| Subcribe via RSS

NAB Perspectives: AJA’s Cacciarelli on Cion and the Move to 4K

April 14th, 2015 Posted in Headlines By Ken Kerschbaumer

In recent years, AJA Video Systems has transformed itself into a company that has something for everyone, and NAB 2015 continued the trend, with the company rolling out a number of products that help solve HD-production problems today and help lay a foundation for 4K tomorrow. Sitting down with SVG, Product Marketing Manager Tony Cacciarelli discussed some of the hot trends he is hearing from customers and how AJA is looking to address new market needs.

It looks like 4K is playing a big part at the AJA booth this year.
4K has been a focus for quite a few years. We started coming out with 4K-capable equipment in 2009 with the HD KONA card that was 3G and had a firmware update to make it 4K-capable. From there, we introduced more 4K products, although we make sure they are also HD-capable because no one ever just flips the switch and doesn’t look back. They continue to do HD work, so things like our Io4K card works in HD and also handles 4K.

But 4K is coming pretty quickly, and Moore’s law is helping us along with faster processors that allow for more storage space and faster drives. Our work in 4K recording ultimately led us to the development of the camera. Before, we just did the backend for a lot of other cameras, but we were beholden to them, and it just made sense to push to the front of the line and have control from the lens to the recording.

NAB 2015 has a lot of 4K cameras from not only the traditional broadcast-camera manufacturers but also Red, Blackmagic, and yourselves. How do you see the camera market breaking down in terms of the relationship between the high- and low-end cameras?
If you think of the market as a triangle, there is the top end with cameras like the F65 and new Alexa 4K and then a bottom end. I don’t mean that in a bad sense: a lot of inexpensive cameras with great functionality bring 4K to a larger group of people. So, when we set out to build Cion, we didn’t want to jump into that pool because it was a bit of a wild, wild West. We were shooting for the middle range, where we aren’t dipping into high-end demand for things like RAW but still have a nice cinematic look without costing an arm and a leg.

So where do you see Cion fitting into the sports market?
People are still looking at the camera for actual event coverage, and it has true zoom that allows high-resolution capture and selection of a region of interest. But the style of Cion lends itself more to interview and preproduced packages. But we are still looking at the live market: the new update has an improved IRE level that is important to folks doing live TV. We know it won’t be the end-all for everyone, so that is why we launched the TryCion program that allows people to try the camera and judge for themselves if it delivers what they need.

Cameras like Cion, however, are changing the nature of the NAB Show, and one can argue that some of the non-broadcast users of Cion could actually deliver 4K images before some of the broadcast stations and networks.
I think broadcast will always be at the core of the show because it is about and for broadcasters, but I think that word and what it means is definitely evolving. The technology behind what we call broadcast is changing more and more because of IP, and we also have different delivery methods. There is an old broadcast model that is being challenged as there are alternative ways of doing things. But broadcast was our bread and butter and the heart of where the company started, and it is still a very big part of our business.