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First time with the SI-2K...


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#1 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 08 February 2008 - 06:56 PM

I'm AC'ing a job in about a month where we're shooting with the SI-2K. I was wondering if anyone could fill me in on this camera. Does it have any pitfalls, any weird things happen? And what can I do to prevent any SI-2K specific problems from arising.

A semi-broad question. As I read more about it I'm sure I'll have more specific questions to post.
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#2 Rohan Dadswell

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Posted 11 February 2008 - 03:59 AM

Hi Jonathan,
I'm an owner/operator of a SI-2K (only the mini at the moment, still waiting for delivery of the full body).
As an AC the most important thing would be to check that the lenes are matched to the SI camera. I mostly use the PL mount with a set of Optar Illumina lenses and they all needed to be recalibrated as the focus was slightly off and wouldn't focus to full distance. I didn't find this a problem when using Nikon mount & lenes as they focus well past infinity although the Nikon focus marks aren't exact.
The zoom in & spot meter function of the screen is very handy for focus checks but work out with the operator who is controlling what (and don't let the director touch anything-it's all so cool & different everyone wants to play)
Other AC jobs will depend on the rig - there are so many ways to set it up.
When changing the batt that powers the mini head I quit out of the DVR software as failing to do so seems to crash the software anyway.
Make sure the latest software version is loaded.
If you are running the mini into a laptop away from mains power make sure you have LOTS of spare batts for the computer.
I find it very different to any other camera that I've used and it has taken a while to get my head around some of it (and I'm still learning) but the results have been very satisfying.
Best of luck with your shoot - and have fun
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#3 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 11 February 2008 - 11:57 PM

Thanks Rohan

I do believe the DP plans on using his own set of primes, which includes a few Optars, so I'll be sure to check that problem out. Any recommendations on other PL mounted lenses that won't need to be recalibrated?

Also, is the DVR just the software? Or is there some hardware (similar to a Firestore or hard-drive block) that attaches to the camera? I think we're going the touchscreen route, so I'm a little lost as to how that correlates with the software and the hard-drive. Is the touchscreen synced with a laptop which then runs to an external hard drive? Or what would you recommend?

The SI-2K is so new to me, I hardly knew what it was a couple days ago when I was hired on.
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#4 Rohan Dadswell

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Posted 12 February 2008 - 02:21 AM

The SI-2k is new to all of us :unsure:
I'm afraid the only other PL lens I've used is a Kinoptik 5.7mm which was nice & sharp on a mates Aanton but is also soft on the SI - haven't managed to get that fixed yet.

The DVR is the software that runs the whole thing - if you're running with the full body the software is embedded & the screen will be mounted on the camera and it all looks like a 'normal' camera (almost) with an internal hard drive.
If you are using just the mini head connected to a laptop there will be two or three cables connecting the two units. The touch screen is a clone of the laptop screen - the touch bit allowing you to control the software without having to run back to the computer the whole time.
Hard drive can be just about any usb drive which is just plugged into the laptop
There are so many way of rigging the mini that is a bit hard to give any useful advice - I don't think I've used the same set up twice yet, it just keeps evolving.

I'm assuming that there will be someone on set who knows the unit to help set it up - Once you start shooting it will all fall into place fairly quickly
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#5 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 12 February 2008 - 03:28 AM

I'm assuming that there will be someone on set who knows the unit to help set it up - Once you start shooting it will all fall into place fairly quickly


It's pretty much up to the DP and myself. I don't know whether there will be meetings with the editor to figure out the workflow issues. But on the 26th or so of this month we're getting a full demo and tutorial on the thing, I'm sure most of my doubts will be gone by then.

btw, we do plan on getting the full body with the touchscreen. So does that mean we just tap straight into an external hard drive from the body?

I think the DP may even get the viewfinder to make handheld work easier on him. I just find it strange that a viewfinder is an optional feature, ha ha
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#6 Rohan Dadswell

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Posted 12 February 2008 - 03:42 AM

With the full body there is a internal/removable hard drive - or at least there was on the last design I saw, haven't got mine yet.

Actually I find the touch screen is quite good for hand held so long as you are inside - daytime outside I have a real problem seeing anything even with a hoodman (have got the viewfinder on order also)
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#7 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 12 February 2008 - 05:26 AM

With the full body there is a internal/removable hard drive


Oh good, I assumed the drive attached to the cam somehow (perhaps like the F23), but if it's internal and swappable, then that's even better.

These really are the only things I found puzzling, as I couldn't find any photos or diagrams showing how how the rig was setup. And SI-2K's site, while full of invaluable information, just lacks in the visuals. I'm in the process of watching the tutorial videos and reading through the entire FAQ. I wanna be as prepared as possible once we go to tests.

Thanks again Rohan, you've been a huge help.
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#8 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 29 February 2008 - 01:44 PM

Kinda bumbed out, Producers decided to back out of the SI-2K for something they actually knew...what that is, we don't know yet. But I'll be very happy if it's film :)

Out of curiosity, what's the price for a Mini 2K?
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#9 Rohan Dadswell

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Posted 02 March 2008 - 04:01 PM

That's a shame - it's quite fun to work with.
I must say that I'm getting that quite a bit at the moment - people are very keen until it's time to shoot and then they go back to their old video cams. Their loss as far as I concerned.

I believe Silicon Imaging will be releasing their new price list in the next couple of weeks.
Ofcourse I willing to travel with my kit :rolleyes:
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#10 Mitch Lusas

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Posted 20 March 2008 - 12:27 AM

Even though your project dumped the SI-2K, there are two factors to keep in mind. First, get extra long cables to run to the laptop. We had an unfortunate event happen where we didn't have enough cable for a necessary handheld shot. We ended up placing a hard drive in a backpack and hand-holding a laptop. It was hell.

I also just talked with a buddy who finished shooting a music video and he found a problem with the OS running the camera (it's Windows, so.....). Basically, if the battery dies while booting up the system, the OS will be wiped from the flash drive. At least that's his theory. So make sure you've got fresh batteries. I'm sure Jason can fill in if I'm wrong on this, or if they've fixed it.

Another thing to remember is that the histogram has about a centimeter buffer on the right side (highlights), so watch your levels. Personally I would wait to purchase SI-2K SR (as I call it). It'll do away with the umbilical cord tying you to the laptop while also providing you the option to go to the mini in case you need to do some steadi-cam-ish shot, or put the lens in a tight place.

It's a blast to work with and it's great to see that some of their top engineers frequent the site, listening to our feedback and improving their products based on our experiences. Top notch.
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#11 Jason Rodriguez

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Posted 30 March 2008 - 08:59 PM

Even though your project dumped the SI-2K, there are two factors to keep in mind. First, get extra long cables to run to the laptop.


This is because you were using the MINI . . . the above production was going to use the full SI-2K (not the SI-2K MINI). With the MIN you need a laptop or some connected computer source, and yes, the cables need to be long enough :)

I also just talked with a buddy who finished shooting a music video and he found a problem with the OS running the camera (it's Windows, so.....). Basically, if the battery dies while booting up the system, the OS will be wiped from the flash drive.


Not quite true . . . this was a known issue that could happen about 5% of the time that a situation like this occurred where a depleted battery was used to boot the camera, but the camera didn't full boot, and shut-down hard during the boot process. They were also using a very early prototype camera from last NAB (i.e., the second SI-2K ever made). We've fixed the issue.

Also the issue was not the drive being "wiped", but critical file-system files being corrupted due to unexpected power-loss. And again, it didn't happen every time this situation was encountered with bad batteries. In fact, for that prototype camera (which had been in use for more than six months), that was the first time it happened. So we're talking pretty rare event. But again, it's been fixed.

Another thing to remember is that the histogram has about a centimeter buffer on the right side (highlights), so watch your levels.


This only happens at 0db gain because 0db analog gain does not apply full-swing to the A/D converters (i.e., the max digital value at 0db is about 2% less than 4096 (so max code value of around 4014), where-as at +3db and above it is). Using analog gains allows for cleaner signals (you get less noise when applying higher gains compared to using digital gains), but you just have to keep in-mind that the RAW data itself won't peak at 100%, but rather at 98% when using 0db gain. We could have set +3db as 0db gain to hide this from the end-user, but we figured that people would rather have lower noise, and since the default .look files that come with the camera automatically compensate for this effect (so 98% white gets mapped to 100% white), it's really not an issue when shooting with the camera. Also our in-camera metering for high-light clipping, etc. will show you when you're clipping even if the RAW data is only at the 98% level, so again, not really a huge concern.

Now normally most cameras our there would have either bumped up to +3db, or applied in-camera digital processing (digital gains) to make sure that whites always clipped . . . rather than using in-camera processing that "bakes" the color-adjusments into the digital data, we can very cleanly compensate for this very slight highlight shift through the non-destructive .look files and SpeedGrade OnSet.

Also remember that this is 2% in photometrically linear space . . . so once you apply gamma correction and anything else to make the image look "normal", that 2% highlight head-room is gone and 100% white is 100% white. The histogram though is allowing you to see the RAW data as it comes off the sensor pre color adjustments (and again, all the color adjustments are non-destructive).

Personally I would wait to purchase SI-2K SR (as I call it). It'll do away with the umbilical cord tying you to the laptop while also providing you the option to go to the mini in case you need to do some steadi-cam-ish shot, or put the lens in a tight place.


Just to alay any confusion, it's not the SI-2K "SR", but simply the "SI-2K" . . . there is the SI-2K MINI, and the SI-2K.

It's a blast to work with and it's great to see that some of their top engineers frequent the site, listening to our feedback and improving their products based on our experiences. Top notch.


Thanks, we're glad to be of service :)

Jason
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#12 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 31 March 2008 - 03:50 AM

Jason, what is the current boot up time on the SI 2K?

I read recently that it was 45 seconds and with the RED seemingly now getting below that figure when booting up, is the SI 2K time getting quicker as well?

I'm going to assume that the data cameras based around computers are going to have slower start up times (at least in the short term) compared to the more traditional cameras.
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#13 Jason Rodriguez

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Posted 07 April 2008 - 12:52 PM

I read recently that it was 45 seconds and with the RED seemingly now getting below that figure when booting up, is the SI 2K time getting quicker as well?


We're still at around 45 seconds. It won't be getting any faster anytime soon unfortunately.

Thanks,

Jason
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#14 DS Williams

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Posted 27 January 2009 - 01:18 AM

45 seconds? holy crap.
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