Atomos, based in Melbourne, Australia designs and manufactures low-cost external recorders that can also be used as field monitors, as well as a range of portable, battery powered signal format converters.
Fluent in Japanese, Young liaises with and maintains a close relationship with camera makers. And although he was unable to give any specific details because of strict non-disclosure agreements, he did comment that “90% of filmmakers are still recording in HD, and will continue to do so for at least two years.”
Plans for 4K
The Atomos CEO told us that they do have well-advanced plans for a 4K device which “will be a world-beater” but that they are waiting for a greater uptake of 4K generally before they complete and release it.
“We think its better to wait and produce a device that is perfect for a more mature market than to release something now, while there are so many things still to be settled in the 4K arena”
Atomos recently introduced its Samurai Blade combined recorder/monitor that includes waveform monitoring and what Atomos are touting as a SuperAtom 5″ 1280 x 720 325ppi IPS touchscreen. We’ll be carrying a full review of this in the next few weeks.
When the original Atomos Ninja recorder first shipped in 2011, there were no video-capable DSLRs that offered a “clean” HDMI output, severely reducing the potential market for external recorders. Young was instrumental in persuading the camera manufacturers to clean up their outputs and make an external recording workflow viable. This year, the popular Canon EOS 5D mk III received a firmware update to allow external recording.
External recorders work by taking the uncompressed video sent through of the HDMI or SDI output on a camera and recording it to on-board storage either compressed (usually Apple ProRes or Avid DNxHD) or uncompressed. Uncompressed recording offers no degradation in the signal and the Apple and Avid codecs are “visually lossless” at their higher available bitrates, which means that material that is stored on an external recorder is higher quality than the typically more heavily compressed material that is stored on the camera itself.
The other advantage of using these “edit-friendly” formats is that they can be imported directly onto a timeline without any transcoding. Since each frame is compressed individually, without reference to any others, the material is in an ideal form for editing, since the NLE software and the workstation hardware does not have to waste valuable cycles re-creating specific frames from the surrounding material. In practise this normally means that more streams (layers) of video can be edited in real time, and the whole editing process is more responsive.