With cameras such as the Sony F3 hitting the market -- which will, with a $3,500 firmware upgrade, offer uncompressed 4:4:4 output -- there's a need for compact field recorders that can handle such high data rates. The Atomos Ninja, AJA Ki Pro Mini, and NanoFlash can handle 4:2:2 lossy codecs, and the Cinedeck handles 4:4:4 recording in the CineForm intermediate codec, but the first three products are priced from $1-3k and the Cinedeck is about $10k. There's a lot of space in between, and that's where new entrant Cinemartin is looking to premiere their SFV and SFVe, two field recorders that offer 4:4:4 and 4:2:2 recording, respectively.
When it comes to field recording, storage space isn't so much the obstacle anymore, given the price of SSDs is dropping so rapidly (I'm writing this on a MacBook Air with a 256GB SSD, which would've been unthinkable just a few years ago). The cost of non-SSD, old-fashioned hard drive space is almost negligible at this point. The problem, then, is finding a field recorder that can capably ingest a 4:4:4 signal. SFV stands for "Small Form portable Video computer," and the high-end model will reportedly offer full 4:4:4 uncompressed recording at up to 60p through dual-link HD-SDI (or 3G) ports. It's basically a small computer, complete with a touchscreen interface:
To keep the price down, Cinemartin has built the recorders with a 2.5" docking HDD bay, so either regular hard drives or SSDs can be utilized. Pricing hasn't officially been announced, but Cinemartin is reportedly aiming to cut the Cinedeck's "total cost" (meaning, once you add the equivalent amount of battery power and storage space) in half. Note that it's just a goal at this point, and the unit is still in prototype stage. Like the Cinedeck, the Cinemartin is a Windows-based device, which means it's essentially a full-fledged computer. While devices of this class are larger than recording-only gizmos -- and have a longer boot-up time -- their stature as a computer gives rise to added benefits: monitoring, shot cataloging, reviewing, etc.
Cinemartin is just a startup, but sometimes a smaller company is able to upend a specialized industry (take into account SmalllHD, for example, whose DP6 is everywhere these days). Time will tell. Announced specs of the SFV are:
- 4:2:2(SFVe) or 4:4:4(SFV) 8-10bit RGB UnCompressed format.
Up to 1h. 55min. storage capacity non compressed or up to 8.5h. 300mbps HQ.
- MPEG2 300mbps codec also included.
Provided recording software allows you to use uncompressed or 300mbps hq. codec
- Either HDSDI Dual link & 3G(SFV) or HDMI inputs (SFVe).
- Internal SSD SATA III (6Gbps) included by default in all models.
- Capture progressive or interlaced, 24P cine or at up to 60 fps.
- 2x 2.5' bay for external drives - You set the nonStop recording Limit.
Featuring integrated Raid controller (so allows spinning cheap drives even for UnCompressed)
- Integrated Hi-Bright Touchscreen 7" monitor.
1280 x 720 default (from 800x640 native), Allows resolutions up to 1080p
Allows you to connect other devices trough HDMI
- 3x simultaneous video outs (1x Monitoring, 2x PC Display).
- Full Screen Direct to disk recording, player & transcoding application.
- AC/DC power or integrated V-Mount plate.
- 1 year warranty & free software upgrades.
Given NAB is rapidly approaching, more details on the Cinemartin are likely forthcoming. What do you think about the prospect of recording 4:4:4 uncompressed from a compact camcorder?
DISCLOSURE: Cinemartin was not an advertiser when I wrote this post, but has since purchased a banner ad on No Film School.