Product Spotlight: Viper FilmStream Camera

Jul 29, 2002  •  Post A Comment

What it is: Viper FilmStream Camera from Thomson Grass Valley Broadcast Solutions.
What it does: The Viper camera is designed to provide high-definition output at the highest quality possible by maintaining throughout the video processing more of the information, data and light that a camera captures at acquisition. “You get a much better quality picture than you have at any time in the previous world,” said Mark Chiolis, senior marketing manager, acquisition and production, for Thomson Grass Valley Broadcast Solutions.
Development: Viper emerged from the development of high-definition cameras at Grass Valley, including the current line of LDK-6000 cameras. “Out of that the engineers had an epiphany that there’s all this information running around the front end, but once it’s sent out of the back of the camera as video it’s lost,” Mr. Chiolis said. That’s because the video processing cuts down some of that information. Viper is designed to hold onto that data as the data is sent from the camera to a tape recorder or a monitor.
How it works: CCDs, change couple devices, are pieces of silicon with photo sensors that capture light at the point of acquisition. “[A CCD] is like your eyeball, and it feeds the brain or the camera,” Mr. Chiolis said.
Because cameras ingest more information than is used, the perceived final picture quality is better if that information from the CCDs can be maintained, he said. “If you start with 800 lines of resolution, it may get cut down to 240 lines at the TV set, but it stays at a higher resolution longer so it is perceived as better quality. The more you can take in at the get-go, the better it looks at the end.
If you want to operate at a higher quality, you don’t throw those little bits of light away that are captured at the front end,” he said. “We are hoping to raise the level of the bar with 24p shooting,” he said. The output is not as high quality as film but it is better than traditional 24p, he added.
Market: The camera is not intended for run-and-gun shooting in news production, but rather for green screen work, movies, TV shows and episodics, he said. The first two Vipers will be available in Los Angeles in August through Bexel video equipment rental house.