Atomos announced their NEON Cinema Monitor/Recorders today and we caught up with Jeromy Young at Cinegear to find out some more details.
The 17” HD, and 24”, 31” and 55” 4K HDR field monitors that have been designed for recording, playback, monitoring, and editing.
The Neon range complements other Atomos products such as the Shinobi SDI, Ninja V, Shogun 7 and Sumo 19 to provide a flexible ecosystem of field reference monitors.
Who are they aimed at?
As the NEON Monitor/Recorders come in a variety of different sizes, they can be used for a variety of different applications.
Neon is designed for filmmakers and crew for on-set and in-studio production. Neons’ work together as a field monitor ecosystem providing consistency and confidence in obtaining the creative intent captured by the cinematographer and director. Neons’ recording capability allows more on-set decision making
The 17” is primarily designed for focus pullers and as an on-set buddy reference monitor for laptops. The 24” and 31” are more for the video village, DIT, cinematographer, editor, director and a reference monitor for an iMac or Mac Pro.
Atomos says that the 55” is designed for clients, showrooms and color graders.
The NEON screens are all true 10-bit. They are not 8+2 FRC displays. This is the first time Atomos has had a product with a proper 10-bit display.
The panels are made by Panasonic. The panels were originally developed by Hitachi several years ago before being bought by Panasonic. The panels have a very wide 180 degree viewing angle.
Now, the screens are all different depending on what model you choose. The NEON17 is a 1920 x 1080 display with a PPI of 142 and it has 128 zoned dynamic backlights.
The NEON24 and NEON31 are full 4K DCI (4096 x 2160) displays that Atomos claim provides 10-bit DCI-P3 100% color coverage, and a 1,000,000:1 HDR-ready contrast. Both displays have 512 zoned dynamic backlights.
The large NEON55 is a 3840 x 2160 display with a PPI of 84. Just like the 24″ and the 35″ versions, the 55″ display has 512 zoned dynamic backlights.
The NEON backlight is divided into many sections that can be controlled individually giving what Atomos claims is the ability to view up to 15 stops of dynamic range.
NEON Model Comparison
|Resolution||1920 x 1080||4096 x 2160||4096 x 2160||3840 x 2160|
|Weight (monitor only)||4.5 kg (9.92 lb)||8.6 kg (18.95 lb)||TBC||TBC|
The NEON series allows you to capture from any HDMI, SDI or Quad Link SDI source. It will support recording from cameras from Nikon, Canon, Panasonic, Sony, RED, and ARRI.
HDMI 10-bit uncompressed, right up to 12G-SDI 12-Bit, 4Kp60 RAW can be recorded.
All of the NEON models are able to record ProRes RAW from compatible cameras, ProRes HQ, ProRes 422, ProRes LT, Avid DnX, DnX HQX, DnX HQ, DnX SQ, DnX LB, and Cinema DNG RAW.
The following supported frame rates and resolutions can be recorded:
- 4K DCI / UHD 24/25/30/50/60p
- 2K 24/25/30/50/60/100/120p
- 1080p 24/25/30/50/60/100/120/200/240p
- 1080i 50/60i
- 720p 50/60p
What is interesting is that the recording module on the back of the NEON models is essentially a Ninja V without a screen. It docks into the back of the NEON using the expander port that is found on the Ninja V.
The recording module can actually be removed from the NEON and used as a stand alone recording device. Essentially it’s just a large 4K Ninja Star.
The monitor/recorders can use the AtomX SSDmini and Master Caddy II with 2.5” SSD/HDD for recording.
The NEON models support Auto HDMI trigger supported protocols using the Canon, Sony Atomos Open Standard -Panasonic, Nikon, Olympus, Fuji, and Leica. SDI trigger is possible from compatible cameras, but you do need the optional SDI – SDI Expansion Module.
Atomos iOS App
In what Atomos is calling an industry first, the NEON can be Bluetooth controlled by the Atomos iOS App. The App controls 4K recording, syncing and playback on up to 1000+ NEONs via Bluetooth.
The app also supports real-time production tools like focus peaking, exposure, calibration, zoom, waveform monitor, RGB monitor, vectorscope and LUT selection.
The App also shortens the time between capture and final edit by allowing Neons to display real-time playback of captured shots at up to 4Kp60 in ProRes RAW, ProRes, Avid DNx and Cinema DNG.
There are several good reasons why there’s no touchscreen functionality. The two main reasons are that Atomos doesn’t want people putting fingerprints all over the screen, and the other is that the benefit of a large monitor is the ability to collaboratively view the footage, and having to stand close to the display and touch it would negatively detract from that experience.
I asked Jeromy why the NEON models don’t have any physical buttons on them and he said they grappled with the idea of doing that, but ultimately they decided to just rely on the app instead.
The App is essentially the whole AtomOS system that you will find on all Atomos devices. What is nice is that you can control multiple NEONs from the one app and make changes that just effect one, or all of the connected NEONs.
Another nice feature is that all NEONS and any Ninja V with an AtomX Sync Module attached can perfectly frame sync together with the touch of a few
buttons on-set via the Atomos iOS App. This makes for effortless importing of synced video and metadata to the editing suite at the end of filming. The metadata is embedded into the Quicktime .mov file and is read downstream by computer applications, including Atomos desktop software.
The app uses Bluetooth to communicate with the NEON. The NEON’s sync to each other using sub-gigahertz RF that gives them a range of up to 200m
If you are an Android user, don’t worry, an Android version of the app is coming.
If you don’t want to use the app, Atomos includes a remote with Neon that gives you basic control of both the display and AtomOS.
Master Control Unit
Atomos says that the NEON range is future-proofed because of the innovative Master Control Unit. The Master Control Unit is a replaceable brain that allows the out-of-the-box 4K capture capability to be upgraded later as newer functionality and technology becomes mainstream. The Master Control Unit is also compatible with the AtomX expansion modules that provide SDI and NDI connectivity on top of the standard HDMI connectivity that comes with Neon.
Atomos claims that the NEON range has been built to withstand the most extreme production conditions. All the models feature an aluminum chassis and polycarbonate back plate. All NEON models (except the 55) additionally come packed in their own custom designed high-performance crush-proof and water-tight road case.
The NEON models looked fairly well built but they do have fans inside them that are quite loud.
Mounting points include VESA mounts, feet for floor or desk viewing, and ARRI-standard edge mounting points.
So far this is no information about powering the NEON Monitor/Recorders apart from the fact that they will run off mains power.
Jeromy told me that they are still looking into battery solutions, but that it may be tricky to power the 24″ and 31″ versions remotely.
What makes NEON different?
Current workflows with cinema cameras require the managing of online (e.g. ARRI RAW) and offline (e.g. Avid DNx) content, editing, grading and conforming. Then having to go through this process multiple times in outputting to different exhibition formats. Neon simplifies the workflow by recording, editing, grading from a single online environment with ProRes RAW, eliminating the need for conforming. Different exhibition formats can then be easily exported.
A change in direction
IAtomos has up until now, has clearly been targeting indie, self shooters, and the small production market. The NEON series looks to be a strategic move by Atomos to try and push into other markets. Just how well this new product range will be received by the industry will be interesting to see.
From talking to people at the show the reactions to the NEON announcement were mostly positive. The majority of people we talked to who had seen the panels were quite impressed by what they saw.
Pricing & Availability
According to Atomos, the NEON17 and NEON24 will be available from August 2019. The NEON31 and NEON55 are said to follow in September 2019. Given Atomos hasn’t always had the best track record when it comes to meeting delivery dates it wouldn’t surprise me if the NEON series availability gets pushed.
As far as price is concerned, the NEON Cinema Monitor/Recorders are by far the most expensive products Atomos has ever made. Here is what the various models will set you back:
These prices may sound very high, but you have to remember that monitors such as the Sony BVM-X300 4K V2 OLED Master Monitor cost $17,999 USD. You also need to take into consideration that the NEON monitor/recorders have true 10-bit displays which are a lot more expensive to manufacture than the 8+2 FRC displays we see in most monitors.
Companies such as Sony, Panasonic and Canon have dominated the high end reference monitor market for a long time. Atomos are certainly trying to throw a spanner in the works by offering something different to the competition.
What do you think of this latest Atomos announcement? Would you buy a NEON? What do you think of the pricing? Let us know in the comments section below.