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Convergent Design Odyssey
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Old November 14th, 2009, 11:40 AM   #1
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nanoFlash Newsletter

Here's a copy of our nanoFlash newsletter, going out to an extensive list of users, dealers and video professionals, worldwide.


Dear Video Professional-
nanoFlash, the world’s smallest HD/SD recorder/player, has been a tremendous success. In about 3 months, we have delivered over 550 units to a worldwide base of professional users. The nanoFlash is now found in a wide range of applications, including upgrading the video quality of existing cameras, enabling tapeless workflow, POV and SDI switcher recorder, on-set reviews, and trade show presentations, among others. The nanoFlash has a proven reliability record; including applications in helium balloons shoots at 98,000 feet (at –75 degrees F.), acrobatic airplanes pulling 12 G’s, deep-sea underwater dives, and in the hot-humid rain forests of Papua New Guinea.

If you have not followed the progress of the nanoFlash over the last few months, we have added many new features and capabilities, including:
• XDCAM optical support; our MXF files can be directly transferred to XDCAM optical media for archival and play-out on Sony HD decks
• 280 Mbps I-Frame and 180 Mbps Long-GOP modes; for master-quality video
• MPG file support which can eliminate the lengthy video renders associated with DVD and Blu-Ray authoring
• 3:2 pulldown removal which extracts the 1080p24 frames from a 1080i60 input
• Time-Lapse recording, capture one frame at any interval from once a second to once a day, at the very high-quality level of 280 Mbps
• PreRecord Cache of 7 seconds (for bit-rates of 100 Mbps and less); great for wild life and nature shots
• Qualification of 64 GB Compact Flash cards, users can enjoy 5.5 hours of 50 Mbps recording on a single load of two CF cards.
• ASI Encode and Decode for streaming MPEG2 over SDI coax; great for live news
• Full SD-SDI support, including playback over SDI
• Jam-Sync
• 2X/4X/6X Playback speeds
Special Note: Some of these new features will be part of a firmware update expected this week.

Over the next few months we plan to add:
• 8-Channel Audio support, including the ability to add analog audio to embedded audio sources
• Loop Record, for 24/7 operation in which the box automatically overwrites older footage
• Redundant Record which creates two identical masters
• Over / Under crank
• Hot Swap of Compact Flash cards
• Delete last clip
• Creation of up to eight profiles which pre-define all operating parameters, including metadata values
• GPS logging, which writes the coordinates into the video stream, including the ability to accurately time-sync to GPS time
• Wireless playback control for presentations, trade shows, etc.

We just posted a very comprehensive FAQ which will likely answer most of your questions. If you need additional information please feel free to call Dan Keaton (++720-221-3861, ++803-278-0941, or ++719-930-1376) or e-mail sales@convergent-design.com

You can also see the nanoFlash in action next week at the InterBee show (Nov 18-20) in Tokyo (Technohouse booth) or at the upcoming Government Video Expo in Washington DC. (Dec 1-3).

Best Regards-
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Convergent Design

Last edited by Mike Schell; November 14th, 2009 at 11:54 AM. Reason: Change Contact Numbers
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Old November 15th, 2009, 08:54 AM   #2
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Thanks Mike for the early update.

The growth in funtionality and features is wonderful!!!

Will the same firmware upgrade spill over to the XDR shortly after that of the Nano?

Of most interest to us is the ability to jam synch both our Nano and XDR for 2 camera shoots.

Thanks again for these pre-release of info postings.
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Old November 15th, 2009, 09:10 AM   #3
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Dear John,

Yes. to the best of our ability. We we use one code base for both products, the differences between the units is conditionalized when we make the firmware build.

Also, we are expected to release a "Combined" firmware release.

One release will be usable on either, just slighter different versions to compensate for the different hardware.

Please understand if we release one, then the other, at times. We intend to release them both simultaneously, or very close to each other, if at all possible.
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Old November 15th, 2009, 10:08 PM   #4
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I get the sinking feeling that hot swapping cards is never going to be implemented. Just how far down on your list have you pushed it? Have you actually figured out how to do it yet?

It has been many, many months that hot swapping has been slated for "next month's update".


Billy
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Old November 16th, 2009, 03:12 AM   #5
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Dear Billy,

As you have seen, our development shedule is subject to change.

We moved up 8-Channel Audio, and the ability to record from embedded audio and analog audio at the same time.

8-Channel Audio was requested by major studios and major networks. They viewed this as an absolute requirement. To be completely open, one major studio only needed 6 channels, but our plans always included 8-Channels.

The ability to record 2 or 4 channels of audio embedded in the HD-SDI stream plus 2 more via our analog audio inputs was requested by many users.

Since a very large number of cameras have 2 channels of audio, via embedded HD-SDI, they will be able to record 4 channels of audio.

And the 4-channel cameras, will be able to record 6.


In reference to Hot Swapping:

We raised the priority of 8-Channel audio and "+2 Channel audio" at the expense of "Hot Swapping".

"Hot Swapping" is currently scheduled for our January release.

The availibity of quality, high performance 64 GB CompactFlash cards influenced our decision. With two of these cards, one can record, uninterrupted, for the following times:

18 Mbps -> 896 minutes (almost 15 hours)
35 Mbps -> 440 Minutes (just over 7 hours)
50 Mbps -> 320 Minutes (5.3 hours)
100 Mbos -> 160 Minutes (2.6 hours)
180 Mbps -> 96 Minutes (1.6 Hours)
280 Mbps -> 60 Minutes (1 Hour)

While we are committed to adding "Hot Swapping", please be aware that this is a dangerous feature.

We fully expect mistakes to be made where the active CompactFlash card is removed while recording, in spite of the Flashing LED's indicating which card slot is currently active. We do not expect to be able to recover from such an error.

By stating that "Hot Swapping" is a dangerous feature, this does not mean that we will not develop this feature. It does mean that we recommend that you use "Hot Swapping" only when absolutely necessary.

The PhotoFast 533x 64 GB cards are relatively high performance, supporting 220 Mbps (but not 280 Mbps) and cost only $299. Four SanDisk Extreme IV cards, which are lower in performance and lower in capacity per card (16 GB), cost over $600.

Using these, or other 64 GB CompactFlash cards gives you a long time to record any typical performance, without interruption, using one of our "Master Quality" bit-rates; 160 minutes at 100 Mbps, or 96 at our very best quality 180 Mbps.
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Old November 16th, 2009, 12:37 PM   #6
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Dan,

I don't think the arrival of 64GB cards influences my interest in hot swapping. As you know just last week we had severe issues with a card (32GB Sandisk Extreme III). While it was able to be recovered, it took days.

I would much rather swap out cards more often and store footage in smaller chunks until CF cards become more reliable. I think there is a large difference between a card being approved for use and whether it actually is reliable. I suggest that the Transcend debacle exemplifies that. The 64GB cards need to be proven in the field before I would trust irreplaceable footage to them. In the meantime I am looking forward to hot swapping.

Jeff

Last edited by Jeff Silverman; November 16th, 2009 at 12:37 PM. Reason: typo
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Old November 16th, 2009, 01:30 PM   #7
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Dear Jeff,

I fully understand the concept of being cautious.

We have purchased 10 of the PhotoFast cards, and are distributing them to the field for in-depth testing of these new cards.

One can choose the SanDisk Extreme Pro 64 GB cards, desired.

And there are other manufacturers of 64 GB cards, so we expect the competition to bring the price of the cards down.

We will be supporting Hot Swapping.
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Old November 16th, 2009, 02:22 PM   #8
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Hi Dan, Mike and the entire CD team,

If one wanted to have more recording time than 100Mbps without having to halve the bit rate to 50 and not requiring as much recording time as 50 offers over 100, are you able to split the difference and offer a 75Mbps option?

This would give the user better quality than 50 (not that it is bad at all in the first place) but offer the best compromise between 50/100 and the recording durations.

Any thoughts?
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Old November 16th, 2009, 05:50 PM   #9
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I'm seeing a programmable menu in the making. Personally, I do not mind scrolling through a lot of choices for this parameter. Is the issue the top bitrate allowed by the flash card? If so, just add a programmable top bitrate.

Last edited by Gints Klimanis; November 16th, 2009 at 09:17 PM.
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Old November 16th, 2009, 07:06 PM   #10
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Hello Dan,
I am with Billy on this one "It has been many, many months that hot swapping has been slated for "next month's update". This was one of the reasons that I purchased the NanoFlash with undertaking that in November we would hot swap. I work in special events, long form video work and need a continuous recording time of 90-100min without having to drop the bit rate from 100 to 50 Mbps. I also agree with David that in the absence of hot swap that a good fix would be to give us 75Mbps data rate.

Dan on the subject of the 64GB cards it has been reported that the PhotoFast 64GB cards would only be recognised as 8gb and with the new firmware in the Nano it is now able to recognise them as 64GB. If the NanoFlash writes to these cards and then the card is inserted into the CF reader on the computer is it as recognised 64 or 8Gb or is a driver required for this card to used on the computer system. PhotoFast 64GB which are well priced are not that easy to get. I now have an existing good supply of 32GB cards that are well proven and want to continue to use in which case hot swapping is the only way.

I will have to say that on this occasion I am most disappointed.
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Old November 16th, 2009, 07:59 PM   #11
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Dear David,

We are considering this.

I do not think it will be in this weeks firmware release.

I just updated my nanoFlash with our latest firmware, from last Friday. As of last Friday, it was not in our firmware, so I do not think it is in the firmware we will release this week.
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Old November 16th, 2009, 08:04 PM   #12
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Dear Lance,

We are trying hard to balance everyone's requests.

And yes, we are late in delivering "Hot Swapping".
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Old November 16th, 2009, 08:18 PM   #13
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I just wanted to mention that I really love my nano, and even without hot swapping, I think it's one of the most useful and powerful tools I have. It has totally impressed every single person I have shown it to (and we're talking about producers and engineers in the broadcast industry that are rarely impressed by anything). Remote control indeed...

I also understand that some features are more important than others, both to users and to Convergent Design. The HBO 24/7 crew is chomping at the bit for under/over crank, for example. Multiple (8) channel embedded audio is obviously important to some of your desired clients. (And I will certainly be taking advantage of it, when implemented). Jam sync for timecode is a really useful timesaver for everyone that uses multiple non-linked nanos (non-linked in the sense of the cameras not being linked).

My monthly "waahhhh" message about the slipping of hot swapping is mostly to remind you that to some of us, hot swapping is also very important. And while hot swapping is pretty much at the top of my list, I am also looking forward to your new interface, and to profiles, and especially the ability to (again) set a 1 second delay to the stop button when recording :) :) :)

Billy
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Old November 16th, 2009, 08:29 PM   #14
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Dear Billy,

Thanks, I really appreciate your informative post.

It is nice to hear what is really important to you.

We do think that our new menu and profiles will be a welcome change.

And thanks for the reminder that you want 1 second for the stop button.
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Old November 16th, 2009, 10:24 PM   #15
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Dear Dan,
I understand that you have other factors to consider when scheduling upgrades, I do appreciate the features that we have got so far and look forward to January upgrade. In my opinion CD is the best communicator and customer orientated company that I have had the pleasure to deal and Apple, Sony and others would do well to use the CD model.

I am well into my long duration work and I have had to find a work around for absence of hot swap and although it fraught with danger so far this has worked for me .
I have developed a system for FAST CHANGING CF cards in less than 10 seconds, this is done while the camera continues to record to SxS cards. Once the card in CF1 is full the recording has switched to the next card. I stop recording wait five seconds and then remove the card in CF1 and drop it into a open top plastic zip bag taped to the camera shoulder mount. The card from CF2 is then moved to CF1 and a fresh blank preformatted card is inserted into CF 2 all this is done while holding a spare CF card between your lips in case you drop a card.

It’s not very pretty it’s very much an agriculture way of doing things but it works. The only downside is the file numbering system changes when you change a used card from it’s original slot.
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