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Grass Valley Viper

DAN MULLIGAN

www.gtc.org.uk

How do you choose which HD camera to invest in? It’s an expensive business and you have to be sure it will work for a variety of shoots and different clients. Dan Mulligan, DoP at Rogue Element Films, went for the Grass Valley Viper and has recently tested it out on two very different productions.

‘Last of The Summer Wine’ o, there we were, embarking on a new series of Last of the Summer Wine. Last year (2005 filming for 2006 airing) we shot on a Sony HDW750P at 25FPS/PsF at 50Hz shutter. This produced some startling images as well as, to be honest, some not so

S

startling. With this in mind, I approached the production in January 2006 about the possibility of using the Grass Valley Viper Filmstream camera. Here are my reasons, although I must emphasise that these thoughts apply to this particular production

and its filming style only, not necessarily to all drama or other shoots.

The problem The original spur that provoked me into looking for an alternative was the Sony’s response to highlights

— or lack of it. It seemed to cope well with cloud detail but had a massive problem with close highlights, eg shirts, windows, and so on. Researching this further, it became clear that the heavy compression used by the 750P’s in-camera recorder afforded little

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Grass Valley Viper

www.gtc.org.uk

package had to be agreed. The SRW1 records on the superior SR tape format, which has such mild compression as to be virtually non-existent, and results using the Viper are amazing. In its full 4:4:4 Filmstream mode it looks stunning and so a camera package of Viper, SRW1 and Zeiss lenses (already owned) was agreed upon.

The testing

Dan Mulligan on location for Last of the Summer Wine room for manoeuvre in grading (3:1:1 tape compression) and limited colour space (4:1:0). This meant that as soon as you tried to hold the whites or lift the blacks, you would lose one end of the picture (highlights clipping etc).

The choice This led me to consider using an external device for recording. By using the 750P’s HDSDI output BNC you can achieve an uncompressed 4:2:2 image. Much more like it — but what could record such data? Portability is a big issue for shooting on location with limited manpower, so studio decks like the F500 or SRW5500 were out of the question. This left few options: Sony’s HDW S280 recorder, the Sony SRW1 4:4:4 field unit or the STwo disk system. The S280 is still compressed recording, so the SRW1 was the only sensible solution. With this decided, I began to look at the camera itself. The 750 has a 10-bit chip as opposed to the better 12-bit chip in the F900.

While this was affordable, it again seemed like a compromise and led me to research the Viper. What I liked about the Viper was its digital film approach. By recording image data raw, straight from the CCD, the camera acts the same as a film camera. Once you’ve selected the log capture mode, all you really need to worry about is focus, framing and exposure. The green log cast can be thought of as a digital negative – instead of an orange film base you have a digital green base. Further Viper research revealed a camera still struggling to gain a strong foothold in the UK at the time. The SRW1 could record externally up to full 4:4:4 colour space but also at 4:2:2 levels too, allowing the 750P or F900 options, but the Viper still looked very solid. It stood up to further scrutiny; it shoots 4:4:4 and 4:2:2, in full colour or raw capture. It was beginning to look like a promising option. I really needed to test the camera. Before testing, a shooting

In March 2006 I took the Summer Wine team to Yorkshire for two days’ testing. Along with us came representatives from Thomson (Viper) and Cinetal (4:4:4 monitoring with their Cinemage monitor). This was my chance to test the Viper in 4:4:4 and 4:2:2 modes (for production decisions) and to give everyone involved a chance to see the Viper/SRW1 package in the flesh. Over the two days we shot at some of the locations used in the series so that we could see the results we could expect for real. Day 1 gave us overcast weather with a few bright spots, a great chance to test the Viper’s response to these conditions which will no doubt occur on the real shoot in the summer, and then day two yielded snow, an ideal test for the Xmas show. The test was not just a chance for everyone to see the kit but also to assess how easy, logistically, it was to move all the kit around. How difficult was it to monitor the dual link pictures (did I need a monitor truck?) and how quickly could I realistically set up and be ready to film when time was short.

The solution The answers were very good. Once you trust the format and its

Viper raw output (left) and graded as LUT corrected output on set (right) using Cinetal monitor

24 Z E R B A u t u m n 2 0 0 6

capturing capabilities it’s very easy to shoot with just camera and SRW1. In fact, the snow made it very difficult to set up properly (timewise) so I shot without monitoring with just the camera on tripod and the SRW1 on my assistant’s shoulder (under an umbrella). The results were perfect. This proved that monitoring is not essential and when time is a factor, it is perfectly possibly to just go and shoot. It’s just as trustworthy a format as film in that respect. During the two days in Yorkshire a lot of questions were answered. The camera is not as bulky as some (no bolted-on recorder) so it looks very compact. The tethering to the camera of a recording unit is a minor downside but then again by using an external recorder you now have very little cabling attached to the camera itself as everything (monitoring, audio etc) routes through the recorder. This results in a less cluttered camera (for Viper just the single BNC for the viewing monitor and dual or single BNC for Filmstream or HDStream recording). Once everything was filmed it was back to the BBC for grading. We ingested 4:4:4 and 4:2:2 footage into Quantel iQ via Sony’s SRW5500 SR Studio Deck. Our main concerns were whether the footage would be good enough, how gradeable it would be and how 4:4:4 would compare to 4:2:2. As most TV deliverable footage is 4:2:2 it was sensible to try out both versions. As it turned out, 4:2:2 HDStream mode (where the Viper records in 4:2:2 colour space straight from the CCD bypassing


Grass Valley Viper

DAN MULLIGAN

www.gtc.org.uk

mode so once that decision has been made do you shoot 4:4:4 or 4:2:2, 4:4:4 full colour space is the best recording mode the camera has and is ideal for green/blue screen and for any eventual filmouts proposed, due to the 2K level of data being

recorded. 4:2:2 offers a great alternative for TV though. It still records in the raw/log mode but keeps the data down to a single link BNC (1.5Gb/s) of data making on-set monitoring less cumbersome and the post workflow easier.

Kit list Kit list (including for offline tapes and on-set DVD copies):

Grass Valley Viper at the Last of the Summer Wine location any camera circuitry) gave us fantastic results and the decision was made to shoot in 4:2:2. This keeps data at more manageable levels and helps production keep everything down to single link BNCs for capture and monitoring.

Final thoughts It’s important to weigh up a few facts about the Viper before filming. Firstly are you going to

shoot 2.37:1 or 16:9? The Viper can film anamorphic without lens changes (and at full 1080 lines of resolution) due to its DPM chip architecture. Secondly, your recording options: tape (SRW1) or disk (STwo). No real perceptible difference between the two options so workflow will dictate your choice. Thirdly, the Viper’s mode. Most will want to shoot in the raw/log

Viper Digital Cinematography camera recording in 4:2:2: HDStream Zeiss DigiPrime lens set (6 prime lenses plus sharpmax backfocus kit) Sony SRW1 4:4:4 field tape recorder inc. SRPC1 processing deck Sony DSR D1000P hard disk DVCAM recorder Sony DSR 45P DVCAM tape recorder Sony DVD recorder The SRW1 will record 48 minutes of rushes on to HDCAM SR stock. These tapes are the master copies and are not used for on-set viewing. The DSR D1000P disk recorder (via SDI which provides audio, timecode and pictures) can do this, providing instant replay and rushes copies on set. From the DSR1000P timecode, pictures and audio can be sent to the DSR45P via BNCs meaning that I have DVCAM hard copies on tape for offline editing and of course as a back-up of the daily rushes on tape. Finally the DVD recorder is there to provide DVD copies of each day’s filming.

Autumn 2006 ZERB

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Grass Valley Viper

www.gtc.org.uk

Liberty X Video MIKE UNWIN PRODUCER/DIRECTOR

MIKE UNWIN PRODUCER/DIRECTOR

Filmstream Ultimatte HD

This was going to be a new experience: Viper 4:4:4 green screen using live CGI elements to compose and light shots. This would give the camera team an invaluable insight into the director’s vision for the video enabling us to compose shots for the backgrounds exactly as he intended them. Being able to place the actors in a virtual set (just as it would be when post had finished) and light accordingly was ideal. Lighting and actor placement is a great reason for using Ultimatte HD, which generates a live rendition of foreground (actors) and background (CGI). For instance, we had one set-up where the 1984 Big Brother character uses a phone in a Blade Runner style empty street. The CGI worked background showed heavy toplighting on the phone booth and a key source from down the street (a video screen the size of a building). Rather than guessing and chatting to the director, we could clearly see how to light for the two sources.

The camera package The Viper was chosen for its 4:4:4 colour space recording, giving very clean green screen results. For this shoot we used it in full 4:4:4 Filmstream mode with Zeiss

DigiPrime lenses. The dual link (2 x BNC) signal was recorded to a Sony SRW1 SR field recorder on HDCAM SR tape stock. This signal was then sent, via the SRPC1 processing deck, to a disk set-up using Blackmagic cards. This meant that the rushes were recorded straight to disk, via the SRW1, with the SRW1 recording back-up masters on SR tape. The disks were kept with the rushes still on them and worked on the next day in post, straight away, with SR being kept for back-up. This worked very well for this shoot as the production company were handling post themselves and I had no worries about the rushes staying on disk. On-set monitoring was supplied to both the camera and CGI teams. The camera team had a Sony 9” HD field monitor supplying a downconverted Filmstream signal from the SRPC1 plus the HDSDI colour-corrected viewing output from the Viper. This meant an easy toggle between the two pictures for comparison. For exposure we had an Astro 6” waveform for monitoring our picture signals. The CGI team had two PC displays showing before and after pictures. One feed had the clean capture and the second had the CGI elements applied. Between us we had everything covered.

26 Z E R B A u t u m n 2 0 0 6

and with CGI background generated on set through Ultimatte HD

Ultimatte HD As for the Ultimatte HD, I can only comment on it from the point of view of a cameraman on set — alas no real technological insight to its inner workings – but from what I saw it’s a great tool. The only problem we had was getting a camera reference sync signal to it which meant the picture kept creeping up a line every few seconds. After an hour or so the picture was half and half across the screen. Simple resetting every so often cured this and, although it was annoying, we worked around it. The feed signal was SD, allowing us to view the rough CGI

SD versions rather than full HD level CGI. Rushes were raw and not recorded with the CGI inserted.

Final thoughts As a first attempt with this technology we were very happy. With all that kit we had plugged in we could have run a power station and for a sync issue to be our only real problem was remarkable. On the monitoring side, we could perhaps have added a CineTal or similar and, ideally, fully corrected LUT applied correction might be preferable, but given a cost-to-results ratio the set-up we MIKE UNWIN PRODUCER/DIRECTOR

Liberty X against green screen...

Ultimatte meant that we always knew where our light sources should be in this case a huge video screen


Grass Valley Viper

www.gtc.org.uk

Live & Learn had worked well. If you are confident in the Viper’s imaging then the combination of waveform, Filmstream feed and colour-corrected viewing output is fine. The Viper held up extremely well; no problems on the camera side at all and post reported excellent green screen and fine hair detail visible from the keying. The SRW1/Viper combination also worked a treat. Ultimatte HD is a great tool. To be able to see the backgrounds that will be used for real, live, and to drop in the actors to the CGI sets is very handy. As for lighting, you can see your sources/ motivation for the lighting so there’s no guess work and time and money are saved in quicker set-ups.

Darren Bramley Last of the Summer Wine test Involved in the testing: Nigel Arnott & Jeremy Evans, Thomson UK; Russell Branch, Cinetal/Innomedia UK; Alan JW Bell, Producer/Director, Summer Wine; Steve Jamison, BBC PostProduction

There was the time we had just shot the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Christmas message on Betacam. Back in the van, I placed the tape on the car dash while I filled in the box details. Unfortunately, as we sped round the Lambeth Palace roundabout on the way to the next job, the tape slid across the dashboard and gracefully flew out of the window… to be instantly flattened by a lorry. We had to reshoot that one; fortunately Christmas is a time of goodwill!

Liberty X shoot Thanks to the following : Diablo Music Productions Liberty X Rogue Element Films

Sometimes I do miss life on the road - I've been in the studio and covering special OBs at GMTV for eight years now, but there's nothing quite like the manic and unpredictable big wide world!

Viper, SRW1, Zeiss lenses and shooting kit provided by Rogue Element Films UK www.rogueelementfilms.com

Darren Bramley Head of Cameras, GMTV

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Professional Broadcast Equipment

Autumn 2006 ZERB

27


CASE STUDY: LAST OF THE SUMMER WINE

INTERVIEW: THE CINEMATOGRAPHER

Why the first is Last

A view to a thrill With two BBC series and a pop promo under his belt, DAN MULLIGAN is well versed on the benefits of high def. His top tips: trust the camera and don’t skimp on your lens

F

reelance camera owner/ operator Dan Mulligan of Rogue Element Films has compiled considerable experience in HD cinematography notching up a recent Liberty X promo, shot uncompressed 4:4:4 against greenscreen, and two seasons of Last of the Summer Wine plus BBC detective drama Mayo all in high def. “HD has become a pretty broad term,” he observers. “There are plenty of people who think HDV is HD. It’s nothing of the sort. At least with

film there’s a clear understanding of the level of production required. HDV is fine for sports or news, but it shouldn’t be anywhere near a drama.” Mulligan prefers to categorise highend high-def as digital film-making. “You’re using exactly the same level and type of crew as you would for film. A first and second assistant director, a DoP and director,” he says. “Most DoPs have used DigiBetas so they’re already clued up on video cameras. From then on it’s a case of trusting the camera to work just as for

film. There should be no change to the way you’d approach lighting. You need to meter, although I’d advise not reading off the monitor, and the only difference is that instead of film stock you can dial in the stock in post.” The main change, he says, lies in the digital workflow that allows you to see rushes the instant they’re shot. “You get an immediate feel. You can see what’s been lit and whether an area requires more or less fill light.” For Mulligan, digital film-making can only be truly achieved with

‘Colour viewfinders will always be an issue, but I can’t think how to make them better’ 20 BROADCAST HD Stories

uncompressed capture from cameras like the Genesis, Viper and Arri D20. The Viper, for example, captures information straight to the CCD, bypassing all in-camera processing. “Whether you output to disk or tape, that’s a pure unprocessed chip that buys you an extra stop and a half of exposure range,” he claims. “You’re not converting colour temperature, gamma correction or highlight control. The DoP has exposure control straight from the lens. With more exposure latitude, and more picture data captured to the system, it gives you the ability to hold light levels.” HD cameras of whatever flavour don’t carry the same dynamic range as film and are more likely to reveal an under or over exposure. Mulligan dislikes HD cameras that tweak this gamma range in-camera and out of the hands of the operator. “The digital negative system, which captures straight to the chip, gets nearest to a film aesthetic. It holds the highlights and rolls into the blacks gracefully. Essentially you’re operating a digital workflow in a film-capture mode so the skill of the DoP can be concentrated on focus, framing and exposure rather than tinkering with 72 sub-menus.” He finds the Achilles heel of all HD cameras to be the viewfinder. “Blackand-white viewfinders are better for focusing, I guess colour viewfinders will always be an issue. They’re not perfect, but I can’t think how they can be made better. “For me the most important piece of equipment is the lens. I will usually recommend Zeiss Digi Primes but, at around £500 a day, they are expensive. As such, it’s important that a producer understands the technical aspects that affect image quality.” “There’s always a tipping point with formats and you can either start a trend or react to it. A lot of HD owner/operators are too scared to plump for new formats if the work isn’t there. But if you don’t have the kit no one will hire you.”

Slow-burning well-loved sitcom Last of the Summer Wine’s use of HD shows that a series need not be at the cutting edge to lead the way in technological advances

P

roving it’s not just the preserve of Hollywood blockbusters such as Miami Vice, Thomson’s Viper Filmstream is getting a decent turn around the town of Holmfirth, West Yorkshire, home of evergreen BBC sitcom Last of the Summer Wine. It’s the first UK sitcom to be shot with the system. “We recognise this isn’t as glamorous as it would be on, say, Hustle or Silent Witness, and you could say it’s over-engineered,” says camera operator Dan Mulligan. “But if we can prove HD workflow on a slow-burning well-loved series with a normal budget we can demonstrate that you don’t have to be at the cutting edge of feature film to get involved with cutting-edge technology.” Mulligan, who supplies and operates the HD equipment, advised DoP Pat O’Shea and director Alan J W Bell on the Viper’s application for the 28th series of the comedy classic. He had performed a similar role for the pensioners’ previous outing, which was the first to move from 16mm to HD. “Every drama the BBC does needs to be shot in HD by 2010, but over and above that the director and DoP were happy to research HD, work with it and trust the camera,” says Mulligan. “There was no inherent reason to change from 16mm, but I got them to look at my HD demo reels and understand the workflow advantages which HD gave them, and

it became obvious to them that this was the way the world was headed.” Production of the 27th series, shot on the Sony HDW-750, was a success, but Mulligan had already begun to research the digital-negative concept, and before last Christmas opted to purchase the £65,000 Viper camera. He approached Bell and demonstrated the camera and some sample grades over a two-week period in February. In doing this, he gained the team’s trust to deploy it for this year’s four-month shoot of 10 x 30-minute episodes plus one Christmas special. “By hiring someone who knows the way the camera functions, it softens the blow of new

formats for the production,” he adds. “There was no point in using the Viper if it wasn’t right. But I felt it fitted my approach to cinematography – an approach that was right for this production.” Footage is captured as 4:4:4 files at Sony Cine-tal. Rushes are down converted to DVcam for editing on Avid Media Composer in-house at the BBC. Says Mulligan: “We could almost get away with shooting just off monitor since we were trusting the camera so much. That allows the director to watch the performances by eye and trust the camera to capture the scene.” With around three quarters of series shot outdoors (the interiors are shot at Pinewood) Mulligan advised O’Shea to light as he would for film. “Even if we open the lens up in the evening it will hold the balance and not lose any colour information,” he says. He adds: “The actors don’t feel threatened by it either. If anyone knows anything about HD in acting it’s that it can show make-up, warts and all. But the cast were able to see us lighting as we would for film, using the same sets and carrying on as normal, so they had no problems.” TX: December 2006 Length: 10 x 30 minutes Production Company: BBC Entertainment Broadcaster: BBC1

HD supplement 21 BROADCAST HD Stories 21


CASE STUDY: LAST OF THE SUMMER WINE

INTERVIEW: THE CINEMATOGRAPHER

Why the first is Last

A view to a thrill With two BBC series and a pop promo under his belt, DAN MULLIGAN is well versed on the benefits of high def. His top tips: trust the camera and don’t skimp on your lens

F

reelance camera owner/ operator Dan Mulligan of Rogue Element Films has compiled considerable experience in HD cinematography notching up a recent Liberty X promo, shot uncompressed 4:4:4 against greenscreen, and two seasons of Last of the Summer Wine plus BBC detective drama Mayo all in high def. “HD has become a pretty broad term,” he observers. “There are plenty of people who think HDV is HD. It’s nothing of the sort. At least with

film there’s a clear understanding of the level of production required. HDV is fine for sports or news, but it shouldn’t be anywhere near a drama.” Mulligan prefers to categorise highend high-def as digital film-making. “You’re using exactly the same level and type of crew as you would for film. A first and second assistant director, a DoP and director,” he says. “Most DoPs have used DigiBetas so they’re already clued up on video cameras. From then on it’s a case of trusting the camera to work just as for

film. There should be no change to the way you’d approach lighting. You need to meter, although I’d advise not reading off the monitor, and the only difference is that instead of film stock you can dial in the stock in post.” The main change, he says, lies in the digital workflow that allows you to see rushes the instant they’re shot. “You get an immediate feel. You can see what’s been lit and whether an area requires more or less fill light.” For Mulligan, digital film-making can only be truly achieved with

‘Colour viewfinders will always be an issue, but I can’t think how to make them better’ 20 BROADCAST HD Stories

uncompressed capture from cameras like the Genesis, Viper and Arri D20. The Viper, for example, captures information straight to the CCD, bypassing all in-camera processing. “Whether you output to disk or tape, that’s a pure unprocessed chip that buys you an extra stop and a half of exposure range,” he claims. “You’re not converting colour temperature, gamma correction or highlight control. The DoP has exposure control straight from the lens. With more exposure latitude, and more picture data captured to the system, it gives you the ability to hold light levels.” HD cameras of whatever flavour don’t carry the same dynamic range as film and are more likely to reveal an under or over exposure. Mulligan dislikes HD cameras that tweak this gamma range in-camera and out of the hands of the operator. “The digital negative system, which captures straight to the chip, gets nearest to a film aesthetic. It holds the highlights and rolls into the blacks gracefully. Essentially you’re operating a digital workflow in a film-capture mode so the skill of the DoP can be concentrated on focus, framing and exposure rather than tinkering with 72 sub-menus.” He finds the Achilles heel of all HD cameras to be the viewfinder. “Blackand-white viewfinders are better for focusing, I guess colour viewfinders will always be an issue. They’re not perfect, but I can’t think how they can be made better. “For me the most important piece of equipment is the lens. I will usually recommend Zeiss Digi Primes but, at around £500 a day, they are expensive. As such, it’s important that a producer understands the technical aspects that affect image quality.” “There’s always a tipping point with formats and you can either start a trend or react to it. A lot of HD owner/operators are too scared to plump for new formats if the work isn’t there. But if you don’t have the kit no one will hire you.”

Slow-burning well-loved sitcom Last of the Summer Wine’s use of HD shows that a series need not be at the cutting edge to lead the way in technological advances

P

roving it’s not just the preserve of Hollywood blockbusters such as Miami Vice, Thomson’s Viper Filmstream is getting a decent turn around the town of Holmfirth, West Yorkshire, home of evergreen BBC sitcom Last of the Summer Wine. It’s the first UK sitcom to be shot with the system. “We recognise this isn’t as glamorous as it would be on, say, Hustle or Silent Witness, and you could say it’s over-engineered,” says camera operator Dan Mulligan. “But if we can prove HD workflow on a slow-burning well-loved series with a normal budget we can demonstrate that you don’t have to be at the cutting edge of feature film to get involved with cutting-edge technology.” Mulligan, who supplies and operates the HD equipment, advised DoP Pat O’Shea and director Alan J W Bell on the Viper’s application for the 28th series of the comedy classic. He had performed a similar role for the pensioners’ previous outing, which was the first to move from 16mm to HD. “Every drama the BBC does needs to be shot in HD by 2010, but over and above that the director and DoP were happy to research HD, work with it and trust the camera,” says Mulligan. “There was no inherent reason to change from 16mm, but I got them to look at my HD demo reels and understand the workflow advantages which HD gave them, and

it became obvious to them that this was the way the world was headed.” Production of the 27th series, shot on the Sony HDW-750, was a success, but Mulligan had already begun to research the digital-negative concept, and before last Christmas opted to purchase the £65,000 Viper camera. He approached Bell and demonstrated the camera and some sample grades over a two-week period in February. In doing this, he gained the team’s trust to deploy it for this year’s four-month shoot of 10 x 30-minute episodes plus one Christmas special. “By hiring someone who knows the way the camera functions, it softens the blow of new

formats for the production,” he adds. “There was no point in using the Viper if it wasn’t right. But I felt it fitted my approach to cinematography – an approach that was right for this production.” Footage is captured as 4:4:4 files at Sony Cine-tal. Rushes are down converted to DVcam for editing on Avid Media Composer in-house at the BBC. Says Mulligan: “We could almost get away with shooting just off monitor since we were trusting the camera so much. That allows the director to watch the performances by eye and trust the camera to capture the scene.” With around three quarters of series shot outdoors (the interiors are shot at Pinewood) Mulligan advised O’Shea to light as he would for film. “Even if we open the lens up in the evening it will hold the balance and not lose any colour information,” he says. He adds: “The actors don’t feel threatened by it either. If anyone knows anything about HD in acting it’s that it can show make-up, warts and all. But the cast were able to see us lighting as we would for film, using the same sets and carrying on as normal, so they had no problems.” TX: December 2006 Length: 10 x 30 minutes Production Company: BBC Entertainment Broadcaster: BBC1

HD supplement 21 BROADCAST HD Stories 21


user review

Venom Flashpak

Venom Flashpak Metadata is for connecting a Bluetooth device (such as a Palm Pilot) to imprint data onto each take (DP, shot number etc.) Finally Tools and Settings is the main menu and has 14 settings. The usual things here are outputting the A or B signals, time and date, erase all, set pre roll etc. I found that there were some interesting options here. There is a LUT option for the output. This is not active yet but a simple 3200K/5600K for 4:2:2 and 4:4:4 output would be great. More elaborate LUTs than this can be applied via Speedgrade. Having basic colour correction for monitoring the raw signal in 4:2:2 and 4:4:4 modes, and not affecting the capture, would make a lot of sense to me. It’s also possible to set a pre-roll from 0 to 8 seconds. For me I would prefer continuous recording. Time mode offers 24/12 hour clock time settings, but no timecode. This would have to be provided by a Lockit (or similar). I feel that this is an oversight and having T/C embedded at source should not be a big deal. Audio is captured at stereo or left & right through the

Keeping It Portable DoP Dan Mulligan of Rogue Element Films Evaluates the Venom Flashpak while shooting on Last Of The Summer Wine

W

hile shooting with the Viper Filmstream camera on Last of The Summer Wine 2006, Thomson kindly gave me the opportunity to evaluate their Venom Flashpak. This dockable, solid-state recorder extends the capabilities of the Viper FilmStream Digital Cinematography Camera System and LDK 6000 MK II WorldCam multi-format HD camera. With no moving parts, it is a portable production solution. This gave me the chance to see how the Venom worked on a live set under the usual production time pressures. The Venom was used on set to capture some behind the scenes footage for the previews. We couldn’t introduce a Flashpak into the established workflow being used at the time as this would have been too disruptive.

44

First impressions It is quite compact and light, weighing 2.6 kilos and measuring 10x6x4 inches. It has a 20-pin multi-connector built in to the side of the Pak that then slides into a bracket. This bracket is then connected to the Viper via its multicore cable and the Sony V-Lock on the top of the camera. It is powered using 4 pin hirose to 4 pin XLR power cable plus a battery connected to the Viper. This is a fiddly set-up and a little cumbersome, but no more than other kit, how else could they have done it? The side of the Pak has a few small buttons. These are for record and playback, selection and menus. The menu structure is very simple. On the side you will see Takes, Metadata and Tools & Settings. Takes lets you scroll down your takes and select the one you wish to view, instantly. There’s no waiting.

october | november 2006 •

www.definitionmagazine.com

cameras 3-pin XLR. This is poor quality and only good enough for guide. And as its one XLR you will need a stereo lead to get two channels into one socket, otherwise choose left or right. The thing to remember is the menus on the Flashpak run in conjunction with the Viper camera menus. It’s important to check the camera and make sure it is set correctly. Calibrating the camera in its 4:4:4 or 4:2:2 modes HAS to be selected in the camera settings. The drawback here is the capture format is not displayed on the Flashpaks screen. Recording time for the Flashpak is 10 minutes at 4:4:4 and 14 minutes at 4:2:2. This is roughly the same time as a film roll. I know that solid state is very expensive but this means you would have to hire three Flashpaks at a minimum, one capture, one dumping rushes and one spare.

Now For The Good Stuff Since size is a bonus, going hand held is fairly easy, even if it is a little fiddly to set up. You can select record from the Viper or the Flashpak. A recording tally lamp will fire up letting you know you are recording and take times on the small screen will run as you record. Each take is then logged into the Flashpak. This differs from tape in that you have each take logged in its own file. Reviewing the rushes is as simple as finding the take/file you want to review, scroll down and press play, just lovely. The total recording time you have left gets lower as you record more takes and the length of each take you have shot is displayed at the same time, and indeed the total record time so far are neatly displayed in the screen, as well as how many takes you have shot so far. This gives instant feedback on all you have done to date. Once you have shot your takes you can remove the Pak and use it as a small playout deck. Use a 4-pin power adapter and take the Pak to your monitor, plug it in and watch beautiful 4:4:4 images as quick as you’ve shot them, and in an instant too. I like the Flashpak. It has a neat, compact design with very easy to use functions. The menu structure is simple as are the controls on the side for playback. It records 4:4:4 or 4:2:2 without any fuss and plays back any take as soon as you hit play,

www.definitionmagazine.com

Dan's Viper and Venom combi on set on Last Of The Summer Wine. Below Venom menus and outputs

which is the luxury of solid state recording. The downside is no audio locked into the deck. This is perhaps no problem for most people who are used to using film but these days it’s becoming a requirement for digital. Having no timecode in the unit I feel is an oversight and to have to apply lockit boxes is another hindrance. There’s no information on the side of the Flashpak as to what format you are recording in, which would be nice from a safety angle. Then you have to offload the pictures just captured into another source so you can free up the Flashpak. Supposedly another disk unit, tape system or cloning tool (LTO3). That's your choice. Personally I dumped them onto an SRW1 which is part of my current workflow process which worked flawlessly but STwo disk would work just as well. At this early stage I can see the use of the Flashpak as a one-off hire for portability. When the need arises you can go handheld, in a car, on Steadicam etc. and fire off, very easily, your 4:4:4 capture. Once captured you could dump off the rushes into your main capture source, say STwo disk or SRW1 tape. You now have a very portable capture device, full 4:4:4 uncompressed, and a simple way to off-load these images to the main image capture unit. I am not sure how far the Flashpak can go until more time can be recorded. A 50 minute Flashpak is a different proposition altogether but 10 minutes 4:4:4 makes the unit a bit unpractical at this stage, unless you have lots of money to burn on four or five of them on set and synching audio and timecode later in post. www.rogueelementfilms.com

• october | november 2006

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user review

Venom Flashpak

Venom Flashpak Metadata is for connecting a Bluetooth device (such as a Palm Pilot) to imprint data onto each take (DP, shot number etc.) Finally Tools and Settings is the main menu and has 14 settings. The usual things here are outputting the A or B signals, time and date, erase all, set pre roll etc. I found that there were some interesting options here. There is a LUT option for the output. This is not active yet but a simple 3200K/5600K for 4:2:2 and 4:4:4 output would be great. More elaborate LUTs than this can be applied via Speedgrade. Having basic colour correction for monitoring the raw signal in 4:2:2 and 4:4:4 modes, and not affecting the capture, would make a lot of sense to me. It’s also possible to set a pre-roll from 0 to 8 seconds. For me I would prefer continuous recording. Time mode offers 24/12 hour clock time settings, but no timecode. This would have to be provided by a Lockit (or similar). I feel that this is an oversight and having T/C embedded at source should not be a big deal. Audio is captured at stereo or left & right through the

Keeping It Portable DoP Dan Mulligan of Rogue Element Films Evaluates the Venom Flashpak while shooting on Last Of The Summer Wine

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hile shooting with the Viper Filmstream camera on Last of The Summer Wine 2006, Thomson kindly gave me the opportunity to evaluate their Venom Flashpak. This dockable, solid-state recorder extends the capabilities of the Viper FilmStream Digital Cinematography Camera System and LDK 6000 MK II WorldCam multi-format HD camera. With no moving parts, it is a portable production solution. This gave me the chance to see how the Venom worked on a live set under the usual production time pressures. The Venom was used on set to capture some behind the scenes footage for the previews. We couldn’t introduce a Flashpak into the established workflow being used at the time as this would have been too disruptive.

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First impressions It is quite compact and light, weighing 2.6 kilos and measuring 10x6x4 inches. It has a 20-pin multi-connector built in to the side of the Pak that then slides into a bracket. This bracket is then connected to the Viper via its multicore cable and the Sony V-Lock on the top of the camera. It is powered using 4 pin hirose to 4 pin XLR power cable plus a battery connected to the Viper. This is a fiddly set-up and a little cumbersome, but no more than other kit, how else could they have done it? The side of the Pak has a few small buttons. These are for record and playback, selection and menus. The menu structure is very simple. On the side you will see Takes, Metadata and Tools & Settings. Takes lets you scroll down your takes and select the one you wish to view, instantly. There’s no waiting.

october | november 2006 •

www.definitionmagazine.com

cameras 3-pin XLR. This is poor quality and only good enough for guide. And as its one XLR you will need a stereo lead to get two channels into one socket, otherwise choose left or right. The thing to remember is the menus on the Flashpak run in conjunction with the Viper camera menus. It’s important to check the camera and make sure it is set correctly. Calibrating the camera in its 4:4:4 or 4:2:2 modes HAS to be selected in the camera settings. The drawback here is the capture format is not displayed on the Flashpaks screen. Recording time for the Flashpak is 10 minutes at 4:4:4 and 14 minutes at 4:2:2. This is roughly the same time as a film roll. I know that solid state is very expensive but this means you would have to hire three Flashpaks at a minimum, one capture, one dumping rushes and one spare.

Now For The Good Stuff Since size is a bonus, going hand held is fairly easy, even if it is a little fiddly to set up. You can select record from the Viper or the Flashpak. A recording tally lamp will fire up letting you know you are recording and take times on the small screen will run as you record. Each take is then logged into the Flashpak. This differs from tape in that you have each take logged in its own file. Reviewing the rushes is as simple as finding the take/file you want to review, scroll down and press play, just lovely. The total recording time you have left gets lower as you record more takes and the length of each take you have shot is displayed at the same time, and indeed the total record time so far are neatly displayed in the screen, as well as how many takes you have shot so far. This gives instant feedback on all you have done to date. Once you have shot your takes you can remove the Pak and use it as a small playout deck. Use a 4-pin power adapter and take the Pak to your monitor, plug it in and watch beautiful 4:4:4 images as quick as you’ve shot them, and in an instant too. I like the Flashpak. It has a neat, compact design with very easy to use functions. The menu structure is simple as are the controls on the side for playback. It records 4:4:4 or 4:2:2 without any fuss and plays back any take as soon as you hit play,

www.definitionmagazine.com

Dan's Viper and Venom combi on set on Last Of The Summer Wine. Below Venom menus and outputs

which is the luxury of solid state recording. The downside is no audio locked into the deck. This is perhaps no problem for most people who are used to using film but these days it’s becoming a requirement for digital. Having no timecode in the unit I feel is an oversight and to have to apply lockit boxes is another hindrance. There’s no information on the side of the Flashpak as to what format you are recording in, which would be nice from a safety angle. Then you have to offload the pictures just captured into another source so you can free up the Flashpak. Supposedly another disk unit, tape system or cloning tool (LTO3). That's your choice. Personally I dumped them onto an SRW1 which is part of my current workflow process which worked flawlessly but STwo disk would work just as well. At this early stage I can see the use of the Flashpak as a one-off hire for portability. When the need arises you can go handheld, in a car, on Steadicam etc. and fire off, very easily, your 4:4:4 capture. Once captured you could dump off the rushes into your main capture source, say STwo disk or SRW1 tape. You now have a very portable capture device, full 4:4:4 uncompressed, and a simple way to off-load these images to the main image capture unit. I am not sure how far the Flashpak can go until more time can be recorded. A 50 minute Flashpak is a different proposition altogether but 10 minutes 4:4:4 makes the unit a bit unpractical at this stage, unless you have lots of money to burn on four or five of them on set and synching audio and timecode later in post. www.rogueelementfilms.com

• october | november 2006

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sony hd supplement

hdw-750p and hdw-f900 The current top of the Cinealta range, the HDW-F900 – recently updated as the F900R.

a menu readout window displaying the cameras status; • The ability to shoot at higher speeds than 25p.

For further information waveform view. It also keeps a small on the HDW-750, browse viewfinder image in the top right of the www.sonybiz.net/hdcam screen in the waveform mode. This was

Ed Mash (www.edmash.co.uk) was director of photography on All Bar Love. The film was written by Julia Boggio and stars Jeremy Hancock, Ben Joiner, Jacqueline Wilder, Cloudia Swann and Jo Farrell. Produced by Te Papa Films, it is currently in the editing stage with postproduction scheduled for completion early January 07. Expression of interest are welcome from distributors and sales agents with a view for representation at AFM and Berlinale. Contact Aubs Tredget, +44 (0) 7980 086 645, aubs@tepapafilms.co.uk www.tepapafilms.co.uk

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journeyed daily from the lock-up to the location and back. All very well organised, but tough on both man and machine. Steve came back positive: our a useful facility, allowing me to quickly Sony 750 seemed much more robust gauge any problem areas before switching to full frame view for a detailed than earlier models. In fact, if I’m to be critical of the camera, my main problem appreciation. By turning the Astro to face forward I could gaffer lights and stay is that it’s still housed in the old camcorder shell. This design is great if close to camera. I used the Astro to you’re an ENG cameraman, with the establish the exposure for much of the camera on your shoulder, but if the 750 film, and as a working practice this is to be a drama camera then the design allowed me to keep on, or near, the needs addressing. schedule. The Astro’s only criticism Then there’s the ON/OFF button. came from the sound department, who For the whole shoot, especially with required it off for closely confined gloves on, it was impossible to wiggle locations, as the monitor’s cooling fan my fingers past the lens support bars was noisy. and turn the camera on/off in a hurry. Pier was using the Century Optics This could be easily addressed with a big HD collimator and quickly discovered that the wideangle zoom wasn’t 100 per button below the eyepiece. The new colour eyepiece is a fantastic cent and needed collimating more frequently to guarantee back focus. The improvement, but it doesn’t have an collimator is held against the front of the accurate lock-off. The eyepiece can lens and avoids the need for a wall chart. rotate while you’re operating and you can find yourself tilting the camera in The focus puller sets the lens to infinity and adjusts the back focus of the camera one direction while the eyepiece swings down away from your eye. until its sharp. It can be used in small I’m sure that Sony intend to resolve locations without much fuss and it’s these small niggles, but if Sony took the quick. A piece of kit that I’d definitely 750 back to the design bench I would order again. also suggest: Two weeks into principal photography it was time to say goodbye • A proper lens housing that is to Pier, who was off to operate on a integrated within the camera body; short film. We welcomed Steve Janes, • A wider camera body made from who stepped in to focus and more durable plastics/metal with a immediately gave the kit a severe better balance for handheld work; inspection. At this point we’d been putting the camera through its paces for • An integrated menu system panel that would help remove some of the two intense weeks. That included night external switches and make the shoots, several diverse locations, some menu easier to access, perhaps with very fast wraps, plus the kit had

But then perhaps I’m missing the point, because the strength of the Sony 750 is that it’s cheap and is perfect for broadcast, with an ability to mimic 35mm and 16mm grain, negative and reversal films, and an endless menu system for creative cinematographers. But then with a push it can shoot for the cinema as well. The 750’s robust design is able to tolerate the demands of the modern film set, and also deliver great images. Throughout the 24-day shoot it was reassuring to see the buzz around the HD monitor and appreciate the consistency of depth, colour and contrast that the 750 delivered all day, every day without interruption. Given the constraints of time and budget, I’m really proud of the look that we achieved on the 750 and feel the film deserves to be a success.

The final frame There are already some great-looking digital films about. However, I think that not until all involved can agree on a universal digital format, and bring it up to the level of 35mm film, can cinematography move forward into the wonderful world that digital electronic cinema promises to be. Until then a grey area remains, where photography, chemistry and digital technology are loosely fused together. Of course, the advantages of HD are well known. You don’t need to check the HD camera for a hair in the gate; the HD image has none of the weave of a filmprojected image; it’s static, beautifully still, and it’s clean too. And in this eco-friendly age, it’s reassuring to think that HD has none of the chemicals that you need to develop and process film. When I view film rushes there is always a bit of something unexpected. I feel HD tends to give me more directly what I see. It has great resolution, but there doesn’t seem to be anything extra, no surprises. These are all to be resolved in the future. This is not a criticism of digital formats, but an acknowledgement that the two mediums are still quite different.

showreel supplement | summer 2006

Moving up in the world Dan Mulligan assesses the technical merits of the Cinealta 750P and F900 HD cameras, and offers an opinion on the suitability for each when shooting different genres. opefully here I can evaluate Sony’s F900 Cinealta camera and provide a small insight into its capabilities. I’ll show you the benefits of using the F900 above other similar Sony cameras and show its plus point, such as gamma download curves and recording externally to HDCAM SR tape. I’ve used many HD cameras, from HDV, HDCAM, F900 (series 1, 2 & 3) up to Viper 4:4:4. The obvious thing to bear in mind is the cost. The more expensive the camera the better its imaging capabilities – stands to reason – but HDV has shown to be remarkably cost-effective at its level. The F900 as such is priced very high, and so has a great deal more to it than say the cheaper 750P (P for Pal). Although you can use all cameras for all

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summer 2006 | showreel supplement

genres (with a greater or lesser degree of success), here I will try to explain why I think the F900 is much more suited to HD drama for film/TV than the 750P and why in my opinion the 750P is a great documentary/TV camera. The F900/3 (series 3) was the last upgrade of the original F900 chassis and has now just been replaced by the F900R (sleeker chassis, built-in HD-SDI downconversion, etc), but I’ll concentrate on the F900/3, the most widely available on the market today. The F900/3 has a 12-bit CCD (10bit on 750P) and displays the full 1080x1920 frame in either 1080i or 1080p modes at 2.2 million pixels per frame. It carries the ability to select a number of frame rates (23.98 to 30 PsF) in 1080P and 50/50.94/60Hz in its

1080i mode. It has 53 pages of menus (76 on 750P), but most are irrelevant (engineering mostly). Gamma tables can be loaded into the F900, disabling some menu settings, but giving the camera a much better response. It has a greater exposure range than the 750P and has a more filmic response to the highlights and the blacks. The camcorder design means that the internal tape recorder suffers from 3:1:1 compression and makes for a fairly bulky camera. The 750P is much leaner. You will need to convert the HD YRB signals to HD-SDI (via an adaptor) to achieve 4:2:2 uncompressed external recordings. HDCAM SR offers the very best tape acquisition format today for 4:2:2

For further information on the HDW-750P or HDWF900, browse www.sonybiz.net/ hdcamsr

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sony hd supplement

The new F900/R was used with great results on Robert Altman’s recent feature, A Prairie Home Companion.

Having started a camera career as a clapper loader and focus puller, as well as fashion and travel stills photography, Dan Mulligan is now a fullblown camera operator and occasional DP. He runs Rogue Element Films providing 4:4:4 digital camera services with Viper and Zeiss lenses. He lives in Worcestershire. www.rogueelementfilms.com

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recordings. The only portable option being Sony’s SRW1, as the studio decks (SRW 5500) are generally too bulky, although they were used on Collateral. For the HDV enthusiast, the F900 is a considerable leap up the technical food chain and would pose many challenges for such a user. The menus are tricky to navigate and to anyone not familiar with certain terminology it could prove very hard to understand. But having said that, if you hired one and left the camera at its factory settings you would still get excellent images, just not tweaked enough to get the full value of the camera’s abilities. For the film user this camera represents the best value for filmlike response and options. You can select the required frame rate you need (23.98, 24, 25,2 9.97, 30PsF, etc); and the ability to load in gamma curves (like film curves) means you can achieve very filmlike results (highlight control, black response) – especially if you are considering a DI and eventually a filmout for cinema release. But be warned, although you can squeeze out an extra few MPH out of the F900, the basic camera architecture means you are still compromising a little – undoubtedly one reason Sony has announced its even higher spec NGC23 digital cinema camera (see page 34). The F900 uses 3:1:1 compression, which could render grading a bit more troublesome on effects-heavy shows. To get the best from the camera you should record uncompressed on to an external recorder (say an SRW1) via an HD-SDI output adapter to enable uncompressed 4:2:2 recording, thus helping to record as much image data and colour information as possible. Also,

the camera menus mean that some form of in-camera correction is taking place, losing a good stop’s worth of exposure latitude compared to log capture straight from the CCD, which bypasses the camera’s internal menu circuits. I have shot 4:2:2 uncompressed to D5 and SRW1, and the results are very good indeed. The best way to squeeze the most out of the F900 is to rig the camera with an HD-SDI adapter and record to the SRW1 via a single BNC, giving 4:2:2 uncompressed images using a 709 gamma curve (provided by Digital Praxis). This is the best results I have seen, and if the F900 is your camera of choice, it’s the only way. In fact, Robert Altman has recently shot a full feature using F900 to SRW1, A Prairie Home Companion, and the results are fantastic. Otherwise, use the 709 curve straight onto HDCAM internally; you won’t be disappointed.

HDCAM SR HDCAM SR (Superior Resolution?) is Sony’s new ace-in-the-hole for tape capture. Recording four times as much information as standard HDCAM stock, it does suffer from tape compression, but so slight as to be virtually nonexistent. Compared to data/disk capture it is, by eye, undetectable. I love it. F900 compared to 750 is like Porsche to a Subaru, both very quick and capable, but one just offers that bit more refinement and options. The 750P (Pal) has fewer options (1080p at 25PsF or 1080i 50Hz), a 10-bit CCD (12-bit on F900, worth a stop or two of latitude, highlight control, etc), but it is cheaper, still pumps out 2.2 million pixels per frame and has an easier menu

structure (76 pages worth). A new version 2.0 of the camera software was released last December (2005), which gives a new menu for filmlike response. This is not a gamma curve, as in the F900, but a series of menu numbers for you to punch in and then save to the memory stick. I like the 750P – it is a very capable camera, but to me it’s a documentary camera. It has a lot of detail level, which you can switch off, and makes waterfalls, mountains, landscapes and so on stunning, but put an actor’s face in front of the camera and to my eye it looks too harsh. But it’s a very good video camera. The F900 is a much more capable and forgiving camera, especially when shooting drama. It has a much more filmlike response to highlights and blacks, and when using the gamma curves correctly gives very pleasing results. Ultimately, though, your budget will decide what’s best for you, but for my money the F900 is the much better choice for drama and the 750P fits the documentary/travel/TV show market perfectly. My choice of kit with F900/3 would be: • For drama/film: F900, Zeiss DigiPrimes, SRW1 SR stock external, gamma curves; • For drama/TV: F900, Zeiss lenses, HDCAM internal recorder, gamma curves; • For documentary/TV: 750P, Canon HD lenses, careful menu set up. However, as I own a Viper with HDCAM SR and Zeiss DigiPrimes, I’d shoot that too.

showreel supplement | summer 2006


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cinematography

New look for summer The new series of Last of the Summer Wine is going to be shot on the Grass Valley Viper. Dan Mulligan details the tests he carried out and outlines his reasons for choosing this new workflow.

The Viper tested on location for Last of the Summer Wine.

I would like to name check the people who have so far helped with all the testing: Nigel Arnott & Jeremy Evans at Thomson UK; Russell Branch at Cinetal/Innomedia UK; Alan JW Bell, Last of the Summer Wine producer/director; Steve Jamison at BBC Post Production.

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me thinking of using an external device for recording. By using the 750P’s HDSDI output you could achieve an uncompressed 4:2:2 image, much more like it, but what device could record such data? Portability is a big issue for shooting on location if you have limited manpower, so studio decks were out of the question (F500, SRW5500). A portable recording devices was a must. This left few options: Sony’s HDW S280 recorder, Sony’s SRW1 4:4:4 field ell here we go into a new unit or S.two disk systems. Expensive series of filming for Last of the stuff, but once you look at external Summer Wine for 2006. Last recording options you naturally look at year (2005 filming for 2006 your capture options too. airing) we shot using a Sony Disk was out for this show due to HDW750P at 25fps/PsF at 50Hz manpower and data handling. The S280 shutter. This produced some startling images, and some not so startling. With is still compressed recording, so the SRW1 was our only sensible solution. this in mind I approached the Once that was decided I began to look production in January 2006 about the possibility of using the Grass Valley Viper at the camera itself. The 750 has a10bit chip compared with the better 12bit Filmstream Camera. Here are my reasons for reaching this decision. These chip in the F900. This looked a good option, more affordable too, but again it thoughts, I might add, are for this seemed like a compromise and led me production and its filming style, not for to research the Viper. What I liked about all drama shoots or otherwise. the Viper on the surface was its digital The ideas for such an approach film approach. By recording image data stemmed from the Sony’s response to highlights. It coped well with cloud detail RAW, straight from the CCD, it came across the same as film; once you have but had a massive problem with close quarter highlights – shirts, windows, etc. selected the log capture mode all you Researching this further it was clear that really need to worry about is focus, framing and exposure, like film. The the heavy compression used by the green log cast can be seen as a digital 750P’s in-camera recorder afforded little room for manoeuvre when grading negative: instead of an orange film base you have a digital green base. (3:1:1 tape compression) and limited Further Viper research showed that colour space (4:1:0) to push the colour the camera had still to gain a strong around with. This left the problem foothold in the industry in the UK. The when grading that as soon as you tried to hold the whites or lift the blacks, you SRW1 can record externally up to full 4:4:4 colour space, but also at 4:2:2 lost either end of the picture (highlights levels, giving me the 750P or F900 whiting). options; but the Viper still looked a So for next year (2006), this led to

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strong bet. Going further in, the Viper stood up to all scrutiny. It shoots 4:4:4 and 4:2:2 in full colour or raw capture and it looks a very neat option. But what of the log capture mode that results in a green log look to the rushes? I needed to test the camera for its suitability. Before testing, a shooting package had to be agreed. The SRW1 records on the superior SR tape format, which has such mild compression as to be virtually non-existent, and results using the Viper are, I was told, amazing. In its full 4:4:4 Filmstream mode it looks stunning, and so a camera package of Viper, SRW1 and Zeiss lenses (already owned) was agreed upon. Now on to testing this high-end package and viewing the results for myself

Test shoot In March 2006 I took the Summer Wine production to Yorkshire for two days’ testing. With us came representatives from Grass Valley (Viper camera) and Cinetal (4:4:4 monitoring with the Cinemage monitor), as well as our camera team. This was my chance to test the Viper in 4:4:4 and 4:2:2 modes (for production decisions) and to give everyone involved a chance to see the Viper/SRW1 package in the flesh. Over the two days we shot some of the locations used in Summer Wine. Day one gave us some overcast weather with a few bright spots, a great chance to test the Viper’s response to such conditions (it will not be sunny all the time when we film for real), but day two yielded snow – ideal for our Xmas show and to test the Viper’s response to these varying weather conditions. Many factors came into play for the test. Not just a chance for everyone to see the kit, but also to determine how

showreel | issue 12 may/june 2006


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Page 55

viper test difficult logistically it was to move all the kit around. How difficult would it be to monitor the dual-link pictures (do I need a monitor truck?), and how quickly, if needed, could I realistically set up and film if time was a factor. The answers were very good. Once you trust the format and its capturing capabilities it’s very easy to shoot with just the camera and SRW1. In fact, due to the snow it made it very difficult to set up properly (timewise), so I shot without monitoring, with just the camera on a tripod and the SRW1 on my assistant’s shoulder strap (under an umbrella). The results: perfect. This proved that while monitoring is an important part of filming, it is by no means critical and, if time is an issue, just go and shoot. It’s just as trustworthy a format as film in that respect. During the two days in Yorkshire a lot of questions were answered. The camera is not as bulky as some (no recorder bolted on), so looks very neat and compact, at the expense of needing an external recording device. This tethering to the camera is a downside, but a workable one. By using an external recorder you now have very little cabling attached to the camera itself (if you used an F900 with BNCs and audio coming out of the camera, phew); and everything routes through the recorder (monitoring, audio, etc). This means a less cluttered camera (only the single BNC for the viewing monitor and dual BNC for Filmstream or HDStream recording). Audio is not tethered to your camera, but to the recorder, which can be placed next to the audio truck. A thought here. Grass Valley provides a breakout box (BOB). A heavy duty multi-core cable is attached to the rear of the camera and the BOB is placed where you need it, doing away with BNCs coming out of the camera. For this show it’s an expense that’s not required, but it is an option. Another option is Fibre Optic cable instead of the BNCs, which will give miles and miles of signal strength. Again not for this show.

Grading Once everything was filmed it was back to the BBC for grading. We ingested 4:4:4 and 4:2:2 footage into the Quantel iQ via Sony’s marvellous

issue 12 may/june 2006 | showreel

SRW5500 SR studio deck. Our main concerns were: is the footage good enough? How gradable is it? And how did 4:4:4 look compared with 4:2:2 and would that harm us? As most TV deliverable footage is 4:2:2, it was sensible to try out both flavours. As it turned out, 4:2:2 HDStream mode (where the Viper records in 4:2:2 colour space straight from the CCD, bypassing any camera circuitry) gave us fantastic results, and the decision was made to shoot in 4:2:2. This also keeps data at more manageable levels and helps the production keep everything down to single link BNCs for capture and monitoring, making our lives easier. Its important to weigh up a few facts about the Viper before filming. First, are you going to shoot 2.37:1 or 16:9? The Viper can film anamorphic without lens changes (and at full 1080 lines of resolution) due to its DPM chip architecture. Second, recording options: tape (SRW1) or disk (S.two)? No real perceptible difference between the two options. Workflow will dictate your choice. Third, the Viper’s mode. Most people will want to shoot using the Viper’s raw/log mode, so once that decision is made do you shoot 4:4:4 or 4:2:2? 4:4:4 full colour space is the best recording mode the camera has and is ideal for green/bluescreen and for any eventual filmouts, due to the 2K level of data being recorded. 4:2:2 offers a great alternative for TV. It still records in the Viper’s raw/log mode, but keeps the data down to single link BNC (1.5Gb/s of data), making your post workflow a bit easier and on-set monitoring less

cumbersome and tricky. Finally, I thought I would list the kit as we are using it, as well as all our offline copies and on-set DVD copies:

Top: graded grab from the Viper test footage. Above: the raw signal.

• Viper digital cinematography camera recording in 4:2:2 HDStream; • Zeiss DigiPrime lens set (six prime lenses plus sharpmax backfocus kit); • Sony SRW1 4:4:4 field tape recorder including SRPC1 processing deck; • Sony DSR D1000P hard disk DVCAM recorder; • Sony DSR 45P DVCAM tape recorder; • Liteon DVD Recorder. The SRW1 will record 48 minutes of rushes to HDCAM SR stock. These tapes will be our master copies and will not be used for on-set viewing. We can go from the SRW1 to the DSR1000P via SDI for copies on set and instant replay of rushes. This method will preserve audio, timecode and pictures in the SDI signal. We can then go from the DSR1000P to the DSR45P via BNC for timecode, pictures and audio. This gives me DVCAM hard copies on tape for offline editing and, of course, a simple backup of the daily rushes on tape. We use the Liteon DVD recorder for simple daily DVD copies of each day’s filming.

Having started a camera career as a clapper loader and focus puller, as well as fashion and travel stills photography, Dan Mulligan is now a fullblown camera operator and occasional DP. He runs Rogue Element Films providing 4:4:4 digital camera services with Viper and Zeiss lenses. He lives in Worcestershire. www.rogueelementfilms.com

55


DATA MINING DAN MULLIGAN Investigates How Films Like Zodiac Are Using Data As A Capture Medium

W

ith the recent release of David Fincher’s Zodiac and his filming of current project The Curious Case of Benjamin Buttons starring Brad Pitt, data capture for films is coming to the fore. Fincher used Thomson’s Viper FilmStream camera recording to Stwo DFR (Digital Film Recorder) for his projects. RED’s new offering looks like a mostly data only camera, albeit using Wavelet codecs to compress the image and help storage capabilities. This story will explore the benefits of data capture, to look into if it can really benefit a production as opposed to tape based capture. What are its real capabilities? Is it reasonable to expect this technology to be easily accepted by the filmmaking community or is it a technical step too far? By using examples of films captured to disk I will explain some of the theories and on-set realities of shooting to disk and investigate to find out if it does indeed benefit productions? By reflecting on what data capture has to offer, productions can make a measured assessment to its usability or feasibility for their shoot. It’s important to remember that disk-based capture is not the preserve of the elite, so to speak. Sony Z1, DVCAM, and in fact any format can be recorded to disk. The amount of hardware needed is determined by the signal recorded. So DVCAM is a lesser amount of data compared to say uncompressed HD. So for the sake of this story we will concentrate on uncompressed HD 1080x1920 images.

Zodiac Director, David Fincher has somewhat written a new rule book as far as data capture to disk drives for movies is concerned. He took the approach in 2005 to shoot his new film entirely to disk. A risky proposal? With a little hindsight no, but its fair to say some gnashing of teeth at the studios may have ensued when this proposal was first mentioned. Zodiac, however was not the first film to shoot entirely to disk. Silence Becomes You, a British film shot in Lithuania using Viper FilmStream cameras and Stwo DFR recorders was the world’s first feature film recorded entirely using data. This was followed by Zodiac and most recently Mutant Chronicles as well as Fincher’s new project. A similar path was taken a while ago with data capture to disk employed on some advertising spots shot by DP Claudio Miranda with David Fincher, most famously a US Superbowl spot featuring Brad Pitt , the Paparazzi Heineken spot.

So what is data recording? Essentially this is a process in which, for high end capture, individual DPX frames (full 8MB frame examples, from a Viper, somewhat similar to a movie negative single frame) are captured and stored to high-speed hard drives. If shooting at 25fps, 25 individual frames (full frame and uncompressed) are captured to the recorder. This means that the full information that the sensor is seeing is being captured to disk. This method of capture is not exclusive to the Viper, though its FilmStream mode does lend itself to this type of recording, the Genesis, Arri D20, Dalsa and RED can

all be recorded this way, with varying levels of compression, to disk. By recording to disk whilst on location or on-set, the full output of cameras CCD is being securely recorded and thus enabling instant review of shots. The DP has the knowledge that re-recording over these shots is highly unlikely. Access to these individual frames is also possible, enabling on-set correction to be applied to each frame thus easing the route to grading in post.

Workflows and Post Production This could be perceived as a contentious subject due to digital’s design of an individual workflow approach. As many productions have shown it’s possible to tailor an approach that works for each individual project. But the main data workflow would still be the camera to disk and would include the following: Viper FilmStream to Stwo DFR with Dmags Dmags to LTO data tape for backing up LTO tapes ingested into a post chain (devise post from here) As Fincher has shown it’s possible to develop a workflow that works for each project. His approach was Viper to Dmags, Dmags to LTO back-up, store rushes on SAN, deliver DVCProHD1080i derived rushes for editorial from the uncompressed HD original DPX files. A major consideration of the data capture approach is the back up procedure. It’s essential to back up captured data once

Zodiac used the Grass Valley Viper camera recording on to STwo Digital Magzines

36 | issue 25 

www.definitionmagazine.com/blogger.html

it has been shot. A commonly recognised route for this is to LTO tape. These tapes can record the same uncompressed material that the DFR has recorded giving an exact copy of the shot rushes. The reason these tapes are not employed as direct capture tapes is the speed in which the information is being captured. Hard drives can work at very high speeds to read the data being

Director DAVID FINCHER and MARK RUFFALO (Det. Dave Toschi) on the set of director David Fincher’s Zodiac. © Warner Bros. Pictures 2007.

data recording basics • Fully uncompressed 1080x1920 images at 8 MB each file/image • No image degradation throughout the workflow chain • Instant access to the rushes on-set for viewing/playback • Instant access to individual DPX files for on-set correction/viewing • Ability to delete takes if required • Re-usable digital magazines means no stock on-set • Quicker ingesting to post • Workflows tailored to individual requirements • Avoid any potential data headaches • Backup is essential • Ensure data management is on-set with one extra pair of hands to look after the data • Refreshing shot magazines for re-use • Workflow organisation and understanding • Implications for post with uncompressed Data Files

www.definitionmagazine.com/blogger.html

issue 25 | 37


DATA MINING DAN MULLIGAN Investigates How Films Like Zodiac Are Using Data As A Capture Medium

W

ith the recent release of David Fincher’s Zodiac and his filming of current project The Curious Case of Benjamin Buttons starring Brad Pitt, data capture for films is coming to the fore. Fincher used Thomson’s Viper FilmStream camera recording to Stwo DFR (Digital Film Recorder) for his projects. RED’s new offering looks like a mostly data only camera, albeit using Wavelet codecs to compress the image and help storage capabilities. This story will explore the benefits of data capture, to look into if it can really benefit a production as opposed to tape based capture. What are its real capabilities? Is it reasonable to expect this technology to be easily accepted by the filmmaking community or is it a technical step too far? By using examples of films captured to disk I will explain some of the theories and on-set realities of shooting to disk and investigate to find out if it does indeed benefit productions? By reflecting on what data capture has to offer, productions can make a measured assessment to its usability or feasibility for their shoot. It’s important to remember that disk-based capture is not the preserve of the elite, so to speak. Sony Z1, DVCAM, and in fact any format can be recorded to disk. The amount of hardware needed is determined by the signal recorded. So DVCAM is a lesser amount of data compared to say uncompressed HD. So for the sake of this story we will concentrate on uncompressed HD 1080x1920 images.

Zodiac Director, David Fincher has somewhat written a new rule book as far as data capture to disk drives for movies is concerned. He took the approach in 2005 to shoot his new film entirely to disk. A risky proposal? With a little hindsight no, but its fair to say some gnashing of teeth at the studios may have ensued when this proposal was first mentioned. Zodiac, however was not the first film to shoot entirely to disk. Silence Becomes You, a British film shot in Lithuania using Viper FilmStream cameras and Stwo DFR recorders was the world’s first feature film recorded entirely using data. This was followed by Zodiac and most recently Mutant Chronicles as well as Fincher’s new project. A similar path was taken a while ago with data capture to disk employed on some advertising spots shot by DP Claudio Miranda with David Fincher, most famously a US Superbowl spot featuring Brad Pitt , the Paparazzi Heineken spot.

So what is data recording? Essentially this is a process in which, for high end capture, individual DPX frames (full 8MB frame examples, from a Viper, somewhat similar to a movie negative single frame) are captured and stored to high-speed hard drives. If shooting at 25fps, 25 individual frames (full frame and uncompressed) are captured to the recorder. This means that the full information that the sensor is seeing is being captured to disk. This method of capture is not exclusive to the Viper, though its FilmStream mode does lend itself to this type of recording, the Genesis, Arri D20, Dalsa and RED can

all be recorded this way, with varying levels of compression, to disk. By recording to disk whilst on location or on-set, the full output of cameras CCD is being securely recorded and thus enabling instant review of shots. The DP has the knowledge that re-recording over these shots is highly unlikely. Access to these individual frames is also possible, enabling on-set correction to be applied to each frame thus easing the route to grading in post.

Workflows and Post Production This could be perceived as a contentious subject due to digital’s design of an individual workflow approach. As many productions have shown it’s possible to tailor an approach that works for each individual project. But the main data workflow would still be the camera to disk and would include the following: Viper FilmStream to Stwo DFR with Dmags Dmags to LTO data tape for backing up LTO tapes ingested into a post chain (devise post from here) As Fincher has shown it’s possible to develop a workflow that works for each project. His approach was Viper to Dmags, Dmags to LTO back-up, store rushes on SAN, deliver DVCProHD1080i derived rushes for editorial from the uncompressed HD original DPX files. A major consideration of the data capture approach is the back up procedure. It’s essential to back up captured data once

Zodiac used the Grass Valley Viper camera recording on to STwo Digital Magzines

36 | issue 25 

www.definitionmagazine.com/blogger.html

it has been shot. A commonly recognised route for this is to LTO tape. These tapes can record the same uncompressed material that the DFR has recorded giving an exact copy of the shot rushes. The reason these tapes are not employed as direct capture tapes is the speed in which the information is being captured. Hard drives can work at very high speeds to read the data being

Director DAVID FINCHER and MARK RUFFALO (Det. Dave Toschi) on the set of director David Fincher’s Zodiac. © Warner Bros. Pictures 2007.

data recording basics • Fully uncompressed 1080x1920 images at 8 MB each file/image • No image degradation throughout the workflow chain • Instant access to the rushes on-set for viewing/playback • Instant access to individual DPX files for on-set correction/viewing • Ability to delete takes if required • Re-usable digital magazines means no stock on-set • Quicker ingesting to post • Workflows tailored to individual requirements • Avoid any potential data headaches • Backup is essential • Ensure data management is on-set with one extra pair of hands to look after the data • Refreshing shot magazines for re-use • Workflow organisation and understanding • Implications for post with uncompressed Data Files

www.definitionmagazine.com/blogger.html

issue 25 | 37


DATA MINING

Dan Mulligan’s Data Recording set-up above and right

output by the cameras, LTO cannot, but for archiving and using after capture to store the rushes and ingest they are perfect. That LTO tape, is now the master tape, or digital negative, and once verified the Dmag can be re-used for the next set of takes. Given the recent fact that a majority of post production work is now file based (ingesting tapes to post, converting to files for edit) it would naturally follow that capturing data files on-set should make the path to post a lot simpler? Well, the fact is that a lot of data is now captured on-set and it’s the size of this data and the speed with which it needs to be accessed which creates the need for sophisticated tools. Zodiac captured uncompressed images straight from the Vipers unprocessed imaging CCD. This helped render DPX files to the Stwo disk recorder as fully uncompressed frames at 8mb per frame. Given 24 frames per second, it’s easy to see how much actual data needs to be captured. Picture streams for Viper is 2.2gb/s in 444 mode, a massive leap which needs very quick hard drives to store. Add to this the speed of data throughput needed to capture these files and it’s possible to see why expensive DFR machines are needed to capture all this information. Then this data needs to be backed up for protection and bonding issues. This solution was addressed by using

LTO data tape libraries. The information stored on the digital magazines is transferred via SCSI to LTO data tapes. These tapes store the same information which includes uncompressed images from the Viper, which is stored on the DFR and once verified the magazines can be erased and re-used on-set. By shooting digitally there is no degradation of the images captured, ever, thus preserving the film forever at the same captured format. On-set playback of the images is also achievable as recording over the shot frames is nigh on impossible. What this means for the route into post is fully understanding the amount of data captured, how much storage is needed to look after this information, compression techniques for the offline to help storage solutions and so on. So for data file capture a certain amount of knowledge is required in understanding what can be done with all this information, hence the need for a data manager on-set (or DFT, Digital Film Technician) someone who can look after the captured images on-set, back up to LTO and deliver these images to post. Once established, data becomes an extremely fast and efficient way of working. All post departments can access the same images, at the same quality level, quickly and efficiently, making cross departmental discussions as instant as the phones will allow.

Have things moved on already? At the time uncompressed data capture to disk was considered the best way to capture information from high end digital cameras. The full amount of information was recorded to disk according to what the cameras sensor would allow, giving more image data to play with hence better quality images were produced when going to print. Fincher loved this idea and it gave him control over the shoot, reviewing rushes instantly on-set, deleting unwanted takes and never losing a single frame by accidentally recording over a pervious take. Since these halcyon days (well last year actually) we already see and sense a move back to compression to calm down the capture of very high resolution images (4K as against 2K/1080 HD) at extremely high levels of information. These higher rates of capture at uncompressed levels would make current capture technology almost redundant due to the large amount of image data needed to be captured, and the speeds needed to do so.

So compression comes back into play to help store these images at acceptable and controllable levels. Well as we can see, this is still an emerging technology.

Data conclusions High-end data capture really is the way that a lot of productions are, and will be going. It’s essentially shooting DI on-set, with instant processing using digital cameras. Instant playback of the rushes, from any point at the same resolution shot is fabulous and every DP knows that the shots will never be recorded over or suffer from degradation during the process. Metadata information can be added to each image for lenses, filters, location etc giving the editor all the technical information that he or she requires to cross reference. The ability to organise a workflow that suits the post path can be seen as an advantage, although a standardised way to do this would possibly help too? The main advantage of data capture is the efficiency it can introduce into production. Given the natural caveats of understanding and knowledge of computer based equipment married with a dose of self learning, file based capture will offer any production an extremely quick and efficient way of

working. It’s a unique way of digitally photographing movies and by making images instantly accessible and delivering offline in an efficient tape less way we are now at a point in which theatrically released movies can be captured at the touch of a button making workflows extremely efficient and therefore, as we all know, more cost effective.

The Heady, Brave New World of Digital Cinematography - By Steve Roach vp S.two Corp. There are many ways you can try to quantify the quality trade-offs when comparing a digital shoot and its results to that of a 35mm film shoot. The problem is to try and match like for like and to see what has real bearing on the what comes off the screen from the final film out. The first suggestion is this, don’t take for granted what anybody tells you, test first and make your own judgments based upon your own experience. You would do that if using a new film stock and shooting digital is exactly the same. It is a new film stock in your armoury. So What about the quality? Current Digital Cinematography cameras output a picture in 1:77 aspect ratio at 1920 (pixels) x 1080 (lines). The bit depth is 12 bits and the colour is RGB. A 2K scan of a 1:85 aspect ratio film would give a scan that is 2048 x 1106. A 2K scan of a super 35mm film frame at 1.33 aspect gives a scan of 2048 x 1556. Lets look at the S35mm scan, 2048 x 1556, this scan is edge to edge (sprocket hole to sprocket hole) and frame bar to frame bar. The scan is 12 bit or 16 bits RGB depth. Typically this scan is then cropped to allow for the edges and frame bars to 1848 x 1536 and eventually an extraction is made for a 2.35:1 aspect. The result is a real scan of 1848 x 785 for a spherical 2.35:1 aspect ratio film. In the Viper FilmStream Digital camera an electronic anamorphic technique is used that allows via pixel shape manipulation a 2.37:1 aspect to be recorded with the full line count of HD giving resolution of 1920 x 1080 using spherical lenses. If a hard 2.35:1 was required in a normal HD video camera then you end up with 1920 x 810. So Digital Cinematography cameras with electronic anamorphic has 270 lines more than HD video and 295 lines more than a film scan extraction. So the resolution is absolutely there. The colour is 12 bits (carried in a 10 bit log) and RGB so it is the same as a film scan. A Viper camera has three 9.2 million pixel sensors feeding into 12 bit analog to digital converters running at full range into 10 bit log RGB dual link outputs. The signal to noise ratio is how we equate electronic sensors to latitude in film. The Viper has a 66dB S/N which is roughly 11.5 stops. In practice as the noise (think film grain) would overwhelm you (as if pushing a stock too far) allow for 8.5 stops (we have tested +5.5 –3 stops many times). The camera is nominally rated at 320ASA. The picture produced by the

38 | issue 25 

www.definitionmagazine.com/blogger.html

www.rogueelementfilms.com/

camera is very similar to a low contrast reversal stock. It looks at little flat and has a green coloration. This is because the sensors are un-amplified in any way and produce a signal in direct response to the light falling on them. To correct the picture we have several ways of doing it, using filters, using look up tables (LUT) in the monitor path, or colour correcting them. The full range pictures have deep blacks and detailed whites that have natural fall offs and very highly detailed edges along with good tonal separation. The raw data (think OCN) can be colour corrected where the log data is recovered back to linear space by adding an anti log gamma curve and the colour then balanced. This is all very well, but; do I have to abandon my set to a bunch of technicians in white coats telling what to do? Simply put, No. The camera is pretty much turn on, focus and expose properly. The monitors show exactly what you are recording and the waveform monitor shows if the material is clipped or not. Again, light and expose it as if film. It’s not necessary to spend time playing with camera setups and menus. The reason is that everything is recorded so it can be manipulated later in post where you can really push things around, just as you do with film. Use filters, lights and work as normal, except you see your answer print there and then. The recorder is the S.two DFR, an uncompressed portable magazine loading disk system. It creates industry standard DPX files when recording the material, ready to be mounted in any computer and application. Stop start is from the camera, a handheld PDA or a laptop (any type you like). It has timecode, audio and multiple network connections for multiple uses. The magazines are removable so that when one is filled (36 minutes uncompressed 10 bit RGB at 24FPS), put in the next one and keep going. The material is instantly available for playback. There is random access capability to review any of the takes. The takes are organised into scenes that match the names from the slates. There are a range of docking stations for using the material after the shoot for dailies, post and DI. The DFR runs on 24V DC standard camera batteries and can be used on practical sets, aircraft, helicopters, trailers, boats, submersibles -- in fact anywhere.

www.definitionmagazine.com/blogger.html

issue 25 | 39


DATA MINING

Dan Mulligan’s Data Recording set-up above and right

output by the cameras, LTO cannot, but for archiving and using after capture to store the rushes and ingest they are perfect. That LTO tape, is now the master tape, or digital negative, and once verified the Dmag can be re-used for the next set of takes. Given the recent fact that a majority of post production work is now file based (ingesting tapes to post, converting to files for edit) it would naturally follow that capturing data files on-set should make the path to post a lot simpler? Well, the fact is that a lot of data is now captured on-set and it’s the size of this data and the speed with which it needs to be accessed which creates the need for sophisticated tools. Zodiac captured uncompressed images straight from the Vipers unprocessed imaging CCD. This helped render DPX files to the Stwo disk recorder as fully uncompressed frames at 8mb per frame. Given 24 frames per second, it’s easy to see how much actual data needs to be captured. Picture streams for Viper is 2.2gb/s in 444 mode, a massive leap which needs very quick hard drives to store. Add to this the speed of data throughput needed to capture these files and it’s possible to see why expensive DFR machines are needed to capture all this information. Then this data needs to be backed up for protection and bonding issues. This solution was addressed by using

LTO data tape libraries. The information stored on the digital magazines is transferred via SCSI to LTO data tapes. These tapes store the same information which includes uncompressed images from the Viper, which is stored on the DFR and once verified the magazines can be erased and re-used on-set. By shooting digitally there is no degradation of the images captured, ever, thus preserving the film forever at the same captured format. On-set playback of the images is also achievable as recording over the shot frames is nigh on impossible. What this means for the route into post is fully understanding the amount of data captured, how much storage is needed to look after this information, compression techniques for the offline to help storage solutions and so on. So for data file capture a certain amount of knowledge is required in understanding what can be done with all this information, hence the need for a data manager on-set (or DFT, Digital Film Technician) someone who can look after the captured images on-set, back up to LTO and deliver these images to post. Once established, data becomes an extremely fast and efficient way of working. All post departments can access the same images, at the same quality level, quickly and efficiently, making cross departmental discussions as instant as the phones will allow.

Have things moved on already? At the time uncompressed data capture to disk was considered the best way to capture information from high end digital cameras. The full amount of information was recorded to disk according to what the cameras sensor would allow, giving more image data to play with hence better quality images were produced when going to print. Fincher loved this idea and it gave him control over the shoot, reviewing rushes instantly on-set, deleting unwanted takes and never losing a single frame by accidentally recording over a pervious take. Since these halcyon days (well last year actually) we already see and sense a move back to compression to calm down the capture of very high resolution images (4K as against 2K/1080 HD) at extremely high levels of information. These higher rates of capture at uncompressed levels would make current capture technology almost redundant due to the large amount of image data needed to be captured, and the speeds needed to do so.

So compression comes back into play to help store these images at acceptable and controllable levels. Well as we can see, this is still an emerging technology.

Data conclusions High-end data capture really is the way that a lot of productions are, and will be going. It’s essentially shooting DI on-set, with instant processing using digital cameras. Instant playback of the rushes, from any point at the same resolution shot is fabulous and every DP knows that the shots will never be recorded over or suffer from degradation during the process. Metadata information can be added to each image for lenses, filters, location etc giving the editor all the technical information that he or she requires to cross reference. The ability to organise a workflow that suits the post path can be seen as an advantage, although a standardised way to do this would possibly help too? The main advantage of data capture is the efficiency it can introduce into production. Given the natural caveats of understanding and knowledge of computer based equipment married with a dose of self learning, file based capture will offer any production an extremely quick and efficient way of

working. It’s a unique way of digitally photographing movies and by making images instantly accessible and delivering offline in an efficient tape less way we are now at a point in which theatrically released movies can be captured at the touch of a button making workflows extremely efficient and therefore, as we all know, more cost effective.

The Heady, Brave New World of Digital Cinematography - By Steve Roach vp S.two Corp. There are many ways you can try to quantify the quality trade-offs when comparing a digital shoot and its results to that of a 35mm film shoot. The problem is to try and match like for like and to see what has real bearing on the what comes off the screen from the final film out. The first suggestion is this, don’t take for granted what anybody tells you, test first and make your own judgments based upon your own experience. You would do that if using a new film stock and shooting digital is exactly the same. It is a new film stock in your armoury. So What about the quality? Current Digital Cinematography cameras output a picture in 1:77 aspect ratio at 1920 (pixels) x 1080 (lines). The bit depth is 12 bits and the colour is RGB. A 2K scan of a 1:85 aspect ratio film would give a scan that is 2048 x 1106. A 2K scan of a super 35mm film frame at 1.33 aspect gives a scan of 2048 x 1556. Lets look at the S35mm scan, 2048 x 1556, this scan is edge to edge (sprocket hole to sprocket hole) and frame bar to frame bar. The scan is 12 bit or 16 bits RGB depth. Typically this scan is then cropped to allow for the edges and frame bars to 1848 x 1536 and eventually an extraction is made for a 2.35:1 aspect. The result is a real scan of 1848 x 785 for a spherical 2.35:1 aspect ratio film. In the Viper FilmStream Digital camera an electronic anamorphic technique is used that allows via pixel shape manipulation a 2.37:1 aspect to be recorded with the full line count of HD giving resolution of 1920 x 1080 using spherical lenses. If a hard 2.35:1 was required in a normal HD video camera then you end up with 1920 x 810. So Digital Cinematography cameras with electronic anamorphic has 270 lines more than HD video and 295 lines more than a film scan extraction. So the resolution is absolutely there. The colour is 12 bits (carried in a 10 bit log) and RGB so it is the same as a film scan. A Viper camera has three 9.2 million pixel sensors feeding into 12 bit analog to digital converters running at full range into 10 bit log RGB dual link outputs. The signal to noise ratio is how we equate electronic sensors to latitude in film. The Viper has a 66dB S/N which is roughly 11.5 stops. In practice as the noise (think film grain) would overwhelm you (as if pushing a stock too far) allow for 8.5 stops (we have tested +5.5 –3 stops many times). The camera is nominally rated at 320ASA. The picture produced by the

38 | issue 25 

www.definitionmagazine.com/blogger.html

www.rogueelementfilms.com/

camera is very similar to a low contrast reversal stock. It looks at little flat and has a green coloration. This is because the sensors are un-amplified in any way and produce a signal in direct response to the light falling on them. To correct the picture we have several ways of doing it, using filters, using look up tables (LUT) in the monitor path, or colour correcting them. The full range pictures have deep blacks and detailed whites that have natural fall offs and very highly detailed edges along with good tonal separation. The raw data (think OCN) can be colour corrected where the log data is recovered back to linear space by adding an anti log gamma curve and the colour then balanced. This is all very well, but; do I have to abandon my set to a bunch of technicians in white coats telling what to do? Simply put, No. The camera is pretty much turn on, focus and expose properly. The monitors show exactly what you are recording and the waveform monitor shows if the material is clipped or not. Again, light and expose it as if film. It’s not necessary to spend time playing with camera setups and menus. The reason is that everything is recorded so it can be manipulated later in post where you can really push things around, just as you do with film. Use filters, lights and work as normal, except you see your answer print there and then. The recorder is the S.two DFR, an uncompressed portable magazine loading disk system. It creates industry standard DPX files when recording the material, ready to be mounted in any computer and application. Stop start is from the camera, a handheld PDA or a laptop (any type you like). It has timecode, audio and multiple network connections for multiple uses. The magazines are removable so that when one is filled (36 minutes uncompressed 10 bit RGB at 24FPS), put in the next one and keep going. The material is instantly available for playback. There is random access capability to review any of the takes. The takes are organised into scenes that match the names from the slates. There are a range of docking stations for using the material after the shoot for dailies, post and DI. The DFR runs on 24V DC standard camera batteries and can be used on practical sets, aircraft, helicopters, trailers, boats, submersibles -- in fact anywhere.

www.definitionmagazine.com/blogger.html

issue 25 | 39


A D V E R T I S E M E N T

The new generation of high definition camcorders is set to change the way we record, edit and store those precious, quick-fire moments in our lives Clockwise from far left: Out and about in London with the Panasonic HDC-SD5 on the London Eye, in Covent Garden, at Borough Market and speeding down the River Thames. Far left: The camcorder’s compact size is perfect for everyday use

Adam Garstone (director of film/postproduction, BlaknBlu) I’m really impressed by its size and total ease of use. Daniel Mulligan (director of photography, Rogue Element Films) I love the fact you can record to a memory card. You don’t have to go through hours of tape. Ed Holdsworth (film director, music videos and short promos) Incredibly small and highquality, I was impressed with its stability too. Mike Brennan (editor, HD magazine) On an HD television, the three chips offer outstanding colour quality. Tom Urbye (director of post-production, The Look) The HDCSD5 is a future-proof format for prosumers.

What better place to enjoy Acqua di Parma’s stunning products than at sumptuous Cliveden in Berkshire?

PHOTOGRAPHY: LEE STRICKLAND. STYLING BY JO JONES AT ONE MAKEUP. HAIR BY STEVIE PURCELL/FRANK AGENCY

Fast Forward

THE EXPERTS SAY... Five filmmaking experts took the HDC-SD5 for a quick test-drive.

We’re all film-makers now. Using mobile phones, camcorders, digital cameras and live web links, we have the power to create, edit, distribute and broadcast moving images like never before. If emails and texting can be said to have breathed new life into the written word, digital technology has opened up whole new ways to capture memories and moments, both personal and public. We want to be able to retain the significant days of our lives, be they the traditional wedding video or a great night out larking about with our mates. And we can’t get enough of it. Next time you’re trawling your way through YouTube trying to find that mid-Seventies footage of David Bowie on Soul Train, have a look through the Featured Videos section, where everything from mini-docs filmed in Darfur refugee camps, to morphing kittens and Songs Of Praise parodies, boast anything up to 500,000 viewings within weeks of being posted. Doubtless somewhere a post-grad student is busily preparing a thesis dissecting our global obsession with moving and still-image sharing, filtering it all through a postBarthesian theory of mass-media ennui. And the best of luck to them. For most of us, however, the sheer fun of capturing the moment by shooting film and using increasingly sophisticated kit to retain it for posterity, is reason enough to develop an abiding passion for pics. In a three-month period from July to September last year we sent 88 million picture messages. Recording an image has become part of our everyday lives, while the rise in the market of all the associated paraphernalia (tripods, specialist lenses) points to a growing keenness to produce images close to a professional standard. We want to capture the vignette, to star in our own movie, but we want it to be suitably sleek and sexy, not shaky and grainy. A new high definition camcorder is changing the traditional view of video cameras and is set to be a major player in the image-capturing market. Panasonic's new HDC-SD5 camcorder is the smallest high definition camcorder in the UK, which uses a memory card instead of all that bulky tape, making it completely user-friendly.

F E A T U R E

CAMCORDER KEY FACTS ■ The Panasonic HDC-SD5 high definition camcorder uses an SD memory card rather than tape, allowing you to copy straight from the card to a DVD at the touch of a button. ■ The 3CCD system offers superb colour reproduction. The camera’s noise-shaping filter and intelligent contrast control ensures the user can produce noiseless and clear images. ■ Images are held temporarily in the high definition camcorder’s internal memory (three seconds) before you push the record button, meaning you can record the entire scene without missing that all-important start to the action. ■ While current camcorder technology is only able to read half of the pixels in an image, the Panasonic high definition model reads all pixels and can deliver high-resolution full HD 1920 x 1080 pixel recording. ■ In Quick Start mode, the high definition camcorder is ready to record images just 1.7 seconds after the LCD is opened. You are able to capture split-second shots, without missing the moment. Perfect for the fast pace of modern life, it combines the latest technology with its compact size, light weight and ease of use, to give you professional quality footage in your hand. Small and light enough to be tossed into a bag, the Panasonic high definition camcorder uses smart technological know-how to produce pictures of near-professional broadcast standard. The bar has been raised and, just as digital cameras changed the way we take our snaps beyond the usual wedding and holiday clichés, so the new wave of high definition camcorders will see us more comfortable with recording moving images to capture moments, whether extraordinary or everyday. Who knows, this high definition camcorder could become as iconic as the laptop or mobile phone. The revolution will not be televised? Maybe not, but you can download coverage on your mobile, or laptop, or BlackBerry, or iPod nano. With Panasonic's new high definition camcorder you can create vignettes of your own life, shot like a professional. For more information, please call 0844 844 3852, or visit www.panasonic.co.uk/sd5


A D V E R T I S E M E N T

The new generation of high definition camcorders is set to change the way we record, edit and store those precious, quick-fire moments in our lives Clockwise from far left: Out and about in London with the Panasonic HDC-SD5 on the London Eye, in Covent Garden, at Borough Market and speeding down the River Thames. Far left: The camcorder’s compact size is perfect for everyday use

Adam Garstone (director of film/postproduction, BlaknBlu) I’m really impressed by its size and total ease of use. Daniel Mulligan (director of photography, Rogue Element Films) I love the fact you can record to a memory card. You don’t have to go through hours of tape. Ed Holdsworth (film director, music videos and short promos) Incredibly small and highquality, I was impressed with its stability too. Mike Brennan (editor, HD magazine) On an HD television, the three chips offer outstanding colour quality. Tom Urbye (director of post-production, The Look) The HDCSD5 is a future-proof format for prosumers.

What better place to enjoy Acqua di Parma’s stunning products than at sumptuous Cliveden in Berkshire?

PHOTOGRAPHY: LEE STRICKLAND. STYLING BY JO JONES AT ONE MAKEUP. HAIR BY STEVIE PURCELL/FRANK AGENCY

Fast Forward

THE EXPERTS SAY... Five filmmaking experts took the HDC-SD5 for a quick test-drive.

We’re all film-makers now. Using mobile phones, camcorders, digital cameras and live web links, we have the power to create, edit, distribute and broadcast moving images like never before. If emails and texting can be said to have breathed new life into the written word, digital technology has opened up whole new ways to capture memories and moments, both personal and public. We want to be able to retain the significant days of our lives, be they the traditional wedding video or a great night out larking about with our mates. And we can’t get enough of it. Next time you’re trawling your way through YouTube trying to find that mid-Seventies footage of David Bowie on Soul Train, have a look through the Featured Videos section, where everything from mini-docs filmed in Darfur refugee camps, to morphing kittens and Songs Of Praise parodies, boast anything up to 500,000 viewings within weeks of being posted. Doubtless somewhere a post-grad student is busily preparing a thesis dissecting our global obsession with moving and still-image sharing, filtering it all through a postBarthesian theory of mass-media ennui. And the best of luck to them. For most of us, however, the sheer fun of capturing the moment by shooting film and using increasingly sophisticated kit to retain it for posterity, is reason enough to develop an abiding passion for pics. In a three-month period from July to September last year we sent 88 million picture messages. Recording an image has become part of our everyday lives, while the rise in the market of all the associated paraphernalia (tripods, specialist lenses) points to a growing keenness to produce images close to a professional standard. We want to capture the vignette, to star in our own movie, but we want it to be suitably sleek and sexy, not shaky and grainy. A new high definition camcorder is changing the traditional view of video cameras and is set to be a major player in the image-capturing market. Panasonic's new HDC-SD5 camcorder is the smallest high definition camcorder in the UK, which uses a memory card instead of all that bulky tape, making it completely user-friendly.

F E A T U R E

CAMCORDER KEY FACTS ■ The Panasonic HDC-SD5 high definition camcorder uses an SD memory card rather than tape, allowing you to copy straight from the card to a DVD at the touch of a button. ■ The 3CCD system offers superb colour reproduction. The camera’s noise-shaping filter and intelligent contrast control ensures the user can produce noiseless and clear images. ■ Images are held temporarily in the high definition camcorder’s internal memory (three seconds) before you push the record button, meaning you can record the entire scene without missing that all-important start to the action. ■ While current camcorder technology is only able to read half of the pixels in an image, the Panasonic high definition model reads all pixels and can deliver high-resolution full HD 1920 x 1080 pixel recording. ■ In Quick Start mode, the high definition camcorder is ready to record images just 1.7 seconds after the LCD is opened. You are able to capture split-second shots, without missing the moment. Perfect for the fast pace of modern life, it combines the latest technology with its compact size, light weight and ease of use, to give you professional quality footage in your hand. Small and light enough to be tossed into a bag, the Panasonic high definition camcorder uses smart technological know-how to produce pictures of near-professional broadcast standard. The bar has been raised and, just as digital cameras changed the way we take our snaps beyond the usual wedding and holiday clichés, so the new wave of high definition camcorders will see us more comfortable with recording moving images to capture moments, whether extraordinary or everyday. Who knows, this high definition camcorder could become as iconic as the laptop or mobile phone. The revolution will not be televised? Maybe not, but you can download coverage on your mobile, or laptop, or BlackBerry, or iPod nano. With Panasonic's new high definition camcorder you can create vignettes of your own life, shot like a professional. For more information, please call 0844 844 3852, or visit www.panasonic.co.uk/sd5


• 2 x Viper Filmstream Digital Cinematography Cameras • 2 x Stwo DFR Data Recorders with 5 x DMAGs per Camera • iDock and ADock Stwo system integration • Zeiss DigiPrime and DigiZoom Lenses • Astro waveform monitors • CineTal 444 Look Up Tables (LUT) LCD and Waveform with SpeedGrade LUT software • Apple MacBook Pro with external FW800 Hard Drives (500Gb each) • AJA IOHD input unit capturing Pro-Res 422 in SQ or HQ modes • LTO3 Scalar 24 19.2 TB tape media Back-up solution

WORKFLOW

effective. To illustrate, we’ve provided a definitive list of the equipment (above) used on all these recent shoots, what was used for and why. It’s important to list the equipment used to fully explain how these workflows were arrived at. Most productions could easily employ other manufacturer’s similar products but the exercise here is the workflow and the reasons for it.

E V O L U T I O N

DoP Dan Mulligan Demonstrates Through His Own Designs How Shooting Digital Film Is Increasingly Demanding New Ways of Workflow Thinking

A Digital Negative – a raw DPX frame

H

ere at Pinewood Studios, at the heart of the British Film Industry, Rogue Element Films have been pioneering new and efficient ways of developing workflows for our Digital Cinematography film shoots. Over the last five or so years we have seen digital film slowly maturing into the state of play we now witness and have gained a broader understanding of how such photography should be tackled, that is, by starting with a workflow that suits your shooting scheme. With the strong emergence of the RED system we can clearly see how important workflows are to these cameras. At this stage in time, the RED workflow is immature and is evolving through being beta tested by its many owners. This highlights how productions that are shooting digital feature films now have developed into much more mature systems. We aim to demonstrate that here with this article. We firmly believe that the cornerstone of practically all high-end digital shoots is the workflow that you employ to not only capture the images (the easy bit) but how to develop an efficient offline/online environment to minimise the impact of controlling such huge amounts of data. By explaining our approach to recent back to

46 | HD MAGAZINE

are set and ready to film. For on-set review and playback the DFR decks are able to review any shot instantly therefore saving the need to hire playback units with operators and all this at the full resolution at which you recorded. All takes are ready to view fully uncompressed and have no need to render out ensuring it is a realtime playback process. As the images are already captured as DPX frames straight to the DMAGs you do not have images wrapped in any inaccessable codec. Having no render times means that every take is instantly free to watch, at full resolution and in realtime. The DMAGs will record the full 4:4:4 signal for twenty-two minutes per magazine, giving you roughly 33,000 film frames per magazine. Once the magazines are full you can remove them and then use an empty magazine to continue shooting. The setting up of the camera and the recording of the image is the easy bit – now we will go over all the processes to keep in mind for off-lining these images once you have filled your magazines.

T back feature films and commercial shoots we will explain developing workflows and how far they have matured in even the last year or so. Don’t forget it wasn’t so long ago that a lot of productions were confused as to the speed of disk systems required to play full HD images without dropping frames, information that is now part of everyone’s language and understanding.

T

he workflows adopted here are fairly universal and can be used for most shoots but we will concentrate on a fully uncompressed 2K/HD data workflow, as used by David Fincher on his new Brad Pitt movie, The Curious Case of Benjamin Buttons, and now utilised by us and others. This style of capture is significantly high-end, due to the amount of information being captured and offlined, but it is a workflow that allows real-time playout and playback of the raw material. It also has the ability to maximise efficiency on the actual set itself with smart and quick workflow ideas. Being a real-time process the need for rendering the captured material is not there as no software wrappers are employed to store the material, making efficiency on-set that much more

he reason for using the Stwo DFR system is its ability to capture, completely uncompressed, 2K/HD data from the Viper Filmstream Camera and save production metadata into each DPX frame. This is saved on the DMAGs (digital magazines that, like film mags, hold the negative) as DPX frames, 24 individual frames per second and all easily accessible. So what we have on each DMAG when full is over 33,000 individual DPX film frames, the digital negative. This is enhanced by the Viper’s ability to record raw image data with all camera correction settings switched off, allowing post to apply corrections to the raw data the way you want it to and not the way the camera would do this. Not all digital cameras available in the market do this, they still apply small amounts of correction to the image giving you less control over the image correction and grading process once in post.

F

irstly set the camera up to record at full 4:4:4 colour space for eventual film print Tangent Grading Panel and Stwo Workstation – LUT Applied or DCI delivery at 1080 24p 4:4:4 2.37:1 Anamorphic (the Viper can crop to 2.37:1 Step 1. On-set viewing/print LUT workstation but keep full 1080 lines of resolution). integrated with Tangent Grading Panel Set the Stwo recorder up to receive the same sigOne of our newest developments here at Rogue nal so the Stwo is set to 4:4:4 1080 24p, the 2.37:1 Element Films is on-set LUT correction via this image is recorded 16:9 full frame unsqueezed to the unique workstation. By combining the Stwo DFRs DMAGs. Once you can see a live image, then you into the same rack system that can apply the LUTs HD MAGAZINE | 47


• 2 x Viper Filmstream Digital Cinematography Cameras • 2 x Stwo DFR Data Recorders with 5 x DMAGs per Camera • iDock and ADock Stwo system integration • Zeiss DigiPrime and DigiZoom Lenses • Astro waveform monitors • CineTal 444 Look Up Tables (LUT) LCD and Waveform with SpeedGrade LUT software • Apple MacBook Pro with external FW800 Hard Drives (500Gb each) • AJA IOHD input unit capturing Pro-Res 422 in SQ or HQ modes • LTO3 Scalar 24 19.2 TB tape media Back-up solution

WORKFLOW

effective. To illustrate, we’ve provided a definitive list of the equipment (above) used on all these recent shoots, what was used for and why. It’s important to list the equipment used to fully explain how these workflows were arrived at. Most productions could easily employ other manufacturer’s similar products but the exercise here is the workflow and the reasons for it.

E V O L U T I O N

DoP Dan Mulligan Demonstrates Through His Own Designs How Shooting Digital Film Is Increasingly Demanding New Ways of Workflow Thinking

A Digital Negative – a raw DPX frame

H

ere at Pinewood Studios, at the heart of the British Film Industry, Rogue Element Films have been pioneering new and efficient ways of developing workflows for our Digital Cinematography film shoots. Over the last five or so years we have seen digital film slowly maturing into the state of play we now witness and have gained a broader understanding of how such photography should be tackled, that is, by starting with a workflow that suits your shooting scheme. With the strong emergence of the RED system we can clearly see how important workflows are to these cameras. At this stage in time, the RED workflow is immature and is evolving through being beta tested by its many owners. This highlights how productions that are shooting digital feature films now have developed into much more mature systems. We aim to demonstrate that here with this article. We firmly believe that the cornerstone of practically all high-end digital shoots is the workflow that you employ to not only capture the images (the easy bit) but how to develop an efficient offline/online environment to minimise the impact of controlling such huge amounts of data. By explaining our approach to recent back to

46 | HD MAGAZINE

are set and ready to film. For on-set review and playback the DFR decks are able to review any shot instantly therefore saving the need to hire playback units with operators and all this at the full resolution at which you recorded. All takes are ready to view fully uncompressed and have no need to render out ensuring it is a realtime playback process. As the images are already captured as DPX frames straight to the DMAGs you do not have images wrapped in any inaccessable codec. Having no render times means that every take is instantly free to watch, at full resolution and in realtime. The DMAGs will record the full 4:4:4 signal for twenty-two minutes per magazine, giving you roughly 33,000 film frames per magazine. Once the magazines are full you can remove them and then use an empty magazine to continue shooting. The setting up of the camera and the recording of the image is the easy bit – now we will go over all the processes to keep in mind for off-lining these images once you have filled your magazines.

T back feature films and commercial shoots we will explain developing workflows and how far they have matured in even the last year or so. Don’t forget it wasn’t so long ago that a lot of productions were confused as to the speed of disk systems required to play full HD images without dropping frames, information that is now part of everyone’s language and understanding.

T

he workflows adopted here are fairly universal and can be used for most shoots but we will concentrate on a fully uncompressed 2K/HD data workflow, as used by David Fincher on his new Brad Pitt movie, The Curious Case of Benjamin Buttons, and now utilised by us and others. This style of capture is significantly high-end, due to the amount of information being captured and offlined, but it is a workflow that allows real-time playout and playback of the raw material. It also has the ability to maximise efficiency on the actual set itself with smart and quick workflow ideas. Being a real-time process the need for rendering the captured material is not there as no software wrappers are employed to store the material, making efficiency on-set that much more

he reason for using the Stwo DFR system is its ability to capture, completely uncompressed, 2K/HD data from the Viper Filmstream Camera and save production metadata into each DPX frame. This is saved on the DMAGs (digital magazines that, like film mags, hold the negative) as DPX frames, 24 individual frames per second and all easily accessible. So what we have on each DMAG when full is over 33,000 individual DPX film frames, the digital negative. This is enhanced by the Viper’s ability to record raw image data with all camera correction settings switched off, allowing post to apply corrections to the raw data the way you want it to and not the way the camera would do this. Not all digital cameras available in the market do this, they still apply small amounts of correction to the image giving you less control over the image correction and grading process once in post.

F

irstly set the camera up to record at full 4:4:4 colour space for eventual film print Tangent Grading Panel and Stwo Workstation – LUT Applied or DCI delivery at 1080 24p 4:4:4 2.37:1 Anamorphic (the Viper can crop to 2.37:1 Step 1. On-set viewing/print LUT workstation but keep full 1080 lines of resolution). integrated with Tangent Grading Panel Set the Stwo recorder up to receive the same sigOne of our newest developments here at Rogue nal so the Stwo is set to 4:4:4 1080 24p, the 2.37:1 Element Films is on-set LUT correction via this image is recorded 16:9 full frame unsqueezed to the unique workstation. By combining the Stwo DFRs DMAGs. Once you can see a live image, then you into the same rack system that can apply the LUTs HD MAGAZINE | 47


we have created a seamless environment to shoot, capture and manipulate from one integrated unit. Using Fetch to access the DMAGs, we can pull a DPX frame from the shot material and simply drag this into the laptop. By opening Iridas Speedgrade On-set software we can view the same DPX frame and apply our corrections to the image using a Tangent grading panel. Once done, this LUT is then saved and applied to our on-set Grade1 24in LCD for viewing. The CineTal LCD also allows us to export this LUT to the SDI outputs on the monitor for everyone to view whilst on-set if so desired. Pre-designed print LUTs can be used the same way and can also be adjusted on-set if the need arises.

Graded image from The Papyrus

S

tep 2. Offline to FCP 6.0.2 via AJA IoHD with Stwo iDock For all of our offline editorial we have gone down the ProRes route. By employing the AJA IOHD box we can now record a full offline copy of each magazine within 30 minutes of each magazine becoming full AJA capture Station – iDock visible behind Mac capturing 4:2:2 Pro Res from the DMAG in the iDock on-set to an external FW800 hard drive through a MacBook Pro end of each day’s filming you can still have a hard running FCP 6.0.2. drive loaded with all the material off-lined from all The iDock system produces an FCP XML file that the cameras and ready for edit, timecode accurate can be imported into FCP. This is done by opening to the master copies with no handles on each take. up Fetch on the Mac and dragging the XML file from the DMAGs internal menu via iDock. This XML tep 3. Reviewing of Dailies. file holds all the metadata and all the scenes/takes Once your offline is finished the iDock that were recorded onto the DMAG. This means doubles up as a playout deck (VCR) for the you get a direct copy of everything that’s in the DPX DPX frames. Load in your required DMAG frames but at the ProRes 4:2:2 codec, hence saving for viewing, list the shots, and watch the dailies storage space. either raw or by applying your LUTs from that days This process can be done on-set while still shootfilming. As this is recorded data, you can access ing and is an automated batch capture process. any take available instantly, no tape rewinding is Once you import the XML file and then batch caprequired to find your shots and are viewable at full ture, everything else is all done for you, including resolution completely uncompressed plus in realany timecode breaks and any timecode recorded time, meaning no rendering! time of day. Step 4. Backing up the DPX Digital Negative. After 30 minutes you will have a hard drive with all Once you have viewed your dailies it’s now time the information needed to start editorial. If you wish to back up your digital negative by copying to LTO3 to work this quickly that’s fine but of course at the

S

48 | HD MAGAZINE

data tapes the shot material. This is achieved by loading your shot magazine into an Adock/LTO3 unit. The ADock is connected to an LTO3 tape library via SCSI. Load in a DMAG and back the shot material to its internal cache. Once backed up the ADock automatically talks to the Scalar 24 library and writes the shot data to the LTO3 data tapes. This is done automatically and requires little or no specialist knowledge, just back up to the cache and let the system do the rest. Once you have backed up to LTO the ADock then empties the cache ready for the next DMAG. The production may require two copies of each for insurance bonding which again is done automatically. These LTO3 tapes now have all the DPX frames captured to the DMAGs and can now be used to go online once you have your edit decision list from the offline FCP copies done earlier.

LUTs on-set to take to post and begin the grading process? Digital tools bring work sets to the forefront of capturing films. It’s up to the end users to wrestle with all the equipment available in the market to get their ideal workflow as well as sort out the kit that clearly works for them as opposed to the kit that clearly doesn’t.

Dan Mulligan is MD of Rogue Element Films. www.rogueelementfilms.com

W

hat we are explaining here is the way that workflows will develop and mature as the use of these systems becomes more widespread. As it stands a lot is written about the potential capabilities of varying systems and workflows with little or no actual fact-based results to prove the claims. As workflows and equipment mature shooting high end digitally will become that much more efficient. The role we see digital playing is as a quick and efficient process while retaining all our integrity regarding image quality and production processes. Why not bring editorial to the set, why not generate HD MAGAZINE | 49


we have created a seamless environment to shoot, capture and manipulate from one integrated unit. Using Fetch to access the DMAGs, we can pull a DPX frame from the shot material and simply drag this into the laptop. By opening Iridas Speedgrade On-set software we can view the same DPX frame and apply our corrections to the image using a Tangent grading panel. Once done, this LUT is then saved and applied to our on-set Grade1 24in LCD for viewing. The CineTal LCD also allows us to export this LUT to the SDI outputs on the monitor for everyone to view whilst on-set if so desired. Pre-designed print LUTs can be used the same way and can also be adjusted on-set if the need arises.

Graded image from The Papyrus

S

tep 2. Offline to FCP 6.0.2 via AJA IoHD with Stwo iDock For all of our offline editorial we have gone down the ProRes route. By employing the AJA IOHD box we can now record a full offline copy of each magazine within 30 minutes of each magazine becoming full AJA capture Station – iDock visible behind Mac capturing 4:2:2 Pro Res from the DMAG in the iDock on-set to an external FW800 hard drive through a MacBook Pro end of each day’s filming you can still have a hard running FCP 6.0.2. drive loaded with all the material off-lined from all The iDock system produces an FCP XML file that the cameras and ready for edit, timecode accurate can be imported into FCP. This is done by opening to the master copies with no handles on each take. up Fetch on the Mac and dragging the XML file from the DMAGs internal menu via iDock. This XML tep 3. Reviewing of Dailies. file holds all the metadata and all the scenes/takes Once your offline is finished the iDock that were recorded onto the DMAG. This means doubles up as a playout deck (VCR) for the you get a direct copy of everything that’s in the DPX DPX frames. Load in your required DMAG frames but at the ProRes 4:2:2 codec, hence saving for viewing, list the shots, and watch the dailies storage space. either raw or by applying your LUTs from that days This process can be done on-set while still shootfilming. As this is recorded data, you can access ing and is an automated batch capture process. any take available instantly, no tape rewinding is Once you import the XML file and then batch caprequired to find your shots and are viewable at full ture, everything else is all done for you, including resolution completely uncompressed plus in realany timecode breaks and any timecode recorded time, meaning no rendering! time of day. Step 4. Backing up the DPX Digital Negative. After 30 minutes you will have a hard drive with all Once you have viewed your dailies it’s now time the information needed to start editorial. If you wish to back up your digital negative by copying to LTO3 to work this quickly that’s fine but of course at the

S

48 | HD MAGAZINE

data tapes the shot material. This is achieved by loading your shot magazine into an Adock/LTO3 unit. The ADock is connected to an LTO3 tape library via SCSI. Load in a DMAG and back the shot material to its internal cache. Once backed up the ADock automatically talks to the Scalar 24 library and writes the shot data to the LTO3 data tapes. This is done automatically and requires little or no specialist knowledge, just back up to the cache and let the system do the rest. Once you have backed up to LTO the ADock then empties the cache ready for the next DMAG. The production may require two copies of each for insurance bonding which again is done automatically. These LTO3 tapes now have all the DPX frames captured to the DMAGs and can now be used to go online once you have your edit decision list from the offline FCP copies done earlier.

LUTs on-set to take to post and begin the grading process? Digital tools bring work sets to the forefront of capturing films. It’s up to the end users to wrestle with all the equipment available in the market to get their ideal workflow as well as sort out the kit that clearly works for them as opposed to the kit that clearly doesn’t.

Dan Mulligan is MD of Rogue Element Films. www.rogueelementfilms.com

W

hat we are explaining here is the way that workflows will develop and mature as the use of these systems becomes more widespread. As it stands a lot is written about the potential capabilities of varying systems and workflows with little or no actual fact-based results to prove the claims. As workflows and equipment mature shooting high end digitally will become that much more efficient. The role we see digital playing is as a quick and efficient process while retaining all our integrity regarding image quality and production processes. Why not bring editorial to the set, why not generate HD MAGAZINE | 49


A full digital data workflow was employed for the feature “The Papyrus” shot around London in March 2008 by DOP Andrea Chiozzotto. Interview by John Collins

Andrea, what is your position about shooting digital instead of 35mm ? I must say, every time I go for digital it’s a real challenge. No matter film is historically considered to be the reference of quality for the motion picture industry, I believe that digital should be carefully watched and appreciated with fresh and absolute eyes instead of being compared with a different media. Therefore, apart for a sentimental bond with film, I am truly opened to choose what is best for any project I start. What made you choosing Viper cameras for this feature? The project required a considerable amount of VFX but this was just the triggering reason to go and check out digital cameras. I could shoot 35mm but I felt now I could try something new in digital that was not available before. I remember one of my first experiences with digital in 2002 when my lighting plan was constantly modified by coping with technical restrictions. Now, 6 years later, there are several innovative cameras in the market but still most of them have a gap in the workflow, which doesn’t allow a cinematographer of being constantly in full control of the image. There are also very good cameras but their complex setup is not suitable for movie productions and they are very fragile and unreliable. I heard about the Viper Filmstream since a while then I found out that Rogue Element Films Company in Pinewood Studios built an interesting workflow capable of truly going through an intense feature shoot. I invited my camera crew to go and visit Dan Mulligan who I discovered has a long experience in digital cameras since the first models came out. We sat down with a cup of coffee and Dan very kindly explained us the whole workflow in details, connecting and running all necessary equipment. The footage frames are recorded natively and stored as uncompressed DPX 2K files on Stwo Take2 DFRs capable of providing ProRes 422 offline copies for editorial. This portable system could allow me to create and apply LUTs onset thanks to Iridas mobile color timing suite, which means I could always be in control of my color space and collect daily samples of my personal guide grades to store on my USB Key for future reference at the lab. Do you like Viper Filmstream image look? The look of each digital camera is much more variegated than the difference existing between one film stock and another one. Being an electronic device, it brings on board major native differences, which are more or less controlled via tuning menus and additional parameters. What it really counts for a director of photography is to become familiar with the personality of the native RAW CCD image and then appreciating the way colors and contrast respond to grading within the generous color space provided. I believe this is the good approach as trusting camera tests is not always satisfactory. I always get to know the real thing once I’ve been emotionally involved in shooting the actual feature. Now that I tried out Viper Filmstream, I can say I will certainly employ it again on other suitable projects. Was it suitable for the lighting work you designed for The Papyrus? My lighting project employed HMI sources with chimeras most of the time. My gaffer Lee Walters got on well with that and we never had to compromise our work because of camera technical limitations. I was very happy of the atmospheres that I could manage to achieve while working in interiors at old London libraries. The Viper canvas is really reach and sometimes motionwise very intriguing thanks to its mechanical shutter. Even the typical reflections on shiny objects’ surfaces especially bookshelves wood and books covers came up being smooth enough to work well with. The experience with practical lamps in interiors was excellent. Viper was very generous with all these extreme lighting conditions including the 6 stops overexposed exteriors seen through open windows which resulted being a sort of creamy area still with interesting shapes on it.


Purchase Order

Digital Cinematography ‘Year One’ W h y D a n M u l l i g a n f r o m R o g u e E l e m e n t F i l m s H a s B o u g h t E u r o p e ’s F i r s t S o n y F 3 5

I

t is maybe as a result of the slickness of the RED camera marketing that Sony’s launch of their significant F35 digital cinematography camera has slipped by almost unnoticed even with the combined marketing skills of Band Pro and Rogue Element Films. In fact Dan Mulligan of Rogue Element, buyers of the first F35 in Europe, has found himself defending his purchase of the Sony camera: “People have been saying ‘Why did you buy that, why didn’t you buy a RED?’”.

SO DAN, WHY DID YOU BUY THE F35? “We buy kit like Vipers and F35s for the longevity of the products and the company. The RED is obviously an exciting product but extremely flawed for all sorts of reasons. If you’re prepared to put up with it you will get some nice results but nothing more than a F900 that’s set up properly. “I buy kit that tends to be the right product for the right job and the clients come to me because we offer almost a niche service. We treat it in an adult fashion, we look at real results using a hardware based delivery. The Viper is a 4k camera delivering a 2k deliverable on-set, for real, to SR tape. Yet everyone shooting with a RED recently are saying ‘The best way to shoot with RED is to get the 4k images, de-bayer them and dump them on to SR for 2k mastering’. I was shooting Vipers to SR in 2001! “There’s still a lack of awareness of what digital is out there and nobody gets it really. The loss leader price of a RED at $17,000 is such a massive red herring because by the time you spec it properly you’re looking at the same sort of rental costs as a decent F23 system. The F23 image quality is better but nobody will believe you. The democratising that the RED brings is actually splitting digital apart and I find myself defending my purchase of the F35. The camera wipes the floor with RED on any test on any workflow option. It’s got 14 stops, the RED’s only got 10, the F35 is a stunning camera. What’s damaging about the RED is that there will come a time in two or three years when everybody will be 58 | HD MAGAZINE

Dan Mulligan with his F35

saying what a piece of crap that was. “The F35 is the best digital camera bar none, the only one which will come close is the Dalsa but that camera now seems to be nearing an agreement with Arri for them to develop it. The F35 is clearly the best imaging device out there, we bought Vipers when they weren’t exactly flavour of the month with anybody. “Our talent is making it simple with these cameras, stripping away the mystery of digital. We tell people not to get bogged down with the technology. Think of the lens, think of the chip, think of it as film, think log, think digital negative. Treat it like a film camera, the only difference is you’re capturing a digital negative not a film neg. Once you get your head around that it becomes so easy. Things like the RED are just over complicating the issue. “The F35 is a 5k chip sub-sampling down to 2k to give you a usable delivery format. You’ve got 14 stops, 14 bit dynamic range, the same as film. We hook up the F35 to the STwo DFRs to capture that DPX frame at source so we’re treating it as a digital negative. “You know when you buy from companies like Band Pro that your partnering with a support structure that will help when

anything goes wrong. You know that Sony are continually working on getting the camera better and you’re buying a camera body that will last at least five or six years before it is superseded. “Focus pullers aren’t working anymore on REDs, they’re all being self operated like an ENG camera, so the actual craft of making a film is being lost. We’re approaching our digital shoots as if it was a film shoot with the difference being a digital camera. So its digital neg, DPX frames as film neg, we offline, we telecine, we colour time the images, and we archive as you would do with inter-positives and inter-negatives. When we talk to producers we are saying this is exactly how you would have shot a film with the disciplines and the people in place and with a tried and tested workflow. The difference is that your telecine machine is a now a machine you can have in your hotel or near the set, the archive can happen close to the location and we can also process on-set. Which means we can bring someone from editorial on-set, not a data guy but an editor who can log shots and the people driving the DFR machines are camera assistants. We’re taking a very film centric HD approach to shooting digitally.”


Purchase Order

Digital Cinematography ‘Year One’ W h y D a n M u l l i g a n f r o m R o g u e E l e m e n t F i l m s H a s B o u g h t E u r o p e ’s F i r s t S o n y F 3 5

I

t is maybe as a result of the slickness of the RED camera marketing that Sony’s launch of their significant F35 digital cinematography camera has slipped by almost unnoticed even with the combined marketing skills of Band Pro and Rogue Element Films. In fact Dan Mulligan of Rogue Element, buyers of the first F35 in Europe, has found himself somewhat defending himself: “People have been asking ‘Why did you buy that, why didn’t you buy a RED?’”.

SO DAN, WHY DID YOU BUY THE F35? “We looked at REDs but we buy kit like Vipers and F35s for the longevity of the products and the company back up and for us the ultimate in quality regardless of price. The RED is obviously an exciting product but potentially flawed for all sorts of reasons. If you’re prepared to put up with it you will get some lovely results but nothing more than a F900R/F23 that’s set up properly. “I buy kit that tends to be the right product for the right job and the clients come to me because we offer almost a niche service. We treat it in a mature fashion, we look at real results using a hardware based delivery. The Viper is a 4k camera delivering a 2k deliverable on-set, for real, to SR tape or Stwo DFRs as DPX data. Yet most people shooting with a RED recently are saying ‘The best way to shoot with RED is to get the 4k images, de-bayer them and dump them on to SR for 2k mastering’. I was shooting Vipers to SR four or five years ago. “There’s still a lack of awareness of what digital is out there and not many fully understand it really. The loss leader price of a RED at $17,000 is such a massive red herring because by the time you spec it properly you’re looking at the same sort of rental costs as a decent F23 system. The F23 and F35 image quality and delivery is much better but nobody will believe you. “The democratising that the RED brings is actually in danger of splitting digital apart and I find myself almost defending my purchase of the F35, a much superior camera system in many ways. Most users 58 | HD MAGAZINE

Dan Mulligan with his F35

recognise the F35’s build and quality and the camera wipes the floor with RED on any test on any workflow option, except that bottom line marquee price point. It’s got 14 stops, the RED’s only got 10-11. What’s damaging about the RED is that there will come a time in two or three years when people will be saying lovely images but what a difficult beast too use and post.

5K TO 2K “Our talent is making it simple with these cameras, stripping away the mystery of digital. We tell people not to get bogged down with the technology. Think of the lens, think of the chip, think of it as film, think log, think digital negative. Treat it like a film camera, the only difference is you’re capturing a digital negative not a film neg. Once you get your head around that, it becomes so easy. Things like the RED are just over complicating the issue. “The F35 is a 5k chip sub-sampling down to 2k to give you a usable delivery format. You’ve got 14 stops, 14 bit dynamic range, the same as film. We hook up the F35 to the STwo DFRs to capture that DPX frame at source so we’re treating it as a digital negative. “You know when you buy from companies like Band Pro that your partnering with

a support structure that will help when anything goes wrong. You know that Sony are continually working on making the camera better and you’re buying a camera body that will last at least five or six years before it is superseded. “Focus pullers are struggling for work on some REDs, they’re being self operated like an ENG camera, so the actual craft of making a film is being lost or diluted. We’re approaching our digital shoots as if it was a film shoot with the difference being a digital camera. So its digital neg, DPX frames as film neg, we offline, we telecine, we colour time the images, and we archive as you would do with film by duping the neg. When we talk to producers we are saying this is exactly how you would have shot a film with the disciplines and the people in place and with a tried and tested workflow. The difference is that your telecine machine is a now a machine you can have in your hotel, the archive can happen close to the location and we can also process on-set. Which means we can bring someone from editorial on-set, not a data guy but an editor who can log shots and the people driving the DFR machines are camera assistants. We’re taking a very film centric approach to HD shooting digitally.”


Sony F35

www.gtc.org.uk

The best of both worlds:

digital film on the F35 With all the commotion surrounding the RED camera, an extremely significant new top-end camera from Sony has rather slipped through the publicity net. Building on the solid platform established with the F900 and built on with F23, Sony’s latest digital cinematography offering is F35. GTC member Daniel Mulligan of digital film rental specialists Rogue Element Films, based at Pinewood Studios, explains his company’s decision to invest in the very first F35 camera in Europe, listing some of the new camera’s features and the workflow options it brings.

36 Spring 2009 ZERB


Sony F35

www.gtc.org.uk

At Rogue Element Films, we had no hesitation over investing in F35 because of its outstanding imaging ability. This move is merely continuing in our already established approach, which is all about capturing the very best digital image possible at any given time. We have had the Grass Valley Viper for some time and it is still a stunning camera (see Dan’s article about the Viper in Zerb issue 64). Now we have added to this with F35, a true 35mm digital film camera system. With the advancement of new techniques and the fact that there is a growing understanding of how digital works, these digital systems will become increasingly popular. The F35, for us, represents the very best currently available now, as the Viper did previously, hence our investment is not based on any kit bias

was the perfect camera for our rental operation.

F35 camera

Now I will briefly go over the capabilities of the F35, explain loosely the terminology involved and hopefully answer some early questions relating to the system.

The F35 is Sony’s 35mm motion picture digital camera. It has a 14-bit analogue/ digital Super 35mm-sized CCD recording a 10-bit LOG/Lin image. One unique feature is the ability to record both 50/60P images at full 4:4:4 colour space and then play back these images in slow motion straight away live on set. It has 14 stops of dynamic range, variable frame rates up to 50fps in 4:4:4 mode, 35mm depth of field control, instant feedback of what has been shot, and ISO/ASA 450(T10) with no grain.

The camera The F35 has been designed as a digital film camera for film production people. It records in the LOG (logarithmic curve; a curve that maps the image information in a similar way to a scanned image from a piece of film) format in order to retain as much image information as possible. Technically, the camera is a huge step forward having 14-bit analogue/digital signal processing with advanced DSP (digital signal processing) outputting a 10-bit LOG image from a Super 35mm-sized

“the F35, for us, represents the very best currently available now, as the Viper did previously” but on what is best in the field at the moment. The price of such kit is a burden we are happy to carry given our desire to provide the very best digital film images possible. The F35 started shooting as soon as it arrived and has already been used on a number of commercials around the world. It has just wrapped photography on a TV series in Germany as well as a full feature film shooting anamorphically with the new Hawk 1.3x squeeze lenses, so it’s clear the demand is out there. Used correctly and efficiently, the total cost of shooting with this system will ultimately prove cheaper than other systems and this was also a factor in our decision. The choice was based not just on the F35’s fantastic imaging capabilities but also on other unique touches, such as the ability to capture up to 50/60 frames per second and play these images instantly back on set, with no waiting. Add in the extra processing power enabling the camera to capture 14 stops of dynamic range and we felt this

CCD. This means that the F35 captures the image information at 14 bits and then turns it into a deliverable 10-bit 4:4:4 1080 LOG image. The increase to 14 bits on the CCD gives it the extra processing power to produce the incredible14 stops of dynamic range (which is the same as film). Minimal processing is applied in its Cine mode for both 3200K and 5600K colour temperature adjustments but that’s pretty much it. The potential image quality is also optimised by the fact that the F35 takes 35mm PL mount film lenses making it compatible with the very best prime lenses. As mentioned above, the F35 camera’s output is in an unprocessed (10-bit LOG) format, commonly referred to as Raw (raw meaning clean image data unhindered by in-camera gamma settings), so you record all of the F35’s CCD image information without the need for gamma and knee controls. Of course you can still record with those menus switched on for a more tuned-up in-camera balance and

F35 with 21mm Zeiss Master Prime

gamma setting, but for most post applications the LOG image is preferable as it will give much more image information to play with later in post. One potential downside to this approach is that the LOG image looks pretty flat and dull on set, essentially lacking any contrast, which is why the use of LUTs (look up tables) is now becoming more widespread, to enable the viewing experience on set to be that bit more pleasurable. These viewing LUTs are not being baked into the digital negative (raw image information from the

F35 with Hawk 1.3x 35mm lens

approach frees you up to focus on the main aim of the exercise creating fantastic images. You do have two settings for the camera, one utilising knee and gamma controls and the other stripping them away for a more film-style approach: Cine and Custom. In Cine mode most of the knee and gamma menus are turned off (inactive) and the camera pre-sets the extended mode of image capture. In Custom you have more control of the in-camera knee and gamma controls, enabling more correction and ‘painting’ at the camera head.

F35 with separate SRW1/SRPC1 recording externally

CCD) but are merely for on-set viewing via HD monitors. You will find that once you as the DoP and your director get confident with viewing the flat images you can relax and concentrate on the more important aspects i.e. exposing/framing and operating the camera, much more in line with the approach on a film shoot. Taking this more film-centric

Workflows Although this camera is clearly aimed at the feature film production market, the F35 will quite rightly also find itself being used for high-end HDTV production. Producers will not only be tempted by the 35mm look (shallow depth of field) but also the two very clear workflow paths, one of which is fully

Spring 2009 ZERB 37


Sony F35

www.gtc.org.uk

“by finally achieving the full dynamic range of film, we now have real alternatives to 35mm film production but with inherent cost savings” tapeless. With budgets so tight at the moment, the ability of the F35 to deliver the final LOG image (negative) and process this on set will save productions both time and money, with no timeconsuming software rendering needed for the final image. The F35 records onto either HDCAM SR via Sony’s SRW1/ SRPC1 portable field recorder or a data disk recorder such as the Stwo Take2 DFR as uncompressed 2k image data. Each system has its plus and minus points but keeping the whole shoot data-based will introduce certain workflow efficiencies that tape cannot employ. On the flipside, naturally tape capture is a slightly easier workflow to handle and you benefit by handing over a full SR tape with all your image and timecode/audio information intact. Shooting digitally In exposing the F35, you need to think along the lines of reversal stock. Film has a tremendous amount of latitude and can easily recover a couple of stops of under or over-exposure. Digital is a little bit harsher in this regard and so exposure needs to be much more accurate.

To run the images accurately you will require calibrated monitors on set and, as such, probably negate the idea of taking a laptop to the hotel to ‘grade’ your images. In the end though, the approach chosen on a fully digital shoot, be it workflow options or LUTs and colour pipeline needs, can be as effective and expensive as you like, or as cheap as just renting a camera and lens. Digital toolsets now offer the user a tremendous amount of information that can be gathered whilst shooting, and by employing these tools effectively and smartly, any production can save huge amounts on their budget. It’s truly a false economy to think that renting a cheap system will itself be cheaper in the long run. Think about the whole process, work smartly and you will reap the rewards. For me, the start of any digital shoot is the lens, followed by the chip, then the recording device. Each digital camera really is as different from the next one as one film stock is from the next. It’s also vitally important that you ensure that everyone involved, from crew to distribution, fully understands and appreciates the workflow being adopted for the shoot.

“the LOG image looks pretty flat and dull on set … which is why the use of LUTs (look up tables) is now becoming more widespread” Don’t forget though that you will have, if required, the full advantage of using a waveform and HD monitors as well as your trusty exposure meter. Exposing and lighting correctly will give you the same dynamic range as film on the screen.

38 Spring 2009 ZERB

The bar has been raised To me, the F35 is now the standard the rest will have to follow. Our purchase is born out of a desire to capture at the very highest level possible, and the F35 currently represents that approach. By finally

Lenses The F35 uses 35mm PL mount lenses. This will mean most productions using Zeiss Master Primes or Cooke S4i primes as well as Angenieux long and short zooms. This approach gives certain artistic advantages especially shallow depth of field.

Squeezed LOG 1.3x anamorphic image

New anamorphic lenses from Hawk now employ a 1.3x squeeze giving full resolution anamorphic images on the F35’s CCD without the need to extract the anamorphic frame thus losing resolution (1080 lines vs 800). De-squeezed image with colour correction

Recording devices/workflows HDCAM-SR is a tape format similar to DigiBeta and HDCAM but with much more information recorded to the SR tape via the use of two heads spinning at once. The SRW1/SPRC1 combined unit is used for field use and is Sony’s default recorder for the F35.

Workflow for digital cinematography

Stwo DFRs capture fully uncompressed images from the F35 as DPX frames onto hard drives. This records 24 DPX frames per second giving an individual image, or DPX, per frame, similar to a full film frame. This affords a fully tapeless workflow into post, gaining advantages for post houses familiar to DPX, as well as certain efficiencies on set.

achieving the full dynamic range of film, we now have real alternatives to 35mm film production but with the inherent cost savings that digital can bring to the table. If the whole production takes on board the need to blend both camera and post budgets, and to treat the shoot accordingly, then an average saving of 20–30% is entirely possible on the whole budget.

Fact File For more details on F35 and Rogue Element Films see: www.rogueelementfilms.com www.f35pinewood.com


TAPELESS TIMES – P2 IN CINEMA

TAPELESS TIMES – P2 IN CINEMA

P2 Hardware

The P2 recorder can run from local power that is powering the camera at the same time

P2 For Drama

Panasonic P2 and Rogue Element Films look at 4.2.2 HDTV content delivery using Sony’s F35 and Thomson’s Viper

T

he acceleration of HDTV delivery and the need for that type of quality image capture has led Rogue Element Films to investigate other avenues of recording images for TV Productions. The costs of recording for some productions, allied to the rental of certain equipment for that style of recording, have proven to be somewhat prohibitive, although it’s probably the best way to capture the highest quality images

“Being only 1kg in weight we are able to attach the recorder to the camera allowing for an un-tethered recording system. Being a data workflow allows certain time efficiencies within your workflow and gives the production time and costs savings.” possible along with uncompressed data via DPX frames. Other ways to capture these images have been seen to offer the most rounded solution for certain content delivery environments. Most high end TV productions will be looking at 20 | HD MAGAZINE

two cameras per show for shooting which can double the stock purchase and also doubles the rental for equipment. How do we reduce those costs but keep the quality of the images intact while delivering a cheaper and perhaps more efficient workflow option? These questions prompted us to look at the Panasonic P2 workflow usually reserved for ENG practices. By using its AVC Intra 100 codec the P2 cards, via the HPG20 unit, we can record full 10bit 4.2.2 images from SDI cameras such as the Sony F35 and Thomson Vipers thus giving us the image quality but allowing us a much more cost effective data recording solution. In this article I will explain the P2 workflow and show examples and explanations of why we at Rogue have adopted the P2 for such work. Introduced by Panasonic in 2004 the P2 format is based around solid state media to capture varying levels of image data with differing codec values. By using the AG-HPG20 recording system we at Rogue are able to capture from the F35 full 10bit 4.2.2 1080 25p images into the AVC-Intra 100 codec. Being only 1kg in weight we are able to attach the recorder to the camera allowing for an untethered recording system. Being a data workflow allows certain time efficiencies within your workflow and gives the production time and costs savings. So for HDTV content delivery we can capture amazing images from the F35 but retain a cost effective data workflow throughout saving time and money.

As the images show you here the HPG20 recording unit can be integrated into the F35 and thus create a completely self contained shooting and recording environment with a relatively small footprint. The P2 recorder can run from local power that is powering the F35 at the same time and enables as best we can a similar recording and power delivery system as the F900 keeping everything running of one battery and a self contained recording environment. The HPG20 has a small LCD screen that can be used for verifying shots that have been captured and recording is controlled via a record button on the unit itself. P2 cards are needed to insert into the recorder and it has two available slots, allowing for a full card to be removed and then archived while a second card continues recording. Once the P2 recorder is set up then it’s a simple case of recording your takes all in 4.2.2 10bit 1080 25p.

P2 Software

Any data/card/hard drive recording system naturally relies on the software to drive the workflow from point A to B. In the case of the P2 system Panasonic have created a full software suite that caters for not only the capture codec but also the archive and delivery requirements needed. The P2CMS (Content Management Software) caters for this. It’s a library for the rushes taken and each shot is issued a unique identifier that will enable a clip to be easily selected and viewed during conform. The CMS also allows the layout of each clip at full resolution and the ability to re-save any metadata that may have been missed during the actual shoot. Archiving the rushes is simply a case of formatting an external drive into the P2 environment and then transferring the shot rushes across to the external drive using the actual HPG unit you have recorded from. To re-cap then the P2 software and workflow revolves, in this example, around the AVC Intra 100

SONY F35 with P2 recorder on-top HD MAGAZINE | 21


TAPELESS TIMES – P2 IN CINEMA

TAPELESS TIMES – P2 IN CINEMA

P2 Hardware

The P2 recorder can run from local power that is powering the camera at the same time

P2 For Drama

Panasonic P2 and Rogue Element Films look at 4.2.2 HDTV content delivery using Sony’s F35 and Thomson’s Viper

T

he acceleration of HDTV delivery and the need for that type of quality image capture has led Rogue Element Films to investigate other avenues of recording images for TV Productions. The costs of recording for some productions, allied to the rental of certain equipment for that style of recording, have proven to be somewhat prohibitive, although it’s probably the best way to capture the highest quality images

“Being only 1kg in weight we are able to attach the recorder to the camera allowing for an un-tethered recording system. Being a data workflow allows certain time efficiencies within your workflow and gives the production time and costs savings.” possible along with uncompressed data via DPX frames. Other ways to capture these images have been seen to offer the most rounded solution for certain content delivery environments. Most high end TV productions will be looking at 20 | HD MAGAZINE

two cameras per show for shooting which can double the stock purchase and also doubles the rental for equipment. How do we reduce those costs but keep the quality of the images intact while delivering a cheaper and perhaps more efficient workflow option? These questions prompted us to look at the Panasonic P2 workflow usually reserved for ENG practices. By using its AVC Intra 100 codec the P2 cards, via the HPG20 unit, we can record full 10bit 4.2.2 images from SDI cameras such as the Sony F35 and Thomson Vipers thus giving us the image quality but allowing us a much more cost effective data recording solution. In this article I will explain the P2 workflow and show examples and explanations of why we at Rogue have adopted the P2 for such work. Introduced by Panasonic in 2004 the P2 format is based around solid state media to capture varying levels of image data with differing codec values. By using the AG-HPG20 recording system we at Rogue are able to capture from the F35 full 10bit 4.2.2 1080 25p images into the AVC-Intra 100 codec. Being only 1kg in weight we are able to attach the recorder to the camera allowing for an untethered recording system. Being a data workflow allows certain time efficiencies within your workflow and gives the production time and costs savings. So for HDTV content delivery we can capture amazing images from the F35 but retain a cost effective data workflow throughout saving time and money.

As the images show you here the HPG20 recording unit can be integrated into the F35 and thus create a completely self contained shooting and recording environment with a relatively small footprint. The P2 recorder can run from local power that is powering the F35 at the same time and enables as best we can a similar recording and power delivery system as the F900 keeping everything running of one battery and a self contained recording environment. The HPG20 has a small LCD screen that can be used for verifying shots that have been captured and recording is controlled via a record button on the unit itself. P2 cards are needed to insert into the recorder and it has two available slots, allowing for a full card to be removed and then archived while a second card continues recording. Once the P2 recorder is set up then it’s a simple case of recording your takes all in 4.2.2 10bit 1080 25p.

P2 Software

Any data/card/hard drive recording system naturally relies on the software to drive the workflow from point A to B. In the case of the P2 system Panasonic have created a full software suite that caters for not only the capture codec but also the archive and delivery requirements needed. The P2CMS (Content Management Software) caters for this. It’s a library for the rushes taken and each shot is issued a unique identifier that will enable a clip to be easily selected and viewed during conform. The CMS also allows the layout of each clip at full resolution and the ability to re-save any metadata that may have been missed during the actual shoot. Archiving the rushes is simply a case of formatting an external drive into the P2 environment and then transferring the shot rushes across to the external drive using the actual HPG unit you have recorded from. To re-cap then the P2 software and workflow revolves, in this example, around the AVC Intra 100

SONY F35 with P2 recorder on-top HD MAGAZINE | 21


TAPELESS TIMES – P2 IN CINEMA

codec. This is the capture codec that best supports the F35/Vipers 10bit output at 4.2.2. This captured codec is then archived and then pushed through Panasonics CMS software suite to create your dailies and deliver the content to editorial to create your EDL. One major advantage of the native P2 format is its ability to be ingested into your edit suite in its native format thus removing the need to downconvert to another format to edit from and giving editorial the ability to see the same rushes in HD that you shot on set and removes another task from the workflow thus creating time and cost savings during production.

Testing On Set Workflow

We tested the workflow for the P2 thoroughly on a recent BBC show using the Viper and also the F35 workflow on a recent test for another HDTV show at

Elstree Studios. For the BBC show Last of the Summer Wine we recorded the 2010 series on the Viper connected to an SRW1 HDCAM SR field recorder. To test the viability of the P2 format we connected a P2 HPG20 recording device to the SRW1 4.2.2 output and recorded the same rushes we were recording to the SR format (see pictures of deck with SRW1). This enabled a true comparison to the SR masters and to see how easily the P2 system could be integrated into a real shoot on set. The HPG20 recorder performed flawlessly and we had zero issues recording the images on set. In fact the size of the recorder itself gave us certain freedoms by enabling us to attach the recorder to the Viper camera head instead of being tethered to the SRW1 deck as normal. This gives recording control back to the DP/Operator and perhaps reduces the need for certain dedicated operations now seen on digital sets in such circumstances? The images looked fantastic given the compression employed by the AVC Intra codec and looking at the results and given the ability to have un-tethered recording capability we would have no problem recommending the P2 to any production giving a real choice and a true alternative.

Final Analysis

By using the P2 card system and the HPG20 recording unit productions have the ability to capture high dynamic range images from the Viper or F35 in 4.2.2 colour space at full 10bit capture and as the delivery requirements would be for 16mb/s TV then its entirely viable given the delivery requirements. Data workflows using the P2 software and codecs then introduces significant cost and time savings and also retains the high image quality that the F35 delivers, it really is a fantastic way to save you time and money and give you the exceptional image quality that high end TV dramas now rightly insist HD on.

Part of the BBC’s test on Last Of The Summer Wine with Sony SRW1 and P2

22 | HD MAGAZINE

Rogue Element Fims is a pioneer of data workflows for Features and TV. Based at Elstree Studios in a brand new Digital Technology Centre they develop new workflow tools and offer full consultancy and rental including now a brand new 3D system based on the SI2K mini recording heads with a Cineform and .SIV workflow.


grading on set

REVIEW: FILMLIGHT TL ONSET

TRUELIGHT ON-SET Rogue Element Films’ Daniel Mulligan reviews a new way of timing on-set with ASC Standard LUT Implementation

O

n set correction and 3D LUTs are still somewhat dividing opinions and are now, as digital image capture moves on, becoming more widely used and excepted as a tool for correcting images on set either for later collaborations with a grading team or just for viewing images more corrected than a flat log image would be. Indeed in 2007 our article on LUTs remains today one of the most successful downloaded articles for this magazine. So here I present a follow up of sorts and introduce a new method of working that brings to the table a new way of using 3D LUTs on set.

Truelight On Set

Truelight On-Set allows you to set the look of your production quite early on; it provides the ability to colour-correct on-set and share corrections with a post-production facility. For monitoring while shooting, Truelight On-Set applies a colour Transform (3D LUT) between the

camera and monitors. Colour grades, set in preproduction or on previous shoots, can be applied and then further adjusted at the time of shooting. For dailies review system allows you to apply colour correction to footage as it is reviewed on-location. In both scenarios, grading decisions are logged with timecode and can be used to create the dailies deliverables and as a possible starting point for future colour correction.

Real Time

A few years ago Thomson introduced the LUTher box and Filmlight their Truelight LUT box. These systems allowed 3D Cubes to be created and allow for the instant application of a designed 3D LUT to the live image on set via an HD monitor. To create the LUT though a ‘frame grab’ was required from the cameras output which could be manipulated via software to ‘create’ your new desired look (3D LUT) for viewing. This has now taken a significant step forward with

the introduction of TL On Set, Filmlight’s Truelight On Set. The TL can now take that same live output but instead of requiring a frame grab it can now correct the live image in real time without the need for any ingest or capture. It may not sound much but believe me this is a significant move forward and opens up a new set of tremendous possibilities for the next generation of colour correction on set and location.

ASC LUT Standard

The TL implements the ASC LUT standard when creating your 3D LUTs. This standard was designed to build a standard LUT format that could be used by every software and hardware package in the market. By adopting the ASC standard the TL will then guarantee that the Post House which you use should have no difficulty in understanding the LUTs you have created.

Workflows

The new real time aspect of the unit does open some nice possibilities for new workflow solutions that could save time and money when integrated correctly. Also along with the ASC LUT standard the TL system can integrate your LUTs with the timecode captured. By tagging the LUTs to the timecode when the rushes are then played back say for projection dailies the LUTs selected earlier will be automatically selected for you as the rushes play back.

Television

The onset correction system could quite rightly be used to re-time your rushes/images while you shoot and baked into your master copy saving time and money in grading suites. By placing the TL OnSet between the camera and the recording system (say an SRW1 deck) you can time the rushes instantly on set and bake this to the output of the TL box. Take this feed into your recording deck an you will be recording your master rushes with the baked in look that you have applied. If done correctly you can then take the corrected images straight to grade already timed on set, this will save considerable time in the grading suite.

Features

For Feature Film requirements though our parameters for the images are more critical, so the TL system should be then used accordingly. Shooting digitally for Features would normally

“The arrival of the TL On Set from FilmLight and the ability to create your LUTs in real time is taking this way of working to a new and exciting level.” Dan Mulligan, DoP mean shooting a Log/RAW type image, which gives us more flexibility in Post. So baking your rushes into the master would most likely not happen, but the LUTs you have created on set will be used for your offline copies (FCP ProRes or DNxHD Avid files) and also used for the start of your grading session. When reviewing dailies on-location, for example, primary colour correction decisions performed by a colourist at your post-production house do not have to be baked in, your dailies can remain uncorrected. These post-production grades can be recreated on the Truelight On-Set system, reviewed and adjusted, and then returned to the post-production colourist by means of the previously mentioned ASC CDL list. This allows for a collaborative dailies review session with the ability to clearly communicate colour intentions back and forth between production and postproduction.

Conclusions

Clearly Filmlight’s Truelight OnSet correction system has a tremendous amount of flexibility and use for current digital Productions. We have covered just the basics of the system here and could probably write full articles on just a Feature Film workflow alone. Having now used 3D LUTs for many years with a varying array of kit and software its fair to say the arrival of the TL On Set and the ability to create your LUTs in real time is taking this way of working to new exciting level. Once the advantages are made clear and the workflow options understood this I’m sure will be a way many of us will be working for a long time to come. www.rogueelementfilms.com TL OnSet now available for rental from Rogue Element Films

TrueLight On-Set User Interface

34 | HD MAGAZINE

HD MAGAZINE | 35


grading on set

REVIEW: FILMLIGHT TL ONSET

TRUELIGHT ON-SET Rogue Element Films’ Daniel Mulligan reviews a new way of timing on-set with ASC Standard LUT Implementation

O

n set correction and 3D LUTs are still somewhat dividing opinions and are now, as digital image capture moves on, becoming more widely used and excepted as a tool for correcting images on set either for later collaborations with a grading team or just for viewing images more corrected than a flat log image would be. Indeed in 2007 our article on LUTs remains today one of the most successful downloaded articles for this magazine. So here I present a follow up of sorts and introduce a new method of working that brings to the table a new way of using 3D LUTs on set.

Truelight On Set

Truelight On-Set allows you to set the look of your production quite early on; it provides the ability to colour-correct on-set and share corrections with a post-production facility. For monitoring while shooting, Truelight On-Set applies a colour Transform (3D LUT) between the

camera and monitors. Colour grades, set in preproduction or on previous shoots, can be applied and then further adjusted at the time of shooting. For dailies review system allows you to apply colour correction to footage as it is reviewed on-location. In both scenarios, grading decisions are logged with timecode and can be used to create the dailies deliverables and as a possible starting point for future colour correction.

Real Time

A few years ago Thomson introduced the LUTher box and Filmlight their Truelight LUT box. These systems allowed 3D Cubes to be created and allow for the instant application of a designed 3D LUT to the live image on set via an HD monitor. To create the LUT though a ‘frame grab’ was required from the cameras output which could be manipulated via software to ‘create’ your new desired look (3D LUT) for viewing. This has now taken a significant step forward with

the introduction of TL On Set, Filmlight’s Truelight On Set. The TL can now take that same live output but instead of requiring a frame grab it can now correct the live image in real time without the need for any ingest or capture. It may not sound much but believe me this is a significant move forward and opens up a new set of tremendous possibilities for the next generation of colour correction on set and location.

ASC LUT Standard

The TL implements the ASC LUT standard when creating your 3D LUTs. This standard was designed to build a standard LUT format that could be used by every software and hardware package in the market. By adopting the ASC standard the TL will then guarantee that the Post House which you use should have no difficulty in understanding the LUTs you have created.

Workflows

The new real time aspect of the unit does open some nice possibilities for new workflow solutions that could save time and money when integrated correctly. Also along with the ASC LUT standard the TL system can integrate your LUTs with the timecode captured. By tagging the LUTs to the timecode when the rushes are then played back say for projection dailies the LUTs selected earlier will be automatically selected for you as the rushes play back.

Television

The onset correction system could quite rightly be used to re-time your rushes/images while you shoot and baked into your master copy saving time and money in grading suites. By placing the TL OnSet between the camera and the recording system (say an SRW1 deck) you can time the rushes instantly on set and bake this to the output of the TL box. Take this feed into your recording deck an you will be recording your master rushes with the baked in look that you have applied. If done correctly you can then take the corrected images straight to grade already timed on set, this will save considerable time in the grading suite.

Features

For Feature Film requirements though our parameters for the images are more critical, so the TL system should be then used accordingly. Shooting digitally for Features would normally

“The arrival of the TL On Set from FilmLight and the ability to create your LUTs in real time is taking this way of working to a new and exciting level.” Dan Mulligan, DoP mean shooting a Log/RAW type image, which gives us more flexibility in Post. So baking your rushes into the master would most likely not happen, but the LUTs you have created on set will be used for your offline copies (FCP ProRes or DNxHD Avid files) and also used for the start of your grading session. When reviewing dailies on-location, for example, primary colour correction decisions performed by a colourist at your post-production house do not have to be baked in, your dailies can remain uncorrected. These post-production grades can be recreated on the Truelight On-Set system, reviewed and adjusted, and then returned to the post-production colourist by means of the previously mentioned ASC CDL list. This allows for a collaborative dailies review session with the ability to clearly communicate colour intentions back and forth between production and postproduction.

Conclusions

Clearly Filmlight’s Truelight OnSet correction system has a tremendous amount of flexibility and use for current digital Productions. We have covered just the basics of the system here and could probably write full articles on just a Feature Film workflow alone. Having now used 3D LUTs for many years with a varying array of kit and software its fair to say the arrival of the TL On Set and the ability to create your LUTs in real time is taking this way of working to new exciting level. Once the advantages are made clear and the workflow options understood this I’m sure will be a way many of us will be working for a long time to come. www.rogueelementfilms.com TL OnSet now available for rental from Rogue Element Films

TrueLight On-Set User Interface

34 | HD MAGAZINE

HD MAGAZINE | 35

Rogue Element Films Digital Archive  

A collection of Rogue Element Films' Articles.

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