Atomos: Changing the game with HDR Monitoring

Digital Studio speaks to Pejman Ghorbani, senior product manager at distributor Advanced Media Trading about how Atomos is influencing the market with its range of HDR monitors.
Pejman Ghorbani, senior product manager at distributor Advanced Media Trading
Pejman Ghorbani, senior product manager at distributor Advanced Media Trading

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Ghorbani starts by explaining that Advanced Media has partnered with Atomos ever since the first introduced the first gen Ninja monitor to the market as a portable monitor with a built-in recorder which could record Apple ProRes RAW in full HD. “This was very successful because it was beginning of recording with DSLR cameras. Atomos offered very high-quality output and low compression recording which was good for editing and for broadcast quality requirements,” says Ghorbani.

The advent of 4K/UHD and High Dynamic Range (HDR) has made the need for accurate monitoring in the field and post-production suites more acute than ever before. The problem is when we are recording we can’t really see the HDR quality. To make sure your UHD pictures offer HDR
with the widest colour gamut, you’ll need something to view it on.

In order to truly see HDR, the footage has to be properly shot in a LOG capable camera, graded for HDR, and viewed on a proper HDR monitor. For an LCD display to be certified for HDR monitoring among other things, it is required to reach at least 1000 nits brightness. As proper HDR acquisition is the backbone of everything in this process, the capability of recording RAW footage becomes very important.

Ghorbani says when Atomos introduced HDR monitors to the market it was very successful because you could use them as reference monitors on set. “They upgraded from there to 4K/UHD and higher frame rates so they are always moving forward. Then in 2018, they introduced the Ninja V, a 5.2 inches with HDMI in and out. It was a revolution in the industry with a very high-quality screen and the Atomos HDR engine.”

“Last year for the first time in the market they introduced RAW output over HDMI with the Nikon Z6 and Z7 and also adding compatibility with mirrorless cameras from Sony and Fujifilm. So you don't need a high-end camera with SDI output to record RAW. Another advantage is recording on SSD cards which are very cheap and robust compared to SD cards with up to 4GB capacity,” continues Ghorbani. Atomos have also added the Sumo M to the lineup as a 19-inch HDR reference monitor for on set production and post-production.

Now in early 2019, they have launched the Atomos Shinobi as a monitor only. Ghorbani says the Shinobi can be very competitive in the market for just 399$. “It’s very lightweight at 200gms, it has the same HDR engine as the Ninja V so you can see the LOG data, RAW data or any other high
dynamic range signals from the cameras in real colour depth and real brightness level. The 1000 nit LCD makes it very bright and a high-quality monitor,” he adds.

AtomOS 10 comes as a free-to-download piece of software features and improvements such as audio meters or an HDR waveform that help you get the most out of your camera and HDR monitor. “A combination of all these features like vectorscope, large import etc.; having all this in a monitor with a recorder gives you a great all-in-one solution. Advanced Media is the sole distributor of Atomos in the Middle East and we always try to bring the awareness of what Atomos can do,” adds Ghorbani.

Atomos introduced RAW output over HDMI with the Nikon Z6 and Z7

“Recently we signed a contract for the official Atomos service centre. and we got our staff trained for Atomos servicing. We keep repair parts and also some refurbished items as a buffer for customers who are in a hurry. It used to take a couple of weeks for sending the unit to the factory, repairing and getting it back plus a lot of costs in shipping. Now we can just change the parts here quickly so the customers are very happy about the service.”

In terms of educating the market, Ghorbani says Advanced Media has conducted Atomos workshops before when they introduced HDR monitors to the market. “We had a specialist working with Sony in Spain and he came all the way to talk about HDR – what HDR is and how you can use it. With HDR, you can understand what you can get from your camera and what the capacity of your camera is in the post-production. You can see the highlights and the
lowlights and the depth of colour and high dynamic range that you’re getting.”

“This is very important that we bring this information to the industry. We will continue to have workshops and have some free classes for the customers. It helps people to take a decision what to buy for their production and post-production.” 

Ghorbani says Atomos are making high-quality HDR recording affordable: “Even with the Shogun Inferno which is the top of the range and can record 4K RAW at 60p which is very unique in the market - it's very affordable for that quality. It has 1500 nits brightness so it’s viewable in the sunshine even. It can show up to 10 stops of dynamic range which is phenomenal.”

Atomos Shogun Inferno

Ghorbani does not see any competitors close to Atomos at the moment: “We are also representing SmallHD and they have high brightness HDR monitors but they cannot record. Others are recording on SD cards which are not very safe for serious productions and have speed and capacity limitations. SD cards can be broken or lost and this does not happen with SSD drives.”

Ghorbani explains the importance of SSD storage: “The SSDs we provide are from Angelbird, an Austrian company who makes SSD drives especially for Atomos with aluminium casing and heat sinks on the memory cards. So they are ready for the 4K RAW footage which is a very big factor.”

Ghorbani comments on why RAW quality recording is important: "when you look at the direction the market is going in with the mirrorless cameras. big sensors and very high-quality output from HDMI or SDI in the future, you need a monitor that can record in high quality and less compression, then definitely Atomos is the winner.”

“Even for the high-end digital cinema cameras, when you connect it to a normal monitor you can see only 6 stops of dynamic range. This is why when you are recording in a high dynamic range you see a very grey or washed out picture on standard dynamic range monitors.”

“With Atomos you can just select the camera profile in the options, say ARRI or RED for example. And you can see exactly the real depth and colour what you will get in post-production and know the limitations of your camera. Before that, the DOP needed to guess. For example, they would shoot 1 stop or 1.5 stop overexposed because they know they can take back that information in post. But on the Atomos you can see the real image and the maximum difference between the highlight and lowlights. So having 10+ stops of real dynamic range on the monitor is very important.”

For studio use too, Atomos has a great solution says Ghorbani: “Two Shogun 7-inch monitors in a rack mount which is a very robust setup and you can use SD cards with it. You can control it over the network also for playback and monitoring and changing settings. So you have studio ready monitors and recorders from Atomos as well.”

Advanced Media is representing Atomos at CABSAT and the product range will be exhibited on a section of the Advanced Media stand at CABSAT 2019.

'Raw Power': Making cinematic quality video capture affordable

Atomos announced at CES 2019 that the Atomos Ninja V monitor/recorder will work with RAW video output and capture from Nikon’s full frame mirrorless cameras. The Nikon Z 7 and Z 6 full-frame mirrorless cameras will work together with the Atomos Ninja V 4K HDR monitor/recorder to record Apple’s ProRes RAW video format.

Atomos said the partnership is meant to support the content creation needs of today's video makers looking to add that elusive cinematic quality to their work, whether that be on social media, YouTube or on TV. Until now, says Atomos, RAW video has been limited to dedicated cinema cameras that are either limited in features or priced far beyond the reach of most consumers. The new feature says Atomos, gives video creators the same quality and flexibility in video that they have come to expect from RAW photos.

Atomos CEO Jeromy Young said: “It’s a really exciting time for high-quality cinematic video on every platform from Facebook to Netflix. Our customers are increasingly making their livings creating this content and we love giving them the affordable tools they need to do it. Through partnering with great companies like Nikon, we have built solutions that are easy to use and look great.”

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