For the Love of 4K: Latest Trends/New Products

Published on in Advice / Tips & Tricks

By Patty Mooney

Many of us “industry veterans” have marveled to see the exponential rate of speed at which our industry has grown. My partner, Mark Schulze, started our video production business “Crystal Pyramid Productions” in 1981. So together we have witnessed the advent of videotape (VHS, Beta (which met with a tragic death), ¾”, 1”, Betacam SP, D2 and DVCam). We moved from 4x3 standard definition to 16x9 HD. Then we abandoned tape and entered the digital realm of discs and cards. We held our breath during the “3D Scare,” thinking we might have to address the need for it with our clients. Fortunately, nobody seems to appreciate wearing those 3D glasses. 

With each evolution, we have invested in the latest and greatest technology while adding the old equipment to a towering stack of archaic junque. The Betacam SP camera for which we paid $30,000 – WITHOUT the lens – sits gathering dust; we can’t sell it because people know they can collect footage on their iPhones.  And if they want to replicate the Betacam SP “look,” they can do it in post.

Now we have 4K, the purveyor of gorgeous cinematography and guzzler of hard drive space.  After poring over camera descriptions and handling many gorgeous new rigs at the last NAB in Las Vegas, Mark decided to purchase the Sony FS7.  He loves it. 

Along with the camera, he decided to acquire Convergent Design’s Odyssey 7Q+ monitor which can efficiently sit right on top of the camera or be placed on a table or stand for a producer or TD to work with.  When the Apollo option for live switching multiple cameras became available, he snapped it up.  The touch screen is quad split.  You can switch your multi-camera show simply by tapping on whichever shot you want.

I am surprised there has not been much more fanfare about the Odyssey 7Q+ and Apollo option.  Because it’s revolutionary.  Just as the manufacturers have proclaimed, this lightweight monitor is a “studio in the palm of your hand.”  You can live-switch a production with up to four cameras.  The monitor displays and records up to four cameras while simultaneously capturing a fifth switched master program recording to Solid State Drives (SSD).

Mark recently produced and shot a cooking show at the Hyatt. Chef Sutti demonstrated his popular sautéed scallop dish.  The Technical Director (TD) live-switched cameras using the Apollo option on the Odyssey.  He fed the SDI outputs on two large Sony HD Camera packages and the HDMI output on a smaller overhead camera into the Odyssey’s HDMI and SDI inputs.  Each camera’s output was recorded separately (iso) along with the live-switched recording.  This made it possible for me to later edit the show in about an hour because all I had to do was add graphics to the beginning and the ending, and take some of the isolated footage from the cameras to make minor adjustments, i.e., cutting to different camera angles, and beginning or ending scenes sooner or later.

As I mentioned earlier, Crystal Pyramid Productions has been around for a long time (since 1981).  We are now San Diego’s longest-standing video production company.  So your ears should perk up when I tell you that a long-standing video production company’s arsenal contains only the best, most efficient and useful equipment that can create the best video product possible.  2016 is the year that Convergent Design’s Apollo quietly took center stage while generating a seismic shift in our industry.  Many of us veterans have taken notice.  Many more in the industry will come to understand.

About Patty Mooney 

Patty Mooney is a Producer, Editor, Sound Technician and VP at award-winning San Diego video production company, Crystal Pyramid Productions. She writes for Videomaker, Indie Slate and Variety 411.  CPP has been listed on the ProHUB 100 for many years. 

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  • Frame 30 said…
    Tuesday, February 14, 2017 1:58 PM
    Dear Patty: Congrats! Frame 30 was started in January 1980 so I know of what you speak. Big breakthroughs when we could do tape to tape colour correction, key codes on tape, DMX, S16mm to broadcast etc. Oh, and we did do a spot in San Diego in 1982 I think. The prodco for the services had a huge studio and was doing the Orville Rickenbacker spots at the time. Great town. Cheers. Michael.
  • Mark Schulze said…
    Monday, February 27, 2017 10:20 PM
    You rock Patty and what a great article and I love my Odyssey 7Q+ that did this job well.
    Thanks Mark :)
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