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IBC Blog: reference monitors and more

By Tim Spitzer

When I finally visited Sony in the elusive Hall 12 at the RAI Convention Center in Amsterdam during IBC, I was glad I did!

Sony introduced the first ergonomically sensible 4K camera called the PXW-FS7.
The name might not seduce you, but it’s a beautiful looking and operating camera to fall in love with. The PXW-FS7 has a body profile reminiscent of the Aaton S-16mm “cat sitting on your shoulder” advert, and a handgrip that looks like the modern version of the wooden handgrip that graces the Aaton.

For documentarian or S-16mm shooters who have had to migrate away from film, this gives all the “good of the old” updated with a 35mm sensor, E-mount (also A-mount) for lenses and astonishing 4K imaging. Although I’m not a shooter by trade, the controls seem very well placed, with connectors out of the way and easy to handle. The images captured by the camera are stunning. This is a camera worth getting your hands on and evaluating, for the ergonomics, the design and the image quality. It is designed to be a readily used hand-held as well as on a tripod.

Sony’s PXW-FS7 and accessories

The other eye-catching item for me at the Sony booth was their 30-inch 4K OLED reference monitor: the BVM X300 which handles 4K, UHD, 2K and HD. It handles wide color space, but it is not clear if that extends to cover the Rec 2020 wide dynamic range which to my sensibility is as great a determinant to picture enjoyment as is resolution.

As evidenced by the wide gamut displays on the floor, I believe that the forces that will sell new displays will be more driven by look of wide-gamut color and contrast than by higher resolution. Dolby was showing off a prototype of HD wide dynamic range, which looked very good, frankly even when mentally compared to the non-wide gamut 4K displays.

The other monitors of note on the show floor is the Canon 30-inch 4K reference display (our main image), the DP-V3010. This monitor delivers wonderful pictures and covers the wide dynamic range of Rec 2020. This is an excellent display and is my personal favorite of the reference quality monitors.

In a grading suite, the reference monitors are a “must,” but what does the client look at? 30-inches is woefully inadequate. No manufacturer that I am aware of makes a large-screen 4K true reference monitor.

TV Logic makes a dithered 10-bit 55-inch 4K monitor, the LUM-550W, which is one of the few large HD-SDI (and HDMI, and DVI) displays. It also provides SDI loop out which is convenient for scopes.

Panasonic 4K LQ70 Series Display

But my choice for “wow factor” among the non-reference displays is the Panasonic 98-inch 4K TH-98 LQ70. It is not designed as a reference monitor, but it does excellent upscaling of HD, and if you can’t have a large reference monitor, because they don’t exist and you can’t wait, I would examine the option.

For machine room use, Blackmagic has the “SmartView 4K,” which shows Ultra HD at up to 60fps using 12gig-SDI; it handles SD and HD as well as Ultra HD. It has two 12G-SDI inputs as well the ability to add an optical fiber SDI module. The price and size are perfect for a control room/monitoring environment.

Blackmagic’s SmartView Duo

Complementing the “SmartView 4K” display is the “SmartScope Duo 4K” providing picture view, waveform, Vectorscope, Parade, audio 16-channel levels and Phase, and Histogram viewing options.

To complete the circle, having brought up the Aaton cameras of old, the product being displayed by Aaton Digital is its 24-track solid-state field recorder: the Cantar X3. The Cantar X3 provides simultaneous recording to an internal 256 Gig SSD drive and two SD cards and a USB external drive. The compact system provides 12 analog inputs on XLR, numerous digital inputs, a 10-track mixer plate with magnetic linear faders (reminiscent of the innovative magnetic gearing in the Aaton 35mm camera). The unit has a bright display panel and is said to be water and dust proof.

To my delight Aaton continues to be categorizable by idiosyncratic intelligent design coming from making products they would want to use.

All in all, this IBC was a good one.

Tim Sptizer is managing director of Goldcrest Post in New York.


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