Atomos' new Flame series opens the floodgates for HDR production

Written by David Shapton

Atomos/RedShark PublicationsFlame on! The new Shogun and Ninja recording monitors

With two new HDR recording monitors, the Shogun Flame and the Ninja Flame, announced today by Atomos, the missing link in the HDR production chain is fixed. Now you can see your rushes in HDR, on set. A short while ago, we had an exclusive hands-on preview. Here’s our report. 

You might think our headline is over the top, but it’s not. Because up to now, it’s been impossible to get a representative idea of what your HDR footage looks like until it’s been post produced and shown on an HDR display, somewhere inside a facility.

It’s a tricky problem, and a particularly frustrating one, because everything else you need to make HDR productions is in place. Moving to HDR is not like going from SD to HD, or HD to 4K. There’s no four fold increase in bandwidth. Many cameras are capable of more than the 10 stops of dynamic range that you need for HDR. Virtually all of them can better Rec 709, which has a mere 6-7 stops of dynamic range. Post production software is starting to incorporate HDR modes, and HDR televisions are in the shops now. 

Before going into the new Atomos HDR range in detail, let’s quickly look at exactly what we mean by HDR. 

In real life, we’re exposed to an incredibly wide range of lighting conditions: from bright sunlight to starlight — which is to say: virtually no light at all. Just think about sunlight for a minute. In bright, direct sun, you have to squint or wear sunglasses. Have you ever had that experience from a TV screen? Of course you haven’t, and nor would you want to. But outside of those extreme conditions, an awful lot of information is lost when natural lighting is compressed down to the extremely narrow range of light that a conventional display can handle. While video can look extremely good on a Rec 709 display (in other words, virtually every HD display you’ve ever seen that isn’t HDR capable) it lacks highlights and true blacks. And without those extremes, all the information in between them and “normal” video is completely lost. This adds up to a drastically reduced picture quality, which is why when you compare Rec 709 with HDR, there’s a massive difference.

And it’s this obvious-to-see improvement that is the reason why HDR is so important. You don’t need to explain anything for people to appreciate HDR. It doesn’t matter how close they sit to the screen. You can’t miss it. It works in HD too — you don’t need 4K for HDR (but if you do shoot in 4K, the picture will look even better).

To show HDR images on set it’s not enough just to boost the brightness to increase the range between whites and blacks. The way modern cameras produce HDR material is to use LOG recording modes that squeeze more real world information into the available numerical capacity of the recording format. It’s a proven technique, but it does involve some additional steps to be able to see the material properly. 

The new Atomos Recorder/Monitors have an extremely high brightness screen that is able to take an HDR video signal and show a very good approximation of how it would look after post production. Both the Shogun Flame and the Ninja Flame have Full HD screens that have a maximum of 1500 Nits brightness, and, importantly, they have ten bits of resolving power. That means that they have 64 times the number of digital levels with which to show HDR video compared to 8 bit monitors.

The new HDR-capable Shogun Flame and Ninja Flame are much more than monitor/recorders with a bright backlight. In order to process Log Video and display every HDR detail on the screen, Atomos has developed its HDR Engine, which it calls AtomHDR. Essentially this takes a Log output from a camera, processes it, and displays it on the high brightness monitor, ensuring that every HDR nuance is visible. 

It’s important to understand that all of this is completely non destructive and is solely for the purpose of monitoring. The captured signals are not affected in any way and are recorded as normal on the Shogun Flame and Ninja Flame’s recording media. 

As has become traditional with Atomos products, the Shogun Flame has more higher end features than the Ninja Flame, which is nevertheless still a well equipped device. Specifically the Shogun Flame has SDI and HDMI inputs and outputs (with cross conversion between the two), and can record raw video from Sony’s FS700 and FS7 as well as from Canon’s EOS Cinema C300 MK II and C500. The Shogun Flame also has balanced audio inputs and controllable Mic pre-amps, including phantom power. The Ninja omits the SDI I/O, the balanced audio I/O and the phantom power.

Both devices come with the ability to record to Apple ProRes and Avid DNxHR/DNxHD.

SDR (Standard Dynamic Range) users will benefit from the Shogun Flame and Ninja Flame too, because both recorders feature a High Brightness setting for us with conventional video in bright outdoor conditions. 

Atomos has redesigned the chassis for both devices with a more effective fan cooling system and built-in armour, and the screen is recessed. Atomos’ Patent Pending “Continuous Power” is now provided, meaning that batteries can be swapped without powering down - even while recording. 

The full suite of monitoring facilities that comes with AtomOS is provided, including focus and exposure tools, 3D Custom Looks, Waveforms (Luma and RGB Parade) and Vector Scopes.

We have seen and handled the new products. They’re going to be familiar to anyone who’s seen a standard Shogun and Ninja. but they’re better designed, better protected and better balanced. The addition of continuous power is a big deal: running these screens at full pelt is going to use a lot of juice.

Images on the Shogun have always looked good, but we weren’t prepared for the HDR pictures. How did they look? More stunning than any picture we’ve ever seen on a screen this size. Looking at these images, we instantly wondered why anyone ever bothered with 3D. This is the thing about HDR: the pictures are so engaging that your brain fills in the rest. 

We saw SDR pictures in high brightness mode. These were saturated, contrasty and — well, very bright; easily bright enough for anything including direct sunlight. 

This could be a pivot point in the history of HRD production. Atomos has filled a gaping functional gap in the HDR workflow with a highly specced HDR monitor and a recorder that has more functionality than ever.

The new Shogun Flame and Ninja Flame will be available worldwide from 28th March.

Rather than reproduce all the details here you can see Atomos’ press release and prices on the next page. In the meantime, here's some video introducing the new units.

 

Atomos Ignites HDR and High Brigtness in the Field
1500 nits, 10 stops, 10 bit from $1295

Melbourne, Australia – 22nd March 2016: In the same way that the original Atomos Shogun helped fast track the transition from HD to 4K filmmaking, Atomos are intent on delivering 4K HDR to everyone with the launch of the Shogun Flame and Ninja Flame.

The Atomos Flame Series delivers the world’s most advanced 7” field monitor, accurately displaying 10 stops of the luminance detail of Log with 10 bit HDR Post Production color accuracy, for the first time in a field monitor. The AtomHDR engine not only resolves HDR brightness detail (dynamic range), with 10-bit color accuracy it also resolves 64 times more color information than traditional 8-bit panels. For Rec709 standard dynamic range scenes, the 1500nits brightness aids with outdoor shooting as does the upgraded continuous power management system that will keep you shooting longer in the field. Of course you also get the professional 4K/HD ProRes/DNxHR Recording, Playback and Editing that has made Atomos famous. Shogun Flame and Ninja Flame are available for sale in quantity week of March 28th, from the authorized Atomos reseller network.

“HDR is simply amazing, it’s the next revolution for filmmaking, once again Atomos are first with the technical solution to make it quicker, easier and more affordable for filmmakers” said Atomos CEO and co-founder Jeromy Young, “Anyone that sees HDR, from content creators to consumers are immediately sold, - more life like shots and real world detail. Our job is to open up HDR to all filmmakers by removing the technical and affordability hurdles that might slow its progress.”

The Flame series of monitor-recorders are equipped with the AtomHDR engine, utilising the power of the 1500nit panel in tandem with Atomos’ patent pending image processing to resolve the brightness detail of Log camera signals with the color accuracy of 10 bit HDR images mastered in post production. This means that the usual complications of exposing Log signals on a washed out image are eliminated – with AtomHDR you simply frame, expose, focus and shoot. All major camera makers log formats are supported - Sony, Canon, Panansonic, Arri, Red and JVC.

The monitor itself is a calibrated 7” 1920x1200 325ppi IPS with upgraded 10-bit color accuracy, resolving 1.07 billion colors compared to the 16.7 million colors of traditional 8-bit panels. This all but eliminates the color branding seen on traditional panels and in tandem with AtomHDR lets you see images as you would with your own eyes.

For existing SDR, Rec709 delivery or scenes that do not have the wide brightness variation required for HDR shooting, switch to traditional video mode (Rec709) and activate a Brightness slider that lets you take advantage of the impressive “Daylight Viewable” 1500nits of brightness emanating from the Flame units. This adds huge versatility for the Flame series – if you have scenes that call for HDR, activate the AtomHDR mode. If you don’t, switch to High Bright mode for outdoor monitoring hood free.

Shogun and Ninja Flame have a rugged built in armour ensuring it is battle-ready for the field and also now inherits the Atomos patented continuous power system pioneered on our HD range. The hot-swappable dual battery system automatically swaps to the second battery when power is low, allowing hot swapping to new fresh batteries. This coupled with our new improved battery charger which is 3 times faster means that power is always taken care of.

The addition of AtomHDR, the 1500nit brightness, 10-bit colour accuracy and Continuous power genuinely positions the Flame Series as the best 7” Field Monitors in the world, but as we know with Atomos they are much more than monitors alone, featuring advanced recording, playback and editing capability as well. Both units record 4K/HD direct from the sensor to 10-bit 4:2:2 Apple ProRes or AVID DNxHR/DNxHD onto affordable yet reliable SSD’s from the world’s leading media brands. They also feature on the fly 3:2 and 2:2 pulldown removal and advanced recording features such as Timelapse & Pre-roll. Playback with controls is possible on screen or out to larger monitors and you can even use the built-in focus, framing and exposure tools to judge the shot and then start tagging to make decision making in Post faster and easier.

The Ninja Flame is a HDMI only model with all of the above features and ships with a host of accessories including a HRPC hard case, a snap-fast HDR sunhood, fast battery charger, control cable, 2 x NP-F750 4 cell batteries, USB 3 Docking Station, D-Tap Cable, 5 x Master Caddy Cases and a 12 V 3A AC-DC Power Adapter. MSRP is US $1295

The Shogun Flame is a HDMI & SDI model with bi-directional SDI/HDMI conversion, Raw to ProRes/DNxHR recording for select Sony and Canon cameras, balanced XLR audio input/output and LTC/Genlock connectivity. It features the same above accessories as well as the XLR breakout cable for an MSRP of $1695.
-ends-

Flame Series Key Features:
With a Dynamic range to match that of a 10-bit camera LOG footage, AtomHDR monitors deliver the detail in highlights and shadows usually clipped on traditional monitors.
A highly advanced field monitor even in non-HDR scenarios with 1500nits brightness for outdoor shooting, native full HD resolution and optional calibration to ensure natural LCD colour drift can be corrected over time.
Record direct from the sensor in pristine 4K UHD (up to 30p) or record high frame rate HD (up to 120p)
Along with recording the high pixel density of 4K, the Ninja and Shogun Flame also record higher resolution 10-bit colour information and more precise yet efficient 4:2:2 colour encoding.
Recording to Apple ProRes and AVID DNxHR visually lossless edit-ready codecs ensure you capture full individual frames like film, providing more flexibility and creativity in post. Can be delivered to any standard – never worry about having your footage technically rejected due to the format again.

Ready for real-word conditions with built-in armour protection, dual battery hot-swappable continuous power system to ensure you always have power and a raft of included accessories including a new fast charger and snap-fast sun hood.
Our patented hot-swappable dual battery system for continuous power is backed up with the included power accessories (2 x 4-cell batteries, D-Tap adaptor and blazingly fast battery charger)
An arsenal of creative weapons including focus and exposure tools, 3D Custom Looks, Waveforms (LUMA and RGB) and Vector Scopes ensure you set the shot up perfectly every time.
XLR audio via breakout cables for Shogun Flame or 3.5mm line level input with audio delay, level adjustment and dedicated audio meters with channel selection for Ninja Flame.
We support affordable, readily available SSDs from the world’s most trusted media brands.

The Flame Series is shipping (March 28th) for a MSRP of:

Please view the fill list of resellers here: http://www.atomos.com/where-to-buy/

About Atomos
Atomos exist to help creative professionals cut through technology barriers by creating easy to use, cutting edge products including 4K & HD Monitor-recorders, a pocket size ProRes recorder, signal converters & power management solutions. Each product serves a different need but all share the common benefit of enabling a faster, higher quality and more affordable production schedule for video professionals.

Atomos is based in Australia with offices in the USA, Japan, China and Germany and has a worldwide distribution partner network. Further product information can be found:

https://vimeo.com/159450892/ff9c83f0b0

Tags: Production

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