Studio 2050 Captures Dental Microsurgery in HD with AJA Ki Pro

July 2, 2013

Glen Derbyshire, Owner and Creative Director of Studio 2050, has provided soup-to-nuts professional creative services to a wide range of clients for over 30 years. Studio 2050 is a 6,000 square foot studio in the foothills of Santa Barbara, California where Derbyshire leads a core hands-on team of five, handling anything from shooting and editing videos and stills to creating brochures to drafting press releases to designing graphics, and everything in between. Derbyshire began creating visual materials for a world-renowned endodontist 2five years ago, which set him on the path of becoming the go-to creative services resource for manufacturers all over the globe that make high-end microsurgical equipment for the endodontics industry.

The material Studio 2050 creates for its endodontic industry clients is typically used for both educational and sales purposes to showcase tools and techniques for root canal procedures, and almost always features real patient footage taken during the procedure by a camera mounted on the microscope that aids the endodontist. Derbyshire turned to the AJA Ki Pro file-based recorder to optimize the quality and resolution of microsurgery footage that was previously captured as compressed MPEG-4.

“Knowing how small a tooth is, you can imagine how tiny the root canal space inside the tooth is. We are talking about an incredibly small workspace and that is what we are filming so everything has to be extremely precise,” explained Derbyshire. “With AJA Ki Pro, I can capture ProRes 422 plain and simple. The difference between ProRes and MPEG-4 is massive when your workspace is just a few millimeters.”

Until recently, a typical shoot would take place at the operating endodontist’s office. One camera mounted on the microscope captured the procedure on a macro level, while one or two additional cameras filmed b-roll and pick up shots. Studio 2050 would then take the footage and edit into videos, adding spectacular CG animations and motion graphics for a polished, NTSC broadcast quality result - the highest resolution many of the conventions and similar users could support.

Microsurgeries are typically recorded only as documentation for insurance or as a teaching device so every possible camera option captured to compressed MPEG-4 files. However, Derbyshire wanted his microsurgery footage to match b-roll and pick-up shots filmed with a Canon C100 and a Canon 5D at 1080p. In his spacious facility at Studio 2050, Derbyshire set up a fully functional dental operatory equipped with a top-of-the-line Zeiss PROergo dental microscope mounted with the Optronic camera. The camera, while capable of displaying 1080p 60 FPS, still only captured MPEG-4s so he added an AJA Ki Pro to his workflow.

“MPEG-4 files have way too many artifacts and if you adjust the footage in any way, the quality completely falls apart,” detailed Derbyshire. “I bought the Ki Pro so I could capture ProRes 422 in HD. We are a Mac studio using the Adobe Creative Suite and once we got everything properly synced, it was easy to drag and drop into Premiere Pro.”

As Derbyshire was finalizing his HD microsurgery workflow, Swiss company Dentsply Maillefer approached him to put together a ten-minute video that would be used as a multipurpose international sales and educational tool. Highlighting an innovative new dental microfile used in root canal procedures, the project was the perfect opportunity for Derbyshire to test his new workflow.

“We were filming a precision medical device only 16mm long so clarity was hugely important,” explained Derbyshire. “When we delivered, the client was ecstatic and, I’ll be honest, I was blown away. The picture recorded to Ki Pro is just amazing. The clients haven’t seen microscope footage with things like special lighting and other subtleties we applied.”

Since Derbyshire was deploying the Ki Pro in a new way, he turned to AJA support to help get everything up and running smoothly. Ultimately, footage from the Optronic camera was brought into the Ki Pro to capture, and the slower frame rate ensured the magnified surgical movements would not be overwhelming to viewers.

“There was a bit of trial and error when setting up this workflow, and AJA support was wonderful,” said Derbyshire. “When you are filming live surgery, there is no do-over. We had a real patient and one shot to get it right. Everything had to work perfectly, and it did.”

The Ki Pro has proven to be such a valuable production asset, Derbyshire is experimenting with other ways to use it in Studio 2050’s workflow, including for green screen and graphics. A ProRes 422 aficionado, he was impressed how easy it was to set up and the quality of the resulting composite.

“For the green screen work, we just plugged in the Ki Pro and it worked. We shot 1080p/30, got it keyed out perfectly into Premiere Pro and the backgrounds dropped in within minutes. I’m pretty picky about keying and it just looked fantastic. Great gear is really leveling the playing field in production. Now, we can even really compete visually with the bigger studios in Hollywood. I’ve been very happy with the Ki Pro and will investigate additional AJA products in the future,” concluded Derbyshire.

About AJA Video Systems, Inc.
Since 1993, AJA Video has been a leading manufacturer of high-quality and cost-effective digital video interface, conversion 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, please see our website

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