Last December somehow turned out to be Filmschool Month for me.
Patrick Geeraerts, head of the editing department of RITS in Brussels, asked me to deliver a lecture on the Ikonoskop for some sixty 2nd year students (directors, screenwriters, multi-cam directors, …). I asked what the scope for this class would be and he replied: “Try to broaden their horizon!”
I don’t know if I succeeded in broadening their horizon but the lecture went somewhat like this: 1923 - Kodak - 16mm film -WWII - S16 - Eclair - Aaton - Ikonoskop SP-16 - Ikonoskop A-Cam dII. And of course on the matter of 16mm not only as an economic but also an esthetic choice. About workflow and more importantly about how filming is all about preparation and less about improvisation (some will find this debatable).
I also let Lennert De Taeye, film student at KASK in Ghent and by now experienced A-Cam dII operator, use a camera at his school for the purpose of shooting some acting exercices.
But I’ll let him speak for himself:
“In December the ikonoskop was used to shoot several acting exercises of third year film students at KASK . The school provided a RED 0ne (first generation sensor), but I’m not very fond of the image this camera produces. Luckily Joachim was so kind to provide the Ikonoskop A-Cam dII! After using it last year on a project I started to like the organic feel of the images from the Ikonoskop.
The first day I worked as a cinematographer. We shot everything, except for one scene, on a dolly, with the Vocas shoulder rig. This rig and the Ikonoskop work really well together, the counter weight on the Vocas rig is very effective to stabilize the camera movement.
The second day the Ikonoskop was equipped with a TVLogic monitor. The compact size of the Ikonoskop was excellent for the type of shooting: very close on the ground scenes.
The third day the Ikonoskop stayed on the camera tripod and rails. As director’s monitor we used a JVC monitor, the SDI-output gives a really nice image on the JVC we used.
Last day was another shoulder cam day, this time with a very compact rig (the Vocas was unfortunately not availble).
The data was transferred, and backups were made, on set with the express card reader to standard USB 3 drives (=fast!).
The little camera did catch quite some attention. But everyone seem to like the image on the monitor. (Some even surprised that this little camera could produce such a great image).
We shot with a set of Zeiss Superspeeds. Timecode generated from the Aaton Cantar. Resolve 9 and audio autosync is great! Little disadvantage you need to resync timecode every time you change the battery.
Too handle the magenta issue I set the raw settings in Resolve 9 to BMD Film. Add contrast and saturation to bring back the image as shot. XML for round tripping between resolve 9 and FCP 7.
Looking forward to see the film’s projected in the school cinema!”
- Lennert De Taeye
The latest version of DaVinci Resolve, 9.1, now includes CinemaDNG Input Device Transform (IDT) for grading Raw images in the ACES colour space.
This gives in my opinion, out of the box, the most accurate colour rendition of the Ikonoskop footage. Or as Jesse Borkowski said on Twitter: "I know! It’s like I got a new camera!"
To set it up in your Resolve projects, here’s a nice tutorial by Jesse:
If you were using the IkonoVinci.lut, be sure to deactivate it when using ACES.
In a prior post about Resolve, I wrote about my quick fix to get rid of magenta in the shadows and I mentioned it’s only one of several ways to get rid of it. All you want is a good starting point for your grading.
It’s in the grading that lies the power of the uncompressed raw CinemaDNG of course. That’s why you bought or use the camera in the first place. As Ikonoskop has always mentioned: the dII does the capturing, your computer does the processing afterwards. There’s no processing of the image in camera. No curves, no rolloff, no LUT. There are many things you have to be aware of to get the most out of your Ikonoskop footage. After all, it’s all about luminance and chrominance. And with the dII, it’s you who’s in control, not the camera. You not only need to be maybe the director, DP, editor and colorist, you’re also the guy or girl in the lab developing your film.
That doesn’t make it easy to get quick results at first of course. It needs studying and a lot of trial and error. But after a while you get better at it, you’ll make your own presets and LUT’s you can trust and most of all, you will have control over your images like you’ve never had before.
So if you see footage out there with whites that aren’t really white, with harsh highlights, with a magenta or green or blue or whatever cast in the shadows, and it’s difficult to assume it was an artistic choice, don’t go blaming the camera or the sensor. They’re quite alright actually. It’s all in the hands of the one who’s responsible for the grading.
Just watch this to see how nice Ikonoskop footage can look:
But anyhow, I started out by mentioning those other ways to get a good starting point in Resolve, in addition to my IkonoVinci.lut. Apparently not everyone finds it so easy to install this LUT. And I really suck at making tutorials.
So I’ll leave the making of tutorials to people more capable and this leads me, quite seamlessly, to another way to get a good starting point without magenta in the shadows. It’s written buy a new Ikonoskop owner, Jesse Borkowski, and it’s a great tutorial. I’m not quite sure about using the Linear Gamma setting, but that’s just my opinion.
The third possibility I’d like to share with you is something you might like if you’re used to working with LOG style footage. Like ARRI’s LOG C or Sony’s S-Log. Set the color space, in the Camera Raw settings (see video above) to BMD Film and be amazed by the details you’ll see in highlights and shadows without any strange color casts, but with the all familiar washed out LOG type ‘look’. Now drop your familiar LUT’s on your footage, and I’m guessing you’ll find that the result will be pretty close to what you’re getting with other LOG footage.
To celebrate this new year, a little tribute to the past year. It’s been quite an eventful one for me and it left me utterly exhausted. But nothing some hard decisions and time with family and friends can’t resolve.
It was a very educational year in regard to the Ikonoskop A-Cam dII. I’m thankful for all the people I’ve gotten to know, online and in person, just by sharing interest and passion about this camera and filmmaking in general.
Anyhow, this reel is a selection of shots from about 50% of the projects that were shot during 2012 on my dII’s.
They have been graded in DaVinci Resolve by me, solely for the purpose of this reel. The goal is to show a lot of different styles of grading. So I even changed style in the different shots from the same project. Except at the end, when there’s a little edit of the two girls walking and talking.
A big thank you to all my collaborators and clients.
Have a great 2013!
I’ve been trying out a lot of different workflows over the past year, based on system specs, software version, firmware version, etc.
Some people probably still think I work with, what I called, the CineForm workflow. But I haven’t used it since last summer, to be honest.
When I started using a dII I was still on a Windows 32 bit system. After a couple of months of working with CinemaDNG footage I choose a Mac Mini with a Promise Pegasus 12 TB Thunderbolt raid 5 hooked up to it, to function as a media archive and was hoping that Apple would soon release a new Mac Pro with Thunderbolt capabilities. I also anticipated a Windows driver for the Ikonoskop ExpressCard Reader.
When I started testing the Mac Mini, I was somewhat amazed by the power that such a silent little block of computing ingenuity could hold. After a couple of weeks I completely switched to the OSX platform, but was still using the CineForm workflow (via Parallels), because of its speed and raw format.
When summer arrived it was quite clear that we wouldn’t be getting a new Mac Pro, nor a Windows driver for the ExpressCard Reader. So I asked a hardware/software savvy friend to build me an editing system, with support for Thunderbolt and running on OSX.
Meanwhile, Adobe had released CS6 with SpeedGrade and for the first time I was able to play some CinemaDNG footage realtime on the Mac Mini and had insanely detailed control on grading. It made me forget about CineForm raw.
When the Hackintosh was ready in September my workflow got drastically changed for a second time.
Let’s look at a very personal assessment, on the 2 systems, of the three mainly used decoder/transcoder software for ‘developing’ and grading Ikonoskop footage:
I think it’s clear looking at the results above what, for me, at this time is the best tool to do the debayering, grading and transcoding of my CinemaDNG footage. But it’s also clear that it depends on the system you’re using. So on my main editing system I’m now working in DaVince Resolve 9 Lite (and that’s free folks!). When going mobile, I’d rather use SpeedGrade.
I haven’t integrated CineForm in the test because I don’t use it anymore and I didn’t get it to work in Parallels 8/Windows 8. But I tested the GoPro Cineform Studio Premium for Windows just before the summer and I was amazed by the new functionalities that were integrated to debayer raw footage. Dynamic range was much improved and of course it was no longer a command line tool. But sadly enough, no Mac version with the same raw functionalities.
But then there’s John Hable at 19lights.com. I already wrote about his Ginger HDR in my last post, but in the mean time he has been working hard to improve his plug-in and I’m astonished by what he has accomplished in such a short time.
This is honestly spectacular. There’s still room for improvement (f.i. better CUDA support) and John is working on this. But this is very promising.
There’s no way to directly import and edit a CinemaDNG sequence in PremierePro.
But this weekend I stumbled upon a promising tool developed by 19lights. It’s called Ginger HDR and it has a Merger functionality that creates wrappers for CinemaDNG sequences (batch). The creation of these .GNR files is lightning fast and the naming is just as it should be (name of the director containing the images of a take).
There’s a nice workflow tutorial on their site.
Without touching any settings (video effects) the footage looks, depending on your exposure, a bit washed out and of course with magenta in the shadows (please Ikonoskop, change the black level back to 80 in the metadata as soon as possible).
On my system (3,5 GHz Intel Core i7, 32 GB RAM, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 670) playback isn’t smooth at full resolution. Setting it to 1/2 does the trick.
If you’ve installed Ginger HDR as instructed, you’ll find a Ginger HDR folder in the Video Effects. There are 2 effects (Tonemapper basic and Tonemapper advanced) there that give you control on things like exposure, saturation, contrast, highlights, midtones, shadows, gamma, etc. What I’m missing though, is a colour temperature slider and a tint slider.
This is the result I get after playing around with the plug-in for a bit:
The footage is provided by Niels Faes (director) and Lennert De Taeye (cinematographer). I just grabbed 3 takes, no idea about script or dialogue (no audio). So I don’t know where the story is going, but I think it’s safe to believe our protagonist is facing trouble ;-)
So now you can import, edit and grade CinemaDNG in Premiere Pro. Further more the support by John Hable at 19lights is superb!
Is it all good? Well, it would be better, in my opinion with the above mentioned sliders for temperature and tint. And if in the near future there’d be support for timecode, I’d be even happier.
There’s one spectacular downside though: when you’ve finished editing and grading you still have to render your DNG edit to your export format of choice … with Adobe Premiere. How fast do you think this rendering goes? Ay caramba!
The shoot I mentioned in yesterday’s post, was the first project we recorded audio on-board of the dII.
It was also the first project I used Resolve (9) on for conforming and grading.
So how do you get the audio, embedded in the DNG frames, in a format no single decoder can read at this time, synced to the DNG sequences?
I’m not going to do much explaining about 1 & 3 in this post, ‘cause it’s been described elsewhere. Namely:
To do 3., I refer you to page 258 (less minimalistic) of the wonderful Resolve Lite manual. “Open the Conform page, then Right-click the Master timeline in the Timelines list, and choose Link to Audio From Selected Bins …”
But what about 2.? Well, the Ikonoskop Audio Tool has three possible output formats: WAV, AIFF and BWF. Only one of the output formats supports Timecode, namely BWF. But Resolve 9 Lite only reads WAV. So the only solution at this time seems to rewrap the BWF’s as WAV’s. I used the first tool I came across: Name Munger. It changes the extensions extremely fast.
Update: as of version 1.1 it’s no longer necessary to rewrap the files - the option BWF creates WAV files with timecode.
A couple of weeks ago we used the dII on a shoot that looked up front a bit a-typical for an 80MB/s kind of camera. Six interviews, somewhere between 15-30 minutes an interview, to be intercut.
Ideal opportunity to test out some new stuff:
The Canon 8-64mm S16 Zoom is a marvelous lens, that has been used extensively for documentaries and independent feature films. It’s a very robust lens, very sharp, widest aperture 2.4, but it’s quite big (as big and heavy as the camera). From widest to closest zoom, it loses a bit of its focus.
To use a zoom like that, hand-held, you need a decent rig. At the Ikonoskop booth at IBC, I was able to test several rigs and set-ups for the dII. My favourite, by far, is the one from Vocas. Very light, compact, sturdy and high-quality (the leather handles are sublime). And I especially like the MFC-1 Follow Focus. It’s so compact and the gear wheel being underneath the lens is actually very clever and makes it work with all kinds of lenses no matter what mount (before the MFC-1, I used a Lanparte Follow Focus, big and heavy, but impossible to use in combination with, for instance, Zeiss Distagons mkI with 80mm fronts and the IMS-PL mount - it was just too clunky).
In the picture the shoulder pad and weight were only used for balance. Normally the shoulder pad has to be mounted a lot closer to the camera.
The DP in the picture is rather tall. To go easy on his back and because peeping down the built-in viewfinder all day can get quite hard on your right eye (using your left eye on the dII viewfinder is impossible, or you’d have to chop off your right cheek bone or something), we decided on using the all new Alphatron HD-SDI viewfinder (EVF-035W-3G).
This is such a nice combination with the Ikonoskop. Nice resolution, with false colour and focus assist. Worked all day on a single Sony battery (you can use the same type as on the Ikonoskop).
For the first time now, we recorded the audio on the Ikonoskop instead of a recorder like the Sound Devices 702T. Not a single issue there. The audio was stripped from the DNG’s using Ikonoskop’s Audio Tool and automatically synced with the footage in Resolve.
And yes. This job was conformed and graded with Blackmagic’s DaVinci Resolve 9. What happened to CineForm and SpeedGrade you might ask. I’ll come back to this.
UPDATE: obsolete as of firmware 1.27 (March 2013)
There’s a lot of magenta in the shadows of Ikonoskop footage in DaVinci Resolve. I don’t think it has always been that way, but it definitely is the case in Resolve 9 lite.
There are several ways to get rid of it. I offer you one solution here that’s very quick and easy. In my opinion you have to fix it before you do any Color Correction in the Color Tab. That’s why I’ve created an input LUT that fixes the magenta issue: IkonoVinci. Well it will fix it untill Blackmagic changes something on the decoder side and/or Ikonoskop change something on the encoder side. Then I’d might have to make a new one ;-)
This means you don’t have to fiddle about in the CinemaDNG settings (Camera Raw tab) in Resolve. So leave the White Balance, Color Space, Gamma settings and use the Camera Metadata to do the Decoding.
Unpack the zip and copy the folder into the LUT directory of DaVince Resolve. On OSX this would be: Library>Application Support>Blackmagic Design>DaVinci Resolve>LUT.
Now go to your Project Settings . Select Look Up Tables and select under 3D Input Lookup Table the IkonoVinci.ilut.
Now in your MEDIA tab you’ll still see the magenta. But when you go to the COLOR tab , you’ll see it’s gone. Now you can start grading.
UPDATE: obsolete as of firmware 1.27 (March 2013)
We’ve talked about this before. How there seems to be a magenta issue in decoders like After Effects (Camera Raw) en DaVinci Resolve and rather a green issue in decoders like SpeedGrade. So I’m writing this for those of you who don’t seem to get rid of this magenta in the shadows in After Effects.
3 images with default Camera Raw settings:
Image 1 - Zeiss Distagon mkI 12mm
Image 2 - Canon 8-64 S16 Zoom
Image 3 - Optar Illumina 12mm (thanks Lennert De Taeye)
Now in the first image, there doesn’t seem to be much of magenta, because there isn’t that much shadow. But take a close look at the sides of the image. You’ll notice 2 dark vertical bars at every side. The one most on the outside is completely black. The one between the image and the outside black bar is a reference bar for the blacks in your image. Now see how magenta this is? Not only is it magenta, but it’s also a lot brighter than the outside bars.
The second image contains some more shadow. You’ll notice some magenta on the shadow side of the head (mostly below the ear). Look at the reference bar, also some magenta.
The third image has loads of shadow and a magenta cast almost covering the complete image.
I’ve made a preset to get rid of this: IkonoRaw2012. It’s nothing fancy, a combination of alterations in contrast, blacks and tint settings (Shadows under Camera Calibration tab).
After you’ve downloaded it, you can use it as follows:
Click the little select symbol: (to the right, next to ‘Basic’). Now select Load Settings find the IkonoRaw2012.xmp file, and click Load.
It gives the following results:
That’s more like it, no? Well there’s still something funny about the second image. This one now seems to have too much green in the shadows. Setting the Tint level in Shadows under the Camera Calibration tab to -60 seems to give a better result.
Of al the images in my CinemaDNG archive only these takes (second image) give rather greenish results in the shadows using my preset. The reason is (I assume), that this was filmed with a Canon 8-64 Super 16 Zoom. Apparently this lens has an impact on the magenta/green balance. Saving a specific preset for this lens takes care of that.
Coming up: Getting rid of Magenta in DaVinci Resolve.