Indie Film Live

Monday, April 17, 2006

SI-1920HDVR - UNVEILED & UNLEASHED

Well it’s been a while since we posted anything. The reason is we had to keep what we were doing under wraps until Silicon Imaging, Cineform and Adobe announced the SI-1920HDVR and their collaboration in getting the workflow worked out. Well If you haven’t heard about it yet, best read this: http://www.siliconimaging.com/DigitalCinema/

Making a low budget film is not easy. Especially when you are ambitious about what you want to do. For the past year we have been cutting corners off the production process wherever and whenever we could to streamline a very ambitious attempt at a low budget film. We were planning to shoot directly to the Wafian from the JVC HD100 giving us a great 1/3” chip image. We could key, color correct and everything but the problem was we were using 35mm adapters which lost light and added grain. This combined with the 1/3” chip produced a satisfactory result - comparable to 16mm and aesthetically beautiful.

As often happens with shooting schedules we had some setbacks which forced us to reschedule our shoot four months later and this gave us a moment to think and ask the question:

Was our work flow the best it could be or had things moved on allowing for an even better format?

Well the truth with technology is it’s always moved on and at some point you need to commit to where it is at that moment and go with it. We had done that with the HD100 but now we had this extra time. We decided that not to take advantage of the time would be a decision made out of fear and as a result of having made a nice comfort zone for ourselves that we didn’t want to move out of. We had to aim higher with the time we had. I immediately began researching 2/3” chips and solutions and it was encouraging though none of the systems out there were anywhere near ready to go. After a long search I reverted to my trusted friends at Cineform with my finding and a question (thinking I was ahead of the game):

- Are there any 2/3” cameras that might suit our needs?

I got a response beginning something like - “...it just so happens that we’re already working with the guys at Silicon Imaging… Want an introduction?...”.

A week or two later we ordered an SI1920 boxed camera for testing and began the process of re-organizing our workflow. Changing your mind is never easy but when we saw the chip with a 35mm lens stuck directly onto it the chip housing we were very excited.

It’s natural to be apprehensive about new things. But once you get to know how they work it gets easier to accept them. The principle of having a chip with a lens attached to a small form factor PC is easy to accept when you know how it works. This is what our testing gave us. Once we had shots flowing we could see the results and they were ground breaking. Because it is a single CMOS sensor we can attach regular film lenses to the chip which essentially means cutting everything from the film plane of the film camera to the Telecine transfer. Everything else is pretty much the same, so most film gear will work well!

We tested 16mm and 35mm lenses from CineGate who have been just amazing throughout or technical meandering. No snooty remarks about film and digital just a solid interest and excitement around something new. Without this kind of support testing and committing to new things is impossible – Thanks Brad and Anton. I will follow you wherever you may go.

We used the Wafian box and the software developed by Silicon Imaging to ingest our test files and after only a little playing we were on our way. Jason referred us to Les Boscher who made up the C-mount to 2/3” adapter. When everything was there we were getting some petty cool looking images.

As we progress and get the first unit here we will post more information and some footage. We begin shooting in May so it may go quite but that means there will be a lot to talk about when we are done with the shoot.

Our commercial independent film market just got an adrenalin shot. We are very excited about the next few weeks and we hope to bring more good news.