Convergent Design just announced a new flagship product – The Apollo, which is bound to excite a very wide variety of content creators. In a nutshell, the Apollo is an exceptionally powerful monitor/recorder that has the ability to capture up to 4 individual cameras simultaneously, which is pretty astounding.
One of the most exciting trends in the industry lately has been the convergence (no pun intended) of production and post. Production technology is continually being reworked to meet the increasing demands of the post-world, and many editorial tools, codecs, and methodologies are taken into account as new products are developed. The Apollo very much fits within this framework.
Before I get into some of my thoughts on the device, take a look at the specs below:
- HD video recording, up to four signals simultaneously
- 1080p24 / 1080p30 / 1080i60 / 720p60 (60hz territories)
- 1080p25 / 1080i50/720p50 (50hz territories)
- Apple ProRes HQ/422/LT
- Record four HD signals and one quad-split view
- Record four HD signals and one live switch
- Up to four SDI inputs or three SDI & one HDMI
- Embedded audio or analog input
- Loss of any signal does not interrupt recording of other channels
- Apollo Media Manager App outputs four separate files or one master multi-camera QuickTime for simplified post
- Dual SSDs allow spanning (long record time) or mirroring (simultaneous backup)
- 3.5 hours recording time at highest quality [2TB of 4x HD signals & live switch, 1080p30, Apple ProRes 422(HQ); 8.5 hours in Apple ProRes 422(LT)]
- No Genlock required
- Touchscreen interface
- Monitor outputs for switched or quad view
- Two SDI outputs, one HDMI output
- Preset or Custom Monitoring LUTs
- Image Analysis tools: False Color, Focus Assist, Histogram, Pixel Zoom, Spot Meter, Vectorscope, Waveform, and Zebra
- 7.7” OLED panel for true blacks and accurate colors
- 7.9”x6.1”x1” / 20×15.5×2.5 cm
- 1.2lbs. / 560g
- Under 20w power draw, 6.5-34v with battery mounts available
- Two 2.5” SSD slots (Convergent Design SSDs or qualified 3rd party models)
- Magnesium case / Gorilla Glass cover / stick-on/peel-off screen protector
- No fans or vents
Additional features in free firmware update (Early 2016)
- Dual 4K/UHD recording (Apple ProRes in 24p, 25p, 30p)
- DNxHD recording
- Record XML file Edit Decision List from Live Switch
- Remote keyboard control pad
- Audio delay
- On-screen source naming
- Cascade interconnect for 12-channel HD / 6-channel 4K recording
As I stated above, I love what this product represents and how innovative it is. It goes without saying that many of the features themselves (display quality, LUT capabilities, etc.) are impressive to say the least. But the idea of capturing multiple streams not just to a single device, but to a singular file is truly remarkable.
Imagine shooting a music video with 4 cameras. Traditionally, you would record internally on each camera, sync them in post and then edit – likely using some sort of multi-cam tool in your NLE. Sounds simple enough, but in practice things aren’t always that easy and multi cam issues are very common…
For instance, one camera might roll out in the middle of a take (creating syncing issues), or you might be shooting so quickly that you forget to slate on a take, creating even more headaches in the editing room.
Now consider the alternative – all 4 cameras are recording not just to one device, but to one file. You bring that file into your NLE and it essentially acts as a pre-created multi-cam project, allowing you to get the technicalities out of the way early on and just start working creatively.
Producers who are more geared towards unscripted series, events, and other live content will find the most value in what this product has to offer. I say this not only because these types of productions often employ multiple cameras, but also because their turnaround time is almost always minimal. Having the ability to record a higher quality than internal signal (ProRes) and avoiding sync issues completely will be a lifesaver for many producers, directors, and DPs alike.
It’s worth noting that the device is limited to HD resolution when recording from 4 cameras, which shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone considering the amount of power needed to capture that much data simultaneously. That said, you can also capture 2 streams of 4K content at once, which to me is just as intriguing…
While I may not often find myself on 4 camera shoots, I very regularly find myself on 2 camera shoots, whether it be on a narrative production, commercial, music video, or otherwise. In many cases I would jump at the opportunity to capture dual 4K streams into the Apollo, simply as a means to speed up the post process.
Even if the goal was to ultimately record 5K or 6K RAW in camera, the internal 4K stream could essentially be used as a proxy during the offline edit, and eventually could be re-linked to the RAW files when finishing. And in most cases, the internal 4K will offer more than enough quality to use even during the DI itself, if RAW isn’t necessary for whatever reason.
I have really only scratched the surface with regards to what’s possible with Apollo, but one thing that I know for certain is that this device is one of a kind. Convergent Design are setting the bar for innovation in the space, and I can’t wait to see what they come up with next.
For those of you interested in their product line, I will be doing a thorough review on the 7Q+ in the near future which you can expect to see after my long awaited URSA review which should be released next week.
For more info on Convergent Design, be sure to check them out at https://www.convergent-design.com
Noam Kroll is an award-winning Los Angeles based filmmaker, and the founder of the boutique production house, Creative Rebellion. His work can be seen at international film festivals, on network television, and in various publications across the globe. Follow Noam on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook for more content like this!