Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Blackmagic HyperDeck Studio and Shuttle

Image:  Blackmagic HyperDeck Studio

Image:  Blackmagic HyperDeck Shuttle
I'll preface this post by saying that this isn't a product review, since I've never actually used either of these devices.  We're in the market for a tapeless recording system, so I spent the morning looking at the Blackmagic site reading about these two pieces of gear.  I figured I would pass along my first impressions.

In the beginning of April 2011, Blackmagic announced production of the HyperDeck Studio and Shuttle.  In a nutshell, both of these devices will record uncompressed 10-bit 4:2:2 video (in a Quicktime wrapper) on removable SSD drives through SD/HD-SDI or HDMI inputs.  The Shuttle is intended to be a field recorder and will record to one SSD.  The Studio is a rack mounted unit that allows recording to two drives.  The Studio unit also has a small LCD preview monitor built in.    

At first glance, the price seems great for these two:  $995 for the Studio and $345 for the Shuttle.  The one thing to keep in mind is that they don't come with any SSD drives, and uncompressed video takes up lots of hard drive space.  As Dan May from Blackmagic explains at the NAB Show 2011, one minute of 1080i60 uncompressed 10-bit video will consume about 10GB of hard drive space.  As Dan said, using these units for shorter field recording would be fine, but long form recording would be a bear with all that uncompressed video piling up.  We're really looking for a tapeless recording solution to record longer events, like two hour lectures.  Even though we could swap hard drives in and out of the Studio deck for infinite recording, we don't have a workflow that would allow us to dump those drives to a larger storage solution while we're recording the event.  That means that we'll have to have plenty of SSD drives on hand, and at almost $500 for a 256GB SSD drive (which would only get us 25 minutes of 1080i60), the cost of this starts to add up.  Having the option to record to a compressed codec (like ProRes) would really help control the size of the recorded video, but you don't have that option with either the Shuttle or Studio.

Another downside that I noticed is neither the Shuttle or the Studio units have dedicated audio inputs.  Both capture audio that's input through the SDI or HDMI connectors.  I suppose I can see that being the case with the Shuttle due to space limitations on the unit, but the Studio should really have some balanced audio inputs.  I think this is where something like the AJA KiPro or KiPro Mini really jumps ahead of the HyperDeck Shuttle and Studio.

All in all, these are great little devices, but have a couple of flaws that will hold them back.  Hopefully in the future, Blackmagic pays the licensing fees and includes the option to record to a high quality compressed codec, like ProRes or DNxHD.


  1. So did you ever come up with a solution for longer capture times?

  2. Hi Matt. Thanks for reading my blog and thanks for the comment. Our department ended up purchasing a AJA KiPro for our field recording. Recording directly to ProRes 422 really integrates easy into our Final Cut based workflow. We also picked up a bunch of AJA KiPro Minis, but I haven't used them, so I can't speak to the quality of those units. Let me know what decision you end up making.