January 25, 2012 at 3:57 pm
I’m wondering if anyone else is experiencing the kinds of problems I’m having with a Ki Pro Mini.
Here’s my setup: Sony F3 HD-SDI out to Ki Pro Mini in. Recording ProResHQ and ProRes standard to SanDisk extreme 90MB/s cards (four different cards, different batch numbers, two are 64G and two are 32G). KPM HD-SDI out to monitor. Depending on the shoot, I record using TC trigger from F3 or with the record button on KPM. No difference in symptoms, which are:
1. Mounting media often freezes KPM. Requires reboot. Usually first boot of the day, strangely.
2. Frequent kicking out of record. I’d say 5% of takes fail. The kickout usually occurs in the first five seconds, but not always. Because the KPM shows errors only for a few seconds, I’m never quite sure what happened–I only see that it’s not recording when I “cut” is called and the panel has gone back to its default state.
3. Occasionally, when dropped frames occur, have to reboot (KPM front panel unresponsive, stuck in Record mode, but TC not updating).
4. Low Bat power downs when battery is fully charged (battery also runs F3 and a 7″ monitor). F3 reports voltage at 14+ volts. Battery is an Anton Bauer LI 120AH. Plenty of juice and F3 and monitor work fine with it.
5. Some clips are left in an un-playable state. The data appears to be there but the file appears not have been closed properly.
6. Recording kick out occurs in both ProResHQ and ProRes standard.
7. Intermittently unresponsive front panel when reviewing footage. Stop button doesn’t stop playback. Play button doesn’t respond when fast forwarding or rewinding. If you press the buttons a few times it usually responds, but sometimes freezes and requires reboot.
These symptoms have occurred on TWO different KPMs, identically. Which slot is used makes no difference. My thought is that it must be the cards, but four different cards from different batches? Or could it be the firmware? The cards successfully sustain high data rates when attached to my laptop and report more than adequate bandwidth with the AJA testing app.
When it works, I love what the KPM does, but not a day on set goes by that I don’t also curse it because it fouls a take, holds up a shoot and makes producers and directors nervous. I have to keep an eye on it always because I never know when it’s going to drop a take. Frustrating to say the least.
Recommendations appreciated. Thanks.
DIrector of Photography
January 25, 2012 at 5:46 pm
We would recommend that, if you have not already, you should contact AJA Technical Support for assistance with operation of the Ki Pro Mini.
Regarding your questions, here are some thoughts which AJA Technical Support will also be happy to review with you.
1. If the CF media is removed without using the SLOT button, then it’s possible that the directory of the media has been compromised. Media that does not want to mount or halts the boot up process of the Ki Pro Mini typically insinuates that the media has some issue. AJA recommends that you connect this media to a Mac OS X computer which will repair directory issues, then back up your media, and reformat the media in the Ki Pro Mini via the MEDIA menu parameter.
2. If you are using the incrementing record timecode output of the camera via SDI and the Arm Recording parameter on the Ki Pro MIni, be aware that any disruption in the timecode output from the camera will cause the Ki Pro Mini to cease recording. AJA would recommend that your Ki Pro Mini as well as your camera be running the latest firmware. AJA would also recommend the use of the SDI Out connector on the Sony PMW-F3 as opposed to the SDI A or B connectors on the camera.
3. Dropped Frames being reported and an inability to work with the device would again suggest an issue with the media as noted in the first point. AJA recommends backing up the media and reformatting it in the Ki Pro Mini for optimal operation.
4. Operating multiple devices from one battery can produce a high amount of draw on that single battery. The Ki Pro Mini maximum watt draw is 18 watts, the Sony PMW-F3 draws between 20 and 30 watts (depending on power up, idle or operation) and the monitor is likely several additional watts. The Ki Pro Mini requires at least 12 volt power so if the battery “sags” below this value it will power down. The camera and the monitor might continue to operate if they support voltage operation lower than 12 volt when compared to the Ki Pro Mini. It might be wise to try to power fewer devices from the single battery source and/or use a combination of battery sources to power the devices. Additionally, unscheduled power downs of the Ki Pro Mini during recording or playback operations could leave the CF media directory in a less than ideal state.
5. Truncated recordings where the data has been written to the media but not closed properly again suggest that the media directory is compromised either by not using the SLOT button prior to media removal or abrupt power downs during recording/playback. The recordings where data is written but the file is not closed properly may be recovered via the Movie Repair service offered by AeroQuartet:
6. Again, refer to the notes regarding a media directory that is likely compromised.
7. Erratic behavior of the transport buttons would again suggest a media directory that has been compromised.
We are sorry you have experienced issues, but AJA Technical Support will be happy to review your configuration and use of the device to see if they can offer advice to improve your experience. If they deem that there is any issue with your Ki Pro Mini, they will be happy to arrange an RMA of the unit. They may be reached via phone or email between 9am and 5pm PST, Monday through Friday.
AJA Video Systems
+1 (530) 274-2048 Intl.
(800) 251-4224 US
January 26, 2012 at 11:52 am
A while back I was having similar issues as you with our KPM. AJA tech support had me fully reset our unit back to factory configuration and that completely fixed the issues I was experiencing. There’s a general reset in the menu, but the support guy had me do a specific key combination to do the factory reset. Unfortuantely I can’t remember what that exact procedure is, but if you call tech support, they can walk you through it. I’ve found AJA tech support to be top-notch, a human being actually answers the phone!
Hope this helps you a bit… I understand your fear & frustration!
Jason W. Tower
January 31, 2012 at 4:39 am
We have been having almost the exact set of problems on a very similar Sony F3 setup. It’s driving me absolutely nuts. Did you ever get any clue as to what is causing it? We’re out of ideas after spending months trying everything! Thanks, Luke Geissbuhler
January 31, 2012 at 4:57 pm
Thanks Jason, I’ll give the reset a try.
Luke, I’ll post here if I find anything.
So far nothing’s changed.
I did talk with AJA support who’ve been very friendly but unable to figure out what’s going on. Since then I’ve discovered numerous people that have been having the same problems. So, the symptoms are not unique and because it’s happened on two different Minis with two different F3s, one of them is likely the culprit. Just don’t know which yet.
I’m going to do some tests recording from my tower and EX-1 HD-SDI outs to see if i have the same problems.
DIrector of Photography
January 31, 2012 at 9:48 pm
I did a whole feature with the F3 and KPM. I had some problems at the beginning,but they were all user mistakes. I was using the wrong FC. Now I use a SanDisk Extreme PRO and no more problems in over 1000 clips.
Things to look out for:
Make sure you turn on the camera first,
Test it using AC power (Battery has to be more than 12v without charing power with things like monitors)
Make sure you hit the switch card button before ejecting the FC.
Use good quality SDI cables.
Use AJA approved FCs.
February 5, 2012 at 11:42 pm
Update on this issue:
I reset the KiPro Mini, using the factory reset command. I hooked up the F3 and powered things the way I usually do. I filled two 64gig CF cards with no errors, starting and stopping record randomly and allowing varying time to pass between recording runs.
So, it would appear, at least as far the last 250 clips recorded, that my problem has been solved.
The only difference in this set up is that I’ve untethered the KiPro Mini from the F3’s timecode. The KPM is recording its own time of day as timecode rather than the RP188 from the F3. Perhaps that was part of the problem. I don’t know.
I also recorded the first card without a monitor attached to the KPM SDI out. For the second card I attached my field monitor to see if perhaps it was screwing up the SDI signal somehow. I’ve wiggled cables, turned it on and off in the middle of recording, and I’m seeing no errors.
I go into the field tomorrow, which will be the real test. But, it would appear a factory reset has eliminated whatever settings and/or incompatibilities have been so much trouble.
DIrector of Photography
March 2, 2012 at 3:15 pm
we’re still seeing dropped frame errors occasionally, which makes the KiPro Mini less than ideal for us. but, we’ve noticed that it almost always drops frames only in the first few seconds of recording, so we start it and wait a few secs before giving the go ahead to the director.
since posting earlier, i’ve talked with several other ki pro mini / f3 users who all have the same problem. it sure would be nice if the issue were fixed because it makes an otherwise stable system flakey.
DIrector of Photography
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