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Old January 22nd, 2009, 11:40 PM   #31
Silicon Imaging
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Slumdog Millionaire shot with SI-2K Camera receives 10 Oscar Nominations

Slumdog Millionaire, which already swept 4 Golden Globes earlier this month continues its own rags-to-riches story with a total of 10 Academy Award nominations including Best Picture, Best Director for Danny Boyle and Best Cinematography for Anthony Dod Mantle. In the crowd pleasing fantasy, Danny Boyle tells a love story about a teenager who rises from the slums of Mumbai to win the Indian version of the television game show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? Many of the fast-paced chase scenes and game show set were shot with the Silicon Imaging SI-2K Digital Cinema Camera.

“The film uses dazzling cinematography, breathless editing, driving music and headlong momentum to explode with narrative force, stirring in a romance at the same time” states Roger Ebert, for the Chicago Sun-Times.

The challenge of shooting of one of the densest and fasting moving cities in the world fell upon Director of Photography Anthony Dod Mantle, who most recently shot Last King of Scotland and had previously worked with Boyle on both 28 Days Later and Millions. The plan was to shoot in the heart of the city’s infamous but rarely explored slums, capturing their energy and urgency on-the-fly, with an unforced realism.

“Danny Boyle and I had made four films together prior to this and we have developed a method and a trust”, says Anthony Dod Mantle. We both have strong opinions about our work and about cinema in general and we always want to try to push ideas to the fullest.”

Danny Boyle was adamant that he did not want to take large, cumbersome 35mm cameras into the slums. He wanted to use smaller, more flexible, digital cameras to enable them to shoot quickly with minimal disturbance to the natural flow and communities.

“We started off using classical kinds of film cameras and I didn’t like it.” Boyle explains. “I wanted to feel really involved in the city. I didn’t want to be looking at it, examining it. I wanted to be thrown right into the chaos as much as possible.”

"I had to find a camera set up that would be ergonomic enough for me to throw myself around the slums chasing the children whilst, at the same time, withhold as much detail in the shadows and highlights” says Anthony Dod Mantle. Our producer, Chris Colson, had hoped for Danny and Anthony to repeat the efforts on Mini-DV”. This was all well and good, except for the monumental difference between shooting multi camera fiction on sets where I could light, sometimes quite heavily. We needed a digital camera with enough latitude to hold highlights and something very small so we could enter the children’s world at their level. “Slumdog Millionaire” needed a completely different tactical approach.”

They found the right combination in the innovative IT-centric Silicon Imaging SI-2K Digital Cinema camera. It delivered over 11 stops of dynamic range, flexible connectivity and film-like digital content, which could be easily inter-cut with traditional film footage.

Unlike modern HD cameras, which develop and compress colorized imagery inside the camera, the Silicon Imaging SI-2K streams 2K (2048x1152) data as uncompressed raw “digital negatives” over a standard gigabit Ethernet connection. An IntelCore 2 Duo processor-based computer embedded in the camera or tethered to a laptop up to 100 feet away, processes the digital negatives, where they are non-destructively developed and colorized for preview using the cinematographer's desired "look" for the scene.

The digital negatives and "look" metadata are simultaneously recorded to hard drive or solid state disk where up to 4-hours of continuous footage are captured on a single 160GB notebook drive; this is the equivalent of 14-reels of 35mm film which has an associated cost exceeding $25,000 for materials and processing. The recorded files, can be immediately played with the target color look at full resolution, without the need for film scanning, tape ingest, format conversions or off-line proxies.

A customized camera support and recording package had to be built to meet the unique form factor demands of the Slumdog shoot. . They enlisted Pille Film, of Wiesbaden Germany, to create a custom solution which included a gyro stabilizer for the base of the SI-2K Mini. Instead of using the traditional film-style camera body, they elected to use Apple Mac book Pro notebook, running Windows XP, for the recorders, and built them into ruggedized backpacks, to be worn inconspicuously. Stefan Ciupek, the show’s technical supervisor and additional camera operator, coordinated the design and modifications of the camera system with Wolfgang Damm of Pille, whose team worked around the clock to get the 2K Mini rigs built

Pille assembled four units for the production, and by testing them in a sauna, determined that the laptops would have to be packed in dry ice so they wouldn’t fail in India’s intense heat. Once shooting began, the dry ice had to be reloaded hourly; the production required up to 45 pounds of dry ice daily.

"I've done some odd things, but this was the oddest," Mantle says. "It was unknown territory and unknown technology, which was exciting. Attaching a gyro to the base of the handheld unit enabled me to move the camera in a very unusual way, somewhere between handheld and immaculate Steadicam,” says the cinematographer. I could make fast movements, throw the camera a certain way, swipe it up and sideways, and make a brake just before the gyro kicked in so it came to an abrupt stop. Boyle loved the results.“

“It’s not like jiggery-pokery handheld,” says director Boyle. “When you work handheld with a film camera, it’s always connected to the body mass, but Anthony separated the camera from his body weight, so his body weight could be on the left and the camera on the right. It was extraordinary what he could accomplish. He’s the greatest operator I’ve ever seen.”

“The SI-2K’s handled the highlights amazingly well.” stated Mantle. “I have since shot on the Red camera and found I had to be more wary of clipping the highlights in Scandinavia than I had to be with the SI2K in scorching India. Its weight factor obviously allowed me to operate more intuitively and emotionally instantaneously than I can with the normal weight of even a modern celluloid camera.”

The filmmakers originally planned to shoot specific scenes digitally and the rest on 3-perf Super 35mm, but Boyle was so pleased with the SI-2K performance that he gradually decided to shoot more and more with it. The SI-2K digital cameras also allowed me to shoot more content than I would have done, for a similar budget, on pure film stock.

“During the final grading of Slumdog Millionaire both Danny and myself used words such as magnificent, regarding some of the SI-2K scenes.” Stated Dod Mantle. Along the way I shot up to 5 different film stocks which were interwoven into the digitally captured material at the grade in London with the MPC team with the colorist Jean Clement. The conditions were tough for any camera including the heat, dust and rapid camera movement. I am deeply happy and excited about the final sheen this film will have and I think the SI-2K helped to bring out the vibrancy and the immediacy to what was always an amazing script.”

"This was not a conventional piece of cinematography, not one where I was able to start a shot and complete it and orchestrate it," he says. "I had to work my pants off shooting in the slums, with the unforeseeable rampant running. We shot crowd scenes, like the chase through Juhu slum at the beginning of the film, using the people who happened to be passing by on the street for added realism. The hyperkinetic chase sequence involving the young Jamal and Salim at the beginning of the film was filmed incrementally, built up, like a montage over a period of time. I had an unforgettable time shooting with the SI-2K in India and am very very grateful for the support I have been given by the Silicon Imaging and Pille Film team, making the film unfold in such a beautiful way.”

Anthony Dod Mantle, who received an oscar nomination for Best Cinematography, has already won honors for his color-infused photography on this film, including the Golden Frog from the Poland's CamerImage Festival; the most prestigious international award for cinematographers.

"I'm ecstatic! Thank you to the Academy from the cast and crew here in Mumbai where the film was made and where it's being premiered tonight. It feels like you've given us a billion nominations!" director Danny Boyle said in reaction to the nominations.
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Old January 23rd, 2009, 03:54 AM   #32
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I got off my backside onto my feet and took my backside and the rest of me with it and planted it on a seat in the cinema to see "Slumdog Millionaire". True - I was watching here and there for SI2K and film, but absolutely ten out of ten for the story and the way it is told.

Forget about the technology. The whole thing flowed seamlessly and engagingly, which I guess makes my comment a pretty much backhanded tribute to the SI2K camera system. Like a music underscore, if the camerawork draws undue attention to itself then it is not working, likewise the technology beneath. There was nothing in the imaging to pull me out of the story place which means the system was working in the background as it should.

When the story and the way it has been crafted, compells you off-task out of deliberate technical nitpick mode into the drama, then it has to have a whole lot going for it.

It would seem electronic imaging has matured. I second-sessioned part of the film and yes there were a few places where blue gain noise can be seen if you look hard enough. Film in low-light or push processing can do the same sort of thing. The audience buys visual noise in low light and will stay with the story unless it is not good enough.

Interestingly, I did not find my eyes getting tired from trying to focus on missing detail as they did with Star Wars 2. That is a purely unscientific and probably quite unfair judgement of the camera system Lucas used, as that was a bit older and improvements have been made since. What this movie demonstrates is that a relatively low-cost turnkey workflow of theatrical quality now exists and the SI camera system does measure up.

As a cinema experience, I cannot recommend "Slumdog Millionaire" highly enough and I am a bit hard to please these days.

Two standout scenes to look for and there are plenty :-

"Now you see real India - now you see real America" when the american tourist intervenes in the security guard's assault against the teenage Jamal, - so many levels of interpretation can be applied to that little sequence.

And the final resolution where Jamal kisses Latika's scar, again many levels of interpretation here depending upon your knowledge of the world.

So many film stories depend on a solid foundation. The original published novel must have indeed been a compelling read.

Do yourself a favour. Don't wait for the DVD on this one. Pick up your backside with two hands above your feet, walk it outside and dump it into the shopping trolley ( the family car ), carry it into the cinema and set it down in a darkened room like I did.

Last edited by Bob Hart; January 23rd, 2009 at 04:07 AM. Reason: error
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Old January 25th, 2009, 06:45 PM   #33
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What do the SI-2K Shot T-Mobile Dance and Slumdog Millionaire have in common?

According to VIral Video Chart web site, both are in the Top-10 Viral Videos of the internet this week

Viral Video Chart - Top 20 Viral Videos

#3 T-Mobile Dance has 2.7 Million views
#7 Slumdog Millionaire Trailers have 2.4 Million views
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Old February 4th, 2009, 12:05 PM   #34
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In my opinion Slumdog Millionaire is a must-see for all film watchers and film makers. And it should be seen on a big screen.

Also in my opinion, this film marks the coming-of-age of digital technology in commercial cinema. It is absolutely seamless.

Also, the flow and rythm of camera movement is transparent, unlike most well-done steadicam, dolly work, crane work, etc.
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Old April 14th, 2009, 09:22 AM   #35
Silicon Imaging
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SI-3D and SI-2K at NAB 2009 (Booth SL11605)

Silicon Imaging

Silicon Imaging Oscar Filmmaking Digital Cinema Cameras go 3D

Hollywood, CA - Silicon Imaging, the company that enabled the digital shooting of this years Oscar winning Best Picture Slumdog Millionaire, is now changing the face of stereo-3D cinematography and production. The company unveiled the world’s first integrated 3D cinema camera and stereo visualization system at NAB 2009. The SI-3D shoots uncompressed raw imagery from two synchronized cameras and encodes directly to a single stereo CineFormRAW QuickTime file, along with 3D LUT color and convergence metadata. The stereo file can to be instantly played back and edited in Full 3D on an Apple Final Cut timeline, without the need for proxy conversions.

Traditionally, 3D content was captured from two independent left and right cameras, each with its own settings, color controls, record start, timecode, content management and monitoring outputs. A variety of complex devices would be used to synchronize the recordings or combine the outputs for viewing. The content would then have to go through a tedious process of being ingested or converted to formats compatible with the editing or grading systems, matched up from the independent left and right sources, flipped if the shot was on a beam splitter and the timeline adjusted to have the first frame overlapped. A color grade could then be applied, convergence adjusted and finally a stereo image viewed for dailies playback.

“The SI-3D camera system streamlines the entire stereo-3D content acquisition and post production process;” states Ari Presler, CEO of Silicon Imaging. “Combining two cameras into a single control, processing and recording platform enables shooting and instant playback like a traditional 2D camera with the added tools needed on-set to analyze and adjust the lighting, color, flip orientation and stereo depth effects. In post, a unified stereo file plus associated metadata can be immediately graded for dailies, edited, and viewed in either 2D or 3D.”

The SI-3D system uses two remote SI-2K Mini cameras with an P+S interchange lens mount connected to a single processing system via gigabit Ethernet where they are synchronized and controlled through the familiar SiliconDVR touchscreen interface. On-set, each camera can be viewed individually or in stereo mixed modes using modern 3D LCD and DLP displays. Various tools are used to visualize and adjust the focus, lighting and 3-D effects including alignment grid overlays, false color zebras, digital zooming, edge detection, spot meters, dual histograms, parallax shifts, anaglyph mixing and wiggle displays.

Unlike modern HD cameras, which develop and compress colorized imagery, the SI system captures raw “digital negatives” where they are non-destructively developed and colorized for preview using the cinematographer's desired "look" for the scene. This color metadata, along with stereo convergence, flip orientation from beam splitter rigs and alignment data are encoded into a single CineFormRAW QuickTime stereo file. These files can be edited directly in Apple Final Cut without the need for conversion or rendering. With the addition of CineForm’s Neo3D, convergence plus stereo or individual eye color adjustments can be dynamically controlled and modified, while viewing live 3D playback using side-by-side, over-under, or interlaced output modes.

“Driven by increasing numbers of 3D film projects planned by Hollywood studios, the demand for efficient 3D camera and post workflows has increased significantly in the last two years,” said David Taylor, CEO of CineForm, Inc. “The combination of the Silicon Imaging SI-3D camera with CineForm high-fidelity compression-based 3D workflow will significantly reduce overall project complexity and costs.”

"The Silicon Imaging camera’s form factor and flexible lens mounting system enable us to develop innovative lightweight beam-splitter and parallel rigs to shoot steadicam and hand-held stereo footage with incredible latitude and film like results" stated Max Penner, CTO of ParadiseFX. We have the SI Mini’s as part of our 3D camera package to shooting feature films including Thomas Jane’s “Dark Country 3D”, Patrick Lussier’s, “My Bloody Valentine 3D” and Joe Dante’s “The Hole 3D”.”

The SI-3D system is also establishing new benchmarks in image quality and data rates with its ability to record dual-stream 12-bit uncompressed raw directly to mobile 2.5” SSD (Solid State Drives), with peak rates up to 200Mbytes/sec (1.6Gbit/sec). A 250 GB drive can store up to 1-hour of footage per camera. The resulting Silicon Imaging Video (.SIV) footage can be seamlessly viewed and graded directly in Iridas FrameCycler and Speedgrade XR with look and stereo metadata applied. The files can also be exported as a CinemaDNG sequences or converted to CineFormRAW 2D or 3D files, at a later time.

“There is an incredible amount of latitude and resolution from the Silicon Imaging cameras” states William White, CEO of 3D Camera Company. “Shooting directly to SSD gives us the flexibility to record stereo footage in an extreme lightweight and rugged configuration as shoulder or vehicle mounted for ‘Rescue 3D’ and even body worn for shooting from a skydiver in the upcoming ‘Human Flight 3D’. The SI-3D system with on-set visualization and integrated stereo workflow will speed up our entire shooting and production process for creating compelling 3D content.”
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My SI-2K Pics-si-2k-photo-sm.jpg   My SI-2K Pics-si-2k-mini-sm.jpg  

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