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Old July 12th, 2004, 01:22 AM   #1
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Home Made HD Cinema Cameras - General Discussion


This thread is for general discussion of the home made HD camera system discussed in the threads below:More detailed discussion is covered by it's companion threads:This HD system is also meant for more general work than Cinema.

The detailed guide to this project is presently at:

Have fun!
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Old July 14th, 2004, 09:59 AM   #2
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Please read the original threads and the FAQ wiki (listed in the first post) to get an overview.
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Old July 20th, 2004, 10:39 PM   #3
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Here is a summary of some of the posts on the present state of affairs:


Originally Steve I in the viper thread got Sumix interested in making a camera for us. In the meantime Obin got this own version of this project going with the Silicon Image camera in the Russian film camera case, and gratefully got Steve N's support.

The main project boils down to this:

Is to make a low cost camera system that is suitiable for independent film production and low end professional, and prosumer, video production.

The aim is a system that consists of any camerlink box type HD camera connected to a portable computer system, preferably in shoulder ENG and handheld casings. Rob was doing software to make the capture, compression, and storage transparent, professional and simple, with universal codec support for transparent file format, transmission and standard NLE video editing. By using this glue software, and working out the best parts, we hope to make a well integrated simple to put together and use system, not a hack. At the moment we are all focussing on prototyping on specific cameras interfaced to normal computers with specific codecs, compression and NLE's.

Sumix is planning a compression based camera, as well as a 3 chip.

Silicon Imaging would like to do a compression based camera, if somebody else provides the finished FPGA desaign. I have another manufacturer looking at the compression issue, and Obin (I think) has also approached somebody.

Sumix and SI currently think that Altsens chips are the best.

Silicon Imaging, Sumix and many others, have non Altsens cameralink cameras.

Our own compression, codecs and FPGA, are future projects after the software is setup. Many alternatives have been discussed and suggested and there is a seperate Cinema camera FPGA thread.

Gigabit Ethernet is the what we are looking at instead of Firewire. It also is forwards compatible with 10 Giga Bit Ethernet which is way above Firewire 3.2Gbit/s optical. I have also suggested the cheap consumer HDMI (5Gbit/s DVI in USB type plug) standard, USB 3, PCI-E Desktop.

With USB2, and Gigabit Ethernet, standard drivers are inefficent and won't get near the max data rate, you need custom drivers to get close to the bus bandwidth.

USB2 has been discussed extensively with Steve N of SI. The problem is that you get lost frames because the USB hardware requires a lot of extra processing power, pixels are packed in 8 or 16 bits at a time, and the burst frame bandwidth is controlled by the shutter speed. When you read 10 bits it is sent accross as a 16 bit value (I know, really poor efficency). When you use a 1/48sec shutter requires double the bandwidth, with overheads that gets close to satuation. Alltogether unreliable.

We are looking at ITX, because of cheap consumer based mini-itx, and nano-itx formfactors, and very low power requirements. There are faster processors and extra processing capabilities being developed by VIA, that might negate the use of a P4.

Or something like that. Sounds right guys?

You will find more information about components and configurations here:

3 channel 36 bit 1280 X 720 low $ camera - Viper?

4:4:4 10bit single CMOS HD project

Home made camera designs?

The detailed guide to this project is presently at:

I have setup some additional threads if anybody wants to use them in future:

Home Made HD Cinema Cameras - General Discussion

Home Made HD Cinema Cameras - Problems and Performance

Home Made HD Cinema Cameras - Technical Discussion


Go to the 4:4:4 10bit single CMOS HD project thread, most of the action is happening there for the moment. Obin is experimenting with a lowend Bayer 720p design. We are trying to do any camera, Sumix and SI (Silicon Image) are making cameras that specifically suite our puposes, only Sumix is targeting their designs specifically for us.

Prices are vary variable, as we are trying to make it so you can put together a camera to your needs and price.
We are trying to target a $5K system price, but it could be done cheaper or more expensive. This would be camera head and computer system price. I imagine that you could do it for $2K, but you would end up with either a cheap and nasty $1K camera head or bulky computer (camerass are availble for less than hundreds of dollers, but you get what you pay for). Both companies are aiming for the higher end Rockwell Altsens chip range. The Altsen is at the high end of the mid range market, and as such is good value, compared tot he expensive cinema sensors that would cost $4K-$10K+ just for the sensor (then add price to make into complete camera head).

The software is a work in progress, done by Rob S and Rob L. Recently (the last time I was here) Obin has hired his own programmer to get his project workming for a professional work sooner. We have been approached by another seriouse production at the same time, hopefully something canbe worked out for them.




<<<-- Originally posted by Wayne Morellini : Rob Lapiont, yes to most of your questions.

Various companies like Sumix and Silicon Imaging are working a few camera designs, the best of which is a 3 sensor camera using the Altasens cmos chip that is being used in the Kinetta (although he is only using one chip)

Maybe, but the 3chip will be after the success of the single chip versions.

- These cameras are capable of shooting at a variety of frame-rates and they output RAW 12 bit images via some sort of data cable ie: USB2, eithernet, ect...

Mainly RAW 10 for the moment (I think the Aktsens will do 12bit). Most 12 bit requires a special double sample according to Steve (I don't know about the Altsens though).

- A frame grabber of some sort must be used to actually record the data unto disk

Not if your using USB cmaera or GB ethernet adaptor, but USb unrealiable.

- The companies creating the cameras are not building housings to go with them, so that is something that must be built.


- Rob is working on capture software to record and work with the RAW data so that it may be brought into an editor.


- We should start seeing cameras in the next couple months

At the earliest.

I do have a couple of questions though after reading through this forum and Obins forum.

- Will these cameras have the rolling shutter problems that Obin is running into? Will there be a variable shutter speed?

Some don't I think that Altsens might capture andf output at the same time so they will be like global shutters if that is the case.

- Will it be possible to just run a cable from the camera to a suitible computer system for recording rather than trying to have some onboard computer to do the recording?

That is the only way for the moment.

- What sort of lense options will we have with these cameras?

Whatever the manufacturer ships with it, different sized chips have corresponding lense systems, otherwise you will have to use a lense adaptor using either projected image (keeps DOF but sacrifices some light) or condensed image to the new chip (brighter image but same DOF as the chips normal lense). Mounting a lense straight without sizing down the image will result in loose of angle of vision.

Wish you luck and thank yoiu for coming Rob.

Everybody else see you in a couple of days maybe.


Wayne. -->>>
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