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Convergent Design Announces Gemini 4:4:4 Uncompressed Field Recorder/Monitor for $6k

Convergent Design, manufacturers of the popular NanoFlash flash-based recorder, have announced the Gemini, a new 4:4:4 uncompressed field recorder. The Gemini features twin SSD slots, which allow for simultaneous recording of an identical backup, or gapless spanning from one drive to the next for longer recording times. The Gemini also integrates an 800×480 5″ LCD screen in a package that’s roughly the same size as the SmallHD DP6 monitor: the Gemini is 5.4″ x 4.5″ x 1.1″ and tips the scales at a scant one pound.

The Gemini, which will be shown at NAB, can do full 4:4:4 uncompressed recording at up to 1080p/60p, which is an insane datarate — typically around 150MB/sec for lower framerates and up to 300MB/sec for 60p (note the big “B” — that’s MegaBytes, not Megabits). With new interfaces like Thunderbolt, however, this is becoming increasingly feasible. New cameras like the Sony F3, which its S-Log firmware upgrade, are bringing uncompressed outputs to the sub-$20k price point; the Gemini is a potential game-changer for the F3. Why? Because it has S-Log support, which should allow for easy recording of S-Log files to one drive while burning offline editing files (with a burned-in LUT) simultaneously to the second SSD. In this way, the F3 becomes a $13k compact XDCAM camcorder that’s upgradeable to a $22k 4:4:4 uncompressed camera. Which, of course, puts it in RED EPIC-S territory; comparison article to follow soon.


The Gemini also has an extremely low power draw, with a reported 8 to 15 watt power requirement, and ships with a 6Gbps SSD-to-eSATA transfer station. 3D support — which makes a lot of sense, given the dual-SSD design — will come in the form of an optional firmware upgrade. However, one of the more interesting aspects of the Gemini is that it looks like it will only record the uncompressed output from HD-SDI/3G ports — unlike many other recorders, it does not include Cineform, ProRes, AVCHD, h.264, or any other lossy onboard codecs. Therefore the encoding process takes place during transfer, which Convergent claims takes place at 1/2 realtime on a fast Mac. Presumably this is the main sacrifice Convergent had to make in order to keep the price, size, weight, and power draw down (the unit does not generate enough heat to need a fan). The Gemini ($5,995 estimated retail price, MSRP of $6,295) is smaller, lighter, and cheaper than the $10k Cinedeck; pricing for the newly-announced Cinemartin has yet to be officially announced. Convergent are targeting a ship date of July; a PDF brochure is here, and the full press release is below.

Press Release

Mar 21, 2011, Colo Spgs, CO – Convergent Design today unveiled Gemini 4:4:4, a revolutionary uncompressed video recorder/player. Gemini enables videographers and cinematographers to capture at the ultimate video quality, in a small, low-power, lightweight package, at a very affordable price. Gemini features a built-in high-brightness 5.0” 800×480 24-bit LCD touch-screen for monitor and playback, and introduces an industry first – the ability to simultaneously record to two removable solid-state drives – creating instant backups; an invaluable insurance against lost footage, as well as, opening new workflow options.

Building on, but not replacing, the highly successful nanoFlash, Gemini records 10-bit uncompressed 4:4:4 / 4:2:2 video in most popular HD/2K/3G formats, including 1080p24 and 1080p50/60, with up to 16-channels of embedded audio and timecode. Gemini has slots for two removable 1.8” solid-state drives (SSDs), enabling recording in either parallel mode (instant backup), or spanning mode (longer record times). Sporting a lightweight milled aluminum case, Gemini is about the same size and weight as the popular SmallHD DP6 monitor, but includes Recording, Playback, Image Processing, Dual HD/3G SDI I/Os, HDMI-Out and consumer level audio I/O; while consuming only 8 to 15 watts of power.

Gemini features S-Log support, with user programmable viewing LUTs, which can be enabled selectively for either HD-SDI output. Flexible recording options, include simultaneously recording native S-Log video to one SSD (for on-line), and the same footage with burned-in LUTs to the second SSD (for faster creation of off-line proxies and/or H.264 video for mobile devices/internet).

A 3D/Stereo (extra-cost) option will also be available, enabling dual-stream recording and playback in a single Gemini unit; creating the world’s smallest, lowest-power, 3D recorder available anywhere. Gemini will record independent left/right channel files, while providing full synchronized playback of two streams as well as side-by-side, 50/50 composite, or anaglyph combinations. Gemini can uniquely output 3D in multiple formats simultaneously (ie side-by-side and 50/50 composite), to aid in camera alignment and monitoring.

Planned future enhancements, include reference image overlay (aka onion-skinning). Users can capture still frames or create their own reference images (custom grid overlays, for example) to mix with live video, using an opacity slider. This feature will enable directors to check the current on-set environment against a previous day’s production, assisting in camera setup and easily identifying anything out of place.

Convergent plans to support all major NLE programs, including Avid, Final Cut Pro, Premiere, Vegas and Edius. Editors have the option to edit in full-uncompressed (transfer time off the SSD to a fast HDD is about 1/3 realtime) or use any of the popular CODECs (ProRes, DNxHD, Cineform, etc). For example, using a modern multi-core processor MAC, the transfer from the SSD and software encode to ProRes, occurs in about ½ realtime (60 minutes of video requires a total of 30 minutes to transfer and encode).

The Gemini 4:4:4 Kit, which includes the recorder, 1.8” SSD to eSATA transfer station, AC power supply and cables, housed in a custom-fitted hard plastic case, is priced at US $5995 (retail). The 1.8” 256 and 512GB SSD drive prices will be announced at NAB. Convergent will be demonstrating Gemini 4:4:4 (mounted on the Sony F3 and on a 3D mirror rig) at their NAB booth, C11126, April 11-14.

Link: Interview: Convergent Design unveils Gemini 4:4:4 – DV Info

[via DV Info]

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