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af100 and ki-pro?

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Steve Lovelace
af100 and ki-pro?
on Jun 24, 2011 at 3:43:24 am

Hello all-

Having used an AF100 and Ki-Pro mini in tandem, I have a few "devil's advocate" observations, and I'd greatly like to know if I am incorrect on any of this - or what the workarounds are.

We tend to prefer footage shot at 1080p/30. Thankfully, the AF100 is capable of 1080p/30 internal recording. However, the SDI output only sends it as 1080i/30. So since the Ki-Pro records exactly what it sees, you can't make 1080p/30 files unless you record internally on the AF100. This makes the Ki-Pro pointless if you need 1080p/30 files when shooting from the AF100 - or any other camera that only sends 1080i on its outputs. But it's really a moot point anyway, since apparently the Ki-Pro currently cannot record 1080/30p in the first place.

Panasonic says the camera will record 6 hours (at high "PH" quality) when using 2 32GB SD cards. On the Ki-Pro, on 2 32GB CF cards, it appears you get just over 1 hour at ProRes LT (100Mbps). That's nearly 6:1 difference, plus having to use high-speed CF cards which can often cost 3-4 times as much as comparable SD cards. So on a card pair that's 4 times more money, with 1/6th the capacity, the cost-per-minute of ProRes LT on a Ki-Pro is 24X greater than AVCCAM at its highest setting. But is the relative quality between AVCCAM PH and ProRes LT that great a difference? I've seen Sony EX-3 footage that looked great, and at the low bit-rate that it has, it seemed to hold up far better than ProRes Proxy, which is pretty badly compressed.

One of the most touted reasons for the Ki-Pro is the advantage of recording directly to ProRes, in that much time is saved by not having to convert the AVCCAM files when working in Final Cut. But this apparently will become a non-issue this summer when Panasonic releases an importer plug-in for Quicktime, allowing AVCCAM files to be worked with natively in Final Cut. No timely conversion required.

Another big issue - that AJA says could be fixed in future firmware updates - is that slot 1 and slot 2 do not roll over into one another during recording, the way the AF100 and most other dual-slot recording setups do. It makes me wonder why bother having 2 slots in the first place, when it takes nearly as much time to switch to the 2nd slot as it does to just put a new card. Either way, you need to stop your recording - not cool if you're in the middle of a great scene or important interview response.

In truth, I'd really like to be wrong with all this, and simply not seeing the forest for the trees.

Looking forward to everyone's feedback.


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Uli Plank
Re: af100 and ki-pro?
on Jun 24, 2011 at 10:51:12 am

Exactly my criticism too!
I doubt that the Ki Pro Mini will be able to bridge two cards, since it doesn't seem to have a cache in it's hardware. It can't even close a file if the HDMI cable slips out or the camera runs out of juice.

Director of the Institute of Media Research (IMF) at Braunschweig University of Arts


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Tim Vaughan
Re: af100 and ki-pro?
on Jun 24, 2011 at 4:18:52 pm

I recently tested out the mini and wasn't impressed overall. Everything from the cost standpoint (nearly $4k once batteries, external mounting options and CFcards were obtained) to what you listed above. We are looking into Blackmagics Hyperdeck shuttle/studio as maybe a much more cost effective route, and also a major difference in transfer times. With being able to purchase a single docking station at $25 and SSD drives continuing to reduce in price, it's almost a no-brainer. Granted, I would prefer the proRes recording against uncompressed just for disk space, but it's hard to argue an approx $2k difference overall.
I'm a fan of AJA, don't get me wrong. But sometimes a good company misses the mark.

Tim
Now featuring AVID Media Composer
Apple XRAID, XServe, MacPro, Macbook Pro, XSAN, FCP Studio 7 (Sorry, no iMovie Pro)
Apple Monitors, Flanders Scientific Broadcast, Panasonic AG-AF100
Adobe Production Premium, Maxon Cinema 4d
Beer fridge fully loaded.


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Uli Plank
Re: af100 and ki-pro?
on Jun 24, 2011 at 4:26:56 pm

But there's the Ninja too plus soon the Samurai…

Director of the Institute of Media Research (IMF) at Braunschweig University of Arts


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Steve Lovelace
Re: af100 and ki-pro?
on Jun 24, 2011 at 4:52:59 pm

In a nutshell, here's what I get when I set camera up to various formats [only listing the higher quality settings here] and what the Ki-Pro sees via SDI from the camera:

Cam: 720p/24 Ki-Pro: 720p/59.94
Cam: 720p/60 Ki-Pro: 720p/59.94
Cam: 1080p/24 Ki-Pro: 1080i/29.97
Cam: 1080p/30 Ki-Pro: 1080i/29.97
Cam: 1080i/60 Ki-Pro: 1080i/29.97

So it looks like there two choices: 720p at 59.54fps, or 1080i at 29.97fps. The Ki-Pro supposedly supports more formats, but perhaps only on playback from pre-recorded files.


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AJA Sales Department
Re: af100 and ki-pro?
on Jun 25, 2011 at 4:15:09 pm

Please note: the goal of this post is to answer the specific questions and comments posed in the previous posts in this thread. Because of this, it quotes portions of these previous posts to be as efficient as possible and attempts to answes the questions in one post.

Steve Lovelace wrote: "However, the SDI output only sends it as 1080i/30. So since the Ki-Pro records exactly what it sees, you can't make 1080p/30 files unless you record internally on the AF100. This makes the Ki-Pro pointless if you need 1080p/30 files when shooting from the AF100 - or any other camera that only sends 1080i on its outputs. But it's really a moot point anyway, since apparently the Ki-Pro currently cannot record 1080/30p in the first place."

Reply: If the camera is outputting 1080i 29.97, that is what the Ki Pro Mini will record. The Ki Pro Mini does support up to 1080p 29.97 (which is sometimes shorthanded as "1080p/30") however the Panasonic AG-AF100 may not output that format via HD-SDI at this time, in which case, the Ki Pro Mini would not be able to record it if it is not output by the camera; as you noted, the Ki Pro Mini records the format and frame rate it receives. See the additional comment later in this post regarding the unique difference in the output for the Panasonic AG-AF100 with regards to 720p formats.

Steve Lovelace wrote: "Panasonic says the camera will record 6 hours (at high "PH" quality) when using 2 32GB SD cards. On the Ki-Pro, on 2 32GB CF cards, it appears you get just over 1 hour at ProRes LT (100Mbps). That's nearly 6:1 difference, plus having to use high-speed CF cards which can often cost 3-4 times as much as comparable SD cards. So on a card pair that's 4 times more money, with 1/6th the capacity, the cost-per-minute of ProRes LT on a Ki-Pro is 24X greater than AVCCAM at its highest setting. But is the relative quality between AVCCAM PH and ProRes LT that great a difference? I've seen Sony EX-3 footage that looked great, and at the low bit-rate that it has, it seemed to hold up far better than ProRes Proxy, which is pretty badly compressed."

Reply: The Panasonic on-board recording, set to the maximum quality of "PH" as noted, will produce 8-bit 4:2:0 24Mbps (maximum bit rate) files. By contrast, the AJA Ki Pro Mini can be configured to record 10-bit 4:2:2 at up to a maximum bit rate of 220Mbps when using Apple ProRes 422 (HQ); lower bit rates apply for other Apple ProRes 422 codec flavors and AJA tends to recommend standard Apple ProRes 422 (approximately 145Mbps maximum) for the majority of acquisition and Apple ProRes 422 (HQ) for the more demanding post production needs. AJA considers Apple ProRes 422 (Proxy), as the name implies, unsuitable for production recordings. Lower bit rates employed by the camera allow the use of SD cards in the camera, higher bit rates require the use of faster CF cards in the Ki Pro Mini; it simply isn't feasible to use SD cards for the higher data rate requirements as employed by the Ki Pro Mini. Even CF cards need to be of specific speed in order to be able to support up to 220Mbps; compared to other 10-bit 4:2:2 capable recording media, the CF cards employed by the Ki Pro Mini could be seen as reasonable… or expensive if the comparison was to slower, consumer-oriented CF cards. Since AJA does not produce the media, the associated costs are beyond our scope. The cards selected by AJA meet the performance requirements needed for recording 1080i 29.97 with 8-channel audio for the capacity of the CF card, less 10%. You can find the list of qualified CF cards here:
http://www.aja.com/pdf/KiProMini_qualifiedCF_cards.pdf

For post production purposes, where color correction and other processes might be of value, the 10-bit 4:2:2 files (even if the camera's output is limited to 8-bit) may serve the post production processes better than an 8-bit 4:2:0 source. This is not meant in any way to diminish the quality that is possible when using the on-board recording media and compression employed by the camera; this might be suitable quality for your post production and deliverable needs… or it may not. If it is not, the use of an attached video recorder, like the Ki Pro Mini, can be beneficial when the acquired material is moved to post production. As an added benefit, the Ki Pro Mini Apple ProRes 422 QuickTime Movie files can be used in a variety of non-linear editing systems, not just Final Cut Pro.

Steve Lovelace wrote: "Another big issue - that AJA says could be fixed in future firmware updates - is that slot 1 and slot 2 do not roll over into one another during recording, the way the AF100 and most other dual-slot recording setups do. It makes me wonder why bother having 2 slots in the first place, when it takes nearly as much time to switch to the 2nd slot as it does to just put a new card. Either way, you need to stop your recording - not cool if you're in the middle of a great scene or important interview response."

Reply: To be clear, AJA did not promise dual CF card slot continuous recording on the Ki Pro Mini product. As noted, AJA would like to provide this capability in the future. Having two card slots, does allow the user to gracefully unmount the first card inserted in slot 1 via the SLOT button and then with another depression of the SLOT button, mount the media in slot 2; AJA felt that this could be of benefit to users who might want to have media "on-hand" in the device as opposed to physically swapping out media. Prior to the most recent file-based cameras, recordings had to be stopped on cameras if the remaining media was low, so the operation is not dissimilar to that. Having stated that, AJA appreciates the merits of being able to have recordings continue should media in one slot reach capacity; again, this is something that may appear in future firmware but is not a promised feature of the device.

Uli Plank wrote: "I doubt that the Ki Pro Mini will be able to bridge two cards, since it doesn't seem to have a cache in it's hardware. It can't even close a file if the HDMI cable slips out or the camera runs out of juice."

Reply: Again, AJA would like to enable recording between the two CF card slots, but it is not a promised feature of the device; this does not mean that is is not possible due to it's hardware design however. The implementation of un-promised features requires extensive testing to assure that it operates to customer satisfaction when released.

The Ki Pro Mini is designed to stop recording on a loss of video; if an HDMI cable is removed while recording, the Ki Pro Mini should stop recording. Loss of power is more difficult, but the Ki Pro Mini is designed to stop recording and close the file if the battery does not "cliff off" too quickly; this means that some batteries provide sufficient time to produce a low voltage warning for the Ki Pro Mini and initiate the stop recording and file close sequences, but not all battery behavior is the same, so this can vary between batteries used. If you are not experiencing what is described in this reply with your Ki Pro Mini, please contact AJA Technical Support so they can review your configuration.

Tim Vaughn wrote: "I recently tested out the mini and wasn't impressed overall. Everything from the cost standpoint (nearly $4k once batteries, external mounting options and CFcards were obtained) to what you listed above."

Reply: We are sorry if you were not pleased with the device and appreciate your feedback. Like many devices, including cameras, the Ki Pro Mini can require additional expenses, such as the purchase of media and power sources. By allowing the user to select their accessories, it means that the Ki Pro Mini can be configured as the user sees fit; some users will want to use Anton Bauer batteries, others will want to use IDX, some users will want to mount the Ki Pro Mini via the Mounting Plate and 15mm rods, others will want to mount it via an articulating arm, etc. AJA is not the only company that provides a basic kit and allows the user to customize as they see fit; Panasonic, for example, may not have include a lens with the AG-AF100 for this reason.

Steve Lovelace wrote: "In a nutshell, here's what I get when I set camera up to various formats [only listing the higher quality settings here] and what the Ki-Pro sees via SDI from the camera:

Cam: 720p/24 Ki-Pro: 720p/59.94
Cam: 720p/60 Ki-Pro: 720p/59.94
Cam: 1080p/24 Ki-Pro: 1080i/29.97
Cam: 1080p/30 Ki-Pro: 1080i/29.97
Cam: 1080i/60 Ki-Pro: 1080i/29.97

So it looks like there two choices: 720p at 59.54fps, or 1080i at 29.97fps. The Ki-Pro supposedly supports more formats, but perhaps only on playback from pre-recorded files."

Reply: If you refer to the Ki Pro Mini Release Notes document, you will note that the formats supported for the AG-AF100 differ from other cameras. You can find this document at:
http://www.aja.com/pdf/ReleaseNotes_KiProMini_v2.5.pdf

In future firmware, AJA hopes to add support for extracting frame rates within larger frame rates from the AG-AF100 (as is already supported on other cameras from Panasonic, etc.) At this time, the Ki Pro Mini should support the following formats from the Panasonic AG-AF100:
720p 50
720p 59.94
1080PsF 23.98 (requires specific menu selections on the camera for SDI out)
1080i 25
1080i 29.97

AJA appreciates your feedback on it's products. You should feel free to contact the company directly with feedback; AJA cannot hope - though it makes a valiant effort to do so - to monitor all of the forums on the internet where information may be posted regarding our products.

If you have additional questions or comments, please feel free to contact AJA Technical Support via phone or email. They are happy to provide assistance Monday through Friday from 9am to 5pm PST.

--
AJA Video Systems
+1 (530) 274-2048 Intl.
(800) 251-4224 US
sales@aja.com


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Tim Vaughan
Re: af100 and ki-pro?
on Jun 25, 2011 at 4:44:12 pm

Yet another reason why I like AJA. Their customer support, reps that visit user groups and other events, and overall value is unmatched. Another hardware/software company could certainly learn a thing or two about them.
Again, for the record, while I wasn't impressed with the Ki Pro Mini, nearly every other product has impressed me. That certainly won't stop me in the future considering any and all AJA products!
Thanks for listening to the forums, usergroups, and events that you participate in and for your overall support of pre/post production! You guys really are a stand up company

(No, I don't work for AJA....LOL)

Tim
Now featuring AVID Media Composer
Apple XRAID, XServe, MacPro, Macbook Pro, XSAN, FCP Studio 7 (Sorry, no iMovie Pro)
Apple Monitors, Flanders Scientific Broadcast, Panasonic AG-AF100
Adobe Production Premium, Maxon Cinema 4d
Beer fridge fully loaded.


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Uli Plank
Re: af100 and ki-pro?
on Jun 26, 2011 at 6:00:05 am

I appreciate your detailed and careful answer.

Unfortunately, you misunderstood one of my notes (regarding slip-out of a HDMI cable):
"The Ki Pro Mini is designed to stop recording on a loss of video; if an HDMI cable is removed while recording, the Ki Pro Mini should stop recording."

Sure. But it doesn't do this gracefully. The last file (which may be a lot when recording continuously) is not closed properly and unusable for editing in that case.

And then:
"Loss of power is more difficult, but the Ki Pro Mini is designed to stop recording and close the file if the battery does not "cliff off" too quickly…"

I wasn't talking about loss of power to the KiPro Mini, but of power to the camera (if suppllied independently, as needed for the AF 101). It has the same effect as a cable slipping out: the last recording isn't closed properly.

I understand that you do the best you can regarding low battery for the KiPro Mini.

Regards,

Director of the Institute of Media Research (IMF) at Braunschweig University of Arts


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AJA Sales Department
Re: af100 and ki-pro?
on Jun 26, 2011 at 5:10:27 pm

If your files are not closing when you lose the video source, either via unplugging the cable or the camera powering down, then you should contact AJA Technical Support to review your configuration.

--
AJA Video Systems
+1 (530) 274-2048 Intl.
(800) 251-4224 US
sales@aja.com


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Uli Plank
Re: af100 and ki-pro?
on Jun 26, 2011 at 9:03:59 pm

I have tested two units and they both behave the same!

They close the file if I re-establish the video signal, by plugging the cable or starting the camera with a fresh battery. But if I don't have a fresh battery and, I loose my last recording. Happened to me in the middle of nowhere after shooting for a time-lapse…

Director of the Institute of Media Research (IMF) at Braunschweig University of Arts


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AJA Sales Department
Re: af100 and ki-pro?
on Jun 27, 2011 at 3:59:42 am

Please contact AJA Technical Support via phone or email for assistance.

--
AJA Video Systems
+1 (530) 274-2048 Intl.
(800) 251-4224 US
sales@aja.com


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Uli Plank
Re: af100 and ki-pro?
on Jul 2, 2011 at 7:39:46 am

OK, they told me I need to re-establish the signal to have the file closed properly. So, bring enough juice to your set!
While (of course) they are not talking about it, I still dare to speculate that this box doesn't have enough internal buffer.

Director of the Institute of Media Research (IMF) at Braunschweig University of Arts


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