Future Perfect

Ikegami's tapeless HD camcorder revamps editing
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With its introduction of HD EditCam, a tapeless HD acquisition camcorder due later this year, Ikegami has peeked into the future. The camera uses Avid's DNxHD technology to capture HD images on an 80 Gb removable hard disk, providing 140 minutes of HD recording.

EditCam is based on technology that debuted at NAB nine years ago. At the time, Ikegami and Avid introduced the "Camcutter," a recording system based on dual hard disks. The concept of tapeless recording was seen as interesting but impractical, given durability concerns and the costs of hard drives.

Since then, Ikegami has refined the technology. Today, the camcorder can record six hours of video at DV25 Mbps on an $800 80-Gb single hard drive. The use of the new DNxHD (see page 30) provides compression bandwidth of 140 Mbps, enough to record in HDTV.

"In side-by-side comparisons with other compressed-HD formats, it scores consistently higher in image-quality criteria," says Jose Rosado, sales representative, Ikegami broadcast products division. That bandwidth, he adds, will grow to 220 Mbps when the camcorder is completed, allowing for loss-less acquisition that maintains full-picture quality.

The EditCam may be the original tapeless format, but it has been overshadowed recently by two others: Panasonic's P2, which has no moving parts, and Sony's XDCAM. Like the EditCam, the latter has one moving part, the optical disk drive.

"People are going to look at this tapeless technology because there are other tapeless formats in the market," says Rosado. "Broadcasters will tell you that their next camcorder investment is going to be a tapeless one."

EditCam has already found a large user: Armed Forces Radio and Television has 106 of the units, some in Iraq. "They didn't have a single failure," says Rosado, "while tape-based camcorders often failed due to dirt and grime that got inside the tape transport."

He believes that initial applications for the system will be digital cinematography, since the ability to record and instantly edit is so attractive. Users just slap the hard-disk-based Field Pack into an Avid nonlinear editing system and begin editing. As for the broadcast market, he says, the biggest challenge is getting the EditCam mentioned in the same breath as P2 and XDCAM and educating broadcasters about the new workflow.

"We do have a version of the Field Pack that will record on Flash memory [as P2 does], but we haven't sold them because it's not viable," Rosado adds. "A 16-Gb card would cost more than $10,000, and no one can afford that cost of media."

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