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Sony DSR450 + Sony CBK-SD01 SDI Output Board + bonsaiDRIVE


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#1 Ralph Oshiro

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Posted 23 June 2006 - 03:57 AM

Anyone ever actually try this system configuration out? The CBK-SD01 SDI output board only outputs video only, right (no SMPTE or audio)? Does the bonsai record SMPTE and audio? Does the bonsai respond to any type of record "stop/start" signal from the camera record switch? Thanks for any replies.
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#2 Peter J DeCrescenzo

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Posted 23 June 2006 - 11:06 AM

Anyone ever actually try this system configuration out? The CBK-SD01 SDI output board only outputs video only, right (no SMPTE or audio)? Does the bonsai record SMPTE and audio? Does the bonsai respond to any type of record "stop/start" signal from the camera record switch?

Simon Wyndham (who sometimes posts here) did some tests using a SDI-equipped bonsaiDrive with a Sony PDW-5xx series XDCAM camera, which is essentially the same camera head as the DSR-450. He writes about it on his website:
http://www.simonwynd...SDI_vs_DV25.htm

As described on the product website, a bonsaiDrive can record uncompressed standard definition (not HD) video _plus_ multiple channels of uncompressed audio: A digital 8-channel ADAT stream plus an analog stereo pair, plus an additional 8 embedded audio channels via its SDI option board.
http://www.bonsaidrive.com/bonsai.html

In addition to "live" (not from tape) uncompressed 10-bit 4:2:2 digital video, the DSR-450's SDI card passes the cam's 2-channel uncompressed audio embedded in the SDI data stream to the external device. AJA, Graham-Patten and others offer SDI audio embed/disembed devices for adding/outputting at least 8 channels of uncompressed audio within a SDI stream.

I use my DSR-450's SDI option output card with my SDI-equipped JVC TM-H150C monitor. The video quality on the monitor is much, much better when viewed via SDI than composite.

I've used my DSR-450's SDI output card with a Panasonic SDI-equipped DVCPRO-50 deck. The resulting recordings are noticeably better quality compared to DVCAM. I've recorded 60i, 24p and 30p video on the DVCPRO-50 deck, which was edited in FCP.

The DSR-450's SDI option card does not output timecode. Instead, you can use the cam's TC output connector. If instead a single cable (carrying video, audio & TC) is required, I believe Miranda and others offer SDI/TC embed devices.

The bonsaiDrive has inputs & outputs for timecode, so for example you might input the bonsaiDrive's TC into the cam while recording. Then the cam's internal tape would have the same TC as the bonsaiDrive recording.

The DSR-450's SDI connection does not pass machine control (start/stop/etc.); actually, I don't know if SDI supports this in general. As far as I know, a DSR-450 can only control an external device via Firewire. Unfortunately, the bonsaiDrive does not have a FW connector. Instead, you control it via its (removeable/wired) front panel.
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#3 Simon Wyndham

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Posted 23 June 2006 - 12:11 PM

Hi all,

I found using the Bonsai a bit awkward. Although for studio based setups it might be a more practical solution. Much of the stuff I do is on the move, so having to carry an extra piece of equipment with me wouldn't be too practical. I also found the menus to be not very user friendly. They may have made improvements though.

One thing I am wondering about though is the quality of the SDI from the 510 and 450, and indeed the 530. Initially I was told that the info comes straight from the camera head subject to 4:2:2 colour sampling. However we now know that with the XDCAM HD cameras the output from the SDI port on the 350 is chroma upsampled from 4:2:0. In my tests with the Bonsai Drive I was not that overwhelmed with the output, and I am now starting to think that perhaps the output from the SDI port on the standard def cameras is also upsampled. I shall try to find out if this is true or not. But I would have expected finer edges than those shown.
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#4 Peter J DeCrescenzo

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Posted 23 June 2006 - 12:49 PM

Hi all, I found using the Bonsai a bit awkward. Although for studio based setups it might be a more practical solution. Much of the stuff I do is on the move, so having to carry an extra piece of equipment with me wouldn't be too practical. I also found the menus to be not very user friendly. They may have made improvements though.


Hi Simon! You're up rather early/late? :)

I spent quite a bit of time with a bonsaiDrive at a Snader dealer event in San Francisco a few months ago. I found the bonsaiDrive's user interface more straight-forward than Simon did, but this is obviously a personal preference/subjective thing. Using the bonsaiDrive's menus requires using it together with some sort of video monitor, such as a small LCD video screen or better. However, starting & stopping the recording of clips only requires pushing the VCR-style buttons on its removeable front panel.

Previously I'd posted here that the DSR-450's "Return" button might be used to view the bonsaiDrive's video output on the cam's VF/LCD. Unfortunately, this turns out not to be true. For some reason Sony didn't implement this feature, unlike many of their other pro cams. For example, the new XDCAM-HD camera allows you to temporarily view an external video source (such as a 2nd cam, etc.) in the VF without interupting the cam's internal recording. My apologies for the earlier bit of misinformation.

One thing I am wondering about though is the quality of the SDI from the 510 and 450, and indeed the 530. Initially I was told that the info comes straight from the camera head subject to 4:2:2 colour sampling. However we now know that with the XDCAM HD cameras the output from the SDI port on the 350 is chroma upsampled from 4:2:0. In my tests with the Bonsai Drive I was not that overwhelmed with the output, and I am now starting to think that perhaps the output from the SDI port on the standard def cameras is also upsampled. I shall try to find out if this is true or not. But I would have expected finer edges than those shown.


It's possible this may be a difference between the DSR-450 and the XDCAM & XDCAM-HD cameras.

I just put a call into Sony's US Technical Support in New Jersey about this, and I'll reply back here if I receive clarification from them on this point.
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#5 Peter J DeCrescenzo

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Posted 23 June 2006 - 06:06 PM

... One thing I am wondering about though is the quality of the SDI from the 510 and 450, and indeed the 530. Initially I was told that the info comes straight from the camera head subject to 4:2:2 colour sampling. However we now know that with the XDCAM HD cameras the output from the SDI port on the 350 is chroma upsampled from 4:2:0. In my tests with the Bonsai Drive I was not that overwhelmed with the output, and I am now starting to think that perhaps the output from the SDI port on the standard def cameras is also upsampled. ...


Sony US Tech Support sent me an email a few minutes ago which says:

===
"[The DSR-450's] SDI out is sourced from uncompressed camera head data."
===

So, the DSR-450 appears to be different from the XDCAM-HD cams, and possibly (?) the PDW-5xx series XDCAM cams, in this regard.

It would be interesting to do some side-by-side tests with these cams, and the bonsaiDrive, too.
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#6 Simon Wyndham

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Posted 25 June 2006 - 06:09 AM

I would imagine that the PDW series would be the same as the 450. The SDI card for the PDW's is an add in card that costs a fair bit, so I would hope that at those prices it wouldn't just upconvert.

Peter, have you any examples of the SDI out from the 450 compared to the standard recording?
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#7 Peter J DeCrescenzo

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Posted 25 June 2006 - 03:53 PM

I would imagine that the PDW series would be the same as the 450. The SDI card for the PDW's is an add in card that costs a fair bit, so I would hope that at those prices it wouldn't just upconvert.


I suspect you're correct, Simon, that the DSR-450 and PDW-5xx series are the same in this regard: Uncompressed cam data is output as 10-bit 4:2:2 via the SDI option card. It's unfortunate the XDCAM-HD cams output compressed video (8-bit 4:2:0) which is upconverted to 10-bit 4:2:2 via their HD-SDI port.

Peter, have you any examples of the SDI out from the 450 compared to the standard recording?


Unfortunately, no. I don't currently have ready access to a SDI capture-equipped computer. My clients edit the footage I shoot, and I often don't get copies of it or access to the original footage.

Like many folks, I'm waiting for Apple to release their new Intel-based fullsize desktop machines, which will probably start shipping later this summer. Once those are available, I'll look to acquire the entry-level model and an appropriate SDI capture card.

I was originally planning on getting an AJA IO-LD box (about $800 US) for use with an Apple PowerBook G4 15", but then Apple replaced them with the new Intel models which don't have a PC-card slot, which for all practical purposes a IO-LD based system requires (the new laptops have a new type "ExpressCard/34" slot instead).

[Although the IO-LD connects to a Mac via Firewire 400, uncompressed SD datarates require a separate FW bus for connecting an external video data harddisk drive to a PowerBook. On the older PowerBooks the PC-Card slot was used to attach a tried & true $99 US FW800 card for the HDD. Now you'd need to wait for a tested/proven ExpressCard/34 slot FW800 card to become available ... or use a desktop Mac or PC.]
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