Ki Pro Mini – The Results

We decided that today (Feb 24) would be a good day to shoot some test footage with our recently aquired Ki Pro Mini. The weather is clear, cold and windy. Okay, cold for us on the west coast but for anyone visiting it’s just cool-ish. We went back to the same spot to shoot that we used when I bought my first EX1 back in January 2007.

I’ll be shooting with the 4 types of Pro Res 422 that the device uses and comparing to the same shot from the Sony SxS Pro memory card. There is actually a 5th Pro Res family member called Pro Res 4:4:4:4  or Pro Res 4×4 and it is a 12 bit pixel depth codec with a lossless alpha channel, hence the extra #4. Since the Ki Pro Mini is outputting a maximum pixel depth of 10 bits in the 4:2:2 colour space the reason this 4×4 flavour is not included in the Ki Pro Mini’s codec selection becomes obvious.

Later that day……

When we got back from our test shoot to my dismay there were NO NEW CLIPS on the Lexar CF card! During the recording there was no indication from the device’s screen that anything was amiss. The record light was on, the TC was advancing as well as the shot number each time the XDCAM EX1R stopped and started during the recording process. The status screen even said “System Normal.” Now I’m trying to determine if the issue is the man or the machine.

The next day – Feb. 25 2011…….

Last night I did a few indoor still life shots and the Ki Pro Mini recorded everything flawlessly, so yesterday’s testing wasn’t a total loss. The 2 frame grabs immediately below are the EX1R shots. The 2 picture below those are from the Ki Pro Mini shooting Pro Res 422 (standard).

Yesterday afternoon I also shot the peak of the neighbour’s roof. As you can see (when you magnify the picture to 400x) there are compression artifacts in areas of high contrast in the EX1R picture but hardly anything in the Pro Res HQ picture. Right or control click on the images and save them to your desktop. After magnifying the pictures to 400% you’ll see what I mean.

So what changed from having no clips recorded in the Mini yesterday afternoon to last night when I recorded the above still life and roof shots? I formatted the Lexar 32G card again and that seemed to solve it. However, the fact that the Ki Pro Mini told me it was recording to the card normally when it really wasn’t certainly doesn’t instill a lot of confidence. As I said, the device was rolling TC, told me the status was normal, kept advancing clip numbers and even showed a diminishing amount of storage left on the card in a percentile. By the way, when I had finished recording outside the Mini was showing 31 clips total on the Lexar CF card. When I inserted the card into the USB reader and discovered no new clips I then put the card back into the Mini. The clip count was back to 19 which was the amount on the card prior to the outdoor shoot. Perhaps it’s the card, or it’s me. Further testing is certainly needed.

Things to check prior to recording:

1. Even if the Mini gives you a system normal status, make sure that none of the 3 Status, Config or Media buttons are lit by pressing the stop button.

2.The slot/card you want to record to must be lit on top of the unit as well as the front panel light in steady green. When you press record on your camera those two green lights will start blinking.

3. When ejecting a card first press the STOP button even though the unit is not recording. If you don’t and press the slot button on the front panel first the light will not go out to signify that the card has been unmounted. Getting frustrated and pulling out the card may result in data loss. Push the STOP button first and everything should work as advertised.

More to come.

UPDATE: 02/25/11 10:00 pm.

Thanks to John Heagy who posted a similar issue in the AJA Ki Pro forum at Creative COW. His company’s Ki Pro Mini has the same issues as my own. If a CF card is inserted before you start the Mini you’ll get a “false clip” reading from the unit. If you start up and then insert the CF card the Mini will record normally. I’ll test this theory tomorrow.

Stay tuned for further developments.

Update: 02/26/11 9:45 pm

Don’t boot up the Ki Pro Mini with CF cards already inserted and then hit record. The Mini will advance the clips as you start and stop the recording but nothing will be recorded. The Mini’s status will even show a decreasing amount of CF card space remaining, etc.

Start the Ki Pro Mini with no cards inserted. Once the startup is complete then insert the CF card(s) and the unit will record normally. This info is critical if, for example, you send an employee out on a job with the Mini without prior knowledge. They’ll come home empty handed and be none the wiser.

As John mentioned in his post, if you start up with 2 cards inserted and if you switch to the second card right away using the slot select button you’ll be able to record normally. I’m also assuming that when that card gets full you’ll be able to switch back to the first card without issue. I can’t corroborate this because I only own one CF card at the moment.

Until AJA comes up with a solution please follow the above guidelines. The above situation has been confirmed by another Ki Pro Mini user at : Creative

Written by:

Don Greening is the owner and both senior editor and videographer for Reeltime Videoworks. His arts background as a classical musician and composer gives him an uncompromising eye and ear for detail that is very important in video production. Don also hones his technical skills by updating them through courses at Emily Carr Institute of Art + Design.