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Silicon Imaging SI-2K
2/3" 1080p IT-integrated 10-bit digital cinema w/direct-to-disk recording.

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Old March 19th, 2009, 10:36 PM   #46
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BTW, Bob, if you ever need a little more contrast control in a high-contrast out-door setting like what I'm seeing in your footage, you can try the "Medium Contrast" version of the Kodak 250D, or the "Neutral Medium Contrast", or even the "Neutral Low Contrast" looks.

The medium and low-contrast looks open up the shadows a bit more, and lower the point along the curve where middle-grey exposure is, so you get more headroom. For instance, in a daylight setting, the low-contrast look can give you a good +5 f-stop headroom over-exposure range, so that only the most extreme highlights will clip.

The only downside to the lower-contrast looks that push down the middle-grey point is that they do induce a bit more noise into the scene, but typically with a high-contrast daylight shot, noise is not an issue (noise in the shadows would typically only be an issue during a night or low-key scene).


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Old March 21st, 2009, 09:42 AM   #47
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Thanks again for your advice.

Ideally we would have used ND to bring in a little more selective focus but had none. Gavan put a polariser on which helped. Our light out here can be a bit savage and climate change is not helping. I have been around enough years to observe the difference. The skies are what I call hard nowadays.

Clouds about 30 degrees up from the southern horizon used to be lighter than the sky about midday, now they are a slight shade darker most times. Maybe my eyes are going off but I don't think so.

Last edited by Bob Hart; March 21st, 2009 at 09:47 AM. Reason: added text
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Old April 15th, 2009, 11:32 AM   #48
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In airs with the "split" SI2K"

Next weekend, we will be doing some stuff within a light aircraft, some of which will be dialogue delivery in flight to lend some authenticity to the other shots we will do in more controllable conditions with the aircraft mute and silent on the ground.

For a sync track for looping, we will take a feed from the aircraft comms system.

For safety reasons we may not ND the side windows to bring the background light down to a more manageable level so may have to make do with flight toward the sun to light the interior through the front screen which is less than ideal.

The camera recorder unit and Mini head will be startrekked (split). The Mini head will be positioned handheld on a short pole into the ideal shooting position that safety will permit.

The pole will support the camera in an underslung position and will be safely restrained by lanyards with enough free length to permit handheld support free of vibrating airframe.

The recorder unit and touchscreen monitor will be secured down in the cargo area and the operator will pole the camera forward from the rear seat.

We will be using a Kinoptik 5.7mm, which is not the sharpest kid on the block but about the only lens that does not require critical focus once the backfocus oir collimation to the mount has been achieved.

Its sweetest spot is f4 which may give us a problem if the day is bright. We are in f11 - f16 weather right now. It is also the model before the in-built filter slot was added so there are no ND filter options except maybe some gel across the front or in back of the exit pupil.

Does anyone have any furthur advice to give us?
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Old April 15th, 2009, 03:00 PM   #49
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For the lens use Kowa 5mm, very sharp and nice, no distortion and will not break your budget.

Shot about a year ago, well outside window is easier but I had the lens 2xND.8 screw in filter and wired remote FF on aperture wheel to compensate.
Lens was 8mm Navitar

The sky is not your worst enemy but the clouds. So try to keep the frame slightly upwards and you should not have many problems. Also you could make a look that pulls the neutral grey 1.5 stops up, so you have much more headroom.

As for mounting the mini head, use magic arm and super-clamp, no need to do handheld!

For DOP monitor you could use VGA extender, but dont forget you need to power it.

few ideas....
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Old April 16th, 2009, 08:46 AM   #50
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Thanks for linking your clip. Interesting mid-way through the flight there is an apparent disturbance trail through the cloud layer suggesting the passage of an earlier flight on the same heading.

Kowa apparently made the Ultra T* series lenses for Cinema Products Corp.

We have a Manfrotto geared head but it is a bit too heavy to be attaching to the diagonal struts across the windscreen on our light aircraft, a Maule which are critical parts of the airframe. We also cannot clamp onto tubular structural elements due to risk of crush damage. We could but the risks are just not worth it. We would also be on the wrong end of some law and order, so it has to be hand-held for us.

Last edited by Bob Hart; April 16th, 2009 at 08:58 AM. Reason: error
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Old April 18th, 2009, 10:23 AM   #51
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In Airs with "split" SI2K

Here's a few grabs from today's adventures. A rough grade only.


Actual Airbournes - Kinoptik 5.7mm at f4-f5.6

On ground emulation - Noct-Nikkor 58mm at varying from f4 to f1.2 as light was lost due to time over-run.

The framing/composition of the ultra-wides is a bit off. This was forced on me by the confined workspace and the wide view of the Kinoptik which would otherwise pick up the camera/lighting pole I was using. The shots were effectively locked off with only limited range of movement available. When pilot and passenger were looking ahead, the composition was fairly okay.

Due to my mismanagement the wides were .mov files and the close-ups were .avi files. The .mov files were given a hasty colour/gamma adjustment, the .avi files got the quick Kodak 250 print look applied.

Now I need to rest my weary bones and sleep.


Here is the bit of vision grab 3 was extracted from :-
Attached Thumbnails
SI2K in Western Australia.-ff28sc51.jpg   SI2K in Western Australia.-ff28sc53.jpg  

SI2K in Western Australia.-ff28sc52.jpg   SI2K in Western Australia.-ff28sc54.jpg  

Last edited by Bob Hart; April 19th, 2009 at 06:36 AM. Reason: added text
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Old April 28th, 2009, 07:25 AM   #52
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Here are a few pieces from last weekend. The SI2K again was operated in a "split" configuration. You may observe a bit of fixed pattern noise. One needs to remember to redo the "set black" after the camera has been on for a while. - I forgot.



Yes. - I know there is no trigger on the prop gun and I have been told it is smaller than the real thing. It was made in haste out of bed iron, chair tube, tractor pins, poprivets and other scraps and apparently the cocking lever is on top not the side. Well I can't always get it right and we don't have the real things running around in Australia to borrow or copy from. We are probably all the better off for that fact.
Attached Thumbnails
SI2K in Western Australia.-scn6grab02.jpg   SI2K in Western Australia.-scn6grab01.jpg  

Last edited by Bob Hart; April 28th, 2009 at 09:27 AM. Reason: error
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Old May 9th, 2009, 11:39 AM   #53
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Correct POst Method with SI2K footage

My DP and I have had a discussion on grading and post with SI2K footage.

Our question is, what is the correct or best way to grade the footage.

Not knowing better, our sense is that one applies the grade to the cineform raw file then render this out to the exhibition format.

Should the looks be used to final grade from or are they intended only to be a quick previewing tool?

Our situation is that because we are lacking computer horsepower, the SI2K footage is being given a fairly good preliminary grade over the raw image with cineform 32bit levels and colour correction tools with no look file applied. Then it is being exported to blackmagic codec for assembly/edit and final finesse of the grade.

Any advice will be greatly appreciated.
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Old May 9th, 2009, 04:43 PM   #54
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Hi Bob,

The post house that I've a bit of work with here doesn't use the .look files but does use the white balance information. They cut on FCP, once the edit is locked down they export the cut to Pro Res and do their grading in Apple Color.
These jobs have mostly been TV commercials & a couple of music clips.

With Cineform releasing FirstLight I'm hoping to convince them to keep the .looks and just do their final little grading tweaks in Color instead of trying to recreate the whole look of the shot.

Ofcourse the best option would be to have a grading suit with Iridas Speed Grade that can work with the RAW and .look without having to bake in the white bal or colour.
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Old May 17th, 2009, 02:58 AM   #55
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Using the SI2K in split mode for in-airs

For those who have an interest, here is a preliminary assembly of SCN5.


(Aircraft enthusiasts and sound purists will pick the background FX sound of a Lycoming powered Cessna 172 instead of the Lycoming powered Maule M5 it should be. Still, this is no less legitimate than mainstream sound designers sexing up the sound of a Bell Jet Ranger with the signature heavier rotor beat of the Bell UH1.)

You may observe a fixed pattern artifact in the ground-to-airs - my mismanagement of the system. Firstly, make sure you set your black levels. Secondly, make sure you set your black levels. Thirdly, make sure you set your black levels and when setting black levels, don't be a nidiot and forget to cap the lens.

Am hoping to do a short Australian scene for the international shoot of the US based feature "Seeking Closure" on one day of the weekend May 30th-31st in Malaga.

Last edited by Bob Hart; May 17th, 2009 at 03:04 AM. Reason: added text
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Old August 17th, 2009, 11:52 PM   #56
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Si2k in the rain

Went on a recent shoot with SI2K owner in wet and rainy conditions. Obvious precautions apply as with any camera system. After an overnight shoot we found an artifact in low light conditions (early am twilight), switched heads and on later test of the original head after it had been relaxing for a while in a drier environment, found the problem was gone.

We suspect it may have been condensation built up on or near the sensor as there was a bit of a patchy dark blue sheen visible on the sensor from outside which later was gone.

The system seems intended to be weather resistant to the odd drops and splashes from rain covers being removed. I found myself becoming more concerned with protecting the lenses.

This leads me to wonder how the proposed new RED system, which appears to be stackable modules on rods, will cope with the wet with all those thin gaps in between modules for stray water drops to wick into. Unless they introduce overlapping faces with grommets or grommet the piggyback electrical conductors between the stackable modules, there will be a serious problem in the conditions we faced this past two days.

Also got to play with some real bells and whistles, big jib arm on Elemack on rails for an indoors location.

The project and location have to be kept discreet for now but hopefully I can advise of a website in the not too distant future.

Last edited by Bob Hart; August 18th, 2009 at 12:00 AM. Reason: error
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Old August 21st, 2009, 08:12 AM   #57
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Thanks for keeping us informed on your progress. Don't feel bad about the black balance problem. I soon discovered that doing a black balance without lens cap and with iris open can give some 'interesting' results. Thankfully in my case the result was so bad it was obvious in the viewfinder.
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Old August 22nd, 2009, 02:06 AM   #58
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Slightly alter-topic.

Gavan O"Sullivan, who has generously DPed for me on the Fox Featherweight trailer scenes shot so far, had in his shed some left-overs from his days of owning and operating a 35mm ARRI BL film camera which he sold a few years ago.

The lenses had originally come with this camera but he had updated to Zeiss Ultras which departed with the camera. The lenses in the shed had been stored long term as backups but never needed.

He passed them to me to try on the SI2K.

These are Cooke "Speed Panchro Series II" 50mm T2.3 and 75mm T2.3.

Both were inhabited by fungus from living in Indonesia and Singapore for some years. As old cine lenses they exhibit the wear and tear of being workhorses with cleaning marks on the 75mm quite severe, which is why he had not used them on the high-end commercials he had then been shooting.

I took the 50mm apart and found that all the stains inside were removable from the glass, an unexpected bonus. The cleaning exercise was fraught with one or two perils.

The periphery of the glass elements is not chamfered and you need to beware of loose motes of glass coming off and getting into your polishing cloth. The fungus is now gone but there are a couple of faint scratches in its place, fortunately not critical.

The assembly method for the lens is "different" and there are some contrary fitments, so do not attempt to force anything. The lenses appear to be largely handbuilt so don't expect to be able to swap barrel components

The iris mechanism is not built into a self-contained module but is part of the centre barrel containing the centre and rear lens groups. If you decide to home-renovate, take care because all the little bits and pieces fall out and it is a monkey-puzzle to re-assemble, a three-hourer to nut out.

I put both lenses on the SI2K expecting the resuilts to be quite mundane. These are old tech, small in physical size, in appearance more like old 16mm C-mount lenses.

The lenses are idiosyncratic in function. I can't fathom why but I suspect the ergonomics share something in common with British car manufacture for the masses in the early 1950's and some of their aircraft cockpit layouts as well. Comfort and convenience for the human were not always part of the equation.

They have ARRI wing-style focus handles but these are prettys which serve a different function this time round. The ARRI mount does not have the key or bayonet channel to lock the lens from turning in the mount.

The focus is found, not by attempting to turn these wing handles, but by rotating the very front of the lens body. The wing handles in this instance are simply used to anchor the lens barrel from turning in the mount.

It gets a bit confusing because the lens barrel has witness marks and the ring they are on appears to be able to turn but it is not free to do so and is part of the machining.

To my surprise, the vision from these lenses is better than I expected. The image is crisp and the colurs faithful in spite of the marks on the front element of the 75mm.

On the chart, they don't test quite as sharp as the CP Ultra T* lenses but are sharper than the Nikons except the 58mm Noct-Nikkor, 55mm Micro-Nikkor and 28mm Nikon f1.4 which they are on par with. The 862line resolution block "pops" nicely and the 1080line block shows a moire pattern which means the camera sensor sees the lines.

There were of these a few among the ex-Boeing items listed on eBay a while back. If they are relisted they might be worthwhile at a cheap price but don't expect them to be flawless or easy to operate from go.


I can't post images as I now have Internet Explorer 8 and it won't open another web page like IE7 could.

Here is a link to a frame.

25 points of sharpen were added to provoke artifacts. - there is a trace of CA towards corners.


Last edited by Bob Hart; August 22nd, 2009 at 06:52 AM.
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Old September 15th, 2009, 10:49 PM   #59
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Hdmi out and power supplies

Steve Rice's SI2K got a workout last weekend on a short feature "Trespass" being shot at night by film school graduates.

Power ended up being an issue for us. There was a big lighting tower but no access to mains power, one outlet restricted to RCD testing only. A second smaller generator was also being used for lighting so we were wary of transients and surges and stayed with batteries.

First question.

Given that the SI2K is essentially an XP computer, has anyone an opinion on whether a mains power isolator - uninterrupted power supply for computers would provide adequate protection for the SI2K on a small generator.

Second question.

I was seriously embarrassed during a recent home-visit demonstration when a potential client requested we patch the SI2K in to his huge great home-theatre HDMI screen and I was not able to do it.

It seems that the ability to do so had disappeared with the upgrade to the latest firmware. I caught myself out badly as it had not entered my feeble brain to check. Previously I had just plugged one in and it had simply worked.

So in great anxst, I have since ventured into the forbidden zone in the operating system and enabled the second monitor, a bit like crawling into the lion's cage to set a mousetrap on the floor to test the lion's forebearance and hoping to be out again and the gate locked before the trap goes off. I was lucky and things seem to be in good order.

I find that the displayed image is underscanned inside a wide frame on the HDMI monitor screen. This is fine in the sense that things like booms in shot or vignettes when using a 35mm adaptor do not sneak into the frame undiscovered.

However it would be better to be able to use the full display area of the HDMI screen for image alone. Does anyone have any advice on whether this is possible? I tried all the choices on the HDMI television itself and did not reach a happy ending.

Any advice will be greatly appreciated.

Yes. The images below are a bit grainy, shot lenses wide-open which is not ideal and gain added.
Attached Thumbnails
SI2K in Western Australia.-trespass-grab-01.jpg   SI2K in Western Australia.-trespass-grab-02.jpg  

SI2K in Western Australia.-trespass-grab-03.jpg   SI2K in Western Australia.-trespass-grab-04.jpg  

Last edited by Bob Hart; September 15th, 2009 at 11:53 PM. Reason: error
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Old September 21st, 2009, 01:53 PM   #60
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In answer to your first question, I would say the best way to protect the camera is running off batteries and let the charger run off the generator. But, what you ask is fine. A good UPS would protect the external power supply very well. What goes in on the 12V XLR connector should be clean.

The second question is a bit more problematic. We had a number of customers who had difficulty providing a proper on-set video feed to the secondary monitor. To avoid overloading the CPU, we restrict this output to 1280x720 during recording. This became the default in the latest released version.

What you tried - display of the clip player at a higher resolution when not recording - is OK. The clip player's deBayer algorithm is not ideal so a better preview would be using QT player or WMP using Neoplayer on another computer.

I'm not sure what you meant by underscanned. The data in the recorded file should be at the resolution you set the camera to. Any aspect ratio issues should be addressed by the video card control software and the display setup.

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