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Old May 20th, 2008, 11:36 AM   #1
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Flash XDR Development Update

I know everyone is asking - when? When can I get delivery of my Flash XDR, I need it yesterday for a big production shoot. Well, here's a summary of of developments thus far:

1) As you may have seen at the NAB demo, we have the basic HD-SDI I/O, Sony module and reading and writing to the Compact Flash card working. The NAB demo was not "perfect", exhibiting some jitters in the playback. We now believe this problem was caused by a read timing problem on the Compact Flash card. New firmware has been developed and we should have test results in the next day or so.

2) Basic Analog audio I/O has been tested with a sine wave. We will start tests today with several microphones and a Tektronix audio tone generator.

3) We have successfully written a FAT32 table and file on the Compact Flash card (verifed by reading on a PC). We should be writing/reading MXF files to the CF card in the next few days.

4) Internal temperature tests indicate a 20 degree C rise (over ambient) inside the box. The critical FPGA temperature is about 75 degree C, which is well below the maximum of 125. So, we are not anticipating any issues with overheating.

5) The production PCB design / layout should be complete by 22-May and headed to fabrication and assembly.

6) We are working with our local contract manufacturer to schedule the production run. Most of the parts are scheduled for delivery in the next week, but we still have one or two parts to locate.

I plan to post updates on a regular basis. We'll have the initial feature set list in a few days.
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Old May 20th, 2008, 01:32 PM   #2
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The initial live audio tests of the Flash XDR will be run with the following microphones:

Neumann KMS-105 - Very high quality vocalist microphone

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...eld_Stage.html

Shure Beta87a - Moderate cost vocalist microphone

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...Condenser.html

Sony ECM-44B Lavaliere - Moderate cost lavaliere

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/cont...#goto_itemInfo

These three microphones were selected to obtain a cross section of quality/performance with different powering requirements.

The Neumann KMS-105 requires precise 48 volt phantom power, 44 Volts to 52 volts.

The Shure Beta87a is more lenient in power requirements as it accepts from 11 volts to 52 volts.

The Sony ECM-44B is internally powered only and does not accept phantom power.

These microphones while not the most popular or most widely used, do represent a wide range of microphones, with differing power requirements.

If appropriate, we will run additional tests using other microphones.

The Tektronics Audio Signal Generator will be used to provide high quality signals for testing over a wide frequency range and voltage levels.
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Old May 21st, 2008, 08:14 AM   #3
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Thanks for the update gents.

Probably looking more like mid to end of June as a target shipping?
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Old May 21st, 2008, 08:17 AM   #4
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From what Mike's just said, that sounds a little optimistic to me. Prove me wrong though Mike, please! Stills sounds like it'll be worth the wait though.
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Old May 21st, 2008, 11:11 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Phillipps View Post
From what Mike's just said, that sounds a little optimistic to me. Prove me wrong though Mike, please! Stills sounds like it'll be worth the wait though.
Steve
Hi Steve-
Rest assured, we're not resting until it ships! We'll do our very best.
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Old May 21st, 2008, 03:16 PM   #6
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I'm sure you will, best of luck.
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Old May 28th, 2008, 06:47 AM   #7
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Thanks for the update! Really looking forward to how this turns out.
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Old May 28th, 2008, 11:19 AM   #8
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Need Some Redbull?

I'll gladly send whatever you need to get my mitts on one asap. Hope things are going well. Eagerly awaiting your next update.
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Old May 30th, 2008, 01:49 PM   #9
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We're Drinking Lots of RedBull

Just a quick update on Flash XDR. We have boards in fabrication now and expect to start assembly during the week of June 9th. Assuming all parts arrive on time, we should have our first full production units sometime around June-15th.

Our engineers continue to make solid progress on the code. We are debugging the FAT32 table and directory reads and writes to the Compact Flash card. We have also made excellent progress on the owner's manual and the shipping material.

We plan to include the following items in the actual box:
1) Flash XDR unit
2) Universal AC power supply with 4-pin XLR connector
3) USB Compact Flash Reader
4) 1-2GB CF card with demo footage

The initial boxes will support MXF with additional file formats to follow shortly. Firmware updates to Flash XDR can be downloaded from our website and transferred to the box via a CF card.
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Old May 31st, 2008, 03:00 AM   #10
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I might have missed something, Mike, but are any video samples (mainly of the 50 and 100 Mbps formats) available already?

With my EX1, I must say that after the initial enthusiasm towards Flash XDR (which resulted in ordering one and paying the deposit), I went through a period of doubts whether I really need it (especially after I saw how big the Flash XDR is going to be, actually). However, I have bought this 50" full HD plasma lately, and hung over my desktop; watching my EX1's stuff from some 1.5 m distance I can now see there are situations where a stiil better codec could really make difference (mainly with mosquito noise)! In other words, even though the EX1 quality is already great, there is place for improvement...

Please also tell me about you schedule for the nano thing. TIA!
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Old May 31st, 2008, 05:40 AM   #11
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Piotr, I would have thought it'd make a difference, and it also brings the EX1 spec upto BBC standards (ie 1/2" chips and 100 mb/sec codec). I wouldn't have thought that viewing from 1.5m on a 50" would be sensible, surely anything would start to look a bit blocky from there.
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Old May 31st, 2008, 05:54 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Steve Phillipps View Post
I wouldn't have thought that viewing from 1.5m on a 50" would be sensible, surely anything would start to look a bit blocky from there.
To the contrary, Steve - watching from such a short distance gives you a true, pixel-to-pixel, HD experience. And I can tell you there is no blockiness in the EX1 footage; just a bit of mosquito noise I never noticed when using my 24" monitor. On the other hand, when I watch my old V1E stuff like this, I can see a lot more noise, and some blockiness, too.

BTW, in their white papers Panasonic and Pioneer specify that to really appreciate the difference between Full HD and "HD ready" (720p, really), the watching distance must not exceed 2.5 m with a 50" screen. Fully confirmed in my experience. Of course, any upscaled SD is not watchable from such a short distance!

Oh, and to clarify: I only am using the plasma from that close position when editing stuff in Edius or Vegas; my own, ready material (or BD movies / HD broadcast) I view from the sofa I have 2 more meters away :)

Nevertheless, this studio setup makes me quite a demanding future Flash XDR user, don't you think?
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Old May 31st, 2008, 08:39 AM   #13
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I have to admit that after seeing the size of the Flash XDR, I too have shifted to thinking about the Nano and wondering its pricepoint.

The Flash XDR is the size that it does not seem possible to camera mount, which makes it a tripod only application in many respects. And to be honest, a small-form capture PC can be made for a lot less than $5,000.

The Nano while only offering two slots minus some other features would still get the recording times over that two hour hump that many events need to get to a break and change media.

I hope it can compete with the price of a PC capture station while offering mobility.

My HD upgrade might be soon, and I know already that I am commited to SDI capture and not buying overpriced camera memory.

I just hope the timeframe of the Nano release works for me as I believe only if one can purchase the camera and the SDI device at the same time and bypass the camera memory investment it makes financial sense.

Looking forward to more developments!
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Old May 31st, 2008, 10:25 AM   #14
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Dear Piotr,

We welcome "demanding future Flash XDR users."

As you are aware, the Flash XDR will provide a wide range of "maximum variable bit rate" recording options so that you can choose the one most appropriate for the needs of your current shoot.

I expect that you will test the various options and choose one that will be your favorite, one that balances file size and at that same time provides excellent quality.

I can also see many users choosing the 50 Megabit maximum variable bit rate for many shoots, and then using the 100 Mb one for special circumstances.

By special circumstances, I mean very demanding shots, such as shooting a image of moist blades of grass waving in the wind, or similar torture test images.

Personally, I expect to use the 100 Mb option for demanding shoots. I am looking forward to comparing this option to the 160 Mb I-Frame only.
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Old May 31st, 2008, 10:44 AM   #15
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Dear Tim,

I assume that you have seen the Flash XDR in person. I say this since the photo of the Flash XDR on the back of the Canon XL H1 is a little misleading. Due to the wide-angle lens used by Chris Hurd in that photo, it made the Flash XDR appear much bigger than it actually is.

I also assume that you are well aware of the following. Please forgive me if you find this redundant.

But, just to be clear, the Flash XDR is bigger than we originally planned. I wanted the Flash XDR to have external audio XLR inputs with pristine quality audio circuitry.

Including the audio circuitry, with the five separate power supplies that were required for great quality audio, and robust phantom power capabilities, forced us to make the unit larger.

For those that do not need external audio capabilities, the nanoFlash may be a good option. You can expect more detailed information on the nanoFlash in the next week or two.

But, there are other differences in the two units.

These are a result of wanting to create the nanoFlash in a much smaller form factor.

One main difference is that the nanoFlash will have only two Compact Flash card slots. As you have stated, with the availability of very large capacity Compact Flash cards, this may not be a problem for many.

The nanoFlash will not have the extra cost option of recording “uncompressed” as this requires four Compact Flash card slots.
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