NAC’s Hi-Motion II camera promises enhanced light sensitivity

When Japan’s NAC announced that it had won an Emmy Award for its work in digital super-slow-motion systems at the tail end of last year, it buried the news that its Hi-Motion II camera will be introduced at NAB in an aside at the end of the release. Happily, more details are now emerging.

With the camera slated to ship in first quarter 2012, NAC will exhibit a prototype at the NAB Show in April in Las Vegas, with serious field trials planning to begin thereafter. Exactly at what events it will be tested has yet to be announced, but certainly the timeframe of late May/June being mooted puts the tests on schedule for some seriously high-profile outings.

Billed by the company as the only three-chip camera system in the world capable of capturing more than 10x high-speed images in Full HD, or 1080p, it features a range of improvements over the original unit, notably at least a 4x improvement in light sensitivity, or two stops. This is going to give camera operators and directors far more flexibility in using it and choosing to cut to super-slo-mo shots in the lower light that still prevails in many stadiums.

“Instead of having the lens wide open and having to use gain to get light pictures, they’ll be able to run at 300 fps or faster, stopped down to F4, and have far more depth of field to work with,” says Andy Hayford, digital high-speed manager for ARRI Media, one of NAC’s partners on the High-Speed project. “The ability to pull focus and keep focus when working wide open in poor lighting is a fairly rare one, so this is going to democratise who can use the camera considerably.”

3D capability is also, inevitably, in the cards, with some interesting developments planned for later on in the year. “You can’t just genlock at high speed,” says Hayford. “You need to lock the sensors together, and the way that’s going to be implemented in High Speed II is rather nice.”

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