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Archive for May 13th, 2012

PDG Helicopters Takes to The Skies With A Cinedeck RX Solid State Recorder

Leading on-shore helicopter operator PDG Helicopters has become the first company in the UK to use a Cinedeck RX dual channel, solid-state recorder to deliver high quality digital aerial filming to clients in film, TV broadcast, commercials and corporate production.

Based in Scotland, PDG Helicopters has over 40 years of knowledge in helicopter charter, a fleet of 17 aircraft, and registers over 10,000 flying hours each year across a range of services. These include passenger flights, aerial crane, aerial survey, helicopter maintenance, scenic helicopter tours and aerial cinematography.

PDG Helicopters acquired its Cinedeck RX from Cindeck’s UK distributor Oxygen DCT. The unit is now being used to record uncompressed 4:4:4 from a gyro-stabilised Cineflex V14 HD camera, in a wide range of frame rates, recording variations of Apple ProRes, Avid DNxHD and Cineform codecs, according to each customer’s preference.

Peter Jones, aerial cameraman and PDG Helicopters’ camera systems manager, says: “We researched where to buy our Cinedeck RX and decided on Oxygen DCT because it has such a strong reputation for aftersales support. The company’s staff are incredibly helpful and have answered all our technical queries quickly and knowledgeably.”

Jones adds that Cinedeck RX has allowed PDG Helicopters to mirror the industry trend towards tapeless capture, and to extract the full performance of its Cineflex camera system.

“As it records to a range of codecs, clients can leave the shoot with edit-ready footage, which ultimately helps their production costs – and that’s a great selling point for us,” he says.

Since acquiring their Cinedeck RX, PDG has used the unit on projects for BAE Systems, QinetiQ, a commercial for McDonald’s through Thomas Thomas Films, and a corporate production for LineUp TV.

“Aerial cinematography has a number of issues, not the least of which is vibration,” Peter Jones explains. “With a tape deck, you’re always concerned there might be dropped frames or other image degradation. With other capture devices you just have to trust the takes are there when you land. There’s huge merit in the RX being a solid-state recorder, with built-in redundancy, that lets you review material in the air. It gives you great confidence while you’re shooting. I was absolutely delighted to discover that it was developed by a fellow cinematographer (Cinedeck CEO Charles Dautremont) with expertise in aerial shooting, who had encountered exactly the same issues as me.”

Jones adds that a key advantage of Cinedeck RX is the choice of production formats it offers.

“The Cinedeck RX has tremendous appeal for producers because it can record uncompressed 4:4:4 and the native codec for editorial. Program makers can leave the shoot with edit-ready material, normally Avid DNxHD or Apple ProRes, and there are no extra costs for ingest and transcoding. This helps to reduce their post production costs, and ultimately has a positive impact on the overall budget.”

On an operational level, Jones says the dual channel Cinedeck RX is much smaller and lighter than a tape deck, and offers greater performance and functionality over flash cards.

“With Cinedeck RX, you just glance at the screen and immediately know you’re recording,” he says. “Whilst we’re in the air, I can check the levels on the waveform, and easily scrub through the clips to double-check that I have shot what the director required. If required, we can look at ways we can improve a shot by changing the flight profile of the helicopter, or the camera move.”

Recording duration and security are other crucial considerations for aerial filming, and PDG has equipped its Cinedeck RX with four caddies that hold eight solid- state drives, providing a total 2TB recording capacity.

“Some jobs might take a couple of hours, and we can normally fit the footage onto one SSD drive,” says Jones. “But on larger jobs, we might be away for several days. Having such a large recording capacity, being able to change drives in flight and to keep rolling is a real bonus. The fact that material is protected with the redundant record provides piece-of-mind too.”

While Jones is appreciative of the technical support PDG has received from Oxygen DCT and Cinedeck, he’s even more delighted by the profile Cinedeck has amongst clients.

“We’re now getting calls from clients asking for Cinedeck. This kind of brand- awareness makes us feel we made the right decision to buy,” he exclaims. “I can see Cinedeck RX rapidly becoming our main recorder in the future. It certainly ticks all the boxes right now.”

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About Oxygen DCT:

Oxygen DCT is a broadcasts systems solutions provider with a deep knowledge and understanding of the broadcast and professional media markets. This dynamic organisation has amassed in just over five years, a very extensive and comprehensive products portfolio of over 3000 carefully designed broadcast and production products that represent the pinnacle of engineering excellence. Oxygen DCT was the first company in the broadcast industry to fully implement online facilities for its customers and its unique, comprehensive online ordering facility automatically configures equipment systems for customers, saving time and provides industry professionals with the convenience of immediate online pricing. The ‘one-stop-shop’ website caters for the smallest requirements whilst also allowing users to prepare their own quotes and place orders online with immediate order confirmation. Oxygen DCT also provides advice, support and expertise as part of its ‘life cycle’ care scheme, ensuring that customers are fully serviced throughout their career life cycles. www.oxygendct.com

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Mateo Willis Captures Eagles In Flight With A GearNex Geared Camera Head Supplied By Oxygen DCT

As a highly regarded wildlife cameraman, Mateo Willis is in great demand from blue chip broadcasters such as the BBC and the Discovery Channel, which employ him to work on many of their most prestigious nature documentaries.

Mateo’s speciality is long-lens work and he often spends large amounts of time in remote locations filming everything from small lizards to large carnivores.

In a bid to find a more accurate way of framing shots, particularly when working with heavy cameras and lenses, Mateo has been experimenting with a CineToys GearNex geared camera head, supplied by CineToys’ UK distributor Oxygen DCT.
This unique product was developed by former Hollywood cameraman Bret Allen in response to a significant gap in the market for affordable geared head technology. It is designed to give film makers access to Hollywood-style geared heads without paying Hollywood prices.
“I was going on a shoot to film Verreaux eagles that required very fine precision moves combined with rock-steady stops,” Mateo explains. “Nothing beats the motivation of following an eagle in flight – in wildlife filming there are no repeat takes. Having read about the characteristics of geared heads I thought they were worth experimenting with and when Oxygen DCT offered me a GearNex for a trial run I jumped at the chance.”

Launched at NAB 2008, GearNex immediately won two prestigious awards including a Best of Show and a Creative Cow Blue Ribbon Award. Among the many film makers who have spotted the unit’s potential is director Robert Altman Jr, who has used GearNex with a Redrock DSLR Cinema Bundle.

Steve Hathaway, managing director of Oxygen DCT, says: “Today’s cameramen face the challenge of operating cameras adorned with monitors, matte boxes, power packs and focus-assist products, all of which can make them heavy and unwieldy. What GearNex offers is the ability to smoothly pan and tilt, even when the camera is loaded with additional equipment. It delivers a much smoother panning experience than conventional fluid heads and is ideal for a wide variety of filming tasks including motion pictures, music videos, short films, television documentaries, commercials and corporate videos.”

Mateo Willis used GearNex with a Panasonic Varicam and hopes to try it with different cameras in the future.

“Like other areas in the industry, the introduction of high-end but relatively low-cost digital cinema cameras is creating a fast-changing landscape in wildlife filming,” he explains. “Last year I was working mainly with ENG cameras supplemented with specialist cameras such as the Phantom, but this year I’ve shot almost everything with Red Epic and Arri Alexa although I haven’t had an opportunity to use those with the GearNex yet.”

As a newcomer to geared head technology, Mateo says there was initially a steep learning curve, but once he became comfortable with GearNex he found it incredibly useful and really appreciated the extra control it gave him.

He explains: “The camera I was using was mounted with a long lens and counterbalanced by several batteries, so was fairly hefty. Once the GearNex was in place I was impressed at how little energy, and hence more control, it took to precisely move the camera. Also, I found the Gearnex robust enough to put up with the arduous conditions of the desert; dust, rough roads and heat. Finally, I was impressed with its size and weight – everything fitted into a single Peli. When you’re travelling with thirty cases, the less you have to load in and out of vehicles the better!”

Mateo adds that GearNex has demonstrated that inexpensive but high-quality geared heads can be made and he is looking forward to seeing where CineToys will go with the next generation.

“My next project is filming geese on the side of a cliff in Greenland, for which I am designing a ‘vertical’ tripod to hang on a sheer rock face,” he says. “This will allow me to film while sitting in a climbing harness so only a super-light head will be appropriate. Now if the Gearnex head was motorised……”

-ends-

About Oxygen DCT:
Oxygen DCT is a broadcasts systems solutions provider with a deep knowledge and understanding of the broadcast and professional media markets. This dynamic organisation has amassed in just over five years, a very extensive and comprehensive products portfolio of over 3000 carefully designed broadcast and production products that represent the pinnacle of engineering excellence. Oxygen DCT was the first company in the broadcast industry to fully implement online facilities for its customers and its unique, comprehensive online ordering facility automatically configures equipment systems for customers, saving time and provides industry professionals with the convenience of immediate online pricing. The ‘one-stop-shop’ website caters for the smallest requirements whilst also allowing users to prepare their own quotes and place orders online with immediate order confirmation. Oxygen DCT also provides advice, support and expertise as part of its ‘life cycle’ care scheme, ensuring that customers are fully serviced throughout their career life cycles. www.oxygendct.com

Renkus-Heinz Continues to Expand Engineering Department

Foothill Ranch, CA, May 2012… Renkus-Heinz has announced the continued expansion of their engineering department with the addition of Alejandro Fidalgo to their engineering team.

Fidalgo joins Renkus-Heinz after working in audio electronics firmware and hardware development at Isaac Daniel Group in Burbank, California, where he worked on audio products for the Video On Demand entertainment industry. He holds a degree from the University of California, Santa Cruz.

“We’re very happy to welcome Alejandro to Renkus-Heinz engineering,” remarked Engineering Manager Tim Shuttleworth. “His expertise in developing complex digital audio technologies is a great fit for our team.”

“I’m thrilled to be working with a company like Renkus-Heinz,” added Fidalgo. “This company has such a long history of making great products, and I’m really excited to be able to contribute to the next generation of Renkus-Heinz technologies.”

In his new position, Fidalgo will work within the engineering group to continue to develop advanced digital processing and transport technologies for Renkus-Heinz products. Fidalgo will report to Engineering Manager Tim Shuttleworth, and will be based out of the company’s Foothill Ranch, CA headquarters.

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Headquartered in Foothill Ranch, California, Renkus-Heinz, Inc. is the worldwide leader in the design and manufacture of audio operations networks, digitally steerable arrays, powered and non-powered loudspeakers, system specific electronics and fully integrated Reference Point Array systems.

 

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