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Interview: Jeremy Young, Atomos

Shawn Lam and Atomos' Jeremy Young discuss the Samurai Blade, Atomos' new field recorder that features an improved 16:9 preview screen, waveform functionality, and enhanced Canon 5D Mark III support.

Sharper, Bigger 16:9 Preview Screen

Shawn Lam: It's Shawn Lam here for Streaming Media Producer. I'm here with Jeremy from Atomos, and we're looking at the Samurai Blade. This is an update on the original Samurai. What have you done?

Jeremy Young: The customers were quite happy with the operating system, but they weren't happy with the small BNCs. And we gave them the cable so they were kind of happy in the end, but we've decided to put on some full-size ones. And the biggest thing is that we've updated the screen, which is now a 1280x720, 5-inch screen. It's a full 16:9 perfect aspect ratio. We worked with a panel partner to customize this panel. You get 48Hz, 50Hz, 60Hz operations. Whatever the video format is, it changes to that frequency so that you see the perfect video. SMPTE color spec, gamma and contrast/brightness adjustments--we've got the full range of control over that. So it's really an awesome IPS panel. We call it the Super Atom IPS Panel. It's super-sharp, super-bright, and super-blacks, all the way down to the last atom.
Format Support, Waveform Monitoring, Focus Peaking

Shawn: So, are you still support the same ProRes, the HQ, the LT?

Jeremy: Correct. The whole operating system from AtomOS 4 is ingested into this, but probably the main big feature is that we have now added waveform monitoring. And that gives you Tektronix-level accuracy on RGB, Luma Parade, and vectorscope with the push of a button. So that now completes the monitoring tools so that now with a kick-ass screen at 325dpi you can seriously focus off of this.

With the monitoring tools we've updated also our filters for Focus Peaking. And we only went in the horizontal direction originally. Now we go in both directions, which smoothes-out the edges and gives you a lot more detail. The old Focus Peaking worked really well, especially for cameras that didn't have it, but I wanted to improve it, so our engineers have worked hard to get that done

Recording and Log Capabilities

Shawn: What about recording in terms of like log capabilities?

Jeremy: Yeah, so we can take the S-log or C-log from the Sony cameras, and that's then recorded. It's not a separate file, but it's recorded inside the video stream. And then when you come back into like a Final Cut, etc., then that's what you're viewing, is the S-log, and then you can get in and adjust gammas and different things inside the editing package.

Powering the Samurai Blade

Shawn: So one of the most important things I think when you have an external recorder is powering. So the original model had battery power, and you also have the ability to AC-power this, right?

Jeremy: Correct, and we now include that in the box. So we used to include two batteries and a charger. That was more because we saw it being really a portable device sitting out on cameras all the time, but we did get a lot of requests, "I need an AC adapter." So we were asking people to buy the Sony one that's clicked on there. That wasn't a great solution because it was kind of separate to a purchase from Atomos, so we now include the AC power adapter in the box.

Shawn: And then when it's AC-powered and it has a battery on one side, let's say we lose power on the AC. What happens?

Jeremy: It flicks straight across, seamlessly. I think it's like a couple of milliseconds and it's up and running. The operating system continues to function completely.

Shawn: So we don't lose power on the record.

Jeremy: Never.

Shawn: What happens if we do lose power on the record or you pull the disk out?

Jeremy: So all that happens there is that you don't close the file properly because you've lost power and the operating system can't close the file. So when you power it back up or put the disk back in, then we see that it's a broken file. We reconstruct the headers, because the frames are still there on the disk. They just haven't been pointed to correctly.

So we then reconstruct the headers, and it comes up with "We've seen a broken video file. Would you like to recover it?" And you can do it right away, or if you're in the middle of a shoot, then you can do it later.

Shawn: That's excellent, because I know I was on a shoot previously, and we were using a KiPro and we had a Samurai, and we lost power, and there was no battery backup on either of the two. And we powered them both back up, and this was the one we were able to actually recover from, or at least the Samurai, not the Blade version of it, whereas the Ki Pro we were told we had to send that away to a independent third-party company and pay $400 to get it done.

Jeremy: We used to have the same issue, but then we built it into the operating system, because we saw it as really a safety issue, and safety is probably everything for video shooting. That's why we have locking mechanisms, as you know, for the hard disk. We have locks on the batteries. That's peace of mind as well as a very important function. And file recovery is extremely important. If you've been shooting for an hour and suddenly something happens, you definitely don't want to not be able to recover your files.

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'Highest functioning monitor recorder and playback device on the camera market today' now available from Atomos for $995