We love the last week of February, as it's the one time of the year where the UK broadcast video industry gets together for Broadcast Video Expo. Bigger and better than ever, BVE 2015 was once again held at the London Excel centre in East London, where major and independent brands from all over the UK and Europe, dealer, and tens of thousands of video professionals and enthusiasts from all walks of life got a rare chance to get their hands on the latest video and audio kit.
Team Visual Impact was at BVE 2015 as usual and in the following post we'll share some of our top picks for best kit we saw at the show, some surprising kit, and other highlights.
The New ARRI Alexa MINI
Usually, BVE doesn't get a lot of new product announcements, but this year it was different. ARRI chose BVE to show their ALEXA MINI to the world for the first time. There were two working prototype cameras at the ARRI stand, which as usual was buzzing with excitements as show visitors were eager to get their hands on the smallest of the Alexa camera lineup yet.
Easily the star of the show, the ALEXA Mini packs a lot of horsepower and ARRI oomph into a tiny 2.3 KG body encased in a carbon fibre shell. The new ARRI camera shares the same ALEV III sensor found in the Alexa Classic/XT and the ARRI Amira, but unlike the Amira it adds on 4:3 Anamorphic shooting mode as well as ARRIRAW recording on-board the Cfast 2.0 card (which will come later in 2015 as an added functionality). High-frame rate recording up t 200 frames per second on Cfast 2.0 media is available with the Alexa Mini. The AMIRA (MVF-1) viewfinder is compatible with the Alexa MINI, as well as Cfast 2.0 media. The Alexa MINI uses a single slot to record.
Despite it being primarily designed for specialty gimbals stabiliser and aerial shots, the Alexa MINI can be used authonomously with the addition of the Amira viewfinder, a V-mount battery and bracket, and a laptop/mobile device for raster size and frame rate settings (can be done wirelessly via the built-in wireless option into the camera).
Like the ARRI AMIRA, the ALEXA Mini can record 4K UHD ProRes images as well as 3.2K ProRes up to ProRes 4444 XQ currently the highest quality ProRes flavour available, facilitating real-time 4K UHD output and simple pipelines for high-resolution deliverables. More importantly, the Mini and all other ARRI cameras with the ALEV III sensor offer unrivalled overall image quality by focusing not just on spatial resolution, but also on other parameters such as colorimetry, skin tones and High Dynamic Range (HDR). This is equally true whether the chosen output is HD, 2K, 4K UHD or one of the native resolution outputs like uncompressed ARRIRAW 2.8K or ProRes 3.2K, ensuring that images captured with the ALEXA Mini are future-proof, whatever new industry standards emerge.
Codex are also working on developing a dedicated external RAW recorder, which will be able to record up to 4 simultaneous raw streams from 4 separate Alexa Mini's up to 360fps (limited to 120fps ARRIRAW maximum per camera). The pricing on the external recorder has not been yet finalised, but as details come through, we'll let you know.
Various lens mounts are available starting with a titanium PL mount with LDS, as well as Canon EF and B4 interchangeable lens mounts. The small form factor of the Alexa MINI makes it the perfect camera for 3-axis hand held gimbals like the DJI Ronin or the Movi M10 from Freefly Systems. Aerial shots will be a breeze for this camera and drone operators will be delighted to learn that ARRI actually developed the camera with the intent that the camera would be best suited to such specialty shot applications, in which the size and weight of the rest of the ALEXA lineup might be cost prohibitive.
The camera is expected to ship in May, and at Visual Impact we're taking pre-orders and for more information visit our Alexa MINI page or give our ARRI specialists a call at 0208 977 1222 to place your pre-order and avoid disappointment, as we're expecting a huge demand for this new camera.
Panasonic 4K Varicam 35
We simply love the Varicam 35 & HS. We believe that Panasonic have really given production companies a truly flexible 4K camera capable of shooting high end cinema and broadcast drama, as well as corporate, documentary and sporting events due to the wide range of codec, frame rates and colour spaces packed in the Varicam 35 & HS. We recenlty invested into 6 new Varicams, four of which are headed to leading rental house 24/7 Drama for a new major TV drama headed for production in the Fall. The other two Varicams are ready to dispatch.
We had a chance to see the camera at NAB last year in Las Vegas, and spend more time at our Teddington base in the Autumn when Panasonic came over for a demo. The dual native ISO feature, unique to the Varicam will aid many productions and satisfy the ever changing conditions and production landscape of broadcast and cinema work.
4K/2K or HD is available in camera at a variety of AVC-Intra codecs or externally in the form of 12bit 4K Raw recording up to 120 frames per second to a Codex external recorder guaranteed to satisfy the most stringent requirements for picture quality on larger productions. Proxy and backup recordings on P2 or MicroP2 cards is also available for streamlined flexibility of workflow in the post-production process.
Head over to our Panasonic Varicam page for more details and call our Panasonic specialists at 0208 977 1222 to place your order.
The Canon CN20x (50-1000mm) Cine Zoom Lens
The latest addition to the Canon Cine Zoom range – the mighty and unprecedented CN20x 50 IAS H E1/P1 is a superb lens that’s designed for broadcast use with Super35mm cameras – whether HD, UHD or 4K. It has unprecedented quality in a range, size and weight currently unmatched on the market. The pinnacle of Canon's optical technology and lens design offers superior versatility and usability and features a completely removable updated servo drive unit that enables its use in broadcast-style shooting environments where typical cine lenses are usually impractical.
This lens offers a unique combination of broadcast operability and incredible accuracy, thus meeting the growing user-demand for Ultra High Definition (UHD) resolution sports and nature television production. TV producers and documentary cinematographers can now capture wildlife in their natural habitat from currently unavailable distances, while still retaining ultimate image quality and control throughout the entire zoom range.
It is highly flexible to meet the huge, and highly unpredictable, demands of sports productions that typically require extremely high resolution for close-to-the-action stadium work whilst, for nature TV productions, operators work in hostile and sensitive conditions that often necessitate shooting from extremely long distances. In both environments, operators require fast, reactive positional changes, shooting flexibility and nimble hardware that allow them to respond to changes in the scene.
NAB 2015 is next, and we can't wait to see what new gear Canon, Sony, Panasonic, ARRI and all other manufacturers will bring to the table.