AJA U-Tap Michael Sanders

British cinematographer Michael Sanders has decided to include the AJA U-Tap SDI USB 3.0 capture device in his camera kit.

AJA’s U-Taps are USB 3.0 3G-SDI or HDMI capture solutions that bring high-quality video capture and connectivity to laptops and workstations. Sanders has chosen to use them because of their versatility and variety of formats: ” “Whether the production team is overseas and cannot travel or we simply need to reduce the number of people in a room, streaming the output of a camera is now standard practice, and U-Tap is an ideal tool for the job. It’s portable and plug-and-play, and most importantly it doesn’t require a power supply, as it’s bus powered. U-Tap is also so versatile; it supports nearly every format and frame rate imaginable. The fact that it also works with multiple frame rates from 23.98 upwards to 60p means that I only need one box to serve a range of clients.”

Sanders’ workflow gives him the flexibility to provide a stable connection so that the interview can take place regardless of how far away the production team and interviewee are. For one of Sanders’ first projects, a documentary, the director, production team and scriptwriter were in the United States, but the interviewee was in the United Kingdom. To facilitate a real-time connection between the group, camera output was provided via U-Tap, which appeared as a feed on Zoom. Connected to this platform, the production team could see, hear and monitor the shoot in real time. With the recorder’s audio mixer connected to the camera, the U-Tap was able to extract audio from the embedded SDI stream.

blankConvenience and cost-effectiveness

Sanders also live-streamed a European company’s earnings report using the AJA solution. Using two identical camera setups located in different offices within the same building, one for the CEO and one for the CFO, plus two U-Taps and a collection of other equipment, the team was able to send high-quality signals from the UK to the US via the Internet. In the U.S., the U.K. signals were integrated with three separate signals from other members of the executive team using vMix Call. Sanders says, “Because U-Tap supports 1080p, we could easily send our signal over the internet at a quality that was high enough for a remote director to perform a very good chroma key and unify the output of the five remote sites.”

Although remote workflows have been standard practice for Sanders for some time now, he expects the advantages “that have become apparent to the industry at large” throughout the pandemic to be “hard to ignore in the future,” especially the cost-effectiveness aspect. In addition, he sees the practice as opening new doors to projects that were previously not viable due to budgets, logistics and travel.

Whatever the production approach, Sanders is confident that AJA’s U-Tap will remain a key part of his workflow. “U-Tap is my go-to for remote production because I don’t need to think about it. I just plug it in and it’s there, available as source in any app. It may sound boring, but what you need from any piece of kit in this industry is: reliability, ease of use and support when something does go wrong. With U-Tap, AJA provides all three,” he concludes.

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For • 6 May, 2021
• Section: Study