When is a monitor not a monitor? Alan Stockdale records ProRes RAW on the Atomos Sumo19

Published on in Miscellaneous

Users are demanding more from their devices these days. Production monitors are no exception. When filming his latest project filmmaker Alan Stockdale turned to the Atomos Sumo19 HDR production monitor not only to view the image but also record it directly from his Sony FS5 in Apple’s exciting new ProRes RAW format.

Filming the series of videos for Schneider Kreuznach was very demanding, with only a few hours available to complete each part. Stockdale shot a variety of performers in multiple locations, both outside in bright sunlight, and in interiors which he had to fully light. Being able to view on an accurate monitor at each different location was essential. The Sumo19’s calibrated 19-inch high brightness display allowed Stockdale to make key decisions about focus and exposure. With a 1920x1080 resolution, plus 1200nits brightness for daylight viewing, the Sumo19 has an image that compares well with other higher priced production monitors. In common with other Atomos monitors it has a full range of focus and exposure tools. Waveform, vectorscope, RGB parade, false color, focus peaking, 1-1 and 2-1 magnification and audio level meters are all present. Users can also load lookup tables to view the image with any creative look they want. In addition, the monitor can accept Log signals from major cine cameras and display them immediately display them correctly as regular REC.709 images through the use of Atomos’ custom camera settings.

The Sumo19 is ruggedly constructed to withstand the rigors of set life. It has an aluminum chassis with mounting holes spaced around the frame to allow accessories such as wireless receivers to be attached. There is a VESA mounting plate which allows V-lock or AB batteries to be attached with appropriate adaptor plates. This means the Sumo19 can run without mains power if required. On his shoot, Stockdale was able to pick up the monitor and stand and move it easily around his set to wherever he needed it. Stockdale also used the optional sun hood to eliminates glare in the most demanding environments.

But the key differences of the Sumo19 are that it is also a recorder and has innovative HDR capabilities. Stockdale was able to take the RAW feed out of his Sony camera and record it directly into the Sumo19 in 4K ProRes RAW. This provided the best possible picture from his camera as he explains, “it captures the maximum dynamic range from the camera’s sensor and has the performance of ProRes with the flexibility of RAW”. It also opened up a range of high-speed shooting options that aren’t available with the camera on its own. Stockdale could shoot bursts of 4K footage at a staggering 120 frames per second (fps) or HD at 240fps. The images were perfectly displayed on the screen using the Sumo’s AtomHDR mode, allowing Stockdale to see in HDR as he shot. He was able to see much more detail in the blacks and highlights that were available in the RAW image. Stockdale was so impressed that he said “I’ve not had this much flexibility from the Sony FS5 before. ProRes RAW and the Sumo19 makes it feel like a new tool.”

The Sumo19 has a slot that accepts drives for recording the data. The kind of drive required depends on the format. For simple HD recording, a regular 2.5-inch spinning hard drive can be utilized. For Stockdale’s ProRes RAW shoot, a much higher speed SSD drive was required. Atomos published a handy list of approved drives that work for the different formats, resolutions and frame rates.

The resulting ProRes RAW files could be played back immediately on the Sumo19, giving both the DP and talent the chance to review shots and see how to improve each take. This was especially useful when shooting a young gymnast who had to hit specific marks to get the perfect shot.

The whole shoot was later edited in Apple Final Cut Pro X and the same Sumo19 was then connected to Stockdale’s computer to grade the footage on. This is another key advantage of the Sumo19 for independent content creators. Using the same monitor to work on-set and in the studio offers huge cost benefits. The Sumo19 can be accurately calibrated using Atomos software and an X-Rite i1Display Pro probe. It can display perfect REC.709 images, or HDR when connected to the computer with an appropriate i/o device like the AJA IO 4K. Another unique feature is the ability to output the image in HDR with the correct metadata to an HDR equipped TV or display. Typically, this could be a consumer LG, Panasonic or Sony OLED TV for client viewing. This all makes for a great lower cost HDR production solution.

The results of Stockdale’s work show just how transformative the Sumo19 can be in a workflow. The Atomos Sumo19 has really proved itself as a Swiss Army knife of production.

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