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Old July 1st, 2004, 10:56 AM   #1
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Shining's Citidisk (Rev B)

From my various searches of this forum I see mention of the Citidisk in a few spots but nobody seems to have one. I've got some specific questions and haven't been able to get anyone from Shining on the phone as of yet.

$1000 is a lot of money to throw out there to find out these specifics so this is a call :)

Does anyone have access to either the first run or the latest revision of the Shining Citidisk?

Thanks,
Kevin
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Old July 1st, 2004, 12:32 PM   #2
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And since most likely nobody does have this and therefore will not jump on it, perhaps posting my questions will at least garner some educated speculation.

From what I've read, this product reacts to the pressing of the record button on the camera or it can be started directly on the device by pushing the record button. This seems to be common on these devices.

What I'm wondering is if I manually start the recording on the device and then hit record on the camera to roll the tape (my backup), will the device stop recording? Quite frankly I'm surpirsed that more of you wouldn't want this to be the standard rather than the exception. Isn't tape the backup to the direct to disk in most instances? And therefor wouldn't you all want the device to continue recording to disk uninterupted when you have to switch tapes?

What I am also wondering is how it handles the fat32 4 GB limit. My assumption would be that it splits the files just short of the limit and seamlessly starts another clip with NO LOSS, but it sure would be nice to know how it's handled.

And as my partner and I are split on the whole issue of platform, I'd like to know that both she and I will be able to plug this device into our computers (WinXP and OSX 10.3) and pull date from it as well as push data to it.

These are my main three issues. If anyone has access to one of these I'd love to know what's what. I'm going to try their sales line again...

:)

-Kevin
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Old July 1st, 2004, 12:47 PM   #3
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Answers!

Well...

I got an answer on the third call attempt. A very helpful technician by the name of Ling Sha answered all of my questions so here's the scoop:

There is a firmware that you can apply that will tell the device to ignore the camera button presses. You can use the firmware update software to switch this feature back and forth in case your needs vary from shoot to shoot. (Awesome!)

The device splits video clips seamlessly at different file sizes depending on the format that you are saving too. I believe he said MOVs split at around 1Gig and AVIs at a bit less than 2Gig. The filenames autoincrement. (Nice!)

He claims that it should remain read and writable when using it between WinXP and OSX 10.X (I'll believe it when I test it).

Some additional information that I learned is that the drives used are 4200 rpm drives and there's a 32MB buffer. The devices are firmware updateable and future revisions will be able to be downloaded and applied to the current devices (for free-I'm assuming).

That's it. I am ordering an 80 Gig version and will test all of my issues and let you all know what results I get.

-Kevin
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Old July 1st, 2004, 05:03 PM   #4
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Good Kevin,

Me too. I'll have one in my clutches on monday. If there is anything I should try out for you let me know.

I'll see if I can get access to an NT machine.
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Old July 2nd, 2004, 07:42 AM   #5
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Well after looking at my checkbook I realize that I have to hold off until the next billing cycle of my credit card so I've got about 2 and a half weeks before I can order it.

In the meantime, I would say that you should just use the crap out of it for any shooting you do and see if anything goes wrong. I'm definitely interested in knowing where it splits AVI files... 2 Gig for me would equate to a whole lot of files in the end as I shoot 90-100 minutes at a time.

Let us know what you find out once you've had a chance to play with it.

-Kevin
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Old July 6th, 2004, 09:36 AM   #6
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So,


I‘m getting the feeling that I‘m somehow jinxed.

I‘ve spent the whole morning trying out the Citidisk. The first thing is that the Citidisk seems to be built better than the Quickstream. I haven‘t encountered any of the poorly manufactured (or poorly inspected) elements I did when I opened the Quickstream box. The Citidisk is incased in a well manufactured plastic housing (but you wouldn‘t want to drop it from even a small hight). The controls look exactly like the Quickstream; the buttons, indicatores and Firewire input are in the same places.

What works:

The Citidisk mounted to my Apple G4 OS X.3 without a problem. The Citidisk acts just like a plain old Firewire HDD as I had hoped. There are some system extensions included on a CD for OS 9 and Windows.

The Citidisk reliably records .mov and .avi files both when (with a tape inserted) the record button on my Sony DSR-TRV900E (E for Europe (PAL)) or when the record button on the Citidisk was pressed. The .mov files are divided into 1.15 GB devisions (separate clips). The .movs imported into FCP without a problem and where sequential without any frame or data loss. I was able to play the files directly from the Citidisk. No rendering, no hangups.

The .avi files are divided into 2.31GB portions (one clip was 1.82 GB between several 2.31 GB clips (I don‘t know why) in a longer take). Each 2.31GB file is its own separate clip like the .mov.

What didn‘t work:

The internal battery won‘t charge, or it is defective. I did all the tests with the Citidisk attached to it‘s AC power adapter. The guy who gave me the Citidisk to test, told me, after I called him, that the unit has not been used since it arrived a few months ago, and the battery may have over-drained since the main power switch on the unit was set to on. The manual says that one should turn this switch off when storing the unit for longer periods of time.

The „Quick erase“ button did not work. I was able to delete files by putting them in, and emptying the trash.

Notes:

When a DV stream is interrupted while recording, the entire last segment (clip) is lost.

Other Problems - but maybe only my problem:

The Citidisk has a real problem communicating with my XL1. I have to admit that I can‘t rule out that this is an issue with my XL1, because my XL1 has been used intensively and is showing other signs of age. One of the reasons I am so desperate to have a DV capture device like the Citidisk, or Quickstream is that my XL1 no longer records reliably to tape. I have been shooting with it, but capturing directly to my computer. This has been working well but poses some mobility problems. I thought that a Quickstream, or a Citidisk would give me my mobility back while upgrading my XL1 to a DVCam(+) HDD camera. Unfortunately, the Citidisk doesn‘t like my old XL1, the Quickstream didn‘t either.

The Citidisk records from my XL1 for one to two minutes before it ceases to write data to disc, the red record indicator on the Citidisk remains lit but the read/write LED located on the far side of the unit‘s housing stops blinking. The entire clip is lost. Unlike the Quickstream, the short takes that I managed to capture on the Citidisk are fine.

It looks as though I will have to keep working on my Frankenstore solution after all.

It would be nice to hear if anyone is having any success with the XL1 and the Citidisk. The Citidisk seems to work fine with the JVC and the Sony models it was connected to at the place from where I am borrowing this unit. The battery issue is unsettling, but the manual says that any DC power source between 6-18 volt may be used to power the Citidisk. An additional power supply would be necessary anyhow for all models of Citidisk except the 20GB version, since the internal battery only runs for 80 minutes. I know one shouldn‘t have to find a workaround for such an expensive item, but at least there is one potentially.

The Citidisk works better than the Quickstream but like the Quickstream; - If it worked, it would be perfect.
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Old July 6th, 2004, 10:38 AM   #7
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I also have a canon xl1. I considered three of the most popular options for direct to disk recording. Citidisk, quickstream and firestore.

I was concerned with quickstream because their product release was delayed by approximately 15 months. I sent an e-mail to the company and got an auto reply stating they would never receive the message. Not Good.

I called citidisk and my call was answered on the third ring and the citidisk rep answered all my questions. Not an easy task if you have read any of my posts, I usually have many questions. The small size, battery life and cost of the citidisk were very good. The fixed hard drive, limited recording status and file types recorded were not so good. The small size of the citidisk and quickstream makes them interchangeable between my xl1, gl1, and gl2. The firestore will work with the gl1/gl2 but does not easily mount to the cameras.

The firestore was more expensive, especially with the added purchase of the anton bauer batteries. It has proved to be a good investment and works well with my matrox rtx.100.
The internal hard drive is interchangeable, a second drive can be connected by firewire, and lcd provides a recording/playback status. I am hopeful that ntfs will be supported in future firmware upgrades. The 9-minute file size of fat32 can be a nuisance

My canon xl1 is also showing signs of age and I thought the tape transport might not be trusted for wedding videography where there are no second chances. Sometimes it doesn't pay to think. A month after I bought the firestore my xl1 developed four stuck/dead pixels. One green all the time and two intermittent green and one occasional red.


Bean
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Old August 25th, 2004, 09:10 AM   #8
 
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I thought I would provide an updated report of my own experiences with the ADS Technology DV Drive product. This product is a relabelled version of the Citidisk, model 1256B, and identical in every way except the label.

I've been recording 30-60 minute streams with a Canon XL1s, as well as a JVC-GVY2000. I 've also incorporated the latest firmware updates, dated June 2004.

With both cameras, and the DV Drive set to record in AVI2 format, the drive will split the continuous video stream into ~2 Gig segments. The first segment records flawlessly. Subsequent segments begin to experience audio dropout about every 4 minutes of recording time. After the first audio dropout in a segment, the remaining audio/video stream loses all sync.

Fortunately, I'm still able to record with Dv tape, because, this malfunction makes this product totally worthless and a waste of $$$$.

My recommendation...avoid Citidisk and ADS Technologies DV Drive.
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Old August 25th, 2004, 09:15 AM   #9
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Thank you very much for the information. I'm still waiting as we've made due with tape and laptop for now. Hopefully some bigger name manufacturers will jump on this or some 2nd & 3rd generation devices will pop up that actually perform as expected.

-Kevin
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Old August 25th, 2004, 09:28 AM   #10
 
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Kevin...

If you haven't already seen the latest announcement from Focus Enhancements, their new FS-4 looks very attractive. It's quite small, about the size of the Citidisk, has removeable batteries, and sells for a price competitive with the Citidisk. FE won't actually release this product to market until decmber, but, I've already pre-ordered one.
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Old August 25th, 2004, 09:38 AM   #11
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It certainly looks interesting. I didn't notice pricing info on Focus's site. Which version did you pre-order and what was the cost?

Thanks,
Kevin
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Old August 25th, 2004, 09:50 AM   #12
 
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there's a special offer on the FS-4 over at videoguys...here:
http://www.videoguys.com/videonics.html
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Old August 25th, 2004, 09:58 AM   #13
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So that's $750 for the standard version... I wonder how much the 6 hour Pro version will cost.
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