Grass Valley Goes Tapeless

After holding out for two-plus years while Sony and Panasonic battled it out on the tapeless acquisition front, Grass Valley finally unveiled its IT-based tapeless product line, the Infinity, at IBC2005. In front of a packed audience including the press and customers, Grass Valley officials touted Infinity
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After holding out for two-plus years while Sony and Panasonic battled it out on the tapeless acquisition front, Grass Valley finally unveiled its IT-based tapeless product line, the Infinity, at IBC2005.

In front of a packed audience including the press and customers, Grass Valley officials touted Infinity's "truly open" approach to production.

Infinity will have "a tremendous impact on the industry," said Jeff Rosica, vice president of worldwide strategic marketing and business development for Grass Valley. "It's a new way of thinking, a new attitude. It's a revolutionary and truly open solution and one that avoids proprietary approaches and uses advanced technology. We're bringing an end to proprietary thinking and starting a new era of complete openness and maximum choice."

The recording media for the Infinity line is based on Iomega's REV-based storage media and Pro-grade CompactFlash memory, both items easily obtainable from local consumer electronics or office supply shops. Media can also be recorded on USB and FireWire external storage devices or to networks via Gigabit Ethernet. The product line includes the Infinity Digital Media Camcorder and the Infinity Digital Media Recorder, as well as a line of Pro-grade REV disks designed for Infinity.

Infinity allows users to choose from an array of compression formats including DV, DVCAM, DVCPRO, and for both HD and SD, MPEG-2 compression is available with support for I-frame and long GOP. An additional choice of compression, JPEG2000, which is primarily seen as a d-cinema codec, is available, offering what Thomson, (whose Technicolor division helped develop) high-quality compression with better efficiency, no blocking artifacts at low bit rates, and the ability to encode a master file and then decode different resolutions as necessary.

The 2/3-inch, 3-CCD camcorder can record in 525i60, 625i50, 1080i50, 1080i60, 720p50 or 720p60. SD formats are selectable in either 4:3 or 16:9 aspect ratios. The media player is a compact field recorder that works like a tape machine but accepts removable media instead. It can be connected directly to a NLE workstation or to a file server for immediate enterprise-wide use. The 35 GB REV disks hold more than two hours of SD and up to 45 minutes of HD video. Current CompactFlash cards on the market today hold 8 GB and are available for less than $700.

Scheduled to ship in early 2006, the Infinity camcorder is priced at less than $20,000 and the recorder is priced at under $10,000.