When we discuss disk-based field recording, the grandfather of all systems is the Editcam. Co-developed some eight years ago by Ikegami and Avid, it was conceived with one goal in mind: free the editor of the most objectionable, time-consuming facet of the nonlinear editing process÷digitizing the video.
The system would be based upon the ability to record on a hard drive, and that same hard drive would be brought to the edit suite, where it would be used as a media drive on the editor. Once the conventional tape transport was eliminated, it soon became apparent that the acquisition system would have abilities that heretofore would have been unthinkable, and that the impossible would become commonplace. The system records on a specialized drive called a FieldPak. It is an IDE drive that meets high criteria for read/write speeds, low power consumption, and high tolerance to G-shock. The FieldPak contains virtually all the moving parts of the recording system. There are no upper drum assemblies to replace. There are no pinch rollers or pulleys to wear out.
FieldPaks are currently available in two sizes: 20GB and 40GB. The system can record in any of seven different compression/bit rates. These include AVR-70BH, AVR-75, DV25, DV50, JFIF 3:1, JFIF 10:1, and 50-Mb MPEG-2 I-frame, making the system compatible with any Avid editor operating with reasonably current software. At the most commonly used compression, a 40-gig FieldPak would be able to record over three hours of video.
Editcam technology is available as a camcorder in either the DNS-201W or DNS-21W (IT and FIT chip set, respectively). It is available as a DNR-20 dockable recorder that will mate to virtually any camera that would normally accept a dockable VTR. It is also available as a standalone field recorder, the DNE-11, which can accept composite, component, and SDI inputs.
Since Editcam is essentially a computer with a lens, it has capabilities that are just not possible with a conventional tape transport. Among those would be time lapse, animation, and an incredibly powerful record mode called "Retroloop." In this mode, the disk is recording and constantly updating a relatively small time buffer, say 15 seconds (the Retroloop buffer can be set up to several minutes). The videographer might be waiting for some random event to happen, such as a VIP leaving a building. Assuming that the camera is pointed, focused, and powered, the cameraman would hit the record button up to 15 seconds after the VIP has exited and still have the shot.
Another feature of Editcam technology unavailable in tape-based systems is "Intelligent Recording." In a nutshell, a videographer who is in the middle of playing a clip can throw the system immediately into the record mode and save what is being recorded to available free space on the disk without erasing what he has already captured and was just viewing.