flame products hitting our inboxes and showrooms only weeks ago, here we are again with a new fire burning in our pockets for latest release from Atomos - the Shogun Inferno is the combination of the most advanced monitor technologies – 1500nit/10bit/HDR, the latest recording capability – 4Kp60 over Quad-SDI, along with playback and editing functionality that encourages on set collaboration. Shogun Inferno makes mastering a high resolution, high frame rate, high dynamic range workflow available to all filmmakers. Read more on the Atomos Website.
Sony introduces PXW-Z150 compact professional camcorder
Sony has announced the PXW-Z150, the latest addition to its XDCAM range of lightweight, easy to use professional camcorders with new functionality to enable wireless operation and 4K*1 high quality shooting. The flexible, effortless set-up capabilities of the portable PXW-Z150 enables content creators of all experience levels to deliver impressive imagery for content and events shooting scenarios, no matter how tight their brief. The PXW-Z150 features a 1.0 type stacked Exmor RS CMOS image sensor, providing users with spectacular 4K recording and impressive 5x slow motion in Full HD - essential functionality for content creators looking to deliver corporate or personal productions to the highest quality. Go beyond what’s been traditionally possible with a camcorder. Catch every moment in up to 120 frames per second (fps) High Frame Rate continuous recording, in full HD quality. The Clear Image Zoom technology operates at 24x zoom and 18x zoom in HD and 4K modes respectively, in addition to the standard optical 12x zoom. The single 20 megapixel*2 1.0 type large sensor size offers clear pictures even in low light, giving filmmakers superb clarity and sharpness, opening up opportunities for flexible shooting in a variety of environments. In response to rising expectations in the fast paced corporate industry, users can now enjoy live streaming capabilities and FTP wireless connectivity with built-in Wi-Fi. Ensuring creative expression isn’t subject to an extensive set up; the PXW-Z150 is ergonomically designed to facilitate shooting with ease. The compact, lightweight body includes integration with advanced features, removing the need for multiple external accessories. The built-in 4-step ND filter is included to offer the flexibility of exposure and depth-of-field control, and the Multi-Interface (MI) Shoe avoids cabling with easy integration between the PXW-Z150 and Sony’s peripherals, such as the UWP-D series wireless microphones. The PXW-Z150 can be easily controlled by a smartphone or tablet using a Wi-Fi connection, and has a battery life which delivers a remarkable 400*3 minutes continuous recording time – allowing you to always be on hand to capture what’s needed. High visibility is delivered with the wide view-angle and high contrast 0.39-type 1440K OLED viewfinder, alongside the 3.5-type 1550K LCD panel. The PXW-Z150 lends itself to a variety of environments and editing requirements, supporting the conventional broadcasting format MPEG2HD (50Mbps/35Mbps) in addition to Sony’s advanced XAVC (Long GOP) format. The PXW-Z150 provides a wide variety of built-in connectivity options including professional standard 3G-SDI, dual XLR inputs, HDMI, USB, REMOTE and composite (phono), eliminating the need for adapters. To extend recording times and workflow flexibility, the camcorder is equipped with two memory card slots and is compatible with SDXC and SDHC cards. The dual media slots enable various recording options such as backup, simultaneous and relay recording. “We wanted to introduce a portable camcorder which supports our customers in demanding situations, where there is the need for a solution that provides a quick set-up and high quality creative options,” said Anthony Kable, Senior Product Manager, Sony Australia. “The compact, lightweight camera body coupled with high quality creative features and 4K capability gives filmmakers the tools needed to take their work to the next level, whether it’s corporate, event or online videography. Clients’ expectations within the creative landscape are constantly evolving and content creators need solutions that can not only provide high quality images, but also deliver this in a timely and professional manner. The effortless set-up ensures flexible shooting, while the Wi-Fi integration means you can take advantage of live streaming, ensuring the PXW-Z150 is ready when you are.” Key features of the PXW-Z150
- 4K high quality shooting with a 1.0-type Exmor RS image sensor and premium G lens
- Use on a wide range of applications with 120fps slow motion, rich recording formats and network functions
- High operability and rich interface, within a compact and lightweight body
Sony's PXW-X500 XDCAM HD Camcorder - Rental Product of the Week
Over many years, we have been using the Sony PDWF800 as our ‘go-to’ camera for almost all things that needed a 2/3” ENG camera. The F800 has been a real workhorse for our clients, but over time we have been wanting a camera that can do everything that the F800 can, but with less weight, lower power consumption, and faster ingest for fast turnaround TV workflow.
Sony launches professional PXW-Z100 4K handheld XDCAM camcorder
Videocraft Builds New File-Based Studio for AFL
Videocraft recently completed one of its biggest systems integration projects to date – a new studio for the Australian Football League (AFL) integrating advanced file-based workflows, virtual sets and editing suites. Videocraft sales director James Taylor explained, “This studio build involved total integration from acquisition and ingest through to editing and playout.” The tender which was successfully won by Videocraft at the end of 2011 came as part of the AFL’s new rights deal negotiations were taking place giving scope for a forward thinking solution. Taylor continued, “Essentially we walked into a green field site, something that’s pretty rare at the moment. The AFL wanted the best possible systems solution that included fitting out the studios from scratch.” AFL Media produces content for the AFL’s website, AFL clubs, corporate partners and a variety of internal departments. According to Taylor, the new studio had to be able to accommodate this high level of demand for content creation and maintain the AFL’s high quality standards. Taylor added, “We built the TV studio with a full XDCAM HD acquisition workflow (any content that comes in as SD is upconverted) that included XDCAM EX, XDCAM HD 4:2:2 and a new XDSPD1000 professional media station which enables seamless card-based and optical material to be fed into the EVS network. The EVS network itself is the key part of the entire system design as the EVS servers manage all the studio recording and playout making this is a very clever and efficient system.” Executive Producer of AFL Media, Greg Miles said, “It was critical that we built a facility than could handle not only a high volume of content but be flexible enough to cope with the future demands of the business.” Despite being one of the largest systems integration projects Videocraft has undertaken it came with one of the tightest timeframes the company has ever had to work with. This was combined with the systems integrator’s trickiest request – a move mid-installation. Taylor explained, “The AFL needed to move earlier than expected so we managed moving the entire facility that was in operation into the area created for the new studio whilst simultaneously building the new facility. Complex logistically but ultimately successful.” Videocraft has built its reputation for excellence on this kind of systems integration project and the AFL’s new studio was no exception with the company responsible for everything from over 5km of cabling to building the signal routing at the heart of the system. Taylor said, “We installed a 128x128 Ross NK3G128 router and used a combination of Ross and Blackmagic open gear distribution and glue which all went into open gear frames for maximum efficiency. Once this was live we had our heartbeat.” Videocraft integrated the signal distribution throughout the existing facility migrating incoming feeds through the new router, whilst managing the move and integrating the AFL’s existing FCP editing suites into the new facility. Taylor added, “It was a carefully planned installation done in precise stages. Building the studio and EVS network came first. Once these went online we moved to the next stage. Using 6-channel EVS XS and 8-channel EVS XT3 servers for ingest and logging was the biggest change to the AFL’s existing workflow. We also installed an ECS IP Director to control all the ingest, logging and playout which meant that the AFL had completely migrated from a bespoke logging system to EVS. This represented a significant, forward thinking and future proof move of their data feeds and metadata that now meant they were all scalable and integrated. The final piece in the EVS puzzle was the use of the EVS Clean Edit System which allows the sharing of media by users across the EVS network using EVS XStore NAS, enabling fast turnaround highlights editing.” The new studio facility designed and built by Videocraft also integrated a Ross Carbonite 2ME vision switcher with in-built multi-viewers, new Sony HXCD70 studio cameras, Sony PVM1741 OLED monitors, RTS comms with Chromus matrix and KP32 and MKP12 keypanels and Ross XPression for on-air graphics and the virtual studio. James Taylor concluded, “We are particularly proud of this studio build. It was a lot of hard work but the result has been excellent and the client is delighted. We were lucky to be able to work with such a great, forward thinking client as the AFL to build a world-class facility that will truly stand the test of time due to its level of scalability. That said Videocraft, with our key partners, is continuing to further develop the system and workflows for the AFL to make them even more efficient as requests for their media content continue to grow.”
Videocraft Helps Create Magical Tales
After the success of their recent TV series Larry the Lawnmower (aka Larry), according to production company Ambience Entertainment’s producer on the show Monica O’Brien, there were only two things that were guaranteed for the company’s next project ‘William & Sparkles’ Magical Tales’, “The XDCAM workflow we developed for Larry and using Videocraft for the equipment and support!” Magical Tales is an exciting series specifically designed to captivate and entertain the minds of pre-school children where, in each half hour episode, the audience are invited into the world of Sparkles the Fairy and William the Wizard. Monica O’Brien explained, “The smooth production run we had with Larry the Lawnmower was due in no small part to the amazing sales, service and support we got from Andy Liell and his team at Videocraft. Bearing this in mind, when Magical Tales was green lit I immediately called Andy to discuss our requirements for the shoot.” William and Sparkles’ Magical Tales consists of forty-six 30-minute episodes to be aired on Channel 9 throughout March and April, Monday to Friday at 3.30pm. O’Brien continued, “The workflow we developed with Videocraft for Larry was not only unique but incredibly efficient. We had a couple of extra challenges with Magical Tales though, which meant that process had to be further expanded.” One of the main differences was that Larry the Lawnmower was based around a single camera drama workflow whereas Magical Tales was to use a multi-camera ‘switching live to tape’ workflow. “In addition to the change of workflows we also shot Magical Tales at Down Under Studios in Mount Kuringai, a great location but with no OB set-up for multi camera shoots.” Added O’Brien. “At this point it was Andy, over to you! I went straight to Videocraft and asked if we could do a multi-camera switching show on XDCAM HD and if we could set up our own mini production system at the studio as they had no OB facilities. I must say I wasn’t surprised when Andy said that it could all be done. Just how easily Videocraft did it was very much a surprise though.” Liell and his team proposed Videocraft’s unique Fly Away Production kit. “Or Mobile Production System as it’s also known.” Said Liell. “The system is all based around the Panasonic AV-HS400 HD/SD Vision Switcher and literally comes in one portable roadcase. The real beauty of this system is that it acts as a hub allowing up to an 8 camera set up and clients can use any camera in the Videocraft range from the PMWEX1 XDCAM EX camera and Panasonic HPX302s to the SONY HDC1500 studio cameras. The system is easy to configure with colour-coded connectors, has a lot of flexibility and is used in many configurations. The Panasonic AV-HS400 accepts a variety of video and PC input options and up or down converts and scales the signal to suit the programme format. In this instance we even fed the electronic slates from director Ian Munroe’s MacBook Pro straight into the switcher and it all worked perfectly in HD.” Monica O’Brien added, “The Fly Away Production kit was a revelation to us. Videocraft effectively produced a compact end-to-end solution that did everything we asked. Our director Ian Munroe was very happy as he got everything he needed including excellent monitoring and all the operators were delighted too.” The Videocraft Fly Away system allowed a 3 XDCAM HD multi-camera set up with the on-set Technical Director controlling all three cameras. In addition director Ian Munroe was able to switch the live camera feed which was also being recorded. “This meant we went into post with a rough cut ready to go and with the ability to re-edit it with individual camera feeds.” Said O’Brien. “It’s also the first time Ambience have used the XDCAM HD workflow in this configuration, and it was seamless. Utlising Sony's XDCAM transfer application, we were again able to transfer the files faster than realtime into Final Cut Pro to deliver a fast-turnaround offline cut which really pays dividends, especially in post.” Ambience used PDW700 and PDWF800 cameras which according to O’Brien, did the job perfectly. She added, “We controlled and painted cameras as we went. We then recorded to the PDWHD1500 XDCAM deck that we bought from Videocraft for Larry and also recorded ISO to each camera, which is an efficient and affordable alternative to traditional triax or fibre studio cameras and ISO VTR machines. At the end of the day’s shooting we got a main switched master tape which was 90% fit for broadcast, however having all that extra coverage from the ISO recordings on XDCAM makes it much faster to find the shots you need to finish it off.” Omnilab Media’s CornerPost facility provided the post-production workflow by embracing the Final Cut Pro-ProRes offline path utilising the file-based workflow directly off the XDCAM Professional Disc media. This allowed them to work in ProRes reducing storage requirements without compromising image quality. Then, instead of re-ingesting all tapes at conform, CornerPost did a direct playout to HDCAM and XDCAM masters for audio playout. O’Brien added, “The CornerPost team were amazing. They really got into the spirit of Magical Tales. One other significant point to note is that we used the low cost PDWU1 XDCAM disk drive from Videocraft for ingest. Normally you need one Digi Beta deck at the studio and one at the post house which equates to hundreds of thousands of dollars in kit. With our XDCAM workflow the deck is in the studio and the disk drive was at CornerPost for a fraction of that cost. There was no need to colour grade as the cameras were matched and painted by the CCU operator at the studio which also meant that we could turn an entire episode around in 48 hours including mastering out to XDCAM HD and HDCAM. We even pulled promotional stills off the HD footage as the quality was so good!” Andy Liell added, “In addition to the Fly Away full multi-camera production system we also supplied tallies, intercom, camera control, video distribution technical and production monitoring. Ambience are very forward thinking in terms of efficiencies so we were very pleased to be able to help them achieve exactly what was required in terms of working within their budget and timeframe.” Monica O’Brien concluded, “As a producer you want things to be as easy and painless as possible. Dealing with Videocraft is like that. You just call them, tell them what you want and they do it all. Not only that they always exceed your expectations and they are always friendly. In the case of Magical Tales Andy and Rentals Manager Nick Gleeson showed up, installed the kit within 2 hours and we started shooting by the end of the day. The fact is, by using this type of workflow and expertise, shooting in HD is simply not expensive any more and by using Videocraft it’s also problem free.” Magical Tales begins airing on Channel 9 from 5 March, 2010.
Videocraft backs Sunco Herald Sun Cycle Race
Founded in 1952, the Jayco Herald Sun Tour is Australia's and indeed one of the world’s oldest cycling stage races. TL Sports, who organise and promote the event on behalf of the Herald Sun, have significantly grown the event in recent years to be one of the most prestigious cycling events in the Southern Hemisphere, attracting many of the world’s best professional cycling teams. As part of this growth, there was a need to bring the television production component of the event to a new level. For the most recent Jayco Herald Sun Tour Videocraft provided a full production solution for the daily programming that included Sony PDW 530P XD Cam cameras, three Avid Media Composer edit suites and Avid Unity shared storage system built into a customised OB van. Executive Producer on the event was Ian Gates of Editrix who said, “We have a long successful relationship with Videocraft. MD James Taylor and his team really come into their own in this type of mobile race environment. For the Jayco Herald Sun Tour they built an Avid Unity system with three edit suites into a converted OB van and drove it around for each stage. We produced a half hour daily highlights programme which included features, vignettes and results graphics and also compiled a comprehensive news highlights package each day.” Due to the nature of the shooting schedule time was very much of the essence. Gates continued, “Videocraft built the entire system in record time. This included Sony PDW 1500 ingest decks which allowed us to ingest much faster than real time – an excellent plus on a race shoot. Traditionally people shoot on Digi Beta Cam where only one editor can look at and edit footage. Due to the flexibility of XDCAM and Avid Unity ingest system Videocraft designed and installed we were able to have 3 cameramen shooting each day and 3 editors all sharing the same media. This was an incredibly efficient setup with the editors working simultaneously on news, highlights and feature stories.” Over the six days of the race the pace of production was almost as fast as that of the riders. Gates added, “The production and editing system meant that once ingested and edited we could assemble a completed finished programme from one console. The segment was played out directly from the truck (live to air if required) through the SNG facility to Network TEN as a finished product. Another big plus for the broadcaster as they didn’t have to do anything.” For the next race the Editrix and Videocraft teams will be producing half hour packages and 2 hours of live footage that will go out on Network TEN’s recently launched 24-hour sports channel, One HD, each day. Gates concluded, “The production on the last race was the best yet. Videocraft’s expertise, service and support were excellent. It’s a real labour of love for them and we even had James Taylor there to personally oversee the installation and act as onsite technical manager. The shared media capability is the real jewel in the crown saving us time, money and producing better quality packages. We are very much looking forward to working with Videocraft on the next Jayco Herald Sun Tour.”
Ambience Entertainment embraces new HD workflow with Videocraft
Videocraft, the leading broadcast equipment sales and rental company, supplied a Sony XDCAM HD solution to Ambience Entertainment for its new children’s TV series Larry the Lawnmower, opening the door to a groundbreaking new workflow. Glenn Fraser, one of the three directors on the Larry the Lawnmower series explained Ambience’s decision to use the new equipment and workflow. “We knew there was going to be a developing requirement for HD content for children's series like LARRY, and the existing HD acquisition strategies were either too expensive or weren't fully developing the rounded look we thought could be achieved. This XDCAM HD solution came along at just the right time. It might feel like there's a new flavour of HD turning out every six months, but when it comes to practicalities, there are really only a few things to consider. Number one being, ‘is your acquired picture considered real HD by the partners to whom you’re looking to deliver your deliverables?’ The pinnacle of HD delivery is still pretty much the BBC standard - most of the other broadcasters take their lead from them, so if you can tick the acceptable acquisition criteria that they demand, you're pretty much safe. Secondly, you've got to ensure that the uplift to HD isn't going to outweigh the programme's delivery opportunities. It's not much good feeling sexy about having HD at the front end if you don't have the processing power or storage to run the extent of your series without burning drive space. It's a false economy. The PDW-700's clever compression algorithm means that it's possible to get your pictures travelling back and forth in a good stream at 50Mbs. And all that in full raster 1920x1080.” Videocraft’s involvement began even before the project had been green lit with NSW State Manager Andy Liell consulting to the Ambience team and suggesting a package that included the PDWHD1500 Sony Professional Disc Recorder, PDW700 Sony Professional XDCAM® HD Camcorders and PDWU1 Professional Disc Drive Units. Once the package was agreed Liell and colleague Rob Floro conducted extensive testing on the kit with Fraser, cameramen Brad Smith and Richard Rowley, Series Producer Monica O’Brien and Senior Production Manager Kate Cooper. Smith added, “The progressive pictures the PDW700 delivers are without doubt, the knockout clincher. These cameras and this workflow bring HD back to levels that, although slightly more than Digibeta, are very affordable and give all the advantages of tape and non-linear. It’s the top of the line in XD evolution.” With Ambience’s budget having to cover 65 half-hour programmes for Channel Seven, editing and storage also became key deciding factors. “We investigated a variety of platforms for editing.” Explained O’Brien. “Omnilab Media’s CornerPost facility provided the ultimate post production workflow by embracing the Final Cut Pro-ProRes offline path utilising the elegant file-based workflow directly off the XDCAM Professional Disc media. This allowed us to work in ProRes reducing our storage requirements but without compromising the image quality. As the schedule is tight the only way for us to get through 65 half hours was for us to further utilise the XDCAM workflow in a way that we haven’t been able to do previously due to cost and time constraints. We did this by using a media manager on set who, with a running knowledge of the scripts and the series' goals, would be the first pair of eyes across the footage being delivered by two camera units every day. Her job, to collate the good, the bad and the very useful, into a bank of reusable locations, and character expressions. Then employing Sony's XDCAM transfer application, transfer the files 1.5 times faster than real time into Final Cut Pro to deliver a fast-turnaround offline cut. Instead of re-ingesting all tapes at conform, we do a picture lock-off in FCP and playout to the AVID DS HD Nitris suite for grading and titles.” Adam Spendlove, CornerPost’s technical engineer said, “After extensive testing this was by far the most efficient workflow taking into account the time issues we were challenged with”. Larry the Lawnmower is shot in a visualised studio space created by veteran designer Michael Bridges and imaginatively light-sculpted by Peter Borosh, ACS, and gaffer Graham Dickson. The Directors and the LARRY crew deal with a child's eye view of LARRY THE LAWNMOWER that is a hyper-realised world and exists within the backyard of a large suburban garden. Similar to Doctor Who’s Tardis, it is a place of seemingly infinite size and opportunity for the characters. Due to the fast turnaround schedule for episodes, the team were having to workably effect choice on a textural scale, and decided most efficiency was gained by doing 95% of their work in camera. Everything is bright, and richly detailed - grand, green lawns and azure skies - it is something like leafy, suburban Australia in miniature with puppets. “With such a huge amount of work to be undertaken, the Videocraft team, led by Andy Liell, have truly been pivotal to the success of the project thus far.” Fraser continued, “Videocraft's services and assistance have been nothing short of exceptional. In testing workflows via their Final Cut Pro setups they were always quick to initiate solutions, not sales. As a reasonably confident technician at this level myself, it would have been easy to see through a sales patter, but the experiential wealth they were able to honestly share meant that they were genuinely interested in the truth of the tests. The level of Rob and Andy’s technical and hands-on expertise meant that I never felt compromised and always felt supported.” Monica O’Brien concluded, “We are absolutely delighted with the XDCAM HD solution and the service and support from Videocraft. This is a real benchmark. As a result, HD productions are now truly affordable due to the efficiency of the XDCAM workflow. The argument that HD is too expensive just doesn’t hold up any more. We just couldn’t do this amount of episodes in the time we have without this workflow - it’s that simple. Andy, Rob and the whole team at Videocraft have been phenomenal. I have never experienced such amazing service and you can quote me on that!”