We had a good session yesterday (thanks again Dominick for inviting the horde of Steadi-lads). The unit held up well to scrutiny; a perfect image for what is probably the "expected" range for a Steadicam receiver. We walked about as far away through hallways as you would expect a Modulus to still deliver a viewable image before we lost transmission. The difference is that the Modulus would have started breaking up at least halfway through and eventually turned into snow, while the Camwave provides a rock-steady image, then starts to sparkle, then cuts out completely. A downside is that once you hit that point, it takes 20 seconds for the system to re-link again. The solution is obvious--have someone carry the receiver (easier than the sharkfin/receiver/battery combo we are used to with a UHF transmitter as with this, the antenna is built-in) around with you. If that becomes physically impossible because of the demands of the shot, chances are no transmitter would be useable anyway so it would have to be recorded and played back after the fact. But again--the image is indistinguishable from hard-wired (possibly with some extra noise, but luma and chroma remain untouched) and latency is all but undetectable.
The unit operates between 5.18GHZ and 5.86GHZ, so there is always the possibility of interference from something on set like a cordless phone, but most film-related gear like Prestons etc are in the 2.8GHZ range. A variety of devices were waved around near the unit from cel phones to garage door openers (!) but the signal held. There's always the possibility of a particular location throwing a wrench in the works with wireless however. There is no diversity receiver planned however one can use multiple receivers with the caveat that the digital encryption has to be switched off. However for those using handheld monitors with standard batteries on the back, this will be a plug-and-play operation to make a director's monitor (again, with perfect picture) so it may well be worth it. Given what we saw in terms of range, it would seem somewhat unlikely to be a security issue but that is dependent on the production.
The unit only delivers HD-SDI and SD-SDI, so it won't be ideal for film work. An outboard converter from SD composite to SD-SDI (and another one on the receiver that goes the other direction), but that will add to the bulk and weight on either end. Blackmagic
just introduced a series of low-cost 12v converters that would get you working in SD for under $1000 more.
The 24p compatible version is on its way and the product seems well on track for the promised July delivery date.
According to Tony from IDX, some of the concerns of the original unit regarding moisture in the body affecting transmission have been eradicated. The system has been tested and spec'd for an appropriate range but not yet for extreme humidity. It appears that it will work just fine at the base of the sled, where it could be mounted inline with one of the batteries (avoiding a power cable) if you have SDI cable running through your post, of course. Although it is distributed through IDX and initial models have all been shown with V-mount, we were told yesterday that integrated Anton Bauer mounts will be available for an additional charge. The unit is self-contained (no rubber duckies) so the profile of most cameras or rigs will not be affected much by its inclusion.
Overall this is very promising for those wishing to cut the cord on HD jobs (i.e. all of us). It will be interesting to see what other similar products emerge along the same lines as well.
did I miss anything? Didn't notice who was taking pictures, but there are various online at various reseller's sites.
(p.s. yes Rob, I did mention you to Hayley!)