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#1 Phil Rhodes

Phil Rhodes
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Posted 14 April 2011 - 03:09 AM

I promised Tim I'd try to post every day - bit late on this one, and apologies, but it's going to be a bit of a bullet point list as today really was full of things to see and do, just like the Hooters restaurant where we had dinner. Ahem.

Technicolor have put their name to a picture style for the Canon DSLRs. This was apparently done using the more sophisticated tools available to Canon's internal engineers, as opposed to the rather inadequate curves editor supplied to the public. The result equates generally to having an equal number of code values per F-stop, a true log curve, and it looks rather flat but not nearly as flat as some of the rather overdone curves seen around the internet.

Abel Cine Tech are showing the Phantom 65-Z3D, which is a binocular lens system designed to suit the enormous slab of silicon that the Phantom 65 calls a sensor. This is extremely interesting. There is no convergence per se; adjusting the mechanically unified interaxial distance moves the lenses without moving where the images land on the sensor, and without disturbing the parallel axes of the lenses. I think I'm adequately on-record as being really disinterested in stereoscopic 3D because it makes my head hurt; this was by far the least-painful I've ever seen. Add to this the fact that the Phantom 65 is capable of shooting a frame about 5% larger than HD to allow for final alignment tweaks and depth grading without forcing a resolution-compromising zoom in, and we have very possibly the best currently-available 3D system. It's also much smaller and lighter than mirror rigs, and of course it's a Phantom 65 so it can go at up to 300fps (at the vertical picture height that suits the Z3D system). My only concern is over the optical quality of such a necessarily tiny set of lens elements. Otherwise, brilliant.

Except of course it's a Phantom, which is apparently such a flighty and capricious thoroughbred that it requires the constant attention of a trained minder, at the cost of one gold bar per day.

Qube Cinema have created a plugin for Final Cut which facilitates the creation of a digital cinema package, costing under $5000 for the most comprehensive version. I'm sure I hardly need to say that this is a seriously large saving on previous options, and that's pretty much the story. You probably couldn't use it to create real, actual release prints for major motion pictures, since it doesn't support captioning or multiple language versions, but you can do more or less anything but. This solves a problem experienced by anyone who wants to project a preview at a DCI facility and doesn't want to pay Technicolor a five figure sum for the privilege.

I can't say I was quite so impressed by the "Single Chip Camera Evaluation." It did say one interesting thing, which was that of all the major single-chip cameras from high to low end, the best colorimitery and sharpness can probably be had from the AF-100. When I say "best", I mean of course "most like the F35", which seemed to have been the assumption made. Otherwise, the material doesn't do much more than indicate that the imaging performance of the F35 is better than that of the Canon 5D. Next week: night is dark. The real conclusion is that actually most of them looked reasonable most of the time. Can you shoot a feature film on a 5D, project it on a big screen and have it be watchable? Yes, you can, so stop comparing and start shooting.

Other observations: everyone and his dog now makes a 1x1 foot LED panel of some sort, many of them frankly better than litepanels. I actually like the edge-lit diffusion panels better, they're less subject to being a field of dots. Zacuto cannot be prevented from creating ever larger, weightier and more ridiculous DSLR rigs. And now it's time to go to sleep.

Zzz.

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