New camera XF405 Canon

We needed to upgrade our front camera in our MOOC Studios and we were checking for a new camera to replace our ageing Canon XA25.
After some research I decided to give a try to the Canon XF405
 IMG_6130
The result of our tests were great! But we still need to keep our XA25 camera with a small captor for our Hands recording on top of the Wacom tablet. Because the XF405 with the “big” size sensor, will have a moiré appearing in the recording. Any other camera with a bigger captor will suffer the same effect.
The test in low light and signal to noise is really good with this new camera (compared to our previous XA25).
Another option that is very handy is the network remote management using an RJ45 Lan cable, this allow us to manage the camera remotely without the need to be inside the studio with our teachers.
rem.: it seems that there is a bug (or bad implementation) of this feature, because each time you restart the camera the network is turned off and would not come back automatically. you always need to activate it manually after each reboot. This would be so much more convenient to stay the way it was before reboot.
Here are some pictures taken during my tests sessions.
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Mini & Micro studio MOOC

Today we decided to create the ultimate mini studio for recording a MOOC with pro quality audio and video while on budget and in need of transportable setup.

The minimum we are looking for is recording the voice of our teacher a front camera and a tablette for his writing.

The Mini studio MOOC

The Mini Studio is a setup that will allow us to have 2 microphones like this two people could be recorded together.

dscf3464
Mini studio MOOC

 

 

Using the Atomos Ninja2 allows us to record the iPad Tablet

The tools we will use for the mini-studio are as follow:

  • 1x iPhone 5s
  • 1x iPad Pro 12.9”
  • 1x Apple pencil
  • 1x Apple HDMI adaptor (for our iPad)*
  • 1x Atomos Ninja 2
  • 1x SSD 256GB
  • 1 or 2 Lavalier microphone (XLR)
  • 1x iRig Pro Duo (for our iPhone)
  • 1x iRig Power Bridge

*Tips: you can use a power supply with the adaptor to charge the iPad. I would recommend to use the power supply of 29W for MacBookAir with an USB-C female connector and using the Lightning to USB-C cable from Apple. Doing this you will be able to recharge your iPadPro 12.9″ much faster than the original power supply provided by Apple.

Here is the schematic of our micro-studio

Mini Studio MOOC v1.1 - Schema de fonctionnement.png

 

The Software we will use is as follow:

For the iPad

  • 1x PDF Expert
  • 1x FilMic Remote
  • 1x Clapperboard
  • (1x FileBrowser)

For iPhone

  • 1x Filmic Pro
  • (1x FileBrowser)

FileBrowser is optional, but is a great tool to transfer files from your iOS device to a Cloud server or a computer with sharing options using only WiFi.

The workflow

  1. We start the Atomos recording first then the iPhone is launched with FilMic Pro (with the remote option enabled)
  2. Now Using the iPad we will start (or stop) our recording on the iPhone using the FilMic Remote
  3. Both recorders are now recording (iPhone + Atomos)
  4. We need to synchronise them. We will use Clapperboard to do this
  5. On the iPad we launch Clapperboard and clap it
  6. The image of the clap will be recorded to the Atomos
  7. The sound of the the clap on the iPad will be audible through the speaker of the iPad and our microphone will catch this sound and it will be recorded on the iPhone. Because we connected the iPhone audio jack OUT to the Atomos audio jack IN using a Jack male-male 3.5 (this will work only for earlier versions of the iPhone than the iPhone 7) the sound will also be recorded on the Atomos Ninja
  8. Then we can finally launch PDF expert on the iPad and start our MOOC

PDF expert is nice because it will send the image of our PDF without the tools around it.

The Micro studio MOOC

For the Micro-Studio we will replace the iRig Pro Duo and iRig Power Bridge with the iRig Pro I/O. This is nice for a lighter studio but we will have only 1 microphone. On the other hand we will have the power supply for the iPhone directly provided through the iRig Pro I/O. 

dscf3465
Micro studio MOOC

The tools we will use for the Micro-studio are as follow:

  • 1x iPhone 5s
  • 1x iPad Pro 12.9”
  • 1x Apple pencil
  • 1x Apple HDMI adaptor (for our iPad)
  • 1x Atomos Ninja 2
  • 1x SSD 256GB
  • 1x Lavalier microphone (XLR)
  • 1x iRig Pro I/O (for our iPhone)

Here is the schematic of the Micro-studio

Micro Studio MOOC v1.1 - Schema de fonctionnement.png

The workflow will be the same as the mini-studio

Pro

  • very light studio
  • possibility to use it on battery only
  • good sound quality
  • good image quality
  • the iPhone using FilMic Pro will give a .mov container with an AVC codec and can also record the video in Pro Log (in version 6) giving some nice possibility for light and color correction in post production
  • The Atomos record directly in ProRes format allowing us to easily work with it in a post production software (Final Cut Pro X or Premiere).

Con

  • The Atomos Ninja 2 (and Ninja Blade) can record only 1080p 24,25 and 30 fps but the iPad using the HDMI adaptor can only send an image in 60 fps (59.94) therefore the resolution can not be recorded in 1080p and the Atomos will force the iPad to revert the resolution to only 720p 60fps (59.94).
  • If we wanted to record the Tablet in 1080p we would need to use a different, more expensive recorder. For exemple the Video Device PIX-E5 or PIX-E7 or Atomos Ninja Flame
  • For the moment PDF expert outputs the slides via the HDMI adaptor with a black border around it, and not in full screen 16:9. I hope for an upgrade in the future.

Test camera AJA RovoCam 4K

This week we tested the new RovoCam from AJA to see if we could improve the recording of our hands in studio.

The problem: If we choose a better camera with a nice big sensor it will create moiré with the Wacom® Tablet 24 inches that we use. This is because the distance between the camera sensor and the tablet is just the perfect one to create interferences with each respective “pixels” grids (the sensor and the screen).

The solution: Use of a smaller sensor for the camera. Changing the distance of the camera and the tablet will not help because we would need to zoom the image to fill the screen with the tablet and it would result in the same ratio (pixels screen-sensor) and recreate the moiré.

Pros:

  • Nice image quality
  • No Moiré
  • HDBaseT camera! (accept 100m of cat6 cable distance)
  • 1080p50 and 1080p60

Cons:

  • No Zebra controls
  • Focus not constant when changing the zoom.
  • The minimal distance focus is changing drastically while zooming.
  • No way to easily set the focus manually. Normally you would zoom in, set the focus and then zoom out but because of the focus not constant and the focus distance restricted by the zoom, this is not feasible.
  • A manual focus helper in software would be great
  • Strange behaviour selecting the 1080i25 is accepted by the recorder (BlackMagic® DeckLink 2) as a 1080i50?
  • No 1080p25 or 1080p24
  • No 1080i50 selection (but see workaround)
  • RS232 to USB controls not working with ElCapitan, no way to use the RovoControl software with ElCapitan so no ability to setup the camera… unless you connect it to an older Mac OS (it was working on OS X 10.9)
  • RovoControl 1.0 seems to have trouble with changing parameters between Auto and Manual. I could not set the Shutter speed manually every times I selected a speed like 1/60 it jumped to 1/2000 by itself. Also, when I tried to set the focus to manual then switching through the tabs of the apps from Camera Control to Settings and come back to the Camera Control. The focus was reset to Auto. (*)

(*)Tips: by setting a preset, it seemed that the parameters was responding correctly.

 

Tests:

I checked an option allowing the camera to film in 4K and crop a point of interest of 1080p in the sensor called ePTZ. The option is nice but the image quality is impacted. I believe this is due to the fact that the sensor used in normal HD (1080p) will use the full surface of the 4K sensor (4K -> 1080p) and do an interpolation of the pixels that allow a clean image. When you use the ePTZ option you will have only the 1080p part in the 4K sensor and it will give a bigger signal/noise ratio deprecating the image quality.

The Settings for the hands recording:

the red cable is a 50m long network cable connected to the receiver here. I also needed to convert the HDMI to SDI because the BlackMagic card accept only SDI inputs.

IMG_4186

Images result of the hands:

The settings for the focus and color measurements:

I mounted the grids and measurement from our Spider box on a hotshoe slider then fixed it on a light stand. Like this I could film the colours pattern and the focus ruler in same time in front of the camera.

Cropped images for focus testing:

RovoCam_focus

Here we can see a 200% zoom that will reveal the compression destruction between ProRes LT and ProRes proxy. Also we have less difference when recording in 50p vs 50i.

RovoCam_focus_zoom