I recently color graded a short called Chansons de Charlotte, directed by Brian Windelinckx.
He describes it as:
A musical comedy about a girl stuck in a rut - A love letter to the geniuses of the French New Wave (Godard, Truffaut, Varda & Demy) and Christophe Honoré’s revival of the genre.
Charlotte spends the night with her ex-boyfriend, philanderer Kristof, while having an affair with her French lit professor Frederik. The resulting chaos might interfere with a life-altering event for Charlotte.
And I absolutely love the film and loved working on it. It’s a musical and I love it. I love it. And … it’s a musical …
Errrr … not really my cup of tea normally (I don’t like tea by the way).
But this little film is right up my alley and it makes me long for it to continue into a feature.
Brian has just graduated from the KASK film school here in Ghent and this was his graduation project. Five out of ten graduation projects from this year’s bachelor students were filmed on the Ikonoskop A-Cam dII.
I’ve started keeping a list of films and documentaries that have been filmed on the dII and it’s getting quite long.
Why haven’t we seen more of these films online? Mainly because the filmmakers making them did not intend them for Vimeo or YouTube.
Most of them have entered or are entering the festival circuit and do not want much to be shown on the internet. It’s a bit frustrating if you want to show how good a camera is, but I can understand their point of view.
I was assuming that people had found their way by now around color correction and grading difficulties of the CinemaDNG post workflow for the dII.
But recent e-mails, conversations and topics on the Ikonoskop forum suggest the contrary.
And I can understand this, as Ikonoskop on their part have in my opinion not invested enough time and effort in getting the post workflow as smooth as possible.
So here’s how I color grade dII footage 80% of the time:
You might get the impression that Adobe Camera Raw (Photoshop, After Effects) does a better job at debayering the Ikonoskop CinemaDNG.
I just would like you to know that Adobe applies by default sharpening and noise reduction in Camera Raw (look at the 3rd tab of Camera Raw). So if you’re comparing decoders for quality, make sure you’re sending them into battle with the equal weaponry.
Stills taken from Chansons de Charlotte.
Last Monday, Ross A. Wilson’s The Last Line, premiered online. Ross is a British independent filmmaker and one of the first A-Cam dII owners.
You can watch it here: http://www.thelastline.reactfilms.co.uk/watch.html
Nice story with a twist and really love the grading.
You can support Ross by ordering a DVD of this short.
Please check out this Kickstarter Project by Jesse Borkowski. It’s for funding a documentary about small businesses creating sustainable value and social change by giving equal weight to people, planet and profit. With two weeks to go, it’s 25% funded and needs our help.
It’s filmed on the Ikonoskop A-Cam dII. Jesse Borkowski is a valued member of the Ikonoskop community and especially known for his great tutorials on post workflows.
Find his YouTube channel here: http://www.youtube.com/user/jesseborkowski
And see an example of his work on the dII:
I’ve been trying out different shoulder rig configurations the last couple of months.
We’ve filmed 3 episodes of an item in a daily human interest show on national television with the Ikonoskop.
Why did we use the Ikonoskop for something that needs a very fast workflow? Well, the cameraman wanted to have some extra practice on the Ikonoskop because we’ll be working as a camera team on a short in Ireland in September and frankly because we love a challenge. I’ll write more about this challenge in a later post.
The network’s prerequisites were: only hand-held, no zooming. As this was filmed during a very busy rental season, I had to really puzzle to get all the gear together, so I tried different combinations.
The first rig I bought for the Ikonoskop was from Lanparte. I don’t own it anymore because I’ve sold it to a customer who bought a Panchromatic, used the rig and loved and wanted it straight away.
Lanparte stuff has great build quality for a budget friendly price. I used it in combination with the ARRI MBP-1 Adapter Plate and the MBP-1 Baseplate, but you could use as well with the Vocas Adapter Plate on the original Lanparte baseplate.
This was my configuration:
In September at IBC I held the Vocas rig configuration for the dII, for the first time, and immediately loved it for its great balance. And I love the aesthetics of it as wel (I’m a sucker for anything that comes with brown leather handles).
It’s basically the “Vocas Handheld Kit Pro for midsize cameras” (Item code: 0255-3600) you want for the Ikonoskop with their custom Ikonoskop dII Adapter Plate. In my opinion a shoulder rig always needs a top handle (Topside Handgrip for 15mm rails - item code: 0350-0400).
You don’t need the offset bracket for shoulder support that’s included in the kit, as the viewfinder sticks out on the left of the camera and not centrally on the back of the camera.
One thing I’ve learned though is that if you use a Vocas MB-430 Matte Box with this rig in a rail mounted set-up (i.s.o. clip-on) you’re better of with the Rail Support DSLR (Item code: 0350-300). You’ll need it to rise the plate high enough to get the lens perfectly centered in the Matte Box.
Vocas only has one type of follow focus. And I like it a lot, although some might find the knob too small and it is adviced not to use them on very big lenses.
So my ideal configuration is this:
I also tried an Edelkrone rig, but not my cup of tea and impossible to get a good balance with the Ikonoskop, because of that top handle that starts at the back. In the picture below you see me rigging the cam and looking quite unhappy with it ;-)
And last but definitely not least a new additon to our collection of rigs: Wooden Camera.
I’ve only had it for a couple of weeks, but am absolutely loving it. It’s the ideal rig solution for the lone shooter that travels light. Superb build quality, lightweight (so not for everyone) and very compact. So for the travelling cameraman this set-up is the best price/quality solution you’ll find.
My ideal combination:
The Top Plate gets a bit in the way of the top scroll wheel on the camera. For me personally this is not an issue, because I don’t use the top scroll wheel. But if it bothers you, just know that you don’t need the top plate to connect the NATO handle to the camera as you can do this directly.
It’s ideal to use in combination with a CineBags Backpack and I’m sure you can transform the Cruiser into a crossbow so you won’t get hungry on your next nature documentary.
As of now you can order these items throught the RawCinemaShop. Through this shop I’ll always only sell things that I’ve actually used my self and that I know works with the camera.
Time to catch up on my writing, only like 6 months behind :-)
In November 2012 we were commissioned by Autisme Centraal to do an informational film for their annual symposium (+1K attendants) on autism.
I’ve written about it before in this post: http://blog.rawcinemashop.be/post/37579425948/talking-heads-with-canon-8-64-zoom-vocas-rig
Now, filming talking heads is not really my style. But we only had 1 day to do 6 interviews. It seemed appropriate.
The film is about people who have been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, giving tips to people in the medical, psychological, educational and professional field on 6 topics: Diagnostics, Education, Social Care & Psychiatrics, Profession, Housing, Scientific Research.
The interviews were filmed with the Canon 8-64. For the thematical imagery Zeiss Distagons and Linos MeVis-C lenses were used.
At the time I was into watching 70’s documentaries. Yeah, I get these weird fascinations from time to time.
In my opinion, it shows in this film.
Although it wasn’t to be released on internet, the subjects in the film gave their approval to Autisme Centraal right after the 1st test screening. They were very happy with the film and their portrayal.
So here it is, in Flemish (Dutch), without subtitles. So if you don’t understand Dutch, don’t worry, it’s only 38 minutes long.
I sometimes need a nudge from a reader or Ikonoskop owner/user to get me out of my writer’s block.
I’ve seen some confusion and I have been getting some questions about the on-board histogram.
And I’ve also experienced some people who seem to think that shooting in raw means you don’t have to think about exposure. Well, let me assure you, the importance of exposure is as important as it has ever been.
Ikonoskop has always had this link on their site to an Adobe PDF about raw capture, linear gamma and exposure. This document is a very interesting read and if you take the time to let it sink in, you’ll notice that the on-board histogram makes a lot of sense. I consider it as my primary tool for setting exposure.
I’ve noticed that not everyone knows how to read a histogram.
What I aim for is to have the highlights as close as possible to the right wall of the histogram, but without touching it, so without overexposing.
The example below shows you what I try to avoid. In the bottom right corner you see the graph touching the right wall. In this situation I would lower exposure. Just enough to keep it from touching that right side.
I’m sorry for the poor quality of this image (it’s a hug blow-up), but I don’t have the gear to be able to shoot something better through the dII viewfinder (if someone can, please do and send me an image).
And remember, you can only see this histogram through the viewfinder.
This does NOT mean:
As you can see, the histogram has almost no read-out in the middle, because the scene has pratically no color. But if you would overexpose a colorful scene by more than 2 stops, you’ll start noticing the same kind of histogram, where color information is getting lost. the graph will become flatter in the middle and the end result, will look like … well … not pretty.
Although I’m still amazed, every day, by how much information in the shadows the dII captures, too much underexposure will lead to blocking and banding of the shadows (if you want to crank ‘m up in post).
If you want to capture a scene that holds more than 11 stops of dynamic range you’ll have to decide what to drop, shadows or highlights. And this, to me, is where the false color function comes in. I’ll look at which highlights get pink and decide if it’s OK that they’ll be completely white in the resulting image and I try to figure out if there’s a risk of causing aliasing on the edges of the highlights.
The on-board histogram is in my opinion an essential tool. It’s just a shame that it can only be consulted through the viewfinder. And it’s a pity that it’s in this half transparent white, ‘cause in very bright conditions, where reading overexposure is crucial, it’s quite painful to figure out how far you can go on the highlight end of the histogram. I don’t mind an overlay, but it should be opaque and preferrably not white. And I would be thrilled if somehow in the near future, there would be a way to get it out of the viewfinder and into some other monitoring solution.
I always welcome comments, in fact, they make it more interesting to keep writing. So please, feel free to participate.
A couple of weeks ago Ikonoskop released firmware 1.27 (and 1.28 on March 3rd with bug fix for 24 and 30 fps metadata). This is a significant update in my opinion and as important as 1.24 was in March 2012.
A lot of whishes from users from all over the globe have been granted in this version. Let’s look at some major improvements.
1. Information Read-Out
Additionally in the viewfinder and side OLED, a constant information read-out for card number, take number, db setting and shutter angle. Especially the db setting is a crucial addition in my opinion. I’ve seen too many times that users weren’t aware of the fact that the camera wasn’t set at 0db.
Hopefully in the next version we’ll have this information read-out as an on and off switchable overlay in the HD-SDI out.
2. Sensor Tune
There’s now an on-board pixel mapping function to take care of ‘bad’ pixels. You already know ‘the camera loves you’, but it’s also a bit of a liar in this firmware. It says the camera should be cold when starting the sensor tuning, but that’s a mistake. The camera should be warm (let it warm up for about 20 to 30 minutes). The instructions in the user guide are correct.
3. New gamma curve for viewfinder and HD-SDI out
Cleaner, pretty accurate image in viewfinder and HD-SDI out. It’s time to start up tests, recording directly from the HD-SDI again.
A lot of the solarization we used to get in low light situations has been improved and the brightness is now pretty accurate and in line with the exposure of the raw material.
4. Black Level
As suspected, putting the black level back in the metadata has resolved the magenta issue in the shadows in the decoders that were suffering from this. Ikonoskop took the black level out of the metadata some while back, because some decoders seemed to lose details in the shadows because of the black level. So Ikonoskop decided to give that power of setting the black level to the user. Unfortunately, depending on the decoder that was used, a lot of users didn’t seem to be able to get rid of the magenta in the shadows this seemed to cause.
So, in my opinion, having the black level back in the metadata and having the level tweaked, is a major improvement for easiness of the post workflow.
If you’re transferring via the the ExpressCard Reader, make sure to have the new driver installed. Otherwise you’ll have the old metadata and thus magenta in the shadows. This also means you have a choice. If you want to work with the old metadata and don’t want to change all your LUT’s and grades again, just use the old driver.
5. False Colour Function
I’m pretty proud of this one. In January during a phone conversation with Peter Gustafsson, as we were discussing the new LUT for the gamma curve in the viewfinder and HD-SDI out, I got this idea that it might be handy and quick to have this kind of false colour function based on the LUT. A couple of weeks later, they already had it implemented in the beta version for 1.27.
You activate it by turning the step/select wheel on the left side down. Overexposed pixels become magenta, underexposed become green.
The on-board histogram is more accurate, but I understand that I’m quite alone in my love and trust for this read-out.
My first time in Berlin and I can’t say I’ve seen much of the city except for some bars, 3 restaurants, a hotel and the inside of a theater. But it has been an interesting and fun weekend.
Markus Seitz - PHOTO: SVENJA KLÜH
I was there for a workshop (very well) organized by Digitales Kino, a platform created by Markus Seitz and Sebastian Böhm for making workflows in digital cinema more transparent for filmmakers through the organization of workshops.
The day was organized around 4 major topics:
PHOTO: SVENJA KLÜH
The main comparison was projected in 2K (DCP), and I found the three cameras held up fine without much surprises. But of course there was this main difference in esthetics by the 16mm lenses on the dII and its typically powderey, film-like look (yeah yeah - I am an Ikonoskop fanboy after all, but you already knew that). Maybe we should settle on calling it the CCD-look.
A lot of people seemed surprised at the quality of the structure, its richness and depth, of the dII image. I found the C300 had the least pleasing image in the interior and the RED the least pleasing in the exterior shots. I was under the impression that there wasn’t that much difference in dynamic range between the RED and the Ikonoskop for instance (but data sheets and a bunch of figures will surely prove me wrong).
PHOTO: SVENJA KLÜH
There was of course a test that showed the difference between a global and rolling shutter and you will not be surprised to learn that the dII won that one, even when stabilized.
We learned from the night shots and testing of high ISO settings that there isn’t much difference in what we can get out of the Ikonoskop and RED (keeping noise acceptable), but were amazed by how much we apparently could push the Ikonoskop more in post when working with a DCP. The Canon C300 is completely out of this league when it comes to low light situations. A Berlin street only lit by some streetlights in the rain becomes a daylight scene on the beach, with the C300 (“Hier kommt die Sonne”). It’s amazing how light sensitive this camera is.
PHOTO: SVENJA KLÜH
During Lukas Eisenhauer’s & Sebastian Höglund’s presentation of the camera there were some good questions by critical attendants about the memory cards. Some find the size they come in (80GB and 160GB) too small for the price Ikonoskop is asking.
So Lukas explained that at the time of the development of the camera they had to make their own memory card as there wasn’t one on the market fast enough to handle the necessary data rate. He said they don’t get much demand for bigger cards (maybe price related ;-) and that there are even users who prefer the 80GB cards (while looking at me). He got some flack for making the analogy with 16mm film reels and although nostalgia can be nice I think the person from the audience was right. It’s not because the dII is conceived as a replacement of 16mm film cameras that you have to copy all the limitations of film as well. But is it a limitation?
It’s true, I prefer the 80GB cards. I find 15’57” ideal for what I do (fiction, documentary, interviews) and never had a complaint from any of my rental clients. The transfer process is easier with smaller cards: it doesn’t take as long to fill one, so transfer can start earlier and transfer doesn’t take so long. And I feel safer, ‘cause if a card should die, I only lose maximum 80GB of data.
I own 11 80GB cards that are rented out all the time. They are used by all kinds of filmmakers. They sometimes come back scratched and with obvious signs of having fallen on not so soft surfaces. After a year of rental, they are still working as expected. I did have a card failiing once during rental. The data was not lost, but the card didn’t perform anymore. Problem was I didn’t update the firmware on the card properly. When it came back I recovered, transferred, deleted, rebuild the card and it still works fine as to date.
I wonder if this would be possible with an of the shelf SSD. Would they be this dureable? Would they survive being taken in and out of the camera hundreds of times? Would they survive constant transportation and occasional abuse?
So there was some great back and forth discussion with the attendants that continued into the next topic about workflow. People worry about the huge amount of data that is involved with this camera and how this affects and slows down workflow.
My workflow speed? To transfer 15’57” from Card Reader to computer it takes me about 9’10”. Extracting audio, another minute. Conforming in Resolve about 2’. Rendering to ProRes 4444 takes about 8’22”. Major key in getting this speed is Thunderbolt hard drives. I can recommend the Promise Pegasus R4, R6 and J4 and to fill them, you can use Western Digital Black Caviars. Of course, if budget is no issue, fill them with SSD’s.
PHOTO: SVENJA KLÜH
The topic that was the most interesting to me was the one about DCP creation. Very informative! It’s amazing if you hear the stories from these guys how frustrating this last link in the chain can be.
And they ended with a big suprise: upscaled 4K Ikonoskop footage vs. native 4K Red One MX footage. It made me smile and reminded me of of the second post I wrote on this blog. It made me realize that this camera and sensor still has a lot of wonderful years ahead. But I’ll let another attendant of the workshop speak, Sirio Magnabosco (on Vimeo):
The most wonderful part of the weekend was of course meeting all these wonderful people passionate about filmmaking. After the workshop we continued discussing camera stuff in a restaurant where we briefly met up with Andrew Reid, who showed us his Blackmagic Design Cinema Camera. When it got late we finally got fed up with talking about cameras (much to the relief of Markus’ girlfriend Svenja, I believe :-) and started discussing filmmaking. One of the topics was your nation’s most influencial directors.
Well OK, Sweden won, but that’s just because Lukas Eisenhauer is like a walking talking film encyclopedia.
And then there was Bob Ross!
When I got up the following morning and looked out of the hotel room I saw it had been snowing all night and my mind wondered off to the discussions, laughter and many ideas from the past two nights.
What is it that makes some people so passionate about filmmaking?
Maybe we want to distill the essence of the human condition and capture it in our art, I thought to myself.
Somewhat like making perfume. Moving images is our fragrance of choice.