Pro Action + Starlite HD5 = A Perfect Match
The Pro Action Housing announcement last October brought praise, excitement and – candidly - a few raised eyebrows. PA sports unconventional features and in particular the Transvideo Starlite HD5 for the built-in LCD monitor. Why? A French company, Transvideo is not a common brand outside of Europe. Most RED users would prefer a familiar RED LCD in which they have already invested. These are good reasons to question our choice of Starlite HD5 for Pro Action. But there are compelling reasons for the choice we made.
Here’s a closer look at the LCD requirements that led us there.
- Compatibility. When you consider that Pro Action supports *three* different cameras – DSMC, DSMC2 and ALEXA Mini – an obvious requirement is compatibility. That means SDI interface and support for all conventional HD resolutions / frame rates. Starlite HD5 has all this *and* an SDI loop through, which is useful for surface feed video. (Side note – HDMI is a bag of hurt. 19 pins and a temperamental interface – ouch).
- Size. Another obvious requirement is a small form factor that would fit into the profile of Pro Action. While I personally think the RED TOUCH 7 is remarkable and foolproof for setting focus / exposure, it is simply too big and incompatible with Mini. Starlite HD5 is compact, the size of an Smartphone. Perfect.
- Focus / Exposure tools. Cross compatibility means the LCD must have built-in tools for focus and exposure. Peaking, Waveform, Vectorscope, Magnify – all part of the Starlite HD5.
- Ease of Integration / User experience. Of course we have to look at how readily a product will integrate into an underwater housing shell, and thus allow positive user access to controls. The Starlite HD5 turned out to be excellent in this regard via the Smart Corners. These are corner areas of the LCD that can be assigned different functions for quick access. Vectorscope, peaking and last clip playback, for example. Smart Corners are easy to access with big pushbuttons on the underwater housing.
(In comparison, the SmallHD 502 was under consideration for PA. But access to these same features is done via a joystick – an easy thing to use above water with your fingers, but accessing with a control underwater – well, it can be done but not easily or simply – which also means reliably. It just made life hard for all of us, and added cost to the system as well. )
- Manufacturer Relationship. This is something you won’t read in the Key Features list of Pro Action, but it is very important. Underwater housing development for anything – camera, monitor, whatever – is helped considerably by the manufacturer. Technical support is obvious, but also product integration to a housing has unique challenges, and overcome smoothly with manufacturer collaboration.
The final benefit to you, the customer, is a tightly integrated system that is more reliable and user friendly. And much more – a good manufacturer relationship means they listen to the unique needs of you -- the underwater professional -- and make product changes.
Example: Gates has a long standing collaborative relationship with Transvideo all the way back to the DEEP ATOM 3D rig in 2012. Jacques (owner of Transvideo) listens -- and has made firmware changes to the Starlite HD5 for you, the underwater pro. Already included at our request is access to peaking on/off as a Smart Corner, and soon will be Last Clip Playback and 1:1 Zoom (both of which are features, but not as Smart Corners). This is a big deal – that you can make product improvement requests that actually get implemented! Remarkable.
- Bonus features. Other beneficial features to the underwater pro were also considered. In this case the Starlite HD5 had several. Check.
- 264 Proxies. Record onto an SD card locally.
- OLED HD display.
- 5-44 VDC and low power consumption
- Integration with ALEXA Mini. Transvideo makes a version of the HD5 that integrates with the ARRI Mini camera. The Smart Corners are extended to include camera functions – frame rate, ei, and others. This integration can be support in Pro Action as an option.
As always we want to hear from you and any comments you may have. We listen, too.