Just announced: The new AJA Ki Pro... Ultra

Written by David Shapton

AJA/RedShark PublicationsAJA Ki Pro Ultra

AJA has just-announced the Ki Pro Ultra: a 4K recording powerhouse overflowing with I/O options.

Do you remember when it used to cost over $40,000 dollars to buy a HD deck that would record and play back? Nobody seemed surprised back then that this complicated piece of gear was so expensive: it was just part of the well-accepted landscape where, if you wanted broadcast quality, you had to pay for it.

Fast forward to today, and that landscape is unrecognisable. You don't buy tape decks any more; there's no tape!

The idea of using disk storage in cameras seemed to last about three weeks. And now, files are the only medium, apart, perhaps, from live video over HDMI and SDI (and, soon, perhaps, over IP too).

AJA knows a bit about turning signals into files. It brought out its first ProRes encoder in 2007, followed by the seminal Ki Pro - the first stand-alone ProRes recorder - in 2009.

In 2011 (yes, it seems like yesterday) it shipped the Ki Pro Quad, which was the first recorder to capture to ProRes 4:4:4.

There's no doubt that AJA has spent a lot of time developing its CION camera system. But that hasn't stopped it creating the next generation of Ki Pro: the Ki Pro Ultra.

Rack mountable or free standing

The new recorder is a rack-mountable or free-standing device, running off mains or batteries (in fact it has a dual redundant power input). It is the first recorder to work with 4K at high frame rates: up to 4K DCI at 60p, and it will record up to ProRes 4444.

According to AJA, these higher frame rates for 4K have been requested by broadcasters across the world. Sports is a big driver for UHD broadcasting, and you need 60p/50p for smooth playback of fast action. It's dawning on the entire world of broadcasting that viewers are much more bothered by jerky-looking footage than ultra-high resolution.

The Ki Pro Ultra is 2U high and half a rack-width, and while it is happy to stand alone without a rack, there are accessories to make sure it sits comfortably alongside other Ki Pro Ultras, typically in an outside broadcast van, although it would work just as well with several Ultras stacked on a trolly connected to multiple cameras, recording their ISO feeds.

The Ultra is designed from the ground up to work in multiples. Start and stop can be controlled from a single "transport", and whole groups of ultras can be set up and triggered from a comprehensive-looking web interface.

From what we’ve seen in pictures, the UI looks clear on the 4.8" 1280 x 720 screen.

Pak Drives

Like the AJA CION camera, the Ultra uses AJA's Pak drives. These storage modules, which are verified by AJA to work with their products, come in sizes up to a terabyte, and the Ultra can take two of them for a maximum recording time of around two hours at 4K 60p. A new product from AJA, the Pak-Adapt-CFast allows CION, Ki Pro Ultra and Ki Pro Quad users to record to CFast media.

(The Pak Drives cost $1,495 per terabyte).

Copious I/O




Round the back, there's a feast of I/O options, notably including fibre. With SDI to fibre now a mature technology, it means that you can have cables of virtually any length.

Audio is more than an afterthought, with 8 channels of analogue I/O and eight of AES/EBU. All digital audio is at 48kHz and 24 bits. HDMI is 2.0 which will allow UHD at high from rates.

For cost-effective monitoring, the Ultra hs “always-on” high quality 4K.UHD to HD down conversion.

This has all the hallmarks of a “definitive” product from AJA. Focused as much on broadcasters as production companies, we can see this becoming an essential “building block” in all kinds of 4K infrastructures and workflows.

Read AJA’s press release in full over the page.

AJA Releases Ki Pro Ultra 4K/UltraHD/2K/HD Recorder and Player at Inter BEE 2015
Next-generation device uniquely supports 4K 60p ProRes HQ recording and fiber connectivity;
Includes built-in HD LCD monitor

Chiba, Japan, Inter BEE Conference Hall 4, Booth #4206 (November 18th, 2015)—AJA Video Systems today introduced the Ki Pro Ultra – a next generation file-based 4K/UltraHD and 2K/HD video recorder and player with a built-in HD LCD monitor. Ki Pro Ultra is capable of capturing edit-ready 4K (4096 x 2160), UltraHD (3840 x 2160), 2K (2048 x 1080) and HD (1920 x 1080) Apple ProRes files. Ki Pro Ultra also supports a range of video formats and frame rates up to 4K 60p, and offers flexible input and output connectivity – including 3G-SDI, Fiber and HDMI – for powerful and efficient large-raster and high-frame rate workflows.

With a newly designed half-rack wide 2RU high form factor, Ki Pro Ultra suits a variety of production environments. It offers a wealth of analog and digital audio connectivity, via industry standard 3G-SDI, HDMI, SFP Fiber, XLR audio, and more. When using two AJA Pak1000 (1 Terabyte) SSDs, Ki Pro Ultra supports up to two hours of 4K 60p ProRes HQ recording with rollover functionality to extend that even further. An integrated HD LCD display for monitoring and playback includes transparent overlays that offer a feature rich and intuitive menu with onscreen keyboard functionality. Ki Pro Ultra also includes AJAs proven integrated web UI, for easy and complete control across a LAN from any web-browser.

There is no other device that delivers this level of performance in such a compact footprint. Ki Pro Ultra is small and totally flexible; it functions just as beautifully on the desktop, in a rack and even comes with a handle for easy mobility,” said AJA President Nick Rashby. “Clients have been asking us to support 4K and UltraHD 60p ProRes HQ recording and the combination of Ki Pro Ultra and Pak1000 media delivers on that demand with the rugged reliability and super functional design that our Ki Pro family of products are known for.”

Ki Pro Ultra feature highlights include:

  • Supports recording and playback of 4K/UHD resolutions up to 4K 60p.
  • Apple ProRes support, including up to ProRes 4444.
  • Records 4K/UltraHD and 2K/HD sources directly to reliable and affordable AJA Pak SSD media, at capacities up to 1 Terabyte. 
  • Extremely fast media changes and Rollover recording with twin media drive bays.
  • Professional connectivity with 3G-SDI, Fiber and HDMI inputs and outputs, AES and analog XLR balanced audio, LTC, RS-422 and LAN.
  • All outputs are active all the time, for massive output and monitoring capabilities.
  • “Always-on” high-quality 4K/UHD to HD down-conversion.
  • Intuitive menu structure and confidence monitoring on a built-in 4.8” 720p LCD display.
  • Integrated web-based UI for complete control across the LAN on any web-browser.
  • A rotary selection knob for quick, accurate adjustment of configuration and settings.
  • RS-422 control for easy integration with supported editing systems and external controllers.
  • Dual redundant 12V power inputs with locking 4-pin connector (one 12V power supply included).
  • Standard 2RU high, 1/2 rack width, allows easy side-by-side rackmounting. Included carrying handle also allows easy portability.
  • AJA 3-year international warranty and support included.

Ki Pro Ultra is available now for a US MSRP of $3,995 through AJA’s worldwide network of resellers. Ki Pro Ultra records to AJA’s robust Pak SSD-based media; Pak256 is available for a US MSRP of $695, Pak512 is available for a US MSRP of $1295, Pak1000 is available for a US MSRP of $1495, and the Pak Dock is available for a US MSRP of $395 for media playback from any computer. Optional Fiber modules and two-unit rackmount shelf are also available. For more information visit www.aja.com.

Tags: Production


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