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Old November 25th, 2011, 03:44 AM   #1
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A month with a Gemini

I've been testing and using a Gemini with my S-log equipped PMW-F3 for a month now and I have to say that every time I use the combo the image quality amazes me.

The Gemini firmware has been updated many times in that month, but I can report that the latest release is nice and stable and delivering the goods. The gemini is remarkable easy to use, the on screen menus are clear and concise. Talking of the screen the LCD is very good indeed. It is clearly visible even in bright direct sunlight. I've also been using some other external recorders with screens and the Gemini stands out as a clear winner in this regard.

Power consumption is very good. I'm using Swit 86U batteries with a D-tap to power both the F3 and the Gemini and I get around 2 hours from a fully charged battery. This keeps the size and weight of the rig very manageable, no need to upgrade my tripod or use special mounts for the Gemini, it sits very nicely on the F3's handle. You can still use the full kit handheld without needing to use a shoulder mount or wear the recorder in a rucksack or similar.

Now.. there are some important things to consider with the Gemini. It is a high end production tool at a low end price. You do get high end, beautiful image quality and you get the same kind of files as you'd use for high end movies and commercials. These DPX files are basically sequences of uncompressed still frames. If you are considering the Gemini you do need to think about your workflow. You will be generating some damn big files, 750GB per hour and that presents a few issues.

Don't expect to transfer your material to a laptop hard drive in real time. The Gemini uses ultra fast SSD's because regular hard drives are not fast enough for 444 uncompressed data, so you just won't get real time uncompressed copies to a laptop drive. It's taken me up to 3 hours to copy an hour of footage to a fast single hard drive. If you want real time or faster transfers of uncompressed 444 (from ANY device) then your going to want a nice big, fast, raid array, that's just a fact of uncompressed life.
One option with the Gemini is to convert your files to a compressed codec as you transfer from the SSD's. This can actually end up faster than doing a straight copy as with a fast computer the material can be pulled of the SSD quickly, encoded and then the more compact file written to a conventional hard drive. For this to be effective I recommend at the very least a dual core i5 2.3Ghz machine. For current model MacBook and iMac users you will be able to use the Sonnet Echo Express thunderbolt to express card adapter along with a Sonnet Express34 to dual eSata adapter to get fast transfers (available December).
I've been transcoding to ProRes 4444 and the results are superb. Avid Media Composer 6 now includes a 444 codec but I have not tested this yet. My i7 iMac will encode from uncompressed to ProRes 444 at around realtime speeds.
Another thing you must consider is that because DPX is a stills sequence, there is no audio. At the moment the Gemini does not record audio, so I record both in camera with audio plus the DPX files on the Gemini. It's pretty straight forward to sync them up in post. There will be a firmware update in the future to add audio recording to the Gemini, so this is just a temporary issue.

So, being realistic about things. The Gemini 444 is a great device. It's uncompressed so the image quality is fantastic. But you must consider that this is a very high end uncompressed recorder and with any uncompressed HD recorder you will end up with big files. I won't be using the Gemini for everything I do, the workflow doesn't suit fast turnaround productions and frankly it's overkill for web videos etc. But when quality is paramount the Gemini truly excels, performing as well as devices costing many times more, yet offering one of the best LCD's, very low power and it is a featherweight in comparison to some of the other external brick recorders.
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Old November 25th, 2011, 07:40 AM   #2
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Re: A month with a Gemini

Dear Alister,

Thank you very much for posting your thoughts about our Gemini 4:4:4.

We are currently working hard on adding embedded audio, and generating internal timecode.

For these with CineFlex cameras, there is no timecode embedded in the HD-SDI output, so we are adding that.

Also, we have many other features that we will be adding to the Gemini 4:4;4.
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Old November 25th, 2011, 05:43 PM   #3
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Re: A month with a Gemini

Dan,
Do you have any idea of when audio will be available?
Do you expect one month delay or three month delay?

Paul Richards.
Nutshell Rentals offer great deals on rental all video equipment. | Nutshell Rentals
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Old November 25th, 2011, 08:08 PM   #4
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Re: A month with a Gemini

Dear Paul,

We expect to have the ability to record embedded audio within 30 days.

We are actively working on this.
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Old November 26th, 2011, 02:55 AM   #5
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Re: A month with a Gemini

I've been asked how I work with the DPX files.

There are a few options currently available. If you are working with Avid on a PC you can use Avid's MetaFuse to convert the DPX files to Avid MXF's.

You can use DPX files directly in Adobe Premiere CS5, the drop directly in to you projects as number stills sequences. Very easy. You can also use Adobe Media Encoder to batch convert the files to whatever codecs you have on your machine. I've been using this to convert the files to ProRes 4444 on my Mac.

For FCP you can use Glue Tools Cineon/DPX importer. This is a paid for option, but allows you to work with native DPX files, I have not tried this myself. Another option is to import the DPX files into Color and then export them as ProRes files.

AJA also have a free DPX to AJA codec converter that will run on a Mac, I did try this with some early Gemini clips but had issues. I believe these should now be resolved but I have not re-visited this workflow.
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Old November 26th, 2011, 08:59 AM   #6
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Re: A month with a Gemini

Cineform also includes a DPX converter in Neo for PCs. I don't know about Macs though. The last time I used it was when it was still in beta and was enabled by command line. It may be enabled by normal GUI now but I have not looked into it in a long time.
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Old November 29th, 2011, 12:36 PM   #7
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Re: A month with a Gemini

Hello Everyone,

Cineform Neo Remaster is the version to use for the Mac, and can Convert 444 DPX files to 444 Cineform or Pro Res Files,

Cineform Neot4K : Specifications

Hope that Helps
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Old November 30th, 2011, 11:31 AM   #8
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Re: A month with a Gemini

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alister Chapman View Post
I've been testing and using a Gemini with my S-log equipped PMW-F3 for a month now and I have to say that every time I use the combo the image quality amazes me.

The Gemini firmware has been updated many times in that month, but I can report that the latest release is nice and stable and delivering the goods. The gemini is remarkable easy to use, the on screen menus are clear and concise. Talking of the screen the LCD is very good indeed. It is clearly visible even in bright direct sunlight. I've also been using some other external recorders with screens and the Gemini stands out as a clear winner in this regard.

Power consumption is very good. I'm using Swit 86U batteries with a D-tap to power both the F3 and the Gemini and I get around 2 hours from a fully charged battery. This keeps the size and weight of the rig very manageable, no need to upgrade my tripod or use special mounts for the Gemini, it sits very nicely on the F3's handle. You can still use the full kit handheld without needing to use a shoulder mount or wear the recorder in a rucksack or similar.

Now.. there are some important things to consider with the Gemini. It is a high end production tool at a low end price. You do get high end, beautiful image quality and you get the same kind of files as you'd use for high end movies and commercials. These DPX files are basically sequences of uncompressed still frames. If you are considering the Gemini you do need to think about your workflow. You will be generating some damn big files, 750GB per hour and that presents a few issues.

Don't expect to transfer your material to a laptop hard drive in real time. The Gemini uses ultra fast SSD's because regular hard drives are not fast enough for 444 uncompressed data, so you just won't get real time uncompressed copies to a laptop drive. It's taken me up to 3 hours to copy an hour of footage to a fast single hard drive. If you want real time or faster transfers of uncompressed 444 (from ANY device) then your going to want a nice big, fast, raid array, that's just a fact of uncompressed life.
One option with the Gemini is to convert your files to a compressed codec as you transfer from the SSD's. This can actually end up faster than doing a straight copy as with a fast computer the material can be pulled of the SSD quickly, encoded and then the more compact file written to a conventional hard drive. For this to be effective I recommend at the very least a dual core i5 2.3Ghz machine. For current model MacBook and iMac users you will be able to use the Sonnet Echo Express thunderbolt to express card adapter along with a Sonnet Express34 to dual eSata adapter to get fast transfers (available December).
I've been transcoding to ProRes 4444 and the results are superb. Avid Media Composer 6 now includes a 444 codec but I have not tested this yet. My i7 iMac will encode from uncompressed to ProRes 444 at around realtime speeds.
Another thing you must consider is that because DPX is a stills sequence, there is no audio. At the moment the Gemini does not record audio, so I record both in camera with audio plus the DPX files on the Gemini. It's pretty straight forward to sync them up in post. There will be a firmware update in the future to add audio recording to the Gemini, so this is just a temporary issue.

So, being realistic about things. The Gemini 444 is a great device. It's uncompressed so the image quality is fantastic. But you must consider that this is a very high end uncompressed recorder and with any uncompressed HD recorder you will end up with big files. I won't be using the Gemini for everything I do, the workflow doesn't suit fast turnaround productions and frankly it's overkill for web videos etc. But when quality is paramount the Gemini truly excels, performing as well as devices costing many times more, yet offering one of the best LCD's, very low power and it is a featherweight in comparison to some of the other external brick recorders.


Hi Alister,

I as well have a F3 and have been shooting with it over the past year using other SSR units with some limited success. I now have the Gemini and wondered if I may ask how you mounted your unit? With a Noga type arm, we have found that with the single 1/4" receiver on the back of the unit, likes to unwind, especially when mobile (jib arm, dolly, hand held, etc) We have suggested that a yoke be created to house the unit that would affix along the sides of it and leave a open space at the bottom to attach cables as well as offer some level of protection for them. I purchased the Manfrotto 482 universal swivel mount which is a solid top mount solution but it too will release if the unit is being moved.

We were also wondering about being able to use a Thunderbolt SSD reader as apposed to the eSata as all of our new MAC's now come with Thunderbolt and eSata is not even a option. The USB/eSata is a little more challenging in the field needing two cables. As you pointed out, low power consumption is a huge benefit when needing to be on the fly, but also the weight and size of the unit as well as noise levels (no on board fan) and the stable operating platform (not Windows OS based). I had heard that a Thunderbolt direct SSD reader may be coming very shortly.

Please tell us what you can.
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Old November 30th, 2011, 12:52 PM   #9
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Re: A month with a Gemini

Dear John,

We are currently building a small aluminum block at attaches to either side of the Gemini 4:4:4 (or nanoFlash).

This block as two stainless steel threaded inserts.

One is 1/4" x 20 thread.

One is 3/8" x 16 thread.

I wonder if a simple lock washer would help with the problem you mentioned.

I would recommend a flat washer against the Gemini 4:4:4, then a lock washer, then the Noga Arm.

I think it is worth a test.

We will have more solutions later.
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Old November 30th, 2011, 02:31 PM   #10
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Re: A month with a Gemini

Thanks for the suggestion Dan. Any word on a SSD to Thunderbolt direct solution that would allow us MAC users the ability to power a SSD reader through Thunderbolt cable and connect direct to our systems?

We have also hear several rumours about a new Final Cut Pro app that is slated to resurface in the new year. Word has it the user will be able to ingest DPX material direct and start the post process almost immediately. What have you heard?
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Old November 30th, 2011, 03:09 PM   #11
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Re: A month with a Gemini

Dear John,

The Sonnet Thunderbolt to ExpressCard 34 adapter is supposed to be out in December.

This will allow any ExpressCard 34 adapter, such as a Dual eSATA adapter to be used.

Thus allowing our transfer station to be used on a computer without an ExpressCard 34 slot or an eSATA slot, provided one has a Thunderbolt port.

I am not in a position to announce future products from us, it would not be appropriate.

I would expect that quite a few Thunderbolt solutions will be coming out, including support for eSATA directly.

And since Thunderbolt is supposed to be on all new computers soon, it would make sense for us to come out with a Thunderbolt transfer station. If we can power it over the Thunderbolt cable, it would be a very nice solution for those with Thunderbolt ports.

Please remember that we are limited to the read or write speed of the SSD cards.

Our 6.0 Gbps connection is fast enough. Taking it to 10 Gbps or 100 Gbps does not improve the read speed of the SSD. It is what it is, which is really fast, but not hampered by a 6.0 Gbps bandwidth.

To answer your second question:

Apple Compressor 4, is supposed to fully support importing DPX files.
This is documented on the Apple website.

Apple - Compressor 4 - System Requirements and Tech Specs

■Support for image sequence sources: TIFF, Targa, DPX, JPEG, and OpenEXR

■Support for encoding to TIFF, Targa, DPX, JPEG, and OpenEXR image sequences

But, our testing shows that it does not work yet.
(This is from over a month ago, and there may have been an update.)

I am not familar with any other new apps coming from Apple. Others may be.
A new Apple Pro Editing App would be nice.
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Old December 3rd, 2011, 01:47 PM   #12
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Re: A month with a Gemini

I'm now using Adobe Media Encoder to transcode my DPX files to Avid DNxHD 444, the codec comes with the Media Composer 6 trial and I believe is also available in the stand alone free Avid Codec download. The results are wonderful, visually lossless I would say, but now only 440Mb/s.

The low position of the 1/4" mount on the back of the Gemini does mean that it tends to want to swivel and undo. It sounds like the blocks Dan is talking about will help.

I can confirm that the Mac version of Cineform ReMaster will transcode the Gemini DPX files to Cineform.
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Old December 3rd, 2011, 04:24 PM   #13
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Re: A month with a Gemini

Dear Friends,

The blocks that Alister is referring to were completed today.

They will be shipped to us on Monday.

These blocks attach to the side of the Gemini 4:4:4. Each block has two stainless-steel threaded inserts.

One 1/4" x 20 and one 3/8" x 16.

So this covers both of the standard tripod threads, and the threads used on arms such as the Noga Arm.
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