19 Jan 2013

Connected Cameras: How Pro cameras are merging with the internet

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GY-HM650 GY-HM650 JVC/RedShark

RedShark contributor Freya looks at new ways to get your footage off your camera and back to base

 

There’s an fascinating new set of technologies evolving in the space where video cameras meet the Internet and I'm not just talking about youtube; I'm talking about connected cameras

I was at BVE North in Manchester, UK, recently and other than the Sony F55 (which everyone was excited about before they even got there) the other really exciting camera was from JVC and it came at things from a very different perspective.

Revolutionise

The new JVC GY-HM650 looks like it could revolutionise high quality news gathering in urban areas. The camera features both FTP capability and WiFi. What this means in practice is that you can quickly upload your video direct from onboard the camera to a remote site, using just the camera itself.

It also brings to the table simultaneous dual codec recording so that you can record two copies of the footage at once. For instance you might generate a low res proxy for fast upload and a full quality copy for the final edit. In theory this should mean that you can FTP the low res proxy back to base from the nearest WiFi hotspot and the editor can get editing right away. Then later you can either upload the higher quality version as well, or hand over the high res version when you return to base, so that the edit can be conformed to full quality and is ready to go.

Fastest news workflow

The camera can also record to standard formats such as quicktime and XD-Cam compatible .MP4 files in order to make it as compatible as possible with existing workflows. JVC seem really focused on making this camera the fastest news workflow camera out there!

Of course the whole WiFi upload idea does kind of rely on having easy access to WiFi hotspots which in urban areas is probably great but if you are way out in the jungle or something you will still have to resort to a satellite dish in a suitcase style setup! However it does seems ideal for high quality video of fast breaking news in major urban areas, and with the rapid roll-out of 4G, this is an increasingly viable option.

Metadata transfer?

JVC aren't the only ones looking into making cameras more connected though. When I spoke to a Sony representative about the new Sony F55, he suggested that there would be a Wi-Fi dongle available for it in the future, presumably with iPad and Android Tablet apps, although it's not clear whether this is for actual media uploads or for metadata transfer.

Panasonic are also introducing WiFi connectivity to their new HPX600 camera, including a "remote edit" iPad app that allows you to edit the footage while still in the camera. Go Pro have a WiFi backpack for their tiny cameras and there’s a new iPhone app to connect to it and control the camera remotely. In fact the latest Go-Pro cameras all have built in WiFi.

Live view

It's early days for camera connectivity though and different companies are approaching it in different ways, with perhaps the most common feature being a "live view" facility to view what the camera is seeing on a tablet or smart phone. Very handy if your camera is mounted high up on a jib or crane or or some other device that is longer than a human arm. I can also imagine it being fantastically useful for a wireless video link to a camera mounted to one of those "octo-copters" that are in vogue right now.

As digital cameras get more advanced it's inevitable that the computing power in them gets faster and faster and manufacturers will of course look at straightforward ways to add new features to their cameras, so I think it's almost certain that new connectivity features will be a part of our future. I suspect all this is only the beginning of the connected camera.


Freya Black

Freya Black is a Freelance writer, director, cinematographer and artist based in the UK, (the land of cold winters and rainy days). She believes cinematography is all about creating magic through light. Her all time favorite film is "Freaks" by Todd Browning. Freya is a big fan of chocolate, owls and the night.

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