AJA DataCalc By AJAFeb 01, 2022
Article written by Omar Colom and Laura Massas
“For video creatives, the path is always one from source to destination, so the touch interface needed to follow the same direction, with quick and simple choices for input parameters, and output parameters, and immediate availability of the information gathered in a digestible format to share with teams.”
I love this string of words and how simple yet accurate they are to me as a user of this app.
If you haven’t already downloaded AJA DataCalc, I highly recommend you get on it. If you're a video engineer like me, this can save you tons of hectic chaos and worry when it comes to records. No one wants to run out of space mid show!
We hope you’re enjoying this series so far! We love to hear from you so please leave us feedback on the article or on the app if you are already a user and this helped you learn something new that helped your workflow.
Check out the interview below.
Responses provided by AJA Director of Product Marketing Bryce Button
Q: What drove AJA to create the DataCalc app?
A: As Apple Final Cut Pro emerged, AJA developed the KONA audio and video I/O cards for use in Mac desktop workstations. Throughout the development process, we knew that users would need a simple way to calculate storage needs based on project settings, raster sizes, and frame rates or to purchase the right volume storage drive, so we envisioned a desktop app designed specifically for editors. That app provided the groundwork for what would eventually become the mobile device application DataCalc.
The launch of DataCalc coincided with the expansion of our product line, including the introduction of our Ki Pro digital video recorder, and eventually cameras like CION and RovoCam followed. We built it to give users a quick and simple way to calculate storage or time demands on a mobile device. Our reasoning for designing the app was quickly validated by a large volume of downloads, which continues to grow today.
Q: What other apps have you developed?
A: Much like storage, conversion is a vital tool in the field, so we looked at how we could help professionals more seamlessly link devices with varying connectivity and that’s how AJA’s Mini-Matrix came to be. It’s an app that allows users to enter an input and output type as well as any conversion of the signal needed. The app then generates a list of appropriate options from AJA’s catalogue of conversion solutions. It’s designed to help teams make quick equipment decisions as they develop project workflows.
Q: Who are DataCalc’s target users?
A: DataCalc serves production professionals on a wide range of projects from traditional broadcasts to cinematics, live event productions and beyond, in addition to creative professionals in post production. It’s built so that users can enter the parameters of what they’ll be storing (raster sizes, frame rates, codecs, etc.) and understand the amount of material they can capture to their on-site storage device, but also to allow the post team to prepare for the materials, which can help to streamline the entire pipeline.
Q: Do you work in the industry, if so, what sector and what’s your technical background?
A: Today I’m Director of Product Marketing at AJA, but my history in the business spans more than three decades. Prior to spending more than 13 years at AJA, I also served feature productions in creative roles, ran post houses and worked with vendors to assist and bring solutions to market that cater to creatives.
Q: What was the process for you to code and test this app?
A: DataCalc v1.0 debuted in the Apple App Store in December 2009. Its launch coincided with AJA’s release of the Ki Pro, the first Apple ProRes recorder to hit the market. At the time, iOS applications were relatively nascent, so we opted to collaborate with an experienced third-party app developer to get the process going, simultaneously working with our internal teams to convert the calculation engine from our desktop software to an interface that would work for mobile devices.
A lot of time was spent on designing the interface to ensure efficiency for the touch-based screen. We followed this process up with beta testing before public release.
Q: What was the process to unveil and launch to the public?
A: As soon as we announced our new Ki Pro recorder, we simultaneously announced DataCalc availability on the Apple App Store, followed by availability on the Google Play store, and promoted the debut through owned and earned media.
Q: How long did the total process of creating your app take?
A: From concept to beta, app creation took approximately six months, with the timing of the release dictated by Apple Store submission requirements and timed to the AJA Ki Pro launch.
Q: What’s your approach to user experience and design principles?
A: For video creatives, the path is always one from source to destination, so the touch interface needed to follow the same direction, with quick and simple choices for input parameters, and output parameters, and immediate availability of the information gathered in a digestible format to share with teams.
Q: Can the application be used without a wifi connection?
A: Yes. We understood from the beginning that creatives on-set and on-location might lack access to reliable WiFi, so it was crucial from the get-go to ensure that the calculation engine was located within the application on the device, so that users could get results anywhere.
Q: Is your app the same thing from when you first created it or has the idea evolved?
A: The latest version of DataCalc is v4.5.0. Over time, we have consistently updated it to add new codecs, presets and rasters (like 8K), as well to ensure that it’s compatible with the latest Apple and Android mobile platforms. Each update has reflected user feedback to address the demand for new and popular parameters. For instance, native iPad functionality was added to DataCalc, so that users can make use of the larger screen.
Q: What platform is this app on and how should people new to your app be using it?
A: AJA DataCalc works on iOS, iPadOS and Android. Designed for video professionals, it works with all the most popular industry video formats and compression methods, including AJA Raw, Apple ProRes, DVCPROHD, HDV, XDCAM, DV, CineForm, REDCODE, Avid DNxHD, Avid DNxHR, Apple Intermediate, 16-bit RGB and RGBA, uncompressed, and more. Video standards supported include NTSC, PAL, 1080i, 1080p, 720p, 2K, 4K and 8K, as well as multiple frame rates.
Q: Can you break down each part of your app and what people can and can’t do with it?
A: AJA DataCalc allows users to change settings and calculate storage requirements in a single screen with simple controls and a clear, concise display. Media durations can be entered in units of days, hours, seconds, or even as precise as frames using time code mode. Clicking on results will rotate users through alternative values including KB, MB, GB or TB for storage calculations or recording time results in a variety of formats when in TimeCalc mode. Summary information obtained by DataCalc can even be optionally shared via email or other iOS and iPadOS share services, and a “Favorites” feature allows you to save common calculations for speedy reference.
Q: How’s the feedback, the audience response, since launching your app?
A: Reviews across the app marketplaces average 5.0 out of 5.0. We’ve listened closely to user feedback along the way, and incorporated those changes into the app.
Q: What features are being used the most since launch?
A: DataCalc is a highly focused application, therefore all of the features are utilized. Where it stands out is the ability it provides to users to choose presets with storage or time calculations as a starting point, as well as the fact that parameter settings are correctly limited to the codecs at hand and ensure a seamless experience for the end user, so they don’t accidently mix up features that codecs may or may not support.
Q: How do they buy the app? Are their additional features?
A: DataCalc is available as a free download in the Google Play store and Apple App Store. In terms of additional features, it allows users to save profiles, which amounts to a group of parameters that they may use consistently, so they can bring them up at speed while working.
Q: What’s next for the app?
A: We expect to update DataCalc as more codecs, raster sizes, and frame rates are adopted by the industry, as well as to keep current with OS platforms as they evolve.
Q: Best advice you could give to someone reading this article?
A: Please visit AJA or either mobile app store at any time to learn more about DataCalc and/or to download the free app. For more details about AJA technology overall, visit: www.aja.com.
Well AVE community, we hope this has been helpful in introducing this app to you or shedding light on some of the capabilities if it’s something you already use!
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