Grass Valley Plans to Deliver Infinity by This Summer

Responding to inquiries about the status of its Infinity IT-based tapeless product line, Grass Valley this week announced that the cameras will be ready for delivery to customers by the end of Q2.

Launched at IBC2005, Infinity--Grass Valley's answer to the professional tapeless format--was expected to be delivered to its customers in the summer of 2006. When that target date came and went, the company announced last fall that Infinity would be shipped by the end of the year. Now, it's expecting the camera to be shipped by the end of June at the earliest.

"Are we later than we want to be with this camera?" asked Jeff Rosica, Grass Valley vice president of worldwide strategic marketing and business development at an NAB Preview event for the press this week. "Of course we are, and we are not happy." But he insisted that "these kinds of projects take time and we're going to take the time to get it right. We're not going to bring the product out before it's ready. Clearly the delay in delivery of the product is disappointing to us and to many of our customers."

Promoted as an "IT-immersive" system, the Grass Valley Infinity product line includes a camcorder and field recorder. Users can record and store on Iomega's REV PRO media, CompactFlash cards or USB media.

The delays were characteristic of the challenges of integrating new technologies, according to Rosica. "It wasn't just a new camera, it was a completely new platform," he said.

Currently more than 100 cameras are being beta tested with what Rosica described as "major news organizations," and the company--which has built a special factory for the Infinity line--should have a better idea of the specific delivery date by NAB2007 in April.

Rosica said that the company has taken advantage of the delays to improve and enhance camera functions. Specifically, Grass Valley executives noted that early beta tests showed that the camera was running "quite hot," so it redesigned the cooling system to run more efficiently.

Among the enhancements to the new camera is a new CMOS imager, the first CMOS technology that the company has developed for its cameras.

The 2/3-inch "Xensium" CMOS chip features a new native high-definition sensor with an array of 2.4 million pixels. Xensium offers wider dynamic range, lower power consumption and reduced signal to noise ratio when compared to other CCD or CMOS imagers on the market today, according to Rosica. It supports all HD formats natively--both progressive and interlaced--as well as raw 4:4:4 image capture. The sensor will make its first appearance in the Infinity cameras.

Also on the docket for launching at NAB is the LCP400 local control panel, a software application that allows users to wirelessly control Grass Valley Infinity cameras. Installed on a PDA or smart phone running Windows Mobile 5, the software communicates with the Infinity camera via Bluetooth using a USB dongle in the camera, as well as over WiFi networks. It replicates the side control panel on the camcorder, giving access to all the menus and settings and allowing changes even during shooting.

Grass Valley also announced that it is partnering with Fast Forward Video, an Irvine, Calif.-based developer of video recording technology, to market a new dockable recording system for existing analog cameras that incorporates the REV PRO digital media drive used on the Infinity. Specifically, FFV will market an A/D converter using a built-in REV PRO drive that mounts onto the back of an existing analog camera and converts the signal from analog to digital, so that it can be recorded on REV PRO media, turning an analog camera into a file-based digital recorder.

Other new Grass Valley products to be launched at NAB2007 include a new lightweight, compact, single format version of the LDK 4000 camera for customers working in fixed 1080i or 720p formats, and Spirit HD, a new lower-cost version of the Spirit Telecine product line, targeting the growing demand for HD film transfers.

The company also announced that it will demonstrate Telestream's Flip4Mac MXF support for Infinity at its booth.