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SI2K 3D Testing

Published : 11th July 2010

Dear CML3D,

Recently Rogue Element Films shot some test footage with a 2 x SI2K mini mirror rig. The kit was as follows :

2 x SI2K mini heads
2 x Lemo to Ethernet cables
16mm Ultra Lenses
Synch box
Small Mirror Rig
C-Motion lens control
Cinedeck recorder with 2 x Ethernet input ports and hot swappable SSD drive slot

The above hardware was then recorded as Cineform RAW in a QT wrapper to SSD drives using a brand new small recording device called a Cinedeck. This took both left and right eye feeds via ethernet into its unit and recorded the rushes to the SSD drives which are removable media. The
size of the box is slightly bigger than an Astro 6" monitor and the display is the same as the 7" SI unit you all know already.

The Cinedeck worked beautifully and we had zero issues with the recording and the archiving of the rushes. This allowed us to do away with laptops and have a much more self contained and mobile unit. The Cinedeck has the ability to display left and right eye, overlay, switch plus LUTs via Speedgrade and lots more besides.

I'd like to thank SI and Ari Pressler from the US for helping with the testing and also Charles from Cinedeck for such wonderful assistance. If anyone would like a more detailed description of the kit/workflow I'll be posting much more on the Rogue website which I'll link to CML.

The kit worked really well and we were all extremely impressed with the kit and the workflow, so much so it’s how we are going to work on the next few projects.

Regards


Dan Mulligan
Rogue Element Films
Digital Technical Centre
Elstree Studios UK
www.rogueelementfilms.com
Tel : +44 (0)20 8324 2198
24hr support : +44 7866 447564


Dan Mulligan wrote:

>> The Cinedeck has the ability to display left and right eye, overlay, switch plus LUTs via

>> Speedgrade and lots more besides.

Did you use the SI-3D software on the Cinedeck?

Phil Streather
Stereo 3D Producer and Consultant
Principal Large Format
The Old Vicarage
Leigh on Mendip
Somerset
England BA3 5QG

Tel: 44 1373 813 301
Fax: 44 1373 813 379


Phil Streather wrote:

>>Did you use the SI-3D software on the Cinedeck?

Hi Phil,

Yes we used the new 3D software from SI and I have to say the integration and use was superb, we really did encounter zero issues. Everything was instantly available to playback either anaglyph or left/right eye from the SSDs and the display gave us left and right butterfly and much more, very cool stuff I have to say.

Regards
Dan Mulligan
Rogue Element Films
Elstree Studios UK
www.rogueelementfilms.com


Hi Dan


I'd be interested in knowing more about your kit and workflow for this test. I've not come across the Cinedeck before, and it sounds like a great system for SI-3D.

You mention recording Cineform RAW merged files. I had heard that portable computers weren't really up to the task of compressing both streams simultaneously, and so you were forced to record uncompressed if using a laptop, or tether to a desktop for compressed recording. It would be great to learn that the Cinedeck is powerful enough to do this.

Can you feed an external monitor from the Cinedeck? If so are you limited to VGA (as with SI-2K body) or can you get a composite feed or even HD-SDI? Is it a touchscreen or do you attach a keyboard?

Any further observations of the system strengths / weaknesses welcome.

Richard Bradbury
Focus Puller
London, UK


This should answer a few of those questions.

http://www.cinedeck.com/content/#/?type=serial

I heard about this system about a year ago but never got to use it as it was still being tested/prototype.

I see as monitors get smaller and SSD drives get cheaper this being the norm for low footprint data capture.

Dane Brehm
DIT : Data Tech


Dane Brehm writes:

>> http://www.cinedeck.com

So... who is Cinedceck, LLC? A wholly owned subsidiary of Cineform Inc., or perhaps some shadowy group composed of embittered former Sendero Luminoso and Zapatista Commandantes funded by a Panamanian arms dealer?

Totally just kidding, of course.

Tim Sassoon
SFD
Santa Monica, CA


>> Dane Brehm : the norm for low footprint data capture.

Dane Hi,

What do you mean by low footprint data capture??

Dan Mulligan


What I mean by this is having a low footprint on set (taking up less space on location).

First and foremost is having your capture device also be your AC or DIT monitor. I find that in some cases like in Feature or TV production on Location or in a space sensitive building, that I usually have my DIT cart in addition to Video Assists Video Village take up space on-set. I foresee with a the Wireless HD standard out you'll soon have a OLED Monitor/Data Capture/ HD Transmitter in one that doesn't require a whole cart to accomplish especially with 3D typically needing twice as much gear. I
applaud you and your team for trailblazing this.

I don't mean Carbon Foot Print that will take alot longer:)

I will admit I don't specifically mean the Cinedeck as I've never used it ( but would love to) but see certain aspects of digital filmmaking needing a good portion of equipment and support.

Dane Brehm
DIT : 3D Camera Tech (ET)
San Francisco


It's definitely an interesting solution for SI-3D. We loaned Dan our cameras and set up the Cinedeck for him, so it was interesting to take a look at it, albeit relatively briefly. It's certainly a very compact and
pretty well-built solution. I would have a few concerns about it at the moment since, because of the hardware configuration they use, the unit is potentially prone to over-heating in warmer environments, especially when using an external monitor. To be fair to Cinedeck however, it is early days and I think the current model is pre-production. They are definitely on the right track though. I do know of at least one alternative box that is due to hit the market soon though so that should give prospective SI-3D users some choice and stir up a bit of competition.

As far as the direct-to-Cineform encoding goes, SI have completely revamped the encoding engine in the software to make recording possible on lower-spec machines and it now records direct to 12-bit Cineform RAW (Filmscan 2).

In regards to Richard's other questions, the Cinedeck does indeed use a touchscreen. I think HD-SDI output is highly unlikely to be available any time soon on portable solutions like this, but it is a real possibility on larger form-factor recording units (which would be aimed at studio use).
Composite is, however, much more likely and although we haven't built it into our current recording unit, we have the hardware to do so. Alternatively, VGA/DVI/HDMI can all be made available (depending on configuration) to output directly, for example, onto a 3DTV such as a JVC or Hyundai, whilst maintaining the main UI on the touchscreen.

It's good to see SI-3D getting a bit of attention at last. I've posted about it on here before but it looks like people are starting to realise how powerful it is as a 3D filming solution. The kit is also starting to become available to take full advantage of it. We were recently involved in a 3-week shoot which really tested the system (using our custom-built recording unit) under gruelling conditions and it performed superbly. I can honestly say that we could not have got a huge percentage of the shots with any other setup available today. Big thanks out to Ari at SI too, for turning around software updates at very short notice. He was able to respond overnight to our request for a new split-screen 3D mode (left half
of left eye next to right half of right eye) and, in the end, it became one of our most popular operation modes as it allows for very quick diagnosis of all sorts of issues (alignment, exposure, focus etc). It really is worth its weight in gold to work with a company who can respond in that fashion.

I'll post some more info on that shoot later though!

Campbell Goodwille
Stereographer, Inition
London, UK


>> What I mean by this is having a low footprint on set (taking up less space on location).

Which is the case with Red granted, if recording say Cineform RAW at  2.7:1 compression then not. The SSDs allow a certain amount of fluidity  on set and the ease to archive etc using esata, the actual data  footprint is close to fully uncompressed so not really.

Using SSDs also allows a cheaper option for hot swapping drives on set  plus other workflow advantages, but retaining as close to the full  amount of allowable image capture to boot. Our F35 workflows being a  prime example,.

Yes digital needs toolsets in place, as does any workflow, and we've  been using Cinetal for example for three/four years now and 3D LUTs for  the same period.

Kit is kit that’s all, making the most efficient use of it and  understanding those parameters within which it lies is the key.

Regards

Dan Mulligan
www.rogueelementfilms.com
Elstree Studios UK


I am just working on a natural history documentary shot entirely on SI2K rig by Inition. It is a mixture of small Element Technica, P+S and parallel rigs using 2 x SI2K.

System is recording in uncompressed RAW format and is recording interlived 3D files.

From post production point of view this is already a great beginning. Firstly there is no left and right camera sync problem. I had just finished 3D post on 2 x RED and even with build 21 and the best sync gear, the cameras would lose sync when shaken about. Sometimes this sync problem would be for only half a frame so it would require pixel estimation to put shots back in sync.

This does not happen with SI2K 3D rig and shots are always in sync. Second great thing is uncompressed RAW. We have been working on our own de-bayer processing which involves some custom pre filtering. This process gives benefits only on uncompressed RAW footage like Phantom for example.

This is why we were able to mix very well Phantom footage with film.


RAW wavelet compression reduces detail somehow, so no matter how good the debayer algorithm - it is not possible to achieve significant improvement. SI2K 3D material is benefiting from the fact that it is uncompressed. What works quite well is the whole noise issue. SI2K were plagued by noise in shadows. Now with uncompressed format we can get much cleaner results.

Certainly not everything is plain sailing. We have a lot of convergence distortion, colourimetric distortion of the mirror rig, and all other unfortunate situations that can happen during filming in
deserts of Africa

DADO VALENTIC
3D colour correction and mastering
mytherapy | d-cine lab
www.mytherapy.tv
tel: +44 207 636 6 636
mob +44 (0)7960 408188