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Old January 24th, 2007, 11:39 AM   #1
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How much is MOBILE HDMI or HD-SDI PLUS analog SD/HD aquisition worth to you?

How much is a MOBILE HDMI or HD-SDI PLUS analog SD/HD 4:2:2 YUV 10bit aquisition solution worth to you?



I can build one. I registered specifically to post this and asses the depth of this potential market.
If the numbers don't work then it's not a valid business idea.


The form factor of the box is 30 x 20 x 8 cm, which can be carried in an oversized pocket or a small backpack. Inside the box is an embedded PC with a 2.5" 80 GB HDD and a Core 2 Duo processor. There is a built-in PSU for AC power where available, and also a 12 V DC jack for totally mobile operation.
100 Mb Ethernet is builtin and Gb Ethernet can be provided as a build option.
These two Blackmagic design cards http://blackmagic-design.com/products/hd/specs/
capture the HD-SDI or HDMI signal, and both include analog capture to boot! (card to be selected at build time)

HD-SDI: DeckLink HD Extreme
HDMI: DeckLink HD Studio
Both cards feature XLR analog audio inputs and other pro features like blackburst/trisync.

The box runs Windows XP Embedded with Blackmagic's Online mjpeg HD codec and custom glue software; it is accessible as attached storage via USB and Ethernet. The average bit-rate for the mjpeg codec is 12 MB/s at 1080 60i, yielding over two hours of continuous aquisition for a 80 MB HDD. The HDD is not (currently) removable, so you would need to offload the files to other storage (takes about 30min for 80 GB of data). However an external USB drive can be used for capture and storage. If this concept becomes a profitable market reality I will probably design my own enclosure with a removable HDD tray.

Mobility:
I see two deployment scenarios:
a) AC mains is available on set and the box is plugged to mains and tethered to the camera;
For HDMI copper or optic fiber cable is used (fiber allows for much longer cable runs but is also more vulnerable mechanically).
For HD-SDI coax with possibly very long cable runs is used.
b) Full mobile operation from a 12 V DC battery like this one http://www.powerstream.com/BP-60.htm
A battery belt with three to five of these wired in parallel is more realistic, as only one wouldn't last very long at all. It will make for a heavy belt.


Production cost:
Think of this as a poor man's Wafian HR-1. The hardware will be sourced in low volume and therefore close to or at retail price. For reference, the Decklink HD cards come in at $995.


So, just HOW MUCH IS 10-bit 4:2:2 YUV full HDTV aquisition WORTH TO YOU? And how many of you are out there? I'll start taking reservations next week ;)

Seriously, it would have to be a healthy margin and a minimum number of say 100 customers to consider entering this business. I have the R&D resources to pull it off, but no significant capital to invest, so the first dozen units will be built to order only, with payment in escrow.

It may take me abouth 6 months to bring this to market. Help me decide if this is good business or not. Post your bid price!


Warm regards,

Alex Maranda
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Old January 24th, 2007, 09:52 PM   #2
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I'm sorry Alex but you have GOT to be joking...right? We shoot uncompressed 4:2:2 10 bit HD and for 30 seconds we use 5 GIGs of storage. So that means you could get 8 minutes of footage with your 80 gig hard drive, provided you could get a fibre channel or e-sata RAID in the box you describe. USB or FireWire will not work.
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Old January 25th, 2007, 01:14 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Perry
I'm sorry Alex but you have GOT to be joking...right? We shoot uncompressed 4:2:2 10 bit HD and for 30 seconds we use 5 GIGs of storage. So that means you could get 8 minutes of footage with your 80 gig hard drive, provided you could get a fibre channel or e-sata RAID in the box you describe. USB or FireWire will not work.

ah, but when you're compressing it on the fly, you don't have to write the raw video to disk.

laptops don't have easily obtained hi-bandwidth external interfaces. if they did then i'd think you could suck in 4:2:2 10-bit HD video, compress it on the fly, and store it to an internal 7200rpm drive. the encoders are lean and easily implemented: http://www.koders.com/c/fidD66AD8BE2...C958F6325.aspx and you might easily get 15:1 compression out of it (so 8 * 15 = 120 = 2 hours of footage).
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Old January 25th, 2007, 03:59 AM   #4
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@Dave

Hi, no joke Dave; as Ali has mentioned, this is on the fly compression, at a bit-rate slightly lower than Cineform's DI (which BTW is an option as well if $2,500 for Prospect HD ingest software is within reason and there is a market for it). If someone can evaluate Blackmagic mjpeg vs Cineform DI I would appreciate it.

Think of this as a Core 2 Duo laptop with no screen (it is in fact based on the Centrino mobile platform) in a small box form factor (however retaining USB and VGA/DVI outputs, just like the Mac Mini). UNLIKE the Mac Mini, this box has a PCI Express x16 slot (and also a 32bit PCI slot), so you can fit a Blackmagic capture card in it. The legacy PCI can be used for a Gb Ethernet card.

My concern currently is the height of the heatsinks on the $995 Blackmagic cards - it is unclear if they will fit in the box (which is only 8 cm high). A riser card is used and the heatsinks are about 4 cm in height - dicy; power dissipation needs to be worked out - the plan is to transfer from the heatsinks directly to the aluminium enclosure. This is going to be a hot box! (whichever way you look at it).

The Intensity HDMI ($250) card does fit nicely (flatter heatsink and less power used), and could be a build option for the price conscious. However it is 4:2:2 8 bit not 10 bit, so it would be a match for the consumer camcorders like the SR1. Although it seems even serious cams like the V1U output 8 bit color in a 10 bit format!

Last edited by Alex Maranda; January 25th, 2007 at 09:48 AM.
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Old January 25th, 2007, 04:42 AM   #5
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After replying to Dave, I followed that line of thought and I think there are a few feature/price points people may be interested in:

Consider $XXXX to be the price of the baseline box.

Value level:
4:2:2 8 bit HDMI only: Baseline+Intensity: $XXXX+$250

Production level:
4:2:2 10 bit HDMI or HD-SDI (plus analog), mjpeg compression: Baseline+DeckLink HD: $XXXX+$995

DigitalFilm level:
4:2:2 10 bit HDMI or HD-SDI (plus analog), Cineform DI compression:
Baseline+DeckLink HD+Prospect HD ingest: $XXXX+$995+$2500


So you have the following price points:
$XXXX+$250
$XXXX+$995
$XXXX+$3495
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Old January 25th, 2007, 06:18 AM   #6
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OK, I'll admit that what you are proposing sounds doable, but I thought the whole point was to maintain an uncompressed 422 workflow?
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Old January 25th, 2007, 06:45 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ali Husain
laptops don't have easily obtained hi-bandwidth external interfaces. if they did then i'd think you could suck in 4:2:2 10-bit HD video, compress it on the fly, and store it to an internal 7200rpm drive. the encoders are lean and easily implemented: http://www.koders.com/c/fidD66AD8BE2...C958F6325.aspx and you might easily get 15:1 compression out of it (so 8 * 15 = 120 = 2 hours of footage).
I'm confused. Are you saying with an encoder like this you can turn a laptop in to 4.2.2 capture device? (providing there's some kinda sdi interface...) If so, why would we need the "Maranda Box"? (patent pending)
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Old January 25th, 2007, 07:58 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian Luce
I'm confused. Are you saying with an encoder like this you can turn a laptop in to 4.2.2 capture device? (providing there's some kinda sdi interface...) If so, why would we need the "Maranda Box"? (patent pending)

Brian, you were quoting Ali not me. I said nothing about using a laptop in a laptop form factor. What I did say is I would use the Centrino mobile platform (on which laptops are also built) in a different and more useful form factor, namely a 30 x 20 x 8 cm box, with AC PSU builtin and 12 V DC power (external battery). This box (supplied as an embedded PC by a Taiwanese manufacturer) has a PCI Express slot, which a laptop of course lacks.
I will mod the box for dual power (to accomodate mobile operation), install a Blackmagic card (build option as per my initial post), provide a custom Windows XP Embedded image with the required software on a CF card (which by the way is field swappable, so for example a DigitalFilm option with Cineform DI is a 20 seconds upgrade), stress test the device and ship it.

The box will be branded with a boring production name instead of my last name. Warranty will be provided by my company; I am an electronics engineer.
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Old January 25th, 2007, 08:06 AM   #9
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@Dave

For those people wanting an uncompressed HD workflow this solution is indeed of no interest; that market is catered by the Wafian HR-1, at $17,500 a pop.

However, for those who find useful a Digital Intermediate and have a significantly lower budget, this solution gives them an entry point; this can be either Blacmagic's Online mjpeg codec, or at an extra cost, Cineform DI through Prospect HD.
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Old January 25th, 2007, 08:09 AM   #10
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Yes I understand it was Ali's post. I just had the idea that to do something like that required some sort of hot rod Raid array.

Personally, if I wanted something like that I'd be inclined to just mod a laptop (assuming it's feasible) cuz despite the larger form factor, i'd be able to use the lap as a monitor, editor, any number of other options.

Good luck though on your project.
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Old January 25th, 2007, 08:19 AM   #11
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Unless I'm missing something here, why not just use a laptop with a Magma portable PCI chassis?
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Old January 25th, 2007, 08:50 AM   #12
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@David Jones

two words: form factor. Compare a body worn 30 x 20 x 8cm box plus a battery belt used outdoors, with a laptop plus a Magma enclosure.
It really depends on what your project is - think downhill skiing with helmet mounted cam and box in a vest pocket in terms of mobility; I would agree this is very much a niche market though :)
Let's try something else...umm Amazon jungle trip? mountaineering expedition? safari? ATV? skydiving? cave exploration? Any uncontrolled fast paced environment. Ummm....night clubs? high end WEDDINGS??
Also consider the total solution price if you don't already own a suitable laptop (a CardBus or Expresscard slot is required). The Magma is not cheap! This box works out more cost effective than a new laptop plus the Magma enclosure.

@Brian

Modding a laptop...how? I would appreciate technical insight on what that means. You may be thinking of using the Expresscard slot (which is what the Magma does to connect to the laptop - an external enclosure is still needed).

Last edited by Alex Maranda; January 25th, 2007 at 10:10 AM.
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Old January 25th, 2007, 08:59 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alex Maranda

@Brian

Modding a laptop...how? I would appreciate technical insight on what that means. Y
What David said.

I'm not trying to discourage you. Form factor is a huge thing for some people. I know a lap top is just too much baggage for some. I think it's a great idea.
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Old January 26th, 2007, 01:18 PM   #14
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Why only 80gigs of storage? How many batteries will you have to carry with you for a days of shooting?

I'm sorry, I just don't get these indie film solutions. Why not just shoot on a better format?
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Old January 26th, 2007, 01:24 PM   #15
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I think heat dissipation and power consumption will be a very critical issue for that Core 2 (and the HDD). Intels are not known for their efficiency. You should consider an AMD mobile processor and a more embedded OS, probably stored on a locked flash drive. Also, why limit to a 2.5" drive? It's a very minor incremental cost to get a 350gb or even 500gb 3.5" drive and store 4-5 times as much data at a much higher transfer rate.

Wifi ! That is what devices like the firestore are missing. Even if it's not realtime transfer, do it to dodge the risks and engineering hurdles of hot connectors.

I hate to say that these kinds of solutions, while ideal for people like me, do not sell well. Good luck though.
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