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Old November 5th, 2007, 10:00 AM   #46
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Originally Posted by David Heath View Post
A device such as yours with SxS cards would enable a broadcaster to move on to a solid state infrastructure based on that platform... It would also be potentially very valuable... for clients who start to demand SxS compatibility.
Point taken, but with only one SxS camcorder model about to debut, wouldn't you agree that we're still some ways off from the time when clients start to demand SxS compatibility? Who knows, perhaps by then Convergent Design will bring an SXS version of the XDR to market. For now, with the use of CF cards being more than sufficient for recording from SDI sources, and with CF cards being more affordable and more commonly found than SxS, doesn't it make sense to use them for the XDR in its current design?

I'll bet that a purchase of Convergent's CF-based XDR recorder will pay for itself several times over before the client demand for SxS really starts to hit; and by that time, perhaps Convergent will have a new SxS-based XDR recorder to transition into.
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Old November 5th, 2007, 10:14 AM   #47
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The reason why I prefer CF cards is because I could walk into any computer store or Best Buy and pick up a few if I had an emergency. That is something that may take a few years for SxS cards.

Everybody talks about off loading to a laptop but what happens if your laptop dies in the field. Trust me it has happened to me. You are going to need to quickly pick up a bunch of cards to record to which is going to be a heck of a lot cheaper then buying a new laptop. Not to mention it is much easier to go out in the field with dozens of CF cards then it is to haul around a laptop. With the low cost of CF cards I could almost see handing them off directly to a client and build the cost in just like tapes. Or I can tell the client to pick up a bunch of CF cards to bring to the shoot.

Like Chris said SxS cards are brand new. They aren't even really out yet. What if it becomes one of those once off formats that never picks up widespread usage? CF cards will be around for a long time yet and they will only get cheaper.
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Old November 5th, 2007, 10:26 AM   #48
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Point taken, but with only one SxS camcorder model about to debut, wouldn't you agree that we're still some ways off from the time when clients start to demand SxS compatibility? Who knows, perhaps by then Convergent Design will bring an SXS version of the XDR to market.
Indeed, but time scales are notoriously difficult to predict, and I do feel the whole impetus of solid state is starting to gather momentum now SxS has joined P2. Yes, the demand may still be a way off, but it takes time to bring product to market, so is it not therefore sensible to be making these suggestions NOW?

In answer to my points about SxS when first raised, Mike's reply was :
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Schell
I also agree with your points on the SxS cards. As this format becomes more popular, many videographers will carry these cards as part of their basic kit, so compability will becomre more important. We'll continue to study this option for the future.
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Originally Posted by Chris Hurd View Post
For now, with the use of CF cards being more than sufficient for recording from SDI sources, and with CF cards being more affordable and more commonly found than SxS, doesn't it make sense to use them for the XDR in its current design?
It makes perfect sense, and I agree that CF is probably currently a better choice than SxS (or P2, for that matter) for all but the top end cameras - I actually wish Sony had used them for the EX.

But having SxS capability *in addition* to CF far from precludes CF use, and whatever you and I may agree upon about CF, if a near future client demands SxS, our views become irrelevant. A hybrid XDR would satisfy that demand, without taking anything away from the product as it stands.

I am most certainly NOT arguing for SxS INSTEAD of CF, but rather as well as.
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Old November 5th, 2007, 10:32 AM   #49
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Well, now, Chris, it would seem to me(and what do I know) that a company is in business to make money. If more money can be made with the same, or less, investment dollars, wouldn't it be prudent to go for it? I guess, I don't understand C-D's marketing strategy by going for a very high dollar, specialized niche market, when a very similar (and cheaper) product could bring much more return on their development investment dollar.

By Mike Schell's own admission, C-D has goiven NO thought to return on their non-recurring engineering cost! What kind of company is that? Certainly not one I would want to buy stock in. It would appear C-D's agenda is not one many of us can understand. IMHO, C-D is really the first to market with a device that many. many videographers would LOVE to have. Unfortunately, their pricing philosophy is out of line with the majority of the market. Considering the potential for an affordable solid state, direct to edit device, C-D doesn't seem, to me anyway, be doing much for most small videographers.

I, for one, am sick to death of high priced technology that becomes obsolete within 6 months. How many businesses can afford $5K outlays that have a halflife of 6 months?

How much is that doggie in the window?
Bill clearly this device isn't for you then. It wasn't designed for you either. This is a SDI device to be used by those who want higher quality. Why do you think higher quality shouldn't have a higher price tag? When do any of us get anything for nothing? This product is aimed at a niche market because like Chris said it is usually only a niche market that "needs" this sort of quality.

I think Mike is doing a great job because he cares. He not only cares about quality but about us as well. That is why he is here answering a lot of our questions. Mike has a dream for a product that many of us have wanted for a very long time. He isn't a huge company and to be honest I'm glad about that. When is the last time you saw a large company directly ask for feedback on a product months before it shipped? How often do you see companies add in new features because the potential users asked for them on a forum?

How is this any different then RED who many at first thought they were a bunch of overpriced dreamers but now can't keep up with building the cameras they are selling.

I say let this product get finished instead of having them add new features all the time to the point where it never gets finished. I have been working on FX and video software for over two years and it never gets done because I keep adding things and changing them. Let Mike finish this product and then see what happens. Maybe later on they will make a different product that will be cheaper for firewire and HDV users. After all it could be cheaper because it doesn't have as much of the needed components. The SDI and SONY mpeg2 codec are my guess as to why this certain device costs a lot of money. Good mpeg2 encoders that can do 4:2:2 profile high level encoding are not cheap. SDI isn't exactly cheap either. A simple HDV device shouldn't even need a encoder built in. The camera does the encoding and the firewire just sends off the stream to the recording device. Unlike a Firestore this device has to have it's own encoder built in and the ability to take a SDI feed and encode it not only as studio quality mpeg2 but wrap it into MXF which isn't exactly a cheap standard either.

If somebody really needs 4:2:2 low compression quality a $5,000.00 device sure beats having to go out and buy a $35,000.00 camera.

I love these small companies like Convergent Design, Red and Letus because they really shake up the industry and bring people's idea for great products into reality.
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Old November 5th, 2007, 11:02 AM   #50
 
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Thomas...

I couldn't agree with you more, with one exception. For anyone to believe that a small Indie like myself isn't interested in quality, is a drastic misconception. The level of quality I produce is directly proportional to the quality of the product I can afford. I'm constrained by the balance sheet for my business. If I think this device would pay for itself in short order, I'd run right out and get one.

I'm not an internet troll. My intention isn't to drag a company or their product down because it's a fun thing to do. But, I do feel it's necessary to exert some pressure on manufacturers, big or small, to keep their prices as low as possible, and to consider the useful lifetime of things they put a high pricetag on. Obviously, in the free enterprise system, caveat emptor.
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Old November 5th, 2007, 12:13 PM   #51
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Originally Posted by Thomas Smet View Post

If somebody really needs 4:2:2 low compression quality a $5,000.00 device sure beats having to go out and buy a $35,000.00 camera.

I love these small companies like Convergent Design, Red and Letus because they really shake up the industry and bring people's idea for great products into reality.
Exactly! That's the big innovation. It's one of the first products to realize that you don't have to bundle, sensor, recording mechanism, and various codecs into the camera. Like I said before, with this device you're not tied to a specific camera or codec.. You can use a Red on the high end, a JVC HD 250 on the medium, or an HV20 on the low end. And you can record to the data rate of your choice. That's almost like having the option to shoot the film stock of your choice. Excellent.

I second Thomas, don't beat up the innovators and risk-takers too much.
Besides, you can vote (for or against) with your purchase decision when the product comes out. I don't think it is our role to keep pressure on companies. Hopefully, our role here is to produce videos. And use the tools of choice to the best of our ability and problem solve issues along the way.

Mike, Keep swinging for the fences. True innovation is rare in this risk-adverse society. Thanks for listening to feedback. I can't wait to purchase your product.

Cheers.
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Old November 5th, 2007, 12:20 PM   #52
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That is what is so tough about being an Indie. We all want to have the highest level of quality for the lowest cost. That is why we are in such a odd and tough situation.

Nobody said being an Indie was supposed to be easy. In fact usually it is very hard because we have to try to do things on a budget. This can be very hard when it comes to high quality. All we can do is to try to do the best we can for what we have to work with.

To some Indies this device will be worth the money to some they will not be able to justify the cost. That is the case with any equipment we use. Some Indies can afford a Canon H1 with SDI while others are lucky to afford a HV20. It's not that it is unfair to the person who can only afford a HV20. That is just the way it is. Quality costs money and it is something we all have to move into when we can afford it. I feel your pain but really nobody is obligated to give us the quality we all want just because as an Indie we may need it. I would love to have a SONY F950 but I do not get mad at SONY because it costs $100,000.00. I realize as an indie that it is out of my reach right now unless I rent it for a project. Maybe that is one area where the XDR can really help out indie's. Rental. I remember a time when a lot of indies didn't own their own film cameras. To me it would make perfect sense to shoot HDV as you experiment and then when you are ready to shoot your project rent a XDR. After the shoot you will have CF cards that can play without the XDR device so it isn't like a HDCAM deck you have to have around when you are ready to ingest.

Like I said before there are a lot of factors that go into the cost of this device. A firestore is pretty much just a hard drive that runs off batteries with special OS software to write files to the disk and look how much it costs. Here we have all the SDI ports, video processing, high quality encoder and MXF format support in one simple to use device. That stuff is not cheap. While it would be nice to see a cheaper scaled down version at some later point there are a lot of pros who do want the product as is right now and they are ready to buy it.
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Old November 5th, 2007, 12:47 PM   #53
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...it would seem to me (and what do I know) that a company is in business to make money. If more money can be made with the same, or less, investment dollars, wouldn't it be prudent to go for it? I guess, I don't understand C-D's marketing strategy by going for a very high dollar, specialized niche market, when a very similar (and cheaper) product could bring much more return on their development investment dollar.
Thomas Smet above has already mentioned an excellent example of a successful high-dollar specialized niche market by citing RED (a project helmed by a self-made billionaire, so I think it's safe to assume he knows something about running a successful business). But there are a wide variety of other such specialized niche market products in this business... in fact, the pro video realm is full of them. Just check out the pricing on a Leader wave form monitor, or a Codex digital recording system. Point being, it doesn't have to be "cheap" to be successful; a company can make a thriving business with an expensive, high-end product. Restaurants are a perfect example: why should Morton's Steakhouse serve $50 plates in a nice dining room when they could just as easily sell $5 hamburgers at a drive-up window? The obvious answer is because that's the business they choose to be in. I think we should let Mike Schell determine what business he wants Convergent to be in, and let him choose his own path. There's nothing wrong with catering to the higher end of the specialized niche markets.

Quote:
What kind of company is that? Certainly not one I would want to buy stock in.
Not to worry; I don't think Convergent Design is a publicly traded company!

Quote:
It would appear C-D's agenda is not one many of us can understand.
From the top of their home page: "HDV, AVCHD, and DV Converters for Broadcast, Studio, and Independent Videographers." It should be clear that broadcast and studio applications are not low-dollar areas. And just because they're not "cheap" doesn't mean they're out of reach for successful independent videographers.

Quote:
Unfortunately, their pricing philosophy is out of line with the majority of the market. Considering the potential for an affordable solid state, direct to edit device, C-D doesn't seem, to me anyway, be doing much for most small videographers.
First, there's nothing wrong with their price. Remember, this is an SDI recorder. SDI itself carries a premium of several thousand dollars. In fact, the XDR represents perhaps the single least expensive way to record HD video from an SDI output. Consider that a High Definition VTR with SDI input will set you back about $20K. So no, there's nothing wrong with Convergent's pricing of the XDR. Show me a less expensive SDI recorder for HD video than that.

Second, small videographers are already pretty well served in the DTE market: while the FireStore is not solid state, it is an affordable FireWire recorder and there's a model for every major format variation. And we're starting to see camcorders with solid-state recording at the affordable low-end scale such as Panasonic's recently announced AG-HMC70, which records AVCHD video to an SD card.

Quote:
How many businesses can afford $5K outlays that have a halflife of 6 months?
I'm not sure where you're getting six months from, but no matter; a $5K outlay should easily pay for itself at least one time over within that time frame.
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Old November 5th, 2007, 01:11 PM   #54
 
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"....don't beat up the innovators and risk-takers too much."

agreed!

Just a note of thanx to Chris, Thomas and Mike for your willingness to discuss this topic. Chris, thanx for not booting me or telling me to keep my mouth shut. I apologize if this discussion has offended anyone, I sincerely hope I haven't. You all make very good points.

Thanx, again.
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Old November 5th, 2007, 01:52 PM   #55
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Originally Posted by David Heath View Post
Indeed, but time scales are notoriously difficult to predict, and I do feel the whole impetus of solid state is starting to gather momentum now SxS has joined P2. Yes, the demand may still be a way off, but it takes time to bring product to market, so is it not therefore sensible to be making these suggestions NOW?

In answer to my points about SxS when first raised, Mike's reply was :


It makes perfect sense, and I agree that CF is probably currently a better choice than SxS (or P2, for that matter) for all but the top end cameras - I actually wish Sony had used them for the EX.

But having SxS capability *in addition* to CF far from precludes CF use, and whatever you and I may agree upon about CF, if a near future client demands SxS, our views become irrelevant. A hybrid XDR would satisfy that demand, without taking anything away from the product as it stands.

I am most certainly NOT arguing for SxS INSTEAD of CF, but rather as well as.
Hi David-
We would dearly like to include both SxS and Compact Flash support, but SxS requires a PCIe interface which would greatly increase our development time and add some additional manufacturing costs. We'll consider SxS support for a future version of the box.

Mike Schell
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Old November 5th, 2007, 02:09 PM   #56
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Originally Posted by Bill Ravens View Post
"....don't beat up the innovators and risk-takers too much."

agreed!

Just a note of thanx to Chris, Thomas and Mike for your willingness to discuss this topic. Chris, thanx for not booting me or telling me to keep my mouth shut. I apologize if this discussion has offended anyone, I sincerely hope I haven't. You all make very good points.

Thanx, again.
Hi Bill-
Thanks for the feedback and recommendations! We're not offended. We're very excited about the Flash XDR and appreciate everyone's comments and thoughts. Naturally, we can't accomadate everyone's wishes with regard to features and product price. The old adage, "Good Engineering is knowing what to leave out" definitely applies. Feature creep is always a concern, but at the same time to want to build a product that accomadates a wide range of users. Most importantly, we want the product to be both reliable and easy to use.

So we're listening (and reading) all the comments and recommendations. Just know that we have to make compromises in order to get the design finished in a reasonable timeframe and to hit our manufacturing costs targets.

Mike

PS We do have a couple of very cool new features in the works, but we'll keep you guessing for a while longer.
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Old November 5th, 2007, 03:31 PM   #57
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Hi David-
We would dearly like to include both SxS and Compact Flash support, but SxS requires a PCIe interface which would greatly increase our development time and add some additional manufacturing costs. We'll consider SxS support for a future version of the box.
Thanks Mike! Understood.

Before the start of the SxS/CF debate I did ask about Firewire i/p (post 40) -
Quote:
"Having a new look at the XDR spec sheet, I notice that whilst it talks of a Firewire OUTPUT, there's no mention of an INPUT.............

...........Hence, my question would be whether it would accept an input via Firewire? It would also be useful if it then also gave SDI out, so doubling as a Firewire to SDI convertor."
The XDR is what it is, but it does seem that a simple Firestore type device based on CF is something the market is crying out for, whoever was to make it. Lower power consumption, fast boot up time, silent operation, removable media - bring out such a product, and I can see Firestore sales plummeting overnight. Although the XDR is more expensive than a Firestore, if it roles Firewire/SDI conversion functionality into the same box..........? And this is extra to the features which are causing the most interest on these boards!

As an aside, if anybody doubts the credentials of Compact Flash for professional use, then I've just heard that the Grass Valley Infinity camera seems to have finally started shipping. The use of JPEG2000 means that better than HDCAM recording quality seems to be achievable at sub-100Mbs data rates, so it can also make use of standard grade (cheap) Extreme III memory.
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Old November 5th, 2007, 03:49 PM   #58
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The old adage, "Good Engineering is knowing what to leave out" definitely applies. Feature creep is always a concern, but at the same time to want to build a product that accomadates a wide range of users.
Man do I wish I could stop doing that to myself. I have this huge problem of never being satisfied with the tools I make which is why they never get finished. I make a rough alpha version use it on a project and then start it all over again. I give you credit for being able to say enough is enough and just get it done. For me that is the hardest part of making my own stuff like this.
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Old November 6th, 2007, 05:10 AM   #59
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Just been reading this thread and have to dash out but the three main headline points or questions for me are....

The Flash XDR will work with the new Holy Grail EX1 ?
It will be available in Q1 2008 for $5k ?
It will be available in Europe ?
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Old November 6th, 2007, 07:46 AM   #60
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Sure, the XDR will be compatible with the Sony PMW-EX1. The EX1 has an SDI output and the XDR is an SDI recorder, so no problem. However, and this is nothing against what Convergent is doing, but I'm pretty sure that most folks who buy the EX1 will find its onboard SxS flash memory XDCAM HD recording system to be perfectly adequate for their needs, making the XDR redundant unless you want it there for dual media recording / instant backup duties.
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