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Convergent Design Odyssey
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Old August 28th, 2007, 10:49 AM   #1
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Convergent Designs Flash XDR

Convergent Designs has announced a device to capture and encode, at various bit rates, an HD-SDI input data stream to Compact Flash media.

Full details:

http://www.convergent-design.com/dow...%20XDR.pdf

Convergent Designs Website:

http://www.convergent-design.com/
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Old August 28th, 2007, 12:21 PM   #2
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There we go, solid state for everyone! If I owned a Canon XLH1, Canon G1, or JVC HD250 right now I'd be jumping up and down with excitement. Heck, if you wanted to upgrade to a RED in the future you'd have a bunch of CF cards ready to go! =D

Awesome solution, truly awesome.
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Old August 28th, 2007, 02:04 PM   #3
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Here's the press release:

Convergent Design announces Flash XDR™
the First CompactFlash® based HD Field Recorder

(Colorado Springs, CO, 28-Aug-07) Convergent Design announced today Flash XDR (Xstream Data Recorder), the first CompactFlash based ultra-portable HD field recorder. Flash XDR features HD-SDI (with embedded audio and time-code), 1394, LTC (time-code), and ASI (MPEG2 over SDI) I/O, 4-Channel AES inputs as well as two CompactFlash card slots in a lightweight, battery-powered box. The innovative design utilizes scalable HD MPEG2 compression to capture video at HDV, XDCAM® HD, or 50 Mbps 4:2:2 data-rates. Flash XDR carries a list price of US $4995.

Portability and Affordability ReDefined

Flash XDR redefines portability and affordability in HD field recorders. By utilizing MPEG2 encoder / decoder technology combined with CompactFlash storage, Convergent Design has substantially reduced the weight (2 kg), power (8 watts), size (127x89x165 mm), noise (no fans) and cost compared to disk-drive or tape based recorders. The low-power, compact design makes it easy to carry Flash XDR on any shoot and enjoy a full-day of battery-powered operation. The rugged, all solid-state construction allows use in extreme conditions, (such as helicopters, back-packs, and race-cars), where traditional disk or tape based systems would fail.

Innovative CompactFlash Based Design

Compactflash is now an ideal storage media for an HD field recorder. CompactFlash is an industry-standard memory, widely available, offering 2X the performance and 1/3 the cost (16GB ≈ US $300) of proprietary flash-based cards. CompactFlash is hot-swappable, highly-reliable, and 100% solid-state; so there are no heads to crash, tapes to jam, or drop-outs. Very low power consumption (5% of disk drives), combined with long-life (10K insertions/removals, 100K read-write cycles) and price-parity with HDV Firewire drives (on a GB basis) make CompactFlash an attractive media. Capacities are ever increasing, with 16 GByte cards (69 minutes of 1080i HDV storage) readily available today and 32 / 64 GB cards expected in the near future. Finally, a Firewire-800 based reader (included with Flash XDR) supports 340 Mbps file-based transfers, so an hour of HDV (1080i) footage can be transferred to a laptop editor in under six minutes!

"Edit While You Shoot" in 50 Mbps 4:2:2 MPEG2 HD Quality

Flash XDR writes video footage to CompactFlash in either QuickTime® or .m2t file formats. When one of the two hot-swappable Compactflash cards is filled, Flash XDR automatically starts recording to the 2nd card. Editors can then eject the first card; quickly transfer the video (using the Firwire-800 reader) and edit while continuing to shoot. Now your laptop can be productively used as an editing tool, avoiding the lengthy ingest from the old Firewire direct-to-laptop capture method.

You are no longer limited to just HDV data-rates; dial down the compression and select XDCAM HD (35 Mbps) or 50Mbps 4:2:2 (422P@HL), full-raster 1920x1080 / 1280x720p video with up to 4-channels of uncompressed 16-bit 48Khz audio. In addition to the standard 1080i/p and 720p formats, you can also utilize 1080p23.98, perfect for digital cinematography. The high-quality Sony MPEG2 CODEC employed in Flash XDR enables selectable bit-rates, so you can match your rate to the job requirements. Non-proprietary, industry-standard MPEG2 means you have a wide range of editing and transmission options.

Numerous Applications

Light weight, portability, and low-power consumption combined with HD-SDI, ASI and 1394 connectivity, as well as CompactFlash storage open up a wide range of applications for Flash XDR. Live-event capture off an HD-SDI switcher, satellite uplink via the ASI output, pool-feed recorder from a news event, and off-line editing of a high-end HD production (HDCAM® SR) are but a few of the many applications. Flash XDR works with virtually any HD-SDI source and is a perfect choice for pole-cams, sports, ENG, EFP, houses of worship, medical, helmet cameras, post-production, etc.

Flash XDR breaks new ground in portability, affordability and usability in field HD Recorders. The innovative use of CompactFlash and high-quality HD MPEG2 compression greatly reduces the weight, power, size, and cost while providing high-quality video which can be quickly transferred to a laptop editor. The rugged, all solid-state construction opens up previously unrealized applications in extreme environments.

See Flash XDR and the full range of Convergent Design products at IBC, Stand 7.703. More information is available at http://www.convergent-design.com

XDCAM and HDCAM are trademarks of Sony. CompactFlash is a trademark of SanDisk. Quicktime is a trademark of Apple. Flash XDR is a trademark of Convergent Design.
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Old August 28th, 2007, 02:13 PM   #4
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The Flash XDR is a very welcome device.

Specifically for the Canon XL H1, based on the preliminary specifications, there is a problem directly importing the audio.

While the Flash XDR has timecode inputs, which is necessary to allow it to work with the Canon XL H1, it only has AES (Digital) audio inputs.

Since the XL H1 does not embed the audio into the HD-SDI, we will need another method to get the audio imported into the device.

I sent Mike at Convergent Designs an email concerning this issue.

Personally, I would like for the Flash XDR to also accept analog audio.

Please note that the above issue does not affect the Canon XH G1 as the audio is embedded in the HD-SDI data stream on the G1.
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Old August 28th, 2007, 02:40 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jack Felis View Post
There we go, solid state for everyone! If I owned a Canon XLH1, Canon G1, or JVC HD250 right now I'd be jumping up and down with excitement. Heck, if you wanted to upgrade to a RED in the future you'd have a bunch of CF cards ready to go! =D

Awesome solution, truly awesome.
We've been jumpin' up and down all day!

We just need some tweaks for the H1...
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Old August 28th, 2007, 04:25 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Benjamin Richardson View Post
We've been jumpin' up and down all day!

We just need some tweaks for the H1...
Great time to introduce the H1s!
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Old August 28th, 2007, 08:36 PM   #7
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I'm usually impressed everytime I receive a press release from Convergent Design, but I must say that I was simply overjoyed when I read this one today. These guys really do "get it." Widely available consumer based flash media is the key to the success of tapeless acquisition for indie filmmakers.

SanDisk 16GB Extreme III cards are under $400 at BestBuy. How much is a P2 of the same capacity? $900 last I checked.

There are huge advantages for the JVC HD250 as well. The HD250 does embed audio in the HD-SDI signal (as well as TC) and the HD250 is capable of outputting live 1080i. 1080i cannot be recorded to HDV on the JVC ProHD products, but the Flash XDR will allow for that.
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Old August 29th, 2007, 03:07 AM   #8
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I hope they add an HDMI interface / option also. Would be very nice with the Sony V1. 50 Mbit mpeg2 4.2.2 should look great and nearly lossless.
but 5k$ .. ough !
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Old August 29th, 2007, 07:32 AM   #9
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I agree, $5,000 seems like a lot for a CF storage option.

This seems like the norm for anything HD, way more expensive than what we are used to paying for SD.

For $5,000, can one record straight to a laptop with external drives?

The SDI output will probably not be used for "run & gun" shooting anyway.
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Old August 29th, 2007, 10:53 AM   #10
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Dear Tim,

The Flash XDR device is small enough to be used for high quality, camera mounted, shooting, or run and gun.

The recorder could be mounted on-camera, or in a backpack, or other arrangement.

It is difficult to power a laptop and the necessary raid for mobile shooting.
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Old August 29th, 2007, 10:55 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim Polster View Post

The SDI output will probably not be used for "run & gun" shooting anyway.
Reading through the material, the impression that I got was that it would be useful in run and gun applications because it was battery powered, and consumed very little power.
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Old August 29th, 2007, 11:25 AM   #12
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Thanks for the feedback and recommendations! I'll study the analog audio input options for the Canon XL H1 and see if we can engineer a resonable solution. This is a clearly an issue with this camera.

We had studied the HDMI input option and decided to leave this off the initial version of the box, as we already have a very low-cost converter (nanoConnect) which does HDMI to HD-SDI. Yes, this requires 2 boxes, but you can use a very long HD-SDI cable (150 meters) to go from the camera +nanConnect to the Flash XDR box.

Regarding the price, please keep in mind that this box is not merely a CF Storage option. Flash XDR includes an HD MPEG2 Encoder/Decoder, ASI, 1394 IO with 1080i, 720p support at HDV, XDCAM HD and 50Mbps 4:2:2 support. HD MPEG2 encoders typically cost $25K+. PC Based Digital Disk Recorders start at $17K and go up quickly in price (although some do support uncompressed capture). HD-SDI to HDV converters (with no storage option) list for $8.5K. So, compare our price to the competition and $5K does not seem unreasonable.

I welcome your continued comments and thoughts.

Mike Schell
Convergent Design
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Old August 29th, 2007, 12:07 PM   #13
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Nanoconnect HDMI --> HD-SDI Converter - $400
Flash XDR - $5,000

= $5400 Compact Flash recorder for Canon HV20, Sony V1, and various other HDMI cameras.

Still a neat value, especially for the HV20 crowd. Kind of erring on the side of HVX200 territory but Compact Flash is still cheaper than P2 and is more widely used and available. Don't get me wrong, P2 does have its advantages and is still relatively in its infancy, I'm just saying for comparisons sake.
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Old August 29th, 2007, 01:03 PM   #14
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Sorry, I did not mean to say the device was not a good value, just that everything HD is a lot more expensive than SD.

Also, I meant that SDI output seems to be mainly a studio output, but maybe this device will change that.
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Old August 29th, 2007, 01:36 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Schell View Post
I welcome your continued comments and thoughts.

Mike Schell
Convergent Design
Thanks for your presence here, Mike.

Whilst the design announced is very welcome, would you have any thoughts on it becoming part of a 'family' of products?

Versatile it may be, but for some a simpler, cheaper option (also smaller and lighter) may be more appropiate? Effectively giving the facilities of a Firestore with solid state removable media? Valuable though the features may be on occasion, much of the time light weight is of prime importance when attached to the camera.

Another thought would be to have a degree of compatability with Sonys SxS system (2xCF slots and 2xSxS, maybe?). This could be valuable for a user required to work for a future SxS client, and requiring a degree of compatability with their workflow, whilst using their own camera. The client would be able to issue a stock of cards at the beginning of the shoot, gather them at the end with material.
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