It is always more cost effective to repair ENG/EFP series cameras than it is to replace them. We have seen every type of damage from drops and shocks, to malfunctioning software, boards, viewfinders or focus issues. Frequent issues also include recording problems with the P2 or SXS slots or the HD-SDI outputs.
Digitron Electronics has been in the business of ENG Camera Repair since the mid-90’s. Our journey with camcorder repair started when we began working with Panasonic Broadcast Solutions as an overflow repairs partner for Panasonic Camcorder Repair and Panasonic VTR Repair. Since then, we have repaired approximately 5000 Panasonic camcorders including the legendary AG-HPX 5000 series camera & AG-PX series ENG/EFP cameras.
EFP/ENG cameras like the Panasonic HPX series are used in field production, primarily because of high-def codecs and HD-SDI outputs
We are also highly specialized on the repair of broadcast quality camcorders built by Sony. As Sony’s overflow repairs depot, we frequently repair Sony ENG camera systems like the Sony PMW series and PXW series. These are the cameras that use the SXS cards on the XDCAM format.
No one repairs more Sony Camcorders than we do
We repair all viewfinders for Panasonic Camcorder models branded with the AG-CVF designation and all Sony viewfinders designated DVF or HDVF models.
Other ENG Camcorder Repair
Our engineers are capable of repairing any studio or field ENG camera systems, including JVC and Grass Valley branded systems.
In our featured artist series, we interview creatives from all around the world and ask them questions about their work, their gear, and their experiences. To kick things off, we spoke with Australian photographer and adventure seeker, Michael Vanarey (www.michaelvanarey.com).
Michael did what many people only dream of doing – he quit his stable job at home as a Senior Consultant for a Big 4 accounting firm, bought a Sony A7 Camera, and boarded a one way flight to Europe. In the last few months, he’s trekked through Iceland, explored the Italian coastline, and sailed Greece. He’s particularly fond of lifestyle photography, and capturing moments as he discovers new and exciting places & events. Michael has proven himself to be a very versatile photographer, from fashion vogue in Australia, to capturing candid moments at The Yacht Week.
“…I make lasting relationships with my subjects. I look for the best dynamic ambient light in a scene. I make a connection with my subjects as their friends would and encourage/capture a natural fleeting moment of emotion without them really knowing.”
His travels have opened many doors for him, from exploring beautiful scenery, to getting caught up in some interesting situations:
“My funniest moment had to be shooting with The Yacht Week in Greece this year! I teamed up with a small group of really close and energetic partygoers close to sunset on top of Nikki Beach’s Porto Cheli resort where their penthouse suites have a private rooftop deck and spa. The setting was abolutely ideal for shooting, the weather was perfect, the light was super warm and soft and the rooftop overlooked the resort’s main infinity pool and ocean beyond for a great backdrop. Champagne was ordered for sunset drinks which made for great props in-line with the brand.
Michael’s style tends to bring out his subjets’ cheekier sides…
Things quickly escalated as my “up close and personal” shooting style mixed with the afternoon’s celebrations around the spa. While shooting around the spa I somehow had my swimmers (Australian for swimsuit) extorted from my person by one of the girls due to a “self moderated and enforced top deck party policy”! I soon realized that under all the spa bubbles, no one else was wearing clothes! In an effort to camouflage, I quickly joined them as the sun set and the party continued well into the night.”
Michael’s Camera Equipment:
Michael’s camera of choice is the Sony A7. It is lightweight, compact, & unobtrusive. Combined with a full frame sensor & Zeiss optics, the a7 offers an incredible dynamic range, compromising little for its size.
Some unique features that set this camera apart:
Wifi to iPhone camera uploads allow Michael the ability to show his subjects what the pictures look like on the fly. This helps the subject build confidence and understand what they should do to better compose pictures.
The electronic view finder (EVF) uses focus peaking and automatic eye focus to help focus the shot, especially in difficult low light situations.
The rear tilt screen allows him to compose pictures from a lower angle than would normally be possible.
Some things to watch out for on the a7:
Wide aperture lenses choices are limited, but adapters are available to use lenses made by other manufactures like Canon.
The electronic view finder & compact size mean a limited battery life (but he mentions that the EVF’s features outweigh its negatives in this case).
The handgrip is not as ergonomic as other brands.
Build quality isn’t as robust as other cameras in its full-sensor class, but this is probably because of its size (which he again says pros outweigh cons).
“The Sony Alpha system’s electronic viewfinder, customizable buttons and WIFI capabilities allows me to shoot quicker, and turn around my photographs quicker than traditional DSLRs.”
In the next few months, Michael hopes to travel the Americas continuing his passion for adventure photography. His advice to others hoping to follow his path is pretty straight forward:
“Passion is the genesis and driving force photography. It makes you take the hits and push through the unromantic realities of a photographer. I found my inspiration and techniques through free sources like YouTube and then going out and testing them in the real world to learn. I constantly network with other photographers I admire to pick up tips and techniques they uses and am continually blown away.
I’d recommend working on your personal/social skills if you want to photograph any body. A portrait comes alive when your subject is relaxed and confortable in your presence. It is a daunting experience being photographed for some.
Secondary skills like Photoshop techniques come second nature to someone with passion.”
The AG-DVX100 was a revolutionary camera when it was released in 2002. It was the first camera to bring native 24p recording to its price range, and bred a new standard in quality for film students, independent videographers, wedding videographers, and video journalists. The AG-DVX100 was light, had a fixed power zoom lens, and recorded a high quality picture. At Digitron, we have repaired hundreds of these cameras and we know them well.
Panasonic hopes to relive the success of the AG-DVX100 with the new 4k AG-DVX200. This camera should be a hit with the market of videographers who prefer the built in, integrated lens design. It’s a strong alternative and where the GH4 camera competes with the Sony alpha cameras and Canon 5D cameras, the Panasonic AG-DVX200 offers a lot of first in class features. Expect to see these cameras at a wedding near you soon.
B&H Photo has the AG-DVX200 for $4,195 and an October 7th launch date. Below is the first official footage released by Panasonic. Watch it full screen at 4k resolution.
As an authorized service partner for Panasonic professional cameras, we are committed to providing a quality experience and exceptional service where possible.
With recent changes in the Harmon Pro Service network, we are proud to announce that Digitron Electronics is an authorized service center for Martin Professional lighting. In the last few weeks, our technicians have attended training sessions to better support the full range of Martin Lighting products including the Moving Head Martin MAC series lights and washes, Rush series lights, Fog Machines, and lighting controllers like the Lightjockey2 and M2GO.
Consolidated A/V Repairs
We are authorized to cover the full range of Martin lights under warranty, and out of warranty, solidifying our pledge to customers to help consolidate all pro A/V repairs in one location with simplified accounting. Adding Martin Lights to our portfolio of covered products rounds out an offering of pro audio repairs, including amplifier repair, microphone repair, keyboard repair, mixing console repair, and lighting repair. This comes in addition to our support for projectors, camcorders, and other pro A/V equipment.
About Digitron Electronics
Since 1992, Digitron has supported industry leaders like Guitar Center, Encore Event Productions, PSAV, & others, working hard to simplify the job of inventory management, and lower the Total Cost of Ownership for pro A/V equipment.
Harmon International has informed us that they will be outsourcing a more significant amount of repair operations for Soundcraft mixing boards, Crown amplifiers, and AKG mics in the region to our repair depot. This means that we will continue to offer industry leading support for both in-warranty and out-of-warranty repairs on popular items like the AKG C414, Crown XLS series amps, or Soundcraft Si digital mixing boards.
Digitron Electronics strives to be the industry standard for professional level A/V repair services, and this agreement comes two years after we took on TEAC & TASCAM’s Factory Service Operations. We specialize in Reverse Logistics products like repair depot operations, RMA, refurbishment, & modification, all with the intention to save manufactures on the cost of Product Lifecycle Management.
It might be the day before a long weekend, but we’re hard at work here at Digitron Electronics getting a few last minute rush repairs out the door. Check out this 48 channel Mackie Mixer which came to us with sticky sliders, distorted channels, and bad inputs:
This HD Sony VTR Deck had been guilty of eating tapes. Seen here, our tech is replacing the mechanical loading assembly, guides, and cracked cables:
This Panasonic PTDZ6710U projector from Ohio State University’s Wexner Center for the Arts comes to us with power issues:
We wish our customers, employees, and all of our Veterans a Happy Memorial Day. We especially thank our Veterans for everything that they do and have done to protect our freedoms.
Projectors have always been a superior choice for ultra large format screens. This year we saw evolutionary improvements from Christie Digital, Panasonic, Sony, Canon, Epson, and others that increase projector reliability, color accuracy, and projector size with the help of laser light sources, reflective lcd chips (on home theater models) and lighter 3 chip DLP projectors.
Epson Projectors showed strong resolve to enter the higher lumen and digital whiteboard space with an impressive booth. On the business and professional side, their touch-screen Brightlink Pro technology paired with short throw projectors attracted big crowds while demonstrating the quality of image between 3LCD and DLP projectors. On the cinema side, Epson showcased their new line of Powerlite laser cinema projectors, like the LS9600e and LS10000 (4k resolution).
Christie Digital was also at the show in full force with a 30,000 lumen 3 chip DLP projector called the Boxer 4k30. At less than 150 pounds, the Christie Digital Boxer 4k30 positions itself at the forefront of rental and fixed applications including projection mapping like the show at the Air Canada Centre.
Panasonic’s PTRQ13K is the lightest and brightest laser 4k projector on the market
Traditionally, projector limitations such as low lamp life, noise, heat, and low resolution have given way to LED walls and other flat panel type displays for commercial applications such as digital signage and exhibition showcases. This year saw the introduction of lightweight, high brightness, and high resolution laser projectors. Laser optical engines are considered to be more reliable light sources, and up until this year, were only available in low brightness or low resolution modules.
Panasonic’s PT-RQ13K is a 3-chip DLP laser projector with 4k resolution that has the potential to make waves in the projection industry. At less than 100 pounds, it is the lightest in class and at 12,000 lumens brightness, it is the brightest in class. With an ultra-short throw lens, it is capable of casting a 150 inch image at just 4 feet away from the screen, making the projector a strong candidate for digital signage and advertising, particularly in indoor spaces. Its twin laser light source is rated for continuous use, up to 20,000 hours, and its liquid cooling system means virtually no noise.
What does this mean for the projector industry?
The introduction of liquid cooling will mean less noise and better circulation for incredibly hot projector components, meaning less breakdown and maintenance. Laser light sources mean longer projector life with no painful bulb replacements and 4k resolutions mean larger and sharper displays, all at a cheaper price. Ultimately, the crux of these developments will lead us to high brightness displays that can project onto any surface to create lifelike, 3 dimensional projections in any light conditions.
Nothing at this year’s NAB caught us off guard, but there were a number of pleasant surprises in the industry. While reliability and affordability of products negatively affects our company’s profitability as a repairs depot, we believe that the industry is making strong steps that will ultimately lower the barriers to entry for broadcast quality production, and we think that this ultimately benefits all of us consumers. After all, doesn’t your life look cooler in 4k shot from an aerial drone?
This year’s National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) conference brought together 1,789 exhibitors and over 100,000 guests at the Las Vegas Convention Center to see the latest and greatest in broadcast hardware and software. Exhibitors brought their latest and greatest Audio/Visual technology to showcase, some evolutionary and some revolutionary. While we can’t cover all of the exhibitors, we will do our best to share some of the show highlights that we found relevant to our industry and readers.
The Freefly Alta UAV is an industry leader, capable of carrying a 15 pound payload like the RED Dragon
Broadcast Robotics (UAV Drones & PTZ Camera Systems)
By taking a step into this year’s NAB, it should be obvious that automation and robotics are taking over the broadcast industry. The first five or so booths in central hall were of companies specializing in Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) type drones. These companies seemed to specialize in the production and sale of the drones, as well as the specialty gimbals used to create smooth panning shots. Drones ranged from $1000 with built in GoPro type cameras, to $50,000 plus for drones designed for heavy payloads like the Red box cameras with detachable lenses. DJI was present with their well-known Phantom drones, and Yuneec Aviation technology was showing off its new Yuneec Tornado designed to support the Panasonic GH4 camera system. On the higher end of the spectrum, Freefly was showcasing the Alta drone capable of a 15 pound payload, which is enough for a RED Dragon with lens. At $8,495, the Alta isn’t cheap, but it can rival shots from actual helicopter ride shots.
Panasonic ak-ub300 at NAB 2015 is a prototype box camera that can be fitted on a standard Panasonic Pan and Tilt head
Replacing camera operators with robotics, isn’t a new trend. Panasonic has long dominated the robotic camera for broadcast space with its line of Pan Tilt Zoom systems. The AW and AK series cameras, heads, and controllers have been a favorite among churches, broadcasters, and sports networks due to their reliability, programmable pans and tilts, and ease of use. This year, Panasonic introduced a new 4k box camera, the AK–UB300 which can be mounted on any of their Pan Tilt heads. The AK-UB300 is controlled externally and is capable of using 2/3” lenses, recording at 4k resolution at 60 frames per second. This could mean incredible leaps in the way we stream sporting events. Combined with media servers like the CANVAS from Immersive Design Studios, we could see real-time streaming events on absolutely massive displays.
In addition to standard all-in-one broadcast PTZ systems like the ones from Vaddio, Sony, and Panasonic, we are seeing 3rd party companies emerge that specialize in just the robotics. Mark Roberts Motion Control is a British company making its debut in the US with their line of robotic heads and studio automation tracking software. Models like the AFC-100 and the AFC-180 offer super precise tracking for studio and outdoor applications. Sometimes a production requires tracking too. For this type of project, there’s BlackcamSystem which offers a movable track with multiple camera mounting options. These types of solutions can be incredibly appealing over traditional PTZ options as they provide a camera and lens agnostic solution.
The AG-DVX200 is a throwback to Panasonic’s AG-DVX100 that started the Digital Revolution in Camcorders
Camcorders, 4K, & Beyond
4k resolution this year was an absolute minimum for camcorders. Both Sony and Panasonic had strong additions to their 4k Lineups. Replacing the PMW series for Sony is the PXW series including the detachable lens PXWFS7 and the prosumer PXWX70 and PXWX180. For broadcasters, the PMW320 and PMW500 have been upgraded to the PXW320 and PXW500, respectively. Sony has also added a 4k, ultra high framerate camcorder for sports broadcasters called the HDC4300. (Note: in order to shoot 4k on the HDC4300, you need to install the optional SZC-4001 software)
For Panasonic, we saw the resurrection of a legend, the Panasonic AG-DVX200 (a throwback to the legendary AG-DVX100 which started the handheld camcorder revolution ten years ago). This camera is sure to be a crowd pleaser with its ability to record 4k/60p to an SD card and 13x optical zoom with built in Leica lens.
The Panasonic Varicam 35 simulates the warm feel and lowlight capabilities of film
Panasonic had additional improvements to its varicam lineup, including the varicam 35 which uses a 35mm sensor to replicate the feel of film and users should see massive improvements in low light performance. In their demo, Panasonic’s Varicam 35 was able to handle a candle-lit scene incredibly well.
Red Digital Cinema also made waves with their new 8k sensor: The Weapon. This modular box camera just keeps getting better and better, and the ability to upgrade the camera offers some serious upside when comparing the Red to Sony and Panasonic’s competition.
High Precision Projection Mapping at the Air Canada Centre
Like something straight out of a 1980s sci-fi movie, high-lumen projectors are helping artists illustrate virtual reality. The year might be 2015, the year that Marty McFly traveled to in Back to the Future, but the video below (make sure to switch on 1080p) looks like something straight out of Tron:
With the use of twelve 20K lumen Christie Digital projectors and their proprietary CANVAS media server, Immersive Design Studios helped the Maple Leafs put together this impressive on-ice show at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario.
What caught us off guard was the incredible pixel precision and alignment with the on-ice graphics, so we reached out to Immersive Design Studios to learn more. (Disclaimer: We were NOT paid by Immersive to write this article and we do NOT have any monetary interest in the success of their products).
To learn more about the set-up, we spoke with Immersive’s co-founder, Thomas Soetens. According to Thomas, the Air Canada Center was set up with two rigs of six 20K lumen Christie Digital Projectors, double stacked for luminosity, blending together 12 high resolution images. While the resolution is impressive and allows for the image clarity seen in the video, what truly impressed us was the fact that all 12 projectors were driven by ONE media server. Yes, a single media server driving 12 WUXGA (1920 x 1200) resolution projectors. What kind of media server has that kind of power? Turns out it’s a neat, compact proprietary design by Immersive Design Studios called the CANVAS.
CANVAS Media Server
The CANVAS Media Server is a technical powerhouse, with the ability to drive up to 16K of output resolution per unit without issue. But what makes the unit so unique is Immersive’s projection mapping software, which allows for on-the-fly pixel calibration down to 1/10th of a pixel. It was also designed from the ground up for game-engine inputs, resulting in ultra-realistic, virtual reality experiences.
The difference between precision projection mapping with CANVAS and without.
On the Fly Projector Calibration
One of the challenges of large scale projection mapping is projector alignment and calibration:
“We hear these stories all the time: Temperature changes in the venue can affect the projector trusses and then there’s an alignment issue. With our solution, we can make the repair then and there.”
Many large-venue projectors like Barco’s HDX series ship with onboard warping/alignment software, but with additional inputs from multiple media servers, one can imagine the complexity in aligning all of these projectors. Immersive believes that with their software and media server, they have reduced dark time (the time to set up for a show) down to just minutes.
“For example – to redo the lines on the ice [rink], others would have to re-do the perspective mapping. Re-doing the lines with our system would be done on the fly with vector mapping.”
Thomas wasn’t willing to share too many specifics on the calibration software due to trade secrets, but he assured me that the interface is ultra-simple.
“As an artistic design company, we understand the technical challenges artists face. With our simplified media server, we take control away from hardware operators, and put it in the hands of content makers.”
And we think that’s a good thing.
Decreasing Points of Failure in Projection Mapping
More components means more points of failure; centralizing the media server and driving more outputs from one device leads to increased reliability. By using only two of these media servers, the team can guarantee uptime by powering half of the double-stacked projectors with each device; if one goes down, the brightness only drops to half-luminosity without loss of image.
“Crunching 4k resolutions will be a massive increase in compute requirement, and having a single source to your projector is the most intelligent solution as it reduces latency, points of failure, and forward-compatibility.”
On these large venue projectors, one of the most expensive projector repair issues we find is a conflict from the ancillary onboard PCB’s related to Image Processing. By offloading this functionality on to the media server which is lighter, easier to work on & ship, and cheaper to fix, we believe that large venues and rental houses can cut costs on projector repairs as they switch to PCB-light projectors.
Realtime Game Content Engine for Projection Mapped Virtual Reality
According to Thomas, the main difference between CANVAS and its competitors is that the CANVAS was designed from the ground up for game content with live inputs.
“We were never interested in building just a better playback server, CANVAS is the first server supporting game engine content and therefore opening the door to an entire new medium.”
How can Projectors Better Accommodate Projection Mapping?
Key challenges for large venue projectors are size, heat, and noise. Rather than focusing on high tech features and software, Thomas believes that the projector manufacturers should leave that to the media server and focus on making brighter, lighter, smaller, and more reliable projectors.
The Future of Projection Mapping
Seeing this kind of projection mapping in a sports arena makes us wonder about other applications. Immersive has already worked with two ice hockey rinks, as well as NBA teams like the Raptors.
But what about more immersive applications, like virtual reality games? Turns out that’s already in the works. The CANVAS media server has the ability to integrate live data into the projection mapped feed via a proprietary game engine. We hope this means full-scale, virtual reality experiences in the near future.
If it is too expensive to repair your equipment, you can apply your repair deposit towards the purchase of a new unit that we will help you choose, often at a discount over internet price.
OUR SALES GUARANTEE
We are authorized to repair more brands under warranty than any other dealer or repair center. As a result, we stand by our product. We repair all units we sell, cutting out the middle man and guaranteeing timely repairs.