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Issue: July 1, 2011

Post Script: JVC previews affordable 4K camcorder

By: Marc Loftus

At the recent SMPTE show and Digital Video Expo East in New York City, JVC hosted a new technology demo for members of the post and production communities, soliciting feedback for a 4K camcorder that the company has in the works.

JVC’s GM/engineering, Edgar Shane, hosted the hour-long session and did a nice job explaining the technical challenges that a manufacturer faces when developing products — in this case, an affordable 4K camcorder that JVC hopes to deliver for a list price well below $10K. In fact, that price could be even closer to $6K when it finally comes to market.

Shane detailed JVC’s history of releasing affordable technology that is a good fit for the industry’s workflows and needs. He recalled the release of D-VHS back in 2000, which allowed for the recording of two hours of 1080i video on a $15 tape, and the 2009 introduction of the GY-HM series of camcorders that recorded HD on low-cost, solid state SDHC cards.

At SMPTE, JVC had a working prototype of a 4K camcorder that was playing back footage on a 4K monitor (also a prototype). 4K, as Shane explained, equals double the vertical and horizontal resolutions of 1080, and most camera solutions today use a single sensor design with a Bayer filter applied. The Debayering process doesn’t allow for realtime output, as time- and CPU-intensive processing needs to take place to restore color information based on the red, green and blue that has been captured.

JVC’s prototype records 4K (3840x2160 24p/60p) to four SDHC cards, capturing 140Mbps of data (35Mbps/per card) in H.264. The camera is based on the company’s LSI chip and would support realtime output. Since data is recorded on four files, NLE manufacturers would need to be aware of this, and as such, JVC is talking to folks at Apple, Avid and Adobe about support. A 16GB card could provide an hour of recording, but Shane reiterates that you would need four of them.

The session ended with a Q&A from pros wanting to know about the camera body, lenses, audio, low light and depth of field characteristics. Their comments, suggestions and criticism very well could shape this future release.