CVP-Mitcorp is this month finally able to sell the new Infinity solid-state HD camcorder (see this week's mag for more detail).
It's been a while coming. The manufacturer, Thomson, introduced it in 2005 at IBC but just before shipping decided to change the sensor to the more versatile 1920 x 1080 Xensium CMOS technology, therefore delaying it by (roughly) 18 months.
I won't go into too much of the spec right now but you can read more here.
What intrigues me most about this camera - and has done since I first pawed at it in 2005 - is the IT side of the Infinity. Not only can you control the internal functions from a PDA using Bluetooth (meaning a DoP or operator can simply stand back and look at a monitor while making adjustments) but it has been built to be able to swap codec cards in and out.
This reminds me a lot of an old G4 Apple Mac that I use for design work. I've got this really quite old machine but I've managed to spruce it up over the years with extra memory, expansion cards, processors and the like. The best part is that I don't need to be an IT geek to add the new functionality. I just pull down the side of the Mac and swap cards. Piece of pie.
The investment I made in the original machine is still paying off. Which in the age of changing computers all the time because of Moore - and his two year laws- is refreshing. I get the impression the Infinity will one day work the same.
Making the upgrade
Infinity has a slot for an Mpeg2 card currently but there is nothing stopping Thomson - or anyone else for that matter - developing a different card for a different codec. And Mr or Mrs cameraman can just swaps cards like they might swap recording devices.
This makes the camcorder upgradeable. Which to my mind is quite evolutionary (note evolution not revolution). And it's not unlike the G4 Mac under my desk. It means that all those people that are, as Dennis Lennie from Mitcorp put it, “freaked out by the number of codecs in the marketplace” can buy a camera and then change the boards as and when codecs change rather than have to worry that they've gone for the wrong camcorder.
If only all technology was this versatile.
My only concern is this. In the future will we all need to be IT geeks in order to work broadcast technology? I can swap boards in my Mac. But will the same be possible in cameras or whatever technology takes on IT sensibilities.
The engineers of yesterday are trying their hardest to fuse their soldering irons with their fibre optic links but the next generation of technical whiz kids look a little short in supply.
While IT offers a lot of advantages we must remember that when things go wrong someone still has to fix it. And this needs to be considered by those building the technology and the industry as a whole.
Got a view on IT and broadcasting? Have your say below.