AJA Ki Pro Mini Keeps Quality High, Delivery on Schedule for Negwen Films
March 21, 2011
When she was planning the production of her short film, “Sometimes,” Independent filmmaker Kayin Cheng was aiming for high quality and fast turnaround, within a limited budget -- and a workflow that would address all three. The founder of London-based Negwen Films was looking to shoot and post the short on a two-week schedule, and submit it to the Cannes Film Festival. “We didn’t want to take six months to make a four-minute film,” she said, “but we wanted to keep the quality as high as possible.”
She and her crew opted to shoot the drama on a Sony PMW EX3 camera equipped with Nikon 35mm lenses, to give the production a filmic look. The piece was edited and color graded using Apple Final Cut Pro and Apple Color. To bridge acquisition and post, the filmmakers looked to AJA’s brand new Ki Pro Mini flash disk recorder. The highly portable Ki Pro Mini mounts easily to digital cameras and accessories for on-set capture of high-quality 10-bit 4:2:2 Apple ProRes files that are immediately ready for editing.
“We wanted to get as much quality as we possibly could out of the camera,” said Cheng. “The Sony EX3 records XDCam media, which is highly compressed and not suitable for what we do. Ki Pro Mini let us bypass that to get all of the image quality out of the camera, and to maintain the additional depth of field captured by the Nikon lenses.”
Because it records Apple ProRes 422 (including HQ, LT and Proxy), Ki Pro Mini files were ready for editing without digitizing or transcoding, and gave the crew greater flexibility in post. Editor Andy Morrison said, “The more compressed your video is, the less control you have over your color space. Ki Pro Mini gave us a 100% ProRes HQ codec with no artifacts and much greater control over the image in the finishing stage. It was a big time saver and a big benefit.”
Given Ki Pro Mini’s capabilities, Cheng was surprised at how tiny and lightweight it was, and the range of ways it could be mounted using the AJA Mini Mount plate. “Our First Assistant Camera mounted the Ki Pro Mini right onto the back of the camera, directly to the battery. I had the camera, adapter and battery on my shoulder and the whole thing was really compact. It was quite easy to get around with.”
Getting up to speed on Ki Pro Mini was also simple. “I’ve tried other digital recorders and they’ve been difficult to understand. Ki Pro Mini is totally different. It came with a simple quickstart guide and after a few minutes we all understood how to work with it. The buttons are straightforward. The flash cards are standard and easy to use -- we just downloaded files right to our MacBook Pro. There’s really nothing to it,” Cheng said.
“I was really impressed with the clip naming,” Morrison added. “You can actually input the slate number and then all of the takes are automatically numbered properly. Ki Pro Mini records metadata, which is really helpful. It gives you a lot more information than what you could get with tape or film, and it’s a lot easier to manage than looking at clips and paperwork.”
Cheng said, “Overall, Ki Pro Mini gave us exactly what we needed for this project. It saved us time and gave us a high quality format to work in. I’m impressed with AJA because it seems like they are careful to look at who is using their products and design them for us, and how we work -- not for themselves.”About AJA Ki Pro Mini
AJA Ki Pro Mini is a miniature field recorder for creating ready- to-edit professional digital video. It supports an Apple file-based workflow by recording standard Apple ProRes 422 QuickTime files on industry standard Compact Flash (CF) media. With its miniature form factor Ki Pro Mini makes for the smallest camera and recorder package available, and mounts easily to a camera or tripod using standard plates and shoe adaptors, or an optional mounting plate with a variety of bolt patterns for mating either side of the unit with virtually any camera accessory bracket. Within its portable and rugged form factor, Ki Pro Mini offers broadcast quality SD/HD digital I/O including SDI, HD-SDI and HDMI, two channels of balanced analog audio input (2 XLRs) with switch selectable line/mic levels, and LTC timecode input. Like AJA’s Ki Pro, KONA and Io HD desktop products, Ki Pro Mini offers unparalleled I/O quality.About AJA Video Systems, Inc.
Since 1993, AJA Video has been a leading manufacturer of high-quality and cost-effective digital video interface, conversion, acquisition and desktop solutions supporting the professional broadcast and post- production markets. With headquarters in Grass Valley, California, AJA maintains an extensive sales channel of dealers and systems integrators around the world. For further information visit www.aja.com.