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The reason why 4K cameras will never be small.


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#1 Adam Frisch FSF

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Posted 29 June 2006 - 01:43 PM

Bear with me - this is a slightly head-numbing exercise:

In my projectionist days a film print with all the sound formats could have this on EACH frame:

1. 6K uncompressed image (if we agree that's what 35mm can resolve).
2. 8 channel discreet SDDS sound.
3. DTS 7 channel discreet sound.
4. Dolby Digital 7 channel discreet sound.
5. Analog discreet 2 channel stereo (4 channels matrixed w. Dolby SR, but I'll ignore that for this).

A rough estimate is that each single 35mm frame could hold about this amount of data:

6K image = 120Mb
24 discreet channels of sound (705kbit/s per channel).

Now, this means that a roll of 400ft 35mm film could theoretically hold around 700Gb of information. Compare this to most storage devices today - hard drives, flash cards, solid state memory etc and you'll find that you will be hard pressed to find stuff that is significantly smaller in volume with the equivalent storage space.

I think that a digital format that can resolve such amounts of data - 6K uncompressed images, 24 discreet channels of sound and able to run high speed is perhaps never going to come, at least not in a smaller package. Maybe the solid state memory stuff would improve storage space slightly - but then why hasn't it been implemented in cameras already?

So, is the storage-per-volume barrier already reached with film? Genesis would certainly suggest so - their 'mags' are roughly the same size as a film magazine and can't hold more (if you interpolate their size up from the 2K it captures to 6K).
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#2 Filip Plesha

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Posted 29 June 2006 - 02:07 PM

A 6K print? That's a bit hard to imagine

First of all its a copy, and usually a bad one too. When copying, the copy loses resolution in te same fashion as you lose electrical resistance when adding paralel resistors. (in perfect conditions)
Plus, there is grain. A filmmaker has to have the option to have or not have grain depending on his preferences.
Any film shows golfball grain at that resolution.

If a print had 6K information, then the original would have 8K-10K, which would have to be scanned at 16-20K. So what are you suggesting, storage of film at 20K? That's ridiculously high, cause at 8K film already looks soft and grain "bumps" are sampled with dozens of pixels.
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#3 John Pytlak RIP

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Posted 29 June 2006 - 02:26 PM

I would not say "never", but certainly color film is one of today's most efficient and long-lasting storage media, with well-established SMPTE and ISO standards, and a proven track record of performance. The fact that 35mm film shot many decades ago is being transferred to fully support today's latest digital display technologies says something. Sony used clips from the 1962 film "The Music Man" to show off its SXRD 4K digital projector at trade shows. And color film technology is much improved over the EASTMAN Color Negative Film 5250 that "The Music Man" was shot on four decades ago.

The question always should be "What is the best technology to shoot with TODAY for the longest economic benefit in the future?", not "What might be the best technology to shoot with years from now?". We all are excited by the future of digital imaging, but the choice always needs to be made today with the technology available NOW.

I agree with Filip that a release print is not 6K. But a print is not the element from which future high resolution transfers will be made from.
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#4 Filip Plesha

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Posted 29 June 2006 - 02:38 PM

If I was spending money on improving motion picture experience. I'd rather spend it on a larger frame than on trying to desparately extract every hidden grainy detail from 35mm.
An avarage resolution 65mm scan would always beat a high-resolution scan of 35mm.

Though if digital archiving is the task, I must confess that I wouldn't sleep at night unless they used 8K for my favorite movie
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#5 Max Jacoby

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Posted 29 June 2006 - 02:48 PM

An avarage resolution 65mm scan would always beat a high-resolution scan of 35mm.

John,

Can you comment on any plans that Kodak have on dropping prices for 65mm filmstock so that it becomes more affordable?

One can get an Arri 765 for the price of a 35mm camera already. If the whole filmstock prices come down, I will have to seriously think about shooting my next film in 65mm.
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#6 John Pytlak RIP

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Posted 29 June 2006 - 02:56 PM

John,

Can you comment on any plans that Kodak have on dropping prices for 65mm filmstock so that it becomes more affordable?

One can get an Arri 765 for the price of a 35mm camera already. If the whole filmstock prices come down, I will have to seriously think about shooting my next film in 65mm.


If you are considering 65mm production, talk to your Kodak sales representative. I know they sometimes have ways of supporting "special" projects. ;)

As you know, the list price of Kodak's 65mm camera films is just about twice that of 35mm, as might be expected.
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#7 Kim Vickers

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Posted 29 June 2006 - 03:35 PM

Google "1 terabyte optical disc" and see what comes up.

Can you imagine a 4K XDCam that uses 1 tb discs? Do you think Sony can?
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#8 John Pytlak RIP

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Posted 29 June 2006 - 03:39 PM

Google "1 terabyte optical disc" and see what comes up.

Can you imagine a 4K XDCam that uses 1 tb discs? Do you think Sony can?


Here's one of the things that came up:

1987 - Kodak unveils a 1-Terabyte optical disk.


Been there, done that... almost 20 years ago! B)
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#9 Kim Vickers

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Posted 29 June 2006 - 03:55 PM

Here's one of the things that came up:
Been there, done that... almost 20 years ago! B)


And your point is?
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#10 Adam Frisch FSF

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Posted 29 June 2006 - 04:42 PM

An optical disc that can store 1Tb of data might be around the corner. But I seriously doubt it could handle the almost 3Gb per second it would have to be able to record in real time to handle the same amount of data.
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#11 Filip Plesha

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Posted 29 June 2006 - 05:18 PM

An optical disc that can store 1Tb of data might be around the corner. But I seriously doubt it could handle the almost 3Gb per second it would have to be able to record in real time to handle the same amount of data.



I think this storage discussion is pointless.
Storage improves all the time. Without any doubt, it is only a matter of time before you will be able to store
thousands of 4K movies in one sugar cube at terabytes per second. The size of atoms is the only limit.

What is limiting current area storage is that they are getting very close to the size of molecules and atoms in terms of making patterns, but that will be solved by using 3D storage that stores in depth and not just on surface.

These kind of arguments aren't really helping film, because they are presenting film in the wrong light: as something that is supose to be technically superior.
Maybe now film is superior to the current fleet of digital cameras, but that will change one day, and you will run out of arguments.
The beauty of film is in its randomness, imperfection, richness, like a slightly detuned piano vs. technically perfect synth piano sampler.
So if it gets advertised as something classic and authentic, it might have its place in the digital world.

For example, what arguments would you use for convincing people to try out super8 today?
Surely you are not going to start with giving them some MTF charts that show how it has more resolution than HD, it's just going to fall into water when you project the first frame.
Instead, you show them how the point of super8 is not getting clean accurate images, but stylistic images, with grain, softness and "different" colors than what you get with video.

Same is going to happen with 35mm film. One day, it will be technical garbage compared to some wild 15K digital capture. But it can have its place just as super8 has IF people stop looking at it as something that is supose to hold its technical superiority.
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#12 Rolfe Klement

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Posted 29 June 2006 - 05:40 PM

Not sure if this is true - but apparently there is a new scanner than stills guys are using that can pull a 25K scan from a 35 mm SLR neg - and it returns 25k pixel level differences in colour - so factorially fives times more data than 5K

and the guy was saying that because we are dealing with chemical atomic structures - it could go even higher - with new scanners and the new film stocks

But it was in a bar late at night :-)

I will try dig out a link

thanks

Rolfe
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#13 Filip Plesha

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Posted 29 June 2006 - 06:08 PM

Not sure if this is true - but apparently there is a new scanner than stills guys are using that can pull a 25K scan from a 35 mm SLR neg - and it returns 25k pixel level differences in colour - so factorially fives times more data than 5K

and the guy was saying that because we are dealing with chemical atomic structures - it could go even higher - with new scanners and the new film stocks

But it was in a bar late at night :-)

I will try dig out a link

thanks

Rolfe


You could also attach a microscope and go for 100K, but really what's the point?

With a 8K drum scan you can almost throw away any slide original (though you could get away with 5400 too). At 12K drum scan you can throw away even the finest BW negative or Ektar 25 negative.
Beyond that your image at 100% size starts looking like a creative desktop background pattern.
And you only need a fraction of that for printing

And there is no use for any of this in professional still photography, because pros rarely scan above 2000dpi. If they want more resolution they use a larger format.
You get better results using 4x5 at 800dpi than using 35mm at 4000dpi.
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#14 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 29 June 2006 - 07:46 PM

I don't know if we have to work with completed uncompressed data if the compression scheme is good enough, so the figures you cite may not be as necessary.

And the HDCAM-SR back to the Genesis holds 50 minutes of footage while a 1000' mag holds 10 minutes. But that's 4:4:4 1080P with mild compression, not uncompressed 6K data.

Besides, the question is whether all of this has to be self-contained in a camera. Digital cameras basically have a lens, a sensor with filters, an A/D processor, plus other image processors, and a recording unit, which may or may not have to be attached. With the T-block device for the F950, you can separate the optical block and lens from the camera body if needed.

The Venom flash mag is about the size of a 200' mag and holds about 10 minutes of uncompressed 4:4:4 HD. So don't assume that a flash memory device the size of a 1000' mag won't be able to hold 10 minutes of 4K or 6K data someday.

But yes, digital has a way to go in terms of matching 35mm's "data storage" capability in a small design. However, at some point, you also don't want to be comparing apples to oranges, if the digital camera system allows things that aren't even possible with a film camera.
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#15 Adam Frisch FSF

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Posted 30 June 2006 - 05:54 AM

I think this storage discussion is pointless.
Storage improves all the time. Without any doubt, it is only a matter of time before you will be able to store
thousands of 4K movies in one sugar cube at terabytes per second. The size of atoms is the only limit.

What is limiting current area storage is that they are getting very close to the size of molecules and atoms in terms of making patterns, but that will be solved by using 3D storage that stores in depth and not just on surface.

These kind of arguments aren't really helping film, because they are presenting film in the wrong light: as something that is supose to be technically superior.
Maybe now film is superior to the current fleet of digital cameras, but that will change one day, and you will run out of arguments.
The beauty of film is in its randomness, imperfection, richness, like a slightly detuned piano vs. technically perfect synth piano sampler.
So if it gets advertised as something classic and authentic, it might have its place in the digital world.

For example, what arguments would you use for convincing people to try out super8 today?
Surely you are not going to start with giving them some MTF charts that show how it has more resolution than HD, it's just going to fall into water when you project the first frame.
Instead, you show them how the point of super8 is not getting clean accurate images, but stylistic images, with grain, softness and "different" colors than what you get with video.

Same is going to happen with 35mm film. One day, it will be technical garbage compared to some wild 15K digital capture. But it can have its place just as super8 has IF people stop looking at it as something that is supose to hold its technical superiority.


You completely misunderstand my post. I was not trying to once again peddle the old tired notion of 'film is better than video', I was simply asking:

1. Is the value of storage-per-volume constant?

2. And in fact, is the ever increasing resolution we will be needing from tomorrows capture devices ever going to be offset by the development of smaller storage devices? I.e. will the uncompressed cameras of tomorrow ever be smaller than a film camera today with the same capabilities?
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#16 Kai.w

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Posted 30 June 2006 - 08:07 AM

You completely misunderstand my post. I was not trying to once again peddle the old tired notion of 'film is better than video', I was simply asking:

1. Is the value of storage-per-volume constant?

Either I misunderstand this question or I have to wonder where you have been the last few decades....

2. And in fact, is the ever increasing resolution we will be needing from tomorrows capture devices ever going to be offset by the development of smaller storage devices? I.e. will the uncompressed cameras of tomorrow ever be smaller than a film camera today with the same capabilities?

Right now it seems to me as if the development of digital capturing devices progresses faster than the development in filmstocks. Considering the fact that storage capacity is really improving all the time I do think your statement in this subjects title is a very bold one. There might be other reasons that may slow things down but you know the urban myth about what Bill Gates once said about 640kb of memory...

-k
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#17 John Pytlak RIP

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Posted 30 June 2006 - 08:27 AM

There might be other reasons that may slow things down but you know the urban myth about what Bill Gates once said about 640kb of memory...

-k


Bill Gates was wrong in his prediction, but he is still a multi-billionaire. Again, when you decide what to shoot with today, you are choosing among technologies available TODAY, not years from now. And TODAY, film still holds its own, and then some.
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#18 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 30 June 2006 - 10:29 AM

I think it's only the word "never" that some of us have issues with. That has a finality that seems unsupported by the evidence of history, which is that things always change.

Of course, if it catches up, one could leap ahead of digital again in terms of data storage simply by jumping up to 65mm...

Just look at the Dalsa Origin, which shoots uncompressed 4K Bayer-filtered images -- the mini-fridge-sized recorders that I saw at NAB about three years ago held about 20 minutes of footage, then the next time, they said it held an hour, and now I think it's something like 3 hours of recording time possible per unit.

That's still not great, but obviously data storage keeps improving in capacity and/or speed every year, so I can't support the notion of "never" for 6K real-time processing, recording & storage in a unit the size of 35mm camera with a 1000' film mag. A big engineering challenge, certainly.

Trouble is that half the DP's you talk to would rather have the cameras get smaller than 35mm with a 1000' mag. Basically the notion being if it's just as big, barely achieves the same quality level, and doesn't cost any less, then what's the point of switching? There has to be something it does better than 35mm.
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#19 K Borowski

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Posted 30 June 2006 - 11:26 AM

And your point is?


And what the hell is yours? Optical discs ARE NOT and NEVER WILL BE used professionally. Sorry.

Trouble is that half the DP's you talk to would rather have the cameras get smaller than 35mm with a 1000' mag. Basically the notion being if it's just as big, barely achieves the same quality level, and doesn't cost any less, then what's the point of switching? There has to be something it does better than 35mm.


Not exactly in line with the point you were trying to make David, but I've always wanted Kodak to come up with a way of coating a reliable 2 mil base support for their camera negative stock, which would allow a sizeable reduction in the amount of room 1000 feet of 35mm takes up. One could either have a longer load in a 35mm mag, or use a smaller mag with the same running time. Unfortunately we stick with acetate of the same thickness as was used sicne the beginning of safety film.

~Karl
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#20 John Pytlak RIP

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Posted 30 June 2006 - 12:03 PM

Not exactly in line with the point you were trying to make David, but I've always wanted Kodak to come up with a way of coating a reliable 2 mil base support for their camera negative stock, which would allow a sizeable reduction in the amount of room 1000 feet of 35mm takes up. One could either have a longer load in a 35mm mag, or use a smaller mag with the same running time. Unfortunately we stick with acetate of the same thickness as was used sicne the beginning of safety film.

~Karl


Kodak motion picture camera films have been made on 4.7 mil (0.0047 inches) ESTAR base, and have been used in high speed instrumentation cameras, and for shooting 65mm IMAX films in space.

Although Kodak has coated color emulsions onto even thinner ESTAR base, much thinner film would require significant redesign of camera transport mechanisms, processing machines, etc. Not that the film wouldn't be strong enough, but an issue with thin base materials is the curl of the film --- a gelatin emulsion on a really thin plastic base can be problematic as the gelatin emulsion expands and contracts with changing humidity, while the ESTAR base changes very little with changes in humidity or temperature:

http://www.kodak.com...characteristics
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