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BMD Hyperdeck, AJA Ki Pro, SoundDesign Pix or AtomOS Samurai?

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Steve Martin
BMD Hyperdeck, AJA Ki Pro, SoundDesign Pix or AtomOS Samurai?
on Aug 24, 2013 at 1:59:30 am

I'm looking for some advise and feedback on digital field recorders for my AF-100

We shoot a lot of footage with an AF-100 and love the shallow dof look of the camera, but for some post production projects (green screen shoots) I really can't use AVCHD as a recording format. So I'm thinking I'd like record to an external device. Mostly I'm looking for your thoughts & experience on the ones mentioned in the subject line (and any others?).

A few specific questions for any/all of these models:

  • Does the timecode generated by the camera flow into the recorder via SDI?
  • Is there a way to have the record trigger on the camera also trigger the outboard recorder (in effect giving me a set of AVCHD back-up with matching time code)?
  • File naming system - love it? hate it? For example, I find the AF-100 file naming system annoying since it re-sets the file name to MTS 0001 with every card
  • What surprised you (good or bad) when you started using an external recorder?

Thanks so much for helping me make an informed decision!


Production is fun - but lets not forget: Nobody ever died on the video table!

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Matthew Sonnenfeld
Re: BMD Hyperdeck, AJA Ki Pro, SoundDesign Pix or AtomOS Samurai?
on Aug 27, 2013 at 3:08:32 pm

Hi Steve,

Not sure if I can answer all of your questions but hopefully I can give you some valid advice.

Personally, I own a HyperDeck shuttle which I bought to use with my HPX170. I'm very happy with it. The naming structure is easy to use and it's a fairly simple device in general. Timecode though is not it's thing and I'm not sure if it can be externally triggered. I think that it can (almost sure but I would look it up), but I'm not sure if it can be triggered from a Panasonic. Worth a test though. In my opinion though, the worst things about the HyperDeck are twofold. 1) It does not remove pulldown. So if your camera outputs a 60i signal over the SDI (like the HPX170 does regardless of framerate), it can't read the data to remove the pulldown and conform it to 24p on the fly. This can be done in Compressor or After Effects or even Premiere but it won't do it in hardware. 2) Settings cannot be changed without a computer. You need to plug it into a computer with the software installed to change recording settings.

The Atomos Samurai I've had problems with though a DP friend of mine loves his. Though we have had serious problems with it particularly when getting the footage into Media Composer 6/6.5. Not sure if Avid fixed this in MC7. I also am not as wild about the touch screen thing and I don't think that it auto-triggers but again I'm not sure. It has it's own timecode I know but unsure if it can use camera timecode. You can change settings in the field though which is nice. The Samurai is sort of the HyperDeck with a screen and more features.

The AJA Ki Pro and Ki Pro Mini are the best out there in my opinion. They are robust, portable, and easy to set in the field. But they are by far and away the most expensive.

In the end, you get what you pay for. All record several 10bit ProRes or 10 bit DNxHD. All will give you a better image than what you are getting internally using AVCHD.

But in the end, you get what you pay for. The HyperDeck and the Samurai both record to SSD's which are expensive. The Ki Pro uses proprietary digital magazines and the Ki Pro Mini uses Compact Flash, but both AJA units requires broadcast style batteries while the Atomos uses Sony batteries and the HyperDeck has a built in rechargeable battery and can be plugged in. I would do the math and decide what you want to pay for including accessories and media. Full disclosure, I got my HyperDeck while already on the pre-order for the EF mount BMCC. I was already expecting to be buying copious amounts of SSD's.

Co-President at fourB Productions, Inc.
Blackmagic Cinema Camera, RED Scarlet-X, Panasonic HPX170, Canon 7D
2011 Macbook Pro 17", 2.3 Ghz Quad Core, 16GB RAM
2008 Mac Pro 2.6 Ghz 8 Core, 10GB RAM
AJA IoXT, Blackmagic Intensity Pro, Blackmagic Mini Monitor
Adobe Production Premium CC, Avid Media Composer 7, Final Cut Pro Studio 3

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Justin Parker
Re: BMD Hyperdeck, AJA Ki Pro, SoundDesign Pix or AtomOS Samurai?
on Aug 29, 2013 at 6:36:58 pm

Timecode will sync between the AF100 and Hyperdeck when using the SDI connection. The Hypdeck also has a feature in the set-up software to "begin recording when timecode starts" which enables a record trigger even with a camera that does not support triggering. You need to be using the SDI connection for this to work as HDMI does not support timecode.

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Matt Townley
Re: BMD Hyperdeck, AJA Ki Pro, SoundDesign Pix or AtomOS Samurai?
on Sep 1, 2013 at 8:51:04 pm

I have a Pix240 and shoot with an AF100 somewhat frequently, using the two together almost exactly as you have described.

  • Over SDI, yes, the timecode can sync up from the camera to the Pix and match.
  • Yes, the camera can trigger the Pix to start/stop recording. The Pix has a menu setting for this and has an option for the AF100 that makes it work seamlessly.
  • File naming system is good, but not perfect. Overall much better than the AF100. You can customize several settings prior to a shoot and then have it auto-advance certain parameters. You can even plug in an external USB keyboard for typing which is handy on cart based or studio setups for fast entry.

I really like this setup using the Pix as my "primary" record device and having the AVCHD files on SD card as a backup with matching timecode. The Pix also makes a pretty good on-camera monitor with focus assist and really big (read: easy to see) audio metering. It's a bit heavier and bulky compared to a TV Logic or Small HD monitor, but works well if you don't had a vid tech.

I've never used a Samurai and only used a Hyperdeck once or twice, so I can't really speak to them much other than to say the Hyperdeck works well for what you pay. That to say it doesn't have full size SDI inputs, has few I/O options, has limited settings and can't be configured on the fly easily. But it's also a LOT cheaper than some of these options and still records a great picture.

Just my 2c.

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