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Grass Valley Makes 4K, Six-Times Slo-Mo More Accessible

April 12th, 2015 Posted in Headlines By Ken Kerschbaumer

Grass Valley is taking it’s “eLicense” concept to the next level at NAB with the introduction of the new LDX 86 Universe switchable camera system, a unit that can be turned from a standard HD camera to either a 4K camera or six-times HD camera via a temporary software license, giving sports production professionals the opportunity to bring both of those hot trends in acquisition to productions without buying dedicated specialty cameras.

“This allows someone to buy a camera today, protect themselves going forward, and help their investment process as they don’t need a crystal ball,” says Mike Cronk, Grass Valley, senior vice president of strategic marketing. “It democratizes extreme slo-motion and 4K production as our customers don’t have to make a choice [between HD, 4K or six-times] as they can have all of them with one investment.”

The new camera also features 2/3-inch sensors for 4K, a move that solves many of the problems that are introduced when using a one-inch, full-frame sensor.

“The large format sensors offer a great picture but they have limited zoom range so the problem we were looking to solve was to make 4K acquisition as easy using other HD cameras,” adds Cronk.

Grass Valley eLicenses are available as a perpetual license or one-week license and there is also an upgrade path to the LDX 86 Universe for the other new additions to the LDX 86 Series, including the multi-format LDX 86 WorldCam with HD content in 1080i/720p/1080PsF and 1080p.

“We believe we can have a price point that is very compelling and will allow customers to put the power of 4K and six-times into every truck and then turn it on when needed,” says Cronk.

As innovative as the LDX 86 Universe is, by itself, in 4K or 6X modes, it still would be a specialty camera in 4K or 6X modes for most productions. And that is one of the reasons Grass Valley has also introduced the K2 Dyno Universe, a replay server that allows for 4K or six-times replay without doubling the number of servers, rack space, or operators.

“The combination of our LDX 86 Universe/K2 Dyno Universe provides unprecedented levels of creative freedom without requiring enormous additional costs,” adds Cronk. “What once was considered technology only for ‘specialty’ positions, can now be applied to standard replay and camera chains.”

The K2 Dyno Universe supports HD up to 6X and 4K operation, and offers two sizes, 4RU and 6RU, both fully 6X HD/4K switchable. Each configuration uses the new solid-state shared storage for exceptional performance.  System scalability is delivered by connecting multiple systems together over fast 10GigE ShareFlex connectivity.

To fully support the 4K system, Grass Valley developed a new fiber transmission system, the XCU XF Universe, which utilizes the same XCU cradles as its single-speed range of XCU base stations. Because the XCU’s unique cradle can be pre-mounted and pre-wired in the rack, it can quickly and easily be transferred between OB vans, studios, or anywhere, which extends its usability. In addition, any existing position can be upgraded to the described level of functionality, by simply sliding an XCU Universe into the existing cradles in the field.

Perhaps the biggest endorsement of Grass Valley’s 4K technology comes from the Mobile TV Group (MTVG) out of Denver, Colorado, where they announced the launch of the first 4K mobile production unit in North America in 2015. MTVG’s mobile unit will include Grass Valley’s 4K camera, Kayenne K-Frame production switcher with 4K capability and Kaleido multiviewers. MTVG’s mobile unit will be on display at the Gerling booth, OE601, and will demonstrate the network-configured LDX 86 4K camera and K2 Dyno Universe combo.

“There is no question that Grass Valley’s development of the 4K three 2/3″ imaging camera system is a major breakthrough that is enabling 4K live sports production,” says Philip Garvin, co-owner and general manager, MTVG. “Grass Valley’s new camera is making our first-of-its-kind truck a reality and producing outstanding image quality for the masses.”