Right, it's been more than a week since the blog was last updated and a lot has been happening. First, let me introduce myself: my name is Francois and I will be updating the site from today. So let me tell you what has been going on.
We started shooting the feature film “Spoon” on the 10'th of May and the first few days were hectic. Initially we had a small problem getting our second camera to link with the system, but soon got that fixed. The shoot was at an outside location while the VT station was set up inside, which initially led to a small delay in work flow because of communication between the on-set crew and the VT guys, but after a while the whole process was streamlined and by the time we got to set and rolling on day two everything was going smoothly.
At the moment we are running both camera's directly into the wafian boxes and PC, thus enabling us to shoot two angles of a scene at a time. It's incredible sitting at the VT station and looking at the feeds from both camera's, especially when with the click of a button you can review the scenes that have been shot a second ago through Widows Media Player. The shots are looking great and it's not uncommon to hear people from the crew saying things like “this is the way of the future” or seeing the directors smiling broadly and talking excitedly about how incredible the footage from the camera is looking.
Both the camera's at the moment are equipped with a Canon wide-angle 16mm zoom lens. The lenses offer us a broad view, fast aperture, and a closer focusing, down to 0.28m. The lens remains compact while still providing superior image quality. It is also highly resistant to dust and moisture, which is great, seeing as on our last day on set (today), we will be shooting in a room with and inch of water on the floor and a smoke-machine (courtesy of MXFX Special Effects) blowing smoke over the entire room.
As far as the technical side from the camera's are going there have been no major problems. The only small glitch is that every now and then one of the cameras disconnects from the system and have to be reset quickly, but this takes less than a minute and everything is up and running again. Little things like this are to be expected since the camera and system are still in the Beta phase, but Silicon Imaging is aware of it and are busy fixing the problem. On the computer we are getting a data rate of about 11Mb/s, less than the 18Mb/s we were expecting.
Yesterday we shot a small semi-action scene, where the main character gets hit in the face, drops to the floor and comes up with blood running out of his nose. For this shot there has to go a big 'well done' to the art department, it looks very real. Altogether during the first week we have shot over 600 gig of raw footage.
As far as todays shoot is going, the set looks amazing, it actually looks like “a real film set”, as someone commented earlier. The images from the scenes have an incredible atmosphere, even without any actors in the space, and something beautiful that I have come to notice of the picture is the texture. Because of the camera we are getting an image that has a unique sort of texture: it's not quite digital, but it's not quite film either...it's something crisp, clear and soft that has an amazing feeling to it.
As a sign-off for todays update I would just like to mention two interesting thoughts. First, on our first day of shooting we also filmed with a film camera and we got about 1 hour 20 minutes of footage, which ran to cost about $8500. Compare this to the SI-1920 camera and system which will cost under $20 000 to buy and can shoot up to four hours on one drive. And then if you want to shoot more all you need is more drive space, which is becoming cheaper by the day. The second thing is that, let's say, hypothetically, you are using a 10:1 shooting ratio. All of the footage would have to be captured, taking quite a while, even a two minute scene would then take up to half an hour, and in the end you are only using 10% of the footage. That's 90% of the time spent capturing, and paying for it, wasted. Just let these last two thoughts sink in and you will see why this system is “the way of the future” for independent film-making.
Be sure to watch the blog as I will be posting photos from the shoot at our first set soon, it looks amazing...