reprogramming a camera at DVinfo.net

Go Back   DV Info Net > The Tools of DV and HD Production > Open DV Discussion

Open DV Discussion
For topics which don't fit into any of the other categories.


Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old June 28th, 2011, 01:06 PM   #1
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: Rochester, NY
Posts: 103
reprogramming a camera

I'm sure this is a stupid question or maybe it's been asked before, but out of curiosity... Is it possible to reprogram your camera to record into a different codex to speed up your workflow and increase your footage quality?

I know you can buy a Nanoflash or Ninja and record uncompressed into a different codex, but that's another thing to buy and it's another piece of equipment to keep track of. With everything being digital and cameras being computers with lenses now, can't you just program it to do what you'd want?

(this is a question out of curiosity not an intent to try it :-)
Paul Owens is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 28th, 2011, 08:56 PM   #2
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Tucson AZ
Posts: 2,205
Re: reprogramming a camera

It's actually an interesting question.

My guess (just a guess mind you) would be that it wouldn't be easily doable - It would depend on what part of the camera function is performed in software vs in a dedicated and specialized piece of hardware/chip. If it were all in software it could be doable, but then it would be very dependent on how much power there was in the processor and the details of the data path. Might be possible to do it, but not at a useful frame rate for example,.

The more function gets offloaded to custom chips, the less flexibility there would be for reprogramming.
Jim Andrada is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 28th, 2011, 09:27 PM   #3
Trustee
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Byron Bay, Australia
Posts: 1,142
Re: reprogramming a camera

I don't know about adding an entirely new codec, but it is certainly possible to adjust the parameters of the existing ones.

For example, the GH1 shoots MJPEG at 30fps and AVCHD at 24p (over 60i), 30p and 60p. A creative bunch, unhappy with the compression quality of the AVCHD, hacked the camera and made a number of changes - Changed the 24p from a 60i wrapper to native, increased the bitrate of the h.264 files up to 50mbps and even higher, added 24p in MJPEG, and a few other nifty adjustments to increase overall picture quality.

Another example that exists is the Magic Lantern hack for the Canon DSLR's. This one doesn't add any new codecs, but it does add a number of graphic interface elements including zebras, a histogram, focus-assist zoom, peaking, audio meters, etc. Again, all of the hardware was already there and in some cases the features were already being used in still photo mode, so it was just a matter of unlocking the potential of the hardware.

Now, just because it is possible, does not mean it is advisable. Camera manufacturers are not particularly fond of people appropriating their work, and apart from voiding your warranty, you will encounter plenty of encryption and software protection. The Canon 7D had a frimware hack under develpment for a while but I believe there was a firmware update limiter - the firmware could only be updated a certain number of times before it would lock and prevent any changes - at which point the developers were left with a half cooked firmware and no way of returning the camera to factory default firmware.
John Wiley is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 28th, 2011, 10:45 PM   #4
Trustee
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Mumbai, India
Posts: 1,385
Re: reprogramming a camera

With sufficient knowledge in electronic engineering and programming, you can reprocess the signal (or reinterpret the signal, a more practical term) from the sensor and encode it in any codec of your choice.

You would also have to design and build a delivery circuit to read this data on to a recording device, like a memory card or hard drive. Depending on the sensor/camera you have chosen, your results might vary.
__________________
Get the Free Comprehensive Guide to Rigging ANY Camera - one guide to rig them all - DSLRs to the Arri Alexa.
Sareesh Sudhakaran is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 28th, 2011, 11:26 PM   #5
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Tucson AZ
Posts: 2,205
Re: reprogramming a camera

What makes me less than optimistic about this kind of thing is that I don't know how much of any given camera's code is general purpose vs driving unique hardware components. In other words, what are the primitive functions available to the higher level code - if they're restricted by a certain chip set, then you would have to stay within the bounds of what the chip set does, or implement without the hardware assist provided by said chip sets, and take a huge performance penalty.
Jim Andrada is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 29th, 2011, 11:46 AM   #6
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Apple Valley CA
Posts: 4,866
Re: reprogramming a camera

The precedent is certainly there with the GH13 hacks (which Panasonic eventually blocked in hardware I understand) and Magic Lantern...

You certainly would void any warranty, as you'd be modifying the device. You might brick it.

While there is "firmware", and the underlying hardware (processor) probably has a certain degree of flexibility in its design, it's very unlikely a manucturer would be overly excited about external parties poking around under the hood - they definitely don't make details and source code readily available, no doubt for reasons of both protecting their Intellectual property, and preventing "hacking" to whatever degree they can.

So... is it "possible"? Maybe. Are you good at reverse engineering... are you willing ot possibly sacrifice your equipment on the altar of "research"?

Is there likely to be a "hacking community" of video camera hackers spring up? Magic 8 Ball says "not likely", as with consumer cameras the tech chnges yearly - by the time you get the first commercially available samples (at retail, since the mfr isn't going to give you samples if they know what you're doing! <wink>), and reverse engineer the hardware and firmware from scratch, the product has likely already had a replacement announced!

I know it sounds like a good Idea, and there have been a few things I "hacked' over the years just because I wanted to know how it worked... I don't see it happening, especially when you start talking firmware.
Dave Blackhurst is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 29th, 2011, 12:05 PM   #7
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: Rochester, NY
Posts: 103
Re: reprogramming a camera

Ok, then to add to the question... if manufacturers are so against poking around, why not offer camera's with options for the Codex. For instance, why not have a XF300 that records into Prores for FC users and one that records in MXF for Adobe. Or something like that.
Paul Owens is offline   Reply
Reply

DV Info Net refers all where-to-buy and where-to-rent questions exclusively to these trusted full line dealers and rental houses...

Professional Video
(800) 833-4801
Portland, OR

B&H Photo Video
(866) 521-7381
New York, NY

Z.G.C.
(973) 335-4460
Mountain Lakes, NJ

Abel Cine Tech
(888) 700-4416
N.Y. NY & L.A. CA

Precision Camera
(800) 677-1023
Austin, TX

DV Info Net also encourages you to support local businesses and buy from an authorized dealer in your neighborhood.
  You are here: DV Info Net > The Tools of DV and HD Production > Open DV Discussion

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

 



Google
 

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 12:42 AM.


DV Info Net -- Real Names, Real People, Real Info!
1998-2017 The Digital Video Information Network