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HomeGearThomson Adds Venom to Viper

Thomson Adds Venom to Viper

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Lots of oohs and aahs greeted Thomson’s launch of the Viper FilmStream digital cinematography camera at NAB in 2002. But there was a problem: it had to be tethered via cable to an outboard recording device manufactured by a third party and measuring in size anywhere from a carry-on suitcase to a small refrigerator. Many of the cinematographers who praised Viper’s considerable image-capturing capabilities felt handicapped by its lack of mobility.Now Thomson has come up with a product of its own to overcome that liability. Called the Venom FlashPak, it’s a dockable solid state recorder that can be mounted directly on top of or behind Viper. Using flash memory, Venom records up to 10 minutes of material when Viper is running in its maximum-quality uncompressed FilmStream mode, and up to 18 minutes of the camera’s output when it’s running in 4:2:2 HD.With no moving parts, Venom is designed for the rugged environment of film shoots. Like Viper, it carries the Grass Valley nameplate.According to Thomson Broadcast & Media Solutions senior marketing manager Mark Chiolis, Venom, which looks like a film magazine, is intended to help crews emulate the workflow that occurs on film production sets. Once full, Venom is removed and the data is dumped to the still-necessary third party storage device. The transfer occurs in real time. Meanwhile an empty Venom is placed on top of Viper and shooting can proceed immediately.In an ideal situation, says Chiolis, there would be three Venoms on the set: one will be recording from the camera, another will be waiting its turn, and the third will be writing its contents to the transport/storage medium. At the end of the day all the stored material will be taken to the post house for more permanent storage and processing.Thomson intends to make Venom available around the time of NAB 2005 in April. Carrying a hefty $58,000 price tag, it is expected to be a rental item. Although mainly intended for use with Viper, the Venom FlashPak will also be compatible with Thomson’s Grass Valley LDK-6000 mk II high-def camera, of which there are about 1,000 units worldwide. The LDK-6000 will use Venom’s 18-minute HD capacity.In use on several TV series, including USA Networks’ The 4400, shot by DP Tim Burstyn, Viper recently raised its profile in the feature film community when DPs Paul Cameron and Dion Beebe, ASC were among the American Society of Cinematographers’ Outstanding Achievement honorees for their work on Michael Mann’s Collateral, most of which was shot with Viper.There are now about 30 Vipers in use worldwide. Plus8 Digital, the rental facility based in Burbank and with offices in New York, Vancouver and Houston, recently purchased two additional units, bringing its total up to eight.

Written by Peter Caranicas

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