NAB 2012: AJA announce Ki Pro Quad and Rack models, plus all-new T-Tap

AJA are gearing up for a big year at NAB 2012, with news of the Ki Pro Rack and Quad models, and a new Thunderbolt I/O box, T-Tap.  However, their first update of the show is version four of the Ki Pro firmware, which provides support for multiple format versions in DNxHD recording on the Ki Pro mini, bringing it in line with its bigger brother, the Ki Pro. Out tomorrow, the software will be available free from AJA’s site. If, on the other hand, you want something a bit beefier, take a look at the below….

Ki Pro Rack

Topping user request lists since the release of the Ki Pro, this Ki Pro Rack packs two PSUs, two drive bays and eight channels of AES EBU audio into 1U of rack space. It supports standard SSD and HDD Ki Pro drive models, and is going to be at home in any machine room or OB van.  As with the other Ki Pros, the unit can operate stand alone, but could also be controlled over RS422 and ethernet.

It’s due to ship from within a month, with the US price a reported $3995. For those not sure which Ki Pro they need, take a look at this helpful chart from AJA:

KiPro Comparison Table

Ki Pro Quad

Ki Pro Quad


Up next is a totally new product: the Ki Pro Quad. This devices has the same form factor as the Ki Pro mini but is about twice the width, and according to our man on the ground, Lewis Brown, “the features packed in to this unit are almost beyond belief.”

Highlights include 4k ProRes recording with built-in hardware debayering, support for up to  four simultaneous streams of HD into ProRes or DNxHD (thats 4 x 3G), and HD-SDI in and out with the usual timecode and control. “But what is really mind blowing is the Thunderbolt connection,” says Lewis. “It’s not only for high speed reading of the data on the drives, but also for live, on the fly pass-through of Canon RAW data to a Thunderbolt -quipped laptop, creating raw DPX files via new AJA software.  This provides amazing on-set capabilities and highlights what looks like a very strong working relationship between Canon and AJA.”

To provide the required bandwidth, the unit uses AJA SSD. AJA have also created an optional SSD reader equipped with eSata and Thunderbolt connections, as well as an optional desktop stand, meaning a 4k workflow is now possible from your desktop!

Clocking it at just $3995 and due to ship some time in 2012 (we’re guessing around IBC).  There are no details on what is included with the unit but eh SSDs, SSD reader and stand are all listed as extras.




According to Lewis, “this is a device that needs little explanation, but it is absolutely just want many people have needed.” The T-tap is a palm-sized Thunderbolt-in, HD-SDI-or-HDMI-out box, which is bus powered via the Thunderbolt port.

Set to ship soon, this unit provides simple I/O at an amazingly low price of $249. Pre-order yours now.

(In other Thunderbolt news, all AJA I/O drivers are now Thunderbolt-aware, so all their cards can now be put into an external chassis and still work. Lovely.)

Up/Down/Cross converter

…is finally due to ship, giving you FS2-quality conversion in a tiny form factor. Rejoice! You can pre-order your Up/Down/Cross mini converter from our site now.

Adobe and AJA

With the arrival of CS6 seemingly imminent, AJA have announced that their hardware will be fully compatible with Adobe’s new Mercury Transmit SDK architecture. From AJA’s explanation:

“With CS6, users no longer have to work with custom sequence presets that align with their particular hardware. Instead, sequences can be set to the resolution and media type being used. You can, for example, use the Adobe RED sequence settings if you are cutting RED footage or the Adobe ARRI settings if you are cutting ARRI footage. This dramatically simplifies sequence configuration.” AJA have promised compatibility with a range of programs, including staples like After Effects, Premiere Pro, Photoshop and Encore.

In other compatibility news, the Thunderbolt Io XT will now support Smoke for Mac, so you can use a single driver for all applications. Ace.

For more on the latest NAB releases, call 03332 409 306 or email To keep up with all the news, follow @Jigsaw24Video on Twitter or ‘Like’ our Facebook page. You can also take a look at our roundup post.

NAB 2012 news: JVC announce GY-HM600 and GY-HM650

JVC have kicked off NAB 2012 by announcing two cameras, the GY-HM600 and the GY-HM605, aimed squarely at the ENG market. Both boast excellent low light performance, support for a wide range of formats and, most excitingly, WiFi connectivity with apps for iOS/Android devices for remote control, remote viewing and metadata upload.

The GY-HM600


The official word from JVC: “The GY-HM600 is the ideal hand-held camcorder for fast paced ENG, documentaries and reality TV. It features a long (23x) wide angle Fujinon lens and delivers excellent HD or SD video quality, even in extremely low light environments. Dual card recording on SDHC/SDXC in a variety of popular formats including XDCAM EX™ (MP4), FCP (MOV) and AVCHD ensures the world’s fastest shoot to edit workflow.” We reckon this is going to be going up against

The GY-HM650


From JVC’s press release: “The GY-HM650 is the perfect camcorder for next generation newsgathering. With dual codec recording, clips can be transferred to the station immediately with built in FTP. Light, versatile and extremely easy to use, this camera offers superb low light performance, a long (23x) wide angle zoom lens, and MXF file interoperability from acquisition to air.”

As our consultant James Graham points out, “the HM650 is where it gets exciting. Once again, this is a demonstration of JVC taking top end, big money features and bringing them to the budget film-maker market. With the HM650 you can use your iPad as a preview monitor, remote control or for logging live. It is definitely one of the most exciting this to see in this form factor since 50Mbps codecs. Being XDCAM EX, it will be really interesting to see how this works with established XDCAM workflows and also how it compares to the big money versions like XMpilot, and Teradek Case.”

Want to know more? Give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email For all the latest NAB 2012 news, follow @Jigsaw24Video‘Like’ our Facebook page or take a look at our roundup.


NAB 2012 – the latest news

NAB 2012 – the latest news

The hot topic at this year’s NAB 2012 show was always going to be 4K, and we’ve already seen big new products that support it, like Canon’s new EOS range, and a whole host of 4K recorders. But, with the release of Creative Suite 6 just around the corner, Adobe have been courting a lot of attention from attendees in Vegas, and there’s big stuff on the horizon from the likes of Avid, Autodesk, AJA, Blackmagic, NewTek and more.

To get all the latest news as it’s announced, we sent a few guys from the broadcast team over to Vegas (don’t feel too sorry for them!). They’ve been pinging their findings back to us, so if you want to keep up with the latest from NAB 2012, this live blog is the place to do it. Make sure you hear all the news first by keeping up with the team on Twitter (@Jigsaw24Video), Facebook (Jigsaw24 Media and Entertainment) and our YouTube channel.


NAB 2012 news: AJA announce Ki Pro Quad and Rack models, plus all-new T-Tap – AJA are gearing up for a big year at NAB 2012, with news of the Ki Pro Rack and Quad models, and a new Thunderbolt I/O box… read more


NAB 2012 news: A closer look at AOC’s Thunderbolt display – It made its first appearance at CES, but NAB 2012 was many people’s first chance to get a closer look at AOC’s Thunderbolt display. As our intrepid… read more


Our guide to FCP X 10.0.4 device compatibility – Since Apple released the latest version of Final Cut Pro X – 10.0.4 – earlier this week, manufacturers have been quick to show they’re in the FCP X gang by… read more

Blackmagic Design

Blackmagic Design Cinema Camera: First impressions – Blackmagic Design’s Cinema Camera was the undisputed star of NAB 2012. Now that the Twitter storm has died down and the first pre-orders are… read more


NAB 2012 news: CalDigit announce T1 & T2 Thunderbolt drives – CalDigit have brought their two new Thunderbolt drives to NAB 2012 – the T1 and T2, both of which can handle SSD and… read more


First look: Canon’s 4K EOS C500 and EOS-1D C cameras – Just a few months after Canon astounded us with their C300 cinema camera, they’re at it again with another round of incredible 4K additions to the… read more


NAB 2012 news: JVC announce GY-HM600 and GY-HM650 – JVC have kicked off NAB 2012 by announcing two cameras, the GY-HM600 and the GY-HM605, aimed squarely at the ENG market. Both boast excellent low light performance, support for… read more


NAB 2012 news: Magma ExpressBox 3T Thunderbolt to PCIe expansion – After first surfacing a good few months ago, there’s news from Magma on their ExpressBox 3T Thunderbolt to PCI… read more


NAB 2012 news: PROMISE Pegasus J4 JBOD and VTrak Jx30 Chassis on show – PROMISE are a bit of a Thunderbolt favourite, and have been offering excellent storage options pretty much since the interface… read more


NAB 2012 news: Sonnet shipping fast, cheap, Thunderbolt SxS reader – Recent updates to Sony drivers have given Sonnet’s Echo ExpressCard Thunderbolt adapter and Qio E3 3-slot SxS reader a new… read more

Want to know more about any of NAB 2012’s new releases? Call us on 03332 409 306 or email For all the latest news and videos, keep up with us on the following social media accounts…

NAB 2012 news: Sonnet shipping fast, cheap, Thunderbolt SxS reader

NAB 2012 news: Sonnet shipping fast, cheap, Thunderbolt SxS reader

Recent updates to Sony drivers have given Sonnet’s Echo ExpressCard Thunderbolt adapter and Qio E3 3-slot SxS reader a new lease of life. Sonnet and Sony worked together to develop a Thunderbolt-compatible Mac OS X driver that would enable the Echo ExpressCard adapter to function as an SxS reader, and revealed this morning that not only was the project a success, but the new driver will also allow anyone who connects a Qio E3 to their Mac via an Echo to get full functionality from the reader. Huzzah! (Well, okay, we had this working on our BVE stand so we’re not that surprised, but still. Huzzah!)

As the Sonnet Technology press release is quick to remind us, “High-performance SxS memory cards are used in Sony’s popular XDCAM EX line of professional HD camcorders and the ARRI ALEXA line of digital cameras, and share the same form factor and connector as ExpressCard/34 adapter cards. These shared traits make ingesting footage from SxS media a quick, simple task in ExpressCard slot-equipped notebook computers. In any other situation, this process requires the use of a specialized media reader, such as Sonnet’s Qio pro media readers with multiple SxS slots for speedy file offloads.”

The new drivers allow the Echo ExpressCard adapter to read SxS, SxS Pro and SxS-1 cards, all at speeds topping 100MBps if you have a Thunderbolt-equipped Mac. If you’ve got a Qio E3, you can hook it up to your Mac via an Echo and transfer data from all three slots simultaneously.
“Thunderbolt delivers unparalleled performance, flexibility and simplicity to personal computing.” said Jason Ziller, Intel’s director of Thunderbolt marketing. “The Sonnet Echo ExpressCard Thunderbolt Adapter and Qio E3 help highlight what Thunderbolt technology makes possible.”
The new driver is available from Sony’s site.

Want to know more? Give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email For the latest broadcast news, follow @Jigsaw24Video or ‘Like’ our Facebook page. You can also take a look at our roundup post.

NAB 2012 news: All things Thunderbolt

NAB 2012 news: All things Thunderbolt

Will NAB 2012 be when Thunderbolt really starts to take off? We’ve sent our broadcast team to Vegas to find out, and we’ll be posting all the latest news on Thunderbolt devices below.

Remember to keep up with our team at NAB 2012 on social media for all things Thunderbolt, and a whole lot more. We’re on Twitter (@Jigsaw24Video), Facebook (Jigsaw24 Media and Entertainment) and YouTube.


NAB 2012: AJA announce Ki Pro Quad and Rack models, plus all-new T-Tap – AJA are gearing up for a big year at NAB 2012, with news of the Ki Pro Rack and Quad models, and a new Thunderbolt I/O box, T-Tap.  However… read more


NAB 2012 news: A closer look at AOC’s Thunderbolt display – It made its first appearance at CES, but NAB 2012 was many people’s first chance to get a closer look at AOC’s Thunderbolt display. As our intrepid… read more


NAB 2012 news: CalDigit announce T1 & T2 Thunderbolt drives – CalDigit have brought their two new Thunderbolt drives to NAB 2012 – the T1 and T2, both of which can handle SSD and… read more


NAB 2012 news: G-Tech shipping Thunderbolt-equipped G-RAID – G-Technology have announced “a huge step forward for Mac-kind”: their 8TB, Thunderbolt-equipped… read more


NAB 2012 news: Magma ExpressBox 3T Thunderbolt to PCIe expansion – After first surfacing a good few months ago, there’s news from Magma on their ExpressBox 3T Thunderbolt to PCIe expansion at NAB… read more


NAB 2012 news: PROMISE Pegasus J4 JBOD and VTrak Jx30 Chassis on show – PROMISE are a bit of a Thunderbolt favourite, and have been offering excellent storage options pretty much since the interface… read more


NAB 2012 news: Optical Thunderbolt cables for PC now available (in Japan) – With Apple’s year of exclusivity coming to its end, Thunderbolt is set to make its way to the PC market. By far the strongest… read more

Western Digital

NAB 2012 news: WD and Blackmagic Design speed test My Book Thunderbolt Duos – Western Digital were showcasing their recently-launched Thunderbolt drives at NAB 2012, and Blackmagic… read more


Got your eye on a particular Thunderbolt device? Call the team for more info on 03332 409 306 or email You can also keep up with all the latest Thunderbolt news from NAB 2012 on our social media accounts…

Photoshop CS6 goes public

Photoshop CS6 goes public

As you may have heard, Adobe have given Photoshop its first ever public beta, with Photoshop CS6 going live first thing this morning. While anyone who’s been watching the sneak peeks over on the Photoshop YouTube channel will have had a glimpse of some of the main features already, there’s still plenty to get excited about.

Photoshop CS6: The best bits

From a video point of view, the fact that you now get a proper timeline and editing tools is a real timesaver – you no longer have to hop into After Effects or Premiere to put together a slideshow or animate stills. There’s also the welcome addition of layers to video projects.

The new suite of 3D tools will only be available in Photoshop CS6 Extended when the final versions are released, and includes the ability to manipulate 3D objects (including text) and to extend backgrounds into 3D space. Early reports suggest background rendering isn’t an option, though, and Windows XP users may struggle to get the more advanced features working.

However, this is first and foremost a photography app, and it seems that what’s driving the photo-folk wild is the new, Lightroom-like appearance of Photoshop CS6, which has also incorporated Lightroom’s Camera Raw 7 engine. New lens blur effects mean that you can now add multiple blurs to a single image – something Adobe have been keen to point out is photographically impossible – and vastly improved Content Aware Move and Patch tools are poised to save professionals everywhere a huge chunk of time. (Gizmodo reckons these tools are so good that they might actually be magic; who are we to argue?)

All of this is powered by the Mercury Graphics Engine, the Photoshop equivalent of Premiere’s Mercury Playback Engine. It offloads a fair bit of work from your CPU to your GPU, meaning that effects that used to take time to render or tile when applied – we’re thinking of you, liquify – now work in realtime. And the good news is that your don’t even need a CUDA-enabled GPU to make it work.

Photoshop 06 Screenshot

What everyone else is saying…

While the Jigsaw24 design squad are taken with the extensive new JDI list, others have honed in on more specific enhancements:

For those who fancy a nose around the new interface before downloading, ZDNet have a selection of Photoshop CS6 screeencaps.

Gizmodo are big fans, calling Photoshop CS6 “the best version in recent memory.”

Harry McCracken of Time Techland has some interesting examples of work he’s put together using new, automated matching and filling features, and notes that ” one of Photoshop’s most mundane enhancements may be the single most important fix: It finally has an auto-save feature.”

Extreme Tech’s David Cardinal is a big fan of the new GUI, saying that ” the sleek, sparse, dark default skin helps focus attention where it belongs – on the images and videos being edited. Logically named workspace presets including “Photography,” “3D,” and “Essentials” help new users organize the nearly endless variety of tools and palettes to get started.”

Over at MacWorld, Michael Burns points out that the Mercury Graphics Engine ” will be such a timesaver that by itself it will probably justify the upgrade price.”

PopPhoto’s Dan Horaczek likes the new video tools and improved liquify performance (another Mercury Graphics Engine contribution).

Interface designer Marc Edwards also has a nice roundup of new features over on Bjango.

Got a favourite new feature? Let us know in the comments below. To find out more about what this could mean for your workflow (and to find yourself some hardware that can handle Mercury) call our team on 03332 409 306 or email

For news on all the latest releases, follow @Jigsaw24Video on Twitter or Like’ our Facebook page.     

3D benchmarks: New Intel E5 CPUs and HP Z workstations

3D benchmarks: New Intel E5 CPUs and HP Z workstations

Being cynical, ultra-geeky types, the first thing we did when HP announced their new 8-16 core, 32-thread workstations powered by Intel Xeon E5-2600 CPUs was run our own benchmarking tests. After all, HP’s press release promised that “the Intel Xeon processor E5-2600 product family allows for up to 16 physical cores in a single system, and lets 32 threads run at one time when using two processors, each with eight cores and Intel Hyper-Threading Technology enabled”, and that these new CPUs would be capable of “megatasking”. Who wouldn’t want a go?

The workstations

First things first: what are these workstations promising? Here’s the official word from HP:

“Engineered for the most demanding and compute-intensive visualization needs, the HP Z820 is ideal for customers in oil and gas, mechanical computer-aided design (CAD), mechanical computer-aided engineering, medical, video and animation. The HP Z820 provides up to 16 processing cores, up to 512 GB of ECC memory, up to 14 terabytes (TB) of high-speed storage and up to dual NVIDIA Quadro 6000 graphics.

“For quiet environments with minimal space, the HP Z620 is a great choice for customers in financial services, video, animation, architecture and midrange CAD. Updated to support both single- and dual-socket processors, the powerful and versatile HP Z620 provides up to 16 processing cores, up to 96 GB of ECC memory, up to 11 TB of high-speed storage, and up to NVIDIA Quadro 6000 or dual NVIDIA Quadro 5000 graphics.

“Engineered to meet mainstream computing and visualization needs for customers in CAD, architecture, video editing and photography, the HP Z420 includes up to eight processing cores using the latest Intel Xeon processor E5-1600 and E5-2600 product families, providing up to 64 GB of ECC memory, up to 11 TB of high-speed storage, and up to NVIDIA Quadro 5000 or dual NVIDIA Quadro 2000 graphics.”

Our 3D consultant Ben Kitching, who spent most of BVE chained to a Z800, saw the new models recently and notes that, CPU aside, the upgrades are largely incremental. However, key things to bear in mind include a unified chip set family over all models. This means that a single OS image will work on everything from a Z220 to a Z820 making it nice and easy to manage large estates. There are also larger PSU options on the Z620 and Z820, meaning that you can now have up to 3 GPU’s or a GPU and 2 Tesla boards, though the Z620 is now slightly bigger, which could pose a problem if you’re keeping it in a cage.

The tests: render times and Cinebench scores

Full disclosure: we couldn’t get our hands on a Z820, Z620 or a Z420. However, a supplier did lend us a server blade to do some benchmarking on, so 3D Consultant Ben Kitching slotted in two of the new Intel Xeon E5-2670s (eight cores each, top speed of 2.6Ghz). For comparative purposes, he also ran the same tests on a previous generation system based on two Xeon X5660s (six cores each, 2.8GHz).

3ds Max render test

The first thing Ben did was render interior and exterior scenes in 3ds Max. “I used two architectural scenes,” he explains. “One is an exterior scene lit with a mental ray sun and sky, the other is an interior scene lit with daylight portals. I rendered them both with iray inside 3ds Max at 1920×1080. I set the exterior scene to 500 iterations and the interior to 250. Setting the iterations like this ensures the results are comparable across different machines.”

– 3ds Max Interior scene render – average speed 6 mins 24 secs (previous generation: 13:59)

– 3ds Max Exterior scene render – average speed 13 mins 55 secs (previous generation: 28:41)

As you can see, the E5s get the render done in half the time of the previous generation – a big jump, even when you take into account the extra cores.

Cinebench benchmarks (higher is better)

Maxon’s Cinebench test suite, available for free here, uses various algorithms to stress every available core while it renders a photorealistic scene made up of about 300,000 polygons. Results are given in points – the higher the better.

– Cinebench multi-threaded benchmark: 21.44 points (previous generation: 15.24)

– Cinebench single threaded benchmark: 1.34 points (previous generation: 1.08)

Ben explains, “This shows that not only are the new 8-core Xeons ballistic in multi-threaded benchmarks, they are pretty good in single-threaded benchmarks too. This proves that the cores are more efficient than the previous generation, as they can do more work even though they run slower. Some of these results are actually more than 20% faster than the previous generation, but we are talking about 8-core models going up against 6-core ones. Looking at other benchmarks around the internet and extrapolating those results, it looks like the 6-core models of the new generation will be around 20% faster than the models they replace at the same price point.”

Want more results?

You can also see more E5 benchmarking tests for 3D and CAD work over at Tom’s Hardware – he’s not testing a HP machine, but the internals are very similar and they produce some interesting results, with the dual E5 system blazing through Premiere Pro and Photoshop tasks but flailing when it came to After Effects. (“This is probably due to the single-thread nature of After Effects and the fact that the new cores run a little slower than the old ones,” is Ben’s explanation.)

Pricing and availability
If you’re thinking you can make do with fewer cores, Ben has some sound financial advice: “Not many benchmarks focus on the 6-core models but, looking at the pricing we’re getting from our suppliers, the 6-core chips are priced to match the previous generation of 6-core models but they are faster. A nice win for the mid range.”

However, if you need the full eight cores, the HP Z420, Z620 and Z820 workstations are expected to be available worldwide in the first week of April. Estimated U.S. pricing starts at $1,169 for the Z420, $1,649 for the Z620 and £2,299 for the Z820.

Want to know more about HP Z workstations? Give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email To keep up with the latest news (‘Z820 available now!’, for example), follow @Jigsaw24Video on Twitter or ‘Like’ our Facebook page.

Tested to destruction: the Canon XF range

Tested to destruction: the Canon XF range

Cameraman Paul ‘Mungo’ Mungeam has taken his Canon XF305 to the Arctic, up mountains and across deserts, shooting shows such as Charley Boorman’s ‘By Any Means’ and the upcoming ‘Freddie Goes Wild’, which sees Freddie Flintoff battling the elements in some of the most hostile environments on the planet.

Surprisingly, his camera’s still in one piece. We asked the Expedition Media lighting cameraman/DOP about shooting in a volcano, the challenge of shooting over four continents, and whether Freddie Flintoff could take Bear Grylls in a fight…

What kind of challenges does filming in such extreme locations pose?

I’ve been a cameraman for over 17 years now, and I’ve always worked in the niche of adventure television, so I’ve been in every environment – the Arctic, the jungle, the Sahara  – you name it, I’ve filmed in it over the years! Each poses its own challenges, and challenges are what they are.

The beauty of the life of a studio or a facility cameraman is that it’s a very controlled environment, while we’re out there not knowing what will happen or how the kit will cope. We’re usually facing very hostile conditions, whether that’s hostile people or hostile weather, so there’s a lot of trial and error, but with each experience you gain more knowledge and learn how to deal with it.

What are the worst conditions you’ve had to take a camera into?

There was one camera we took down into a volcano in the Danakil Depression in Ethiopia when we shot ‘The Hottest Place on Earth’. It was a prototype and they sent it to us to see how it would cope, because obviously filming inside a volcano is one of the most extreme things you can do with a camera. None of us knew how it would cope, but it did quite well – except all the paint on the buttons came off, which made changing the settings interesting…

When we were in the Arctic, we were camping and filming in -35 degree weather, and you just don’t know how your equipment is going to hold up. You have to use what experience you have to cover your ass, basically.

Do you have any tips for keeping equipment intact through a tough shoot?

I’m a massive advocate of the ‘look after kit and your kit will look after you’ philosophy. You have to be really anal about cleaning your kit every night, which is a real bore, but if you’re camping in the middle of nowhere there’s probably nothing better to do. It’s all about simple things like not bringing the camera into air conditioned rooms if you’ve been shooting in the heat, and leaving it in a bag outside the tent if you’re shooting in the cold, so that the camera stays acclimatised.

That said, ultimately if anything’s got to go, it’s the kit, because that’s insured. As a cameraman, we do sometimes concentrate too much on the shot as opposed to where our feet are or what’s about to come down on top of us. You have to be very rounded to get through these types of shoots, and willing to think outside the box.

Are there any essentials you always take with you when you’re shooting in harsh conditions?

Too many to name! Chamois leather. Always have a chamois. Actually, I’m a really big advocate for keeping things simple with regard to kit. You can get the same results from simple kit if the right person’s handling it, and there’s less to worry about. In terms of functions, the zebras are vital – often you’re shooting by instruments because you can’t see the viewfinder, and when you’re in the Arctic you have to break some rules and burn out exposure to get faces instead of snow…

How long have you been using Canon cameras?

For a couple of years now. I tend not to be brand-specific: I go with the individual product. If the camera can produce the goods I’ll go with it.

What appealed to you about the XF305?

The size, weight, picture quality and usability. From a professional camera operator’s point of view, compared with other cameras in its class, it stands out as being one of the best. The LCD is noticeably better than other models and that is very appealing, but as with any camera it comes down to the final product, and the picture quality on the XF305 is staggering.

I’ve heard of other cameramen being quite snobby about the kind of camera they’ll use, but ultimately it’s not about size – it’s what you do with it. People think, “I’m only going to use the very, very expensive kit” because that’s how they perceive quality, and a small camera isn’t considered as professional. But something the size of the XF305 can get you into places a lot easier: it’s a lot less intimidating politically, and you can film in any space with it. I’ve climbed with big Sony 800s and you can do it, but it’s not so easy. The XF305, you can swing round anywhere. And then there are shows like ‘By Any Means’, where we were hopping in and out of different vehicles all the time – you couldn’t do that with a big camera. It’s all about finding the right tools for the job.

How does the XF workflow cope with this type of shoot?

Amazingly well. When you have a big heavy camera, sometimes you look forward to the disc change because it’s a chance to put it down for five minutes. With the XF305 you can hotshoot it, so you can film 164 minutes and just keep rolling [the memory cards] over so you never really have to stop.

There are two schools of thought with regard to data management; I just did a shoot for Discovery where we used CF cards like tapes, so we didn’t back them up at all. Loads of people would say that’s too risky, but if you think back you never used to back up tapes or discs, you just looked after them. But then when we did ‘Extreme Frontiers’ the production company requested that we backed up everything every night, which is of course the sensible option, but does mean you have to sit up in your tent and spend another two or three hours transferring everything. In a luxurious world, you’d get a data wrangler, but we’re often working in really basic conditions.

Are there any circumstances when you wouldn’t recommend the XF305?

I can’t say there are. It’s all about whose hands it’s in – if you hand it off to an AP, it won’t look great, but if you know what you’re doing I think it holds up really well. The limitations are things like it’s a fixed lens, so you wouldn’t use it for anything that required a lot of long lens work.

What features would you like to see adding to the XF range in the future?

Detachable lenses would be fantastic. The focus is not as accurate as it makes out so you do have to go on your eye. The major issues are that on the zoom ring, where you’re using it manually, there’s a really frustrating delay, and the fact that the on/off/media button can be flicked over easily if it’s knocked, so you think the camera’s off but you’ve actually put it on media mode and have been burning battery power all night. I did that once when we were camping on a glacier and it could have been catastrophic had I not taken enough spare batteries! Ultimately, you have to consider that [these cameras] cost 5K. If you want something red hot, you go for a 50 grand camera. If you want something in-budget that won’t fall apart, you choose this. For a £5000 camera it’s extraordinary, really extraordinary.

Because of that, we’ve had a lot of interest from universities and colleges in the XF105 and XF305 – do you think the XF workflow is a good one for young filmmakers to get to grips with?

They’re perfect introductory cameras. The 105 is what we use for video diaries with presenters, and I can set it up on auto and let them get on with it – it’s pretty foolproof. The 305 is one step up, it’s more professional, has better ergonomics and it’s far easier to control, so as an introductory semi-pro camera it’s amazing. People might think of it as an education camera, but I’ve just shot a big Discovery show with an A-lister, and this was our choice of camera. You can achieve great things with it, and if you can master the 305 you’ve got far more chance of finding work as a cameraman/shooting AP.

Any advice for those students?

Firstly, work your way up. I say that because I think you need to learn the basics, because they’ll cover you in the future. Spend time as the kit room monkey and when you’re in the field you’ll understand how kit works, you’ll know how to look after it, you’ll have the attention to detail the job needs. Lots of people try and go straight into shooting, but if you want longevity, go in and earn your stripes, make lots of cups of tea, press buttons and ask questions.

Secondly, watch the credits of programmes you love and write to them directly. Go to facilities and houses and offer them a couple of weeks of free work, and if you impress them enough with your dedication and servitude you might get a job. Ultimately it’s all about hard work. We definitely have one of the best jobs in the world, but in order to be the one in a thousand who get to do it, it’s about working bloody hard.

Finally, who’d win in a fight between Boorman, Grylls and Flintoff?

Fred’s pretty tasty with his fists, but from our recent experiences in Canada, I’m sure that Fred would agree… in a fight the Bear will always win!

To find out more about the XF range, give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email For all the latest news, follow @Jigsaw24Video on Twitter or Like’ our Facebook page.


Why I’m embracing FCP X and loving it

Why I’m embracing FCP X and loving it

– We asked filmmaker and DOP Den Lennie for his thoughts on Apple FCP X in this guest blog…


Perhaps I’m different because when Apple first announced Final Cut Pro X I sat back and waited. There was fury from the die hard edit community. How could Apple do this to us?

Well, I have a different view. You see, I started life as an editor back in 1997. In fact, I cut news  on a two-machine, front-panel-driven suite bolted into the back of  a VW Caravelle crew van.  I traveled around Scotland with my cameraman and reporter, covering news for GMTV. I then became a cameraman myself, and worked for the BBC and then London Tonight before going freelance as a lighting cameraman, and rarely touched an edit suite again.

But around 2003 I started playing with FCP7 and ‘taught myself’ how to do the things I’d previously done when linear editing. Perhaps since the leap from linear two-machine editing to an NLE like FCP 7 was so huge and liberating, I was just excited to have so much power at my fingertips.

I have never regarded myself as a proper craft editor. I could not go into Soho and offline the way the highly skilled guys (and girls) do, so perhaps that is why I view FCP X so differently. While I’m still getting to grips with FCP X and its new way of working, there are so many features that blow me away in terms of speed and efficiency that seem to go unnoticed over slating the software. My view is that FCP X is a little misunderstood.

The defence…

Take for example the fact you can take a Motion VFX template from, pull it into FCPX and edit 3D graphics in real time’ and drop 24P graphics onto a 25P timeline and the iMac just deals with it. Pretty cool, huh?

My next big ‘ah-ha’ is keying. Previously I had to buy a £300 software package (I used Red Giant Primatte Keyer Pro) and I never really got it to do what I wanted it to do. It was too complex for my impatient, not particularly technical, brain. This simply led to me feeling stupid and frustrated.

Well, FCP X is a doddle. In fact, it’s so simple I worried I was missing something. Here’s how it works: you drag in your clip (even with an uneven or badly lit key it works) on to the timeline, then drop the keyer tool on to the clip. Add a solid colour beneath the clip (I use white a lot, and there are about six tints to choose from) and boom, you’re done. Now, in 10.0.03 there are even more controls to clean up the key and edging if needs be, but as yet I haven’t needed to. So what used to take me half a day to figure out is now literally seconds. This is huge for me. My passion is lighting, shooting and teaching, so I want to spend time creating images and not feeling frustrated because I don’t understand a complex edit process.

FCP X  is taking a little getting used to, and some of the features like magnetic everything can get annoying. But in fairness, I’ve never been patient enough to read manuals, so I tend to create more work for myself trying to ‘figure stuff out’ intuitively – my bad. Having said that this is largely how I do most things on the Mac, so I’ve come to expect an intuitive workflow from Apple.

The other cool feature of FCP X is trimming and editing during playback. You are able to make changes while the timeline is in playback, which is very useful. I also like how you can fade your audio in/out by simply dragging the slider on each clip. This is another super fast time saving feature.

I recently finished a project in FCP X. It was shot on the Sony FS100 and EX1, so AVC HD and XDCAM EX respectively. This was then offlined on Avid MC and sent back to my colourist, who converted the files to QT and graded in DaVinci Resolve. I then imported the files into FCP X added Motion Graphics, titles and a music bed, and played out into full-res QT before sending all files to Compressor for my playout versions.

I did this all on my iMac!

Previously I had an 8-core Mac Pro and a Quad-core Mac Pro. I was looking to upgrade memory and  graphics cards, but when I spoke to Lewis Brown at Jigsaw24 he explained how the new generation of iMac with Thunderbolt was optimised for FCP X. So I got rid of my big, noisy Mac Pro, the multi-monitor setup, and now run everything off my quiet 27″ iMac. I have a 2GB graphics card, 12GB RAM and 1TB internal HD.  At  the moment I’m using G-Tech FW800 G-Raid for editing my projects and they’re pretty fast, but I’m told if I go to Thunderbolt I could experience a 10x faster edit read/write, and as time is precious I’m almost ready to press the button on that storage.


To get the best out of FCP X you have to get the right hardware. You need a powerful GPU, otherwise forget it. On my old machine, it took me two weeks to create 16 motion sequences – but with my new machine I can do the same thing in two days. That’s worth taking notice of! Also, I think Thunderbolt is the way to go for speed. While my FireWire 800 drives at RAID 0 are fast, there’s no security of my data, and that is risky.

I just flew back from Chicago a few days ago and edited a nine minute VT on the plane, shot on a DSLR. I did not need any special software to ingest – FCP X just sucked it in and I began cutting using my 13″ MacBook Pro fitted with an SSD, and using a G-Tech 1TB mini. FCP X handled it no problem.

FCP X is challenging but only because we’re used to doing things in a certain way. It really is worth getting over the pain barrier. You will feel liberated if you stick with it. I really believe we’re just scratching the surface with what this new powerful edit system can do. I’m sticking with it.

For more on what you can do with FCP X, give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email For the latest news, follow @Jigsaw24Video on Twitter or ‘Like’ our Facebook page.



BVE 2012: Our team pick the best bits

BVE 2012: Our team pick the best bits

So, that’s it. BVE is over for another year. After three days of meeting vendors, tyre kicking new products and getting to see some of our customers face-to-face, we asked our consultants to tell us about their highlights of BVE 2012.

James Graham, M & E Solutions Architect

It was great to chat to a huge range of different people about their workflows and the things they where doing, and to answer some questions on how to take their workflows forward. One of the main ‘hot topics’ that I talked through with people was the problem of how to ingest their massive amount of raw data faster and get editing quicker. With that in mind, we were demoing some of the latest and fastest Thunderbolt workflows – the Thunderbolt to CF card reader that Sonnet passed our way allows people to ingest at the maximum speed of their CF card. Also, the eSATA to Thunderbolt hub from LaCie got people excited about being able to connect their newest generation Macs to their existing eSATA storage.

Personally I think one of the most exciting products I saw, although not a brand new thing, was the Teradek Cube. I had used one a couple of times and knew the possibilities, but as Nicol from Teradek talked me through the setup they had there and some of the problems I had encountered, it became apparent not only how simple and configurable The Cube actually was, but how much of a game changer it could be. Realtime metadata tagging is not only simple but can be done by multiple people. Permissions can be set to stop the scriptwriter, for example, making comments about the lighting. The other thing is that you can take proxy files direct to a computer, (meaning that the rough cutting can begin during the shoot) which can be linked to the high-res versions. But this is only really scratching the surface of what Teradek’s range can do. This is a product to watch.

Anthony Hammond, AV Business Manager

It was great to see how much interest people had in the video wall. Some people were keen to know how it worked, others just wanted one for their front room. It was interesting to speak to people who were thinking of doing more simple digital signage type networks, but saw this as an inspiration to add some serious style to their display endpoints. Our systems are capable of supporting video wall or standard screen endpoints – all over the same centralised content management system.

In terms of products, I was also impressed with the Teradek. We saw our friends at Cambridge Imaging too, whose Orbital and Imagen products have blown us away in terms of their flexibility in capturing, tagging and repurposing broadcasted content.

Want to find out more about all the big news from BVE 2012? Call us on 03332 409 306 or email You can also keep up with the latest updates by following our follow @Jigsaw24Video on Twitter or ‘Like’-ing our Facebook page.