Visitors to this year’s Cine Gear Expo will get a chance to see the evolution of 4K production technologies, with new gear from Dalsa and Codex Digital that is getting smaller, faster and more versatile.
Since it first appeared at NAB 2003 with its 4K Origin camera, one of the key challenges for Dalsa has been its form factor — the camera was heavy with a high center of gravity, not to mention the recorders, which were originally the size of a steamer chest or a small fridge.
But those are all getting smaller. The company recently announced that it is expanding its 4K product line with two new 4K camera models — the Evolution and the Origin II — as well as an onboard 4K data recorder called a Flashmag and new 4K anamorphic lenses built by Eric Peterson of A&S Precision and designed by Dan Sasaki.
The company expects its new 4K products to roll out over the next year.
“Basically, we’re talking about the ability to shoot at 4K resolution, 16-bit, uncompressed, untethered, using the highest quality anamorphic lenses. I think cinematographers will be particularly thrilled that, for the first time, a digital camera will be able to capture the CinemaScope 2.40:1 aspect ratio without compromising image quality,” said Rob Hummel, president of Dalsa Digital Cinema LA.
The Origin II incorporates Dalsa’s latest generation frame transfer CCD image sensors and includes features such as a simplified touch-screen interface, 24 reference white balance curves/display LUTs and an enhanced “visualize” on-set image analysis tool set.
The Evolution camera uses those same new frame transfer CCDs, but is smaller, weighing in at about 28 pounds, compared to the Origin’s 36 pounds. It also includes a new live HD/SDI output feature for enhanced onset monitoring and direct HD recording.
“Origin is more of a studio camera,” said Hummel. “The form factor and the center of gravity of the Evolution camera make it much more manageable.”
Flashmag is a new solid-state recorder for both the Origin II and Evolution 4K cameras, which allows users to shoot up to 20 minutes of RAW, 16-bit, uncompressed 4K data untethered. It also doubles as a portable playback device for onset review of dailies, and can de-bayer footage in real time, to play back at 2K.
“The advantage is that when you capture at 4K, it gives you the best 2K image. If you want, the Evolution camera can deliver a production-ready 2K image right out of the gate, or you can even record it to HDCAM SR if you want,” said Hummel. “You now have the best 2K camera on the planet, because it’s capturing in 4K and de-bayering it and scaling it to 2K in real time. We’re going to have beta versions of the cameras this summer and I’m going to have some cinematographers try to beat them up.”
Filmmaker Joe Di Gennaro and cinematographer David Stump recently used the original Origin for a 15 minute short called NO.
It was also used on a recent Greenpeace anti-whaling ad campaign starring Anthony Hopkins, shot in 4K using Origin cameras and recorded to Codex Digital recorders.
Codex Unveils Portable Recorder
The recorders are getting smaller, too.
At Cine Gear Expo, Codex is launching a new, portable field recorder that’s not much larger than a toaster. Expected to ship in late 2007, the ambitious new Codex Portable can record from virtually every high-end digital camera on the market, including HD cameras in video mode, and data-mode cameras such as the ARRI D-20 and Dalsa’s Origin. It also will be able to record Red Digital Cinema’s Red One camera in 4K data mode, when it becomes available.
Designed as a compact and rugged field recorder meant to be carried on an operator’s shoulder, it is constructed from carbon fiber with rubber-sealed connections to make it tough and weather-resistant. It weighs only 9 pounds and is powered by standard camera batteries.
It features two dual-link HD-SDI inputs, Infiniband and Ethernet data-connections (1GB/s and 10GBps), timecode and control ports, eight channels of audio, HD and SD monitoring of all formats up to 4K, and MP4 wireless video output.
One cool feature is that the Codex Portable can record from two 4:4:4 cameras simultaneously, (either independently or locked together for 3D stereoscopic acquisition), or it can record from four 4:2:2 cameras simultaneously.