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First Look: AJA Ki Pro Ultra Plus

AJA Product Marketing Manager Bryce Button gives Shawn Lam a first look at the AJA Ki Pro Ultra Plus 4-Channel Apple ProRes Recorder.

Shawn: It's Shawn Lam here for Streaming Media Producer at NAB 2017. I'm here with Bryce at the AJA booth and we're going to be talking about the Ki Pro Ultra and the new Ki Pro Ultra Plus. So what's new?

Bryce: Yes. Well, the Ki Pro Ultra Plus is a pretty great addition to the Ki Pro family. The Ki Pro family is a family of players and recorders. Originally started with ProRes encoding. The Ki Pro Ultras are, today, capable of doing ProRes as well as Avid DNxHD MXF, which is the native file format. And so, the original Ki Pro Ultra was designed to be a 4K ultra HD 2K HD player and recorder and the Plus, of course, continues that but it adds a great, great new option. That's the ability to do Multi-channel HD recording.

Shawn: So this is four, independent, HD inputs that the user can switch between as if it was a production video switcher.

Bryce: Well, no, you can record all four at once. You basically can plug in four separate cameras. It can be 1920x1080 or 720, which is very popular for FOX for instance, but they just need to be the same raster size and frame rate. And then you're recording four separate ProRes files. One for each camera. So you could go that route. Or you can say, "Okay, I've got a single camera but I want different file compressions." Different profiles. You could do ProRes 444 or you could do proxy for the second file or you could the third version, again might be a standard ProRes. So, it's up to you and you'll see it right here in the interface. We got the GUI and on the screen, all four are coming in at once. You're feeding this four different sources.

When you set up your original configuration, obviously, if you're in the original Ki Pro Ultra, you'll be seeing a single channel only. Here you have the ability to come to multi-channel. You could tell it exactly how many channels you want because if you only plugged in two cameras, no point in wasting the hard drive space. It's not hard drive because it's SSDs. Doing four channels here. As you can see within the interface, this is literally being fed off of the Ki Pro Ultra. That's another secret about this wonderful device is that we have full blown Linux based operating systems with a web server. This is feeding you the live feed you're seeing up on the screen.

When I come to status here, I can see well, I can send it to 1920x1080. In fact, all the way up to 59.94. That's pretty stunning, you know, you're talking very high frame rate here on all these channels.

Shawn: How does it connect to the laptop?

Bryce: To connect to the laptop, you literally plug in an ethernet cable. Once you've done that, you can see it's just an IP address up here. Then the IP address of your unit and you could always set that under configuration and network. Pretty simple. Here you've set it to a static IP address and once you hit return, it just brings up your interface. Refresh it. There it goes.

Shawn: This works on any operating system because it's not dependent on a single operating system.

Bryce: Correct. That was the point. We wanted to make sure no matter what happens, you can be on any operating system, any web browser. We're not going to stop you from having access to your ability to control this. What's great is on the output it's always live when you're recording. You could have an HDMI output showing the four. You might choose to switch. You're still recording on four but you could say, "Hey, I want to look at the second one full screen. I'm worried about this and my composition." Or whatever it is. Very pragmatic. I think the other things that's great is it's got full blown HDMI 2.0 support.

Shawn: Okay.

Bryce: And that's wonderful because you can come from a more reasonably priced camera. Right. Might be 4K-capable and you can get all the way up to 12-bit off that HDMI input and record to the Ki Pro Ultra Plus.

Shawn: In terms of the workflow, the recording is done on the same types of drive systems that you've been using in the past in this family line.

Bryce: Yes.

Shawn: What are some of the safety features built in? I mean, four inputs going into one device. What happens if we lose power?

Bryce: We introduced something earlier last year, towards the end of the year, called Ki Protect. Let's say the power goes or someone does yank it. It will have everything other than the last few frames. So, as it goes, the header files are being rewritten to ensure that if all goes to crap, as they say in English, then you will actually recover.

Shawn: That's a huge feature because I remember once, the end of my production happened, I didn't hit stop but the power engineer turned off the power to our setup there before we were done. This would give me the ability then, to recover those files.

Bryce: Yeah, when this is key because obviously, we realize that people are sticking in four camera, they're not going to be particularly happy if this doesn't work. Power goes out. You're living in a country where they power cycle. There are a thousand things that can happen. That's going to protect you. For a lot of folks that are going to do streaming projects and so on, the ability to shoot against greenscreen and know you're going to get really nice greenscreen out of it once you edit and throw the project out is key.

Shawn: What about synchronization? How are these four independent signals in that workflow, how are they synchronized?

Bryce: The way it works is you'll want to be plugged into the first SDI port first and then add. You can have one through four. So you can have just two or three or four. Once you've got that first signal in, from there, as you start recording, you're fine. You might go, "Well, what happens if someone now trips over the cable going into SDI one? Am I in trouble?" No. At that point, it's already locked within the system and the rest will keep recording.

Shawn: Can you tell us about the price point and availability of both this product and the regular Ki Pro?

Bryce: The Ki Pro Ultra, we recently reduced to $2,995. That's a really good price for a 4K recorder. Absolutely fantastic quality HD all the way through 4K. The Ki Pro Ultra Plus is going to be available for $3,995. Which is working out to less than $1,000 per HD channel.

Shawn: That's a great way to look at it.

Bryce: If you put this in a rack, this is designed so it can go into a rack, you can have two of them together. That would give you eight channels of video in a 2RU space. It also gives you, because we support 16 channels of audio per SDI stream embedded, you're getting up to 128 channels of audio within 2RU as well, if you need it. We think we have you covered for a range of workflows here.

Shawn: When you have a look at the business end of the Ki Pro Ultra Plus, one of the neat features is that it has four SDI inputs as well as loop throughs for four SDI outputs. You also have four SDI fiber inputs so AJA has products to convert your signals from HDMI or SDI to fiber and it can go directly into the Ki Pro Ultra Plus. Thanks a lot, Bryce.

Bryce: Thanks again.

Shawn: This has been a look at the AJA products here at NAB 2017. I'm Shawn Lam for Streaming Media Producer.

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