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:
- Comparison between Ikonoskop A-Cam dII, RED One MX and Canon C300;
- Presentation of Ikonoskop A-Cam dII by Lukas & Sebastian from Ikonoskop (Stockholm);
- Initiation in round trip workflow via DaVinci Resolve;
- Ins & Outs of a DCP (Digital Cinema Package).
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.