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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 August 1st, 2008, 11:49 PM   #1
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SI2K in Western Australia.

Steve Rice, who trades as Darling Films (Darling was a pioneer here and the inland hills are called the Darling Scarp), has brought in the SI2K.

Those of us who hang around the fringes are waiting with bated breath to put our fingerprints all over it.
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Old August 2nd, 2008, 07:21 AM   #2
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Great news Bob, that makes at least five SI-2Ks in Australia.
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Old August 2nd, 2008, 01:35 PM   #3
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There may yet be a second. There have been used two JVC GY-HD100/Mini35-400s on a project here for a few scenes and it would be good to be able to work the same way with two SI2Ks.

We got into an interesting discussion today about how a car interior in a simulated rollover could be shot.

Then came the option of taking the modular and compact "Mini" camera head out of the housing and maybe fixing this to the vehicle interior as a remote head and "dutching" a stripped out car body at groundlevel on a special forklift, so that floor dirt, mats, old cigarette packs can flow across the view, the windscreen pops and speed it all up in post.

The project this method was proposed for, may or may not come to pass but the potential versatility of the system emerges hypothetically at least.

I feel a bit sad about the S16 film camera I have. I still like a film image better. It would be much harder to rig for this particular shot. No guarantees the film transport will work. Film over here is about 2000km from the processor as is the vendor. There is a considerable delay between filming and getting a report on the rushes. A live camera enables immediate review while all the resources are still at hand.

A steep learning curve is coming for those of us that will get to handle it and it looks like going to work very soon.

When you see the paint polished off the edges and corners of the camera body and the baseplate all bright shiny and scratched up like many film cameras, you will know it is a useful working product. If it is a turkey, it will become a relatively pristine monument . Here's to fair wear and tear.

Last edited by Bob Hart; August 2nd, 2008 at 01:46 PM. Reason: error
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Old August 6th, 2008, 12:17 AM   #4
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Si2k - Explosion Slow Motion

Us locals are yet babes in the wood with the SI2K and off the end of the diving board into the deep end in three day's time.

A man with a big firecracker is going to blow a car up. The SI2K will be main cam and will need to shoot slow-mo. There will be coverage with several other cameras including S16 film cams.

We shall be avid readers of the manual and the owner has undergone vendor training on the SI2K. An experienced DP will also be on set. Nevertheless, if anyone has any hints to offer or pitfalls to watch out for (besides things going up and coming down) suggestions relating to the SI2K will be appreciated.
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Old August 6th, 2008, 05:51 AM   #5
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If you really want decent slo mo of an an explosion get a high speed camera, I'd suggest around 500 fps or more. We rented out an EX1 for one such a project. One shot was a car bomb, the other a suicide bomber. At 60fps both subjects were there in one frame and gone in the next. The aftermath of falling debris and head flying through the air looked slomo, just.

One caveat, for those shots they were using modern explosives which are extremly fast with little flash unlike blackpowder. There's a good example of what I mean here: http://www.cordin.com/imorange.html and that's at 500,000 fps.
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Old August 8th, 2008, 11:02 AM   #6
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The SI-2K itself is only recommended for "burst" shooting at 150fps, i.e., it can't shoot long continuous shots. If you need long continous shots, then I would recommend taking the MINI head's out of the enclosure and hooking them up to a more powerful CPU based PC.

Also I would take the SI-2K out of Adaptive compression mode, and simply hard-set it at Quality 2 for the best shooting performance ratio and maximum burst shooting time.

Thanks,

Jason
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Old August 8th, 2008, 06:54 PM   #7
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Thanks Jason,
that might explain a lot. Looking at some tests someone shot at 150fps of a sweep second hand and counting frames between ticks there certainly wasn't 150. Is the frame rate adaptive as well, I'm certain at one point I counted well over 100 but then measuring it over a few seconds the number was much lower.
Any clue as to how much CPU we'd need to sustain 150fps?
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Old August 9th, 2008, 05:17 AM   #8
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Kaboom Update

Unfortunately, due to an obligation to rellies during a difficult time, I was unable to attend today's shoot of the big bang, a big disappointment.

However I was able to go through a little impromptu ceremony of putting one fingerprint's worth of DNA on the camera two days ago and making the delusionary claim that it was now mine by distant association if not by legal possession.

Initial advice is that the blast was successful. There were to be four JVC cameras plus the SI2K. I was going to run a film cam as well at 64fps but there should be enough coverage with what they had.

It was a large blast and the shock wave was apparently sufficient to shut down the DR100 drive on one of the JVC GY-HD--- cameras. The SI2K apparently worked flawlessly.

Steve initially tested slow-mo with the Quality 2 setting however found the wind-down time was too short, so reset to Quality 1, which extended the wind-down time for long enough to include the going up and coming down of the remnants of the car.

I am assuming that Quality 1 and Quality 2 in SI2K speak means Filmscan 1 and Filmscan 2 in Cineform speak. Wind-down of course means duration in my own clockwork Bolex filmcam speak. I don't yet know what the equivalent in SI2K is. I presume it will be something like "frame store", "buffer memory", "pre-roll" or something similar.


Jason.

Thanks for your input. I was able to phone it through in time for them to test and experiment before the bang.

Last edited by Bob Hart; August 9th, 2008 at 05:24 AM. Reason: errors
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Old August 17th, 2008, 01:55 AM   #9
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Si2k Copy Disk Contents?

I have intermittant access to the new SI2K which has graced these shores but not enough to get to the bottom of a little problem - operator, not hardware related.

I wish to copy D: contents to a USB drive which successfully mounts as drive E:

I have been unable to find anything so far in the operator manuals as to how to do this. I am advised that by using the stylus on the camera monitor screen it is possible to find a file on D: and drag this to E:

In my meagre understanding of the wider Windows XP operating system, this would equate to "cut" and "paste", not "copy" and "paste" and thus delete the file on the D: drive. So I have not been too willing to try it in case the clip goes "ffft" to the happy hunting ground in among all the other fragments.

There seems to be a facility for DOS command line but the screen keyboard does not have all the characters needed, probably for good reason as finger trouble might bring the system down.

Any hints as to copying files and multiple files from one drive to another at the camera would be greatly appreciated.
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Old August 17th, 2008, 02:11 AM   #10
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Hi Bob,

Quality 1 is actually "Medium" . . . about 10-11:1 compression (depends on scene content since CineForm is a VBR codec). Quality 4 is the "Filmscan2" mode at 3.5:1 compression. The reason you got more record time with Quality 1 is because the lower the compression, the less CPU used.

What build of SiliconDVR are you running at 150fps didn't seem that fast? The frame-rate is most defintely NOT adaptive, but you maybe have been running into a couple issues that were fixed a long time ago, but not knowing what build you're running, you may have bumped into those issues.

To copy a file simply right-click on it and do a "copy", then go to destination folder and do a "paste" . . . this can be done using the right-click button on the camera itself, or on any windows machine. You can also do the same for a whole folder. To select a group of files click with the left-mouse button then do a drag operation (lasso) around the group of files you want.

Thanks,

Jason
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Old August 17th, 2008, 06:00 AM   #11
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Jason.


Thanks for your prompt advice. If I'm lucky, Steve will bring the camera along on a JVC shoot tomorrow and I can try copying the files again and look up that software version.

I think his frame rate for the slow-mo was about 80 fps. He ran a really long lead on his slow-mo take rather than chance the buffer filling and losing the big bang.

Maybe will also get a chance to try the Extreme on it tomorrow as well and extract that footage.
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Old August 18th, 2008, 09:25 AM   #12
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First rough test of SI2K in a production environment today along with the main cam which is a JVC GY-HD100 with Mini35-400. We stuck a Letus Extreme on front to shoot a test through that then shot a test direct-to-camera with a similar field-of-view (wider) lens.

The director liked the groundglass look so the Extreme went back on as he decided he might be able to use the footage. Shot at 720P to match the JVC. It is early days yet and we have not yet learned to do sound-in.

Have a Sound Devices Mix-Pre which we could hook one channel out of as we are only going one channel out to the JVC for dialogue. It seems only one mixer type is recommended and the Mix-Pre is not it. More reading and researching to do.

The spot metering and spot white balance functions are a real bonus when using a camera with used still-image prime lenses which are not colour matched sets like the high-end cine primes.

Last edited by Bob Hart; August 18th, 2008 at 09:45 AM. Reason: added text
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Old August 18th, 2008, 05:26 PM   #13
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Hi Bob,

I've been using the Sound devices Mix Pre (& a SD 422) with the SI-2K without a problem - what issues are you having ?
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Old August 20th, 2008, 01:37 AM   #14
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Rohan.


Thanks for your response.

Our problem is no usable signal level. In the documentation we are working from, there is no indication of a sound management system within the SI2K operating system. I'm suspecting that the XLR audio-in breakout harness might be for digital-in not analogue-in.

The problem might simply be a case of fingertrouble mismanagement of the Mix-Pre although I think we had it set up correctly. We had it set for audio-out to the production camera and had both output channels linked to the input channel. I've done the same split previously to a Sony DAT and it worked fine.

I note from the documentation that only one mixer is recommended for the SI2K. There was also suggestion that the audio recorded in the SI2K was suitable only for scratch audio ( I assume for double system, syncing the vision up to a separate audio track later in post. )


So in summary my questions would be :-


Is the audio-input source for the SI2K digital-only?

Is the SI2K audio actually usable for production to end-product?

Is the output from the Sound Devices SD 422 a digital or analogue signal into the SI2K?


The footage via the Letus Extreme is encouraging, however the cobbled up arrangement I had made using a stills lens for relay has obvious drawbacks, the most apparent was movement off-focus due to temperature change.

Whether that was due to the lens grease slumping with temp increase and allowing the lens barrel to shift or whether metallic expansion was to blame is not known.

My bridging adaptor is made from flow-cast bronze and relay focus went off significantly after everything had warmed up under the lights from the about 8 degrees C it had been when brought in from outside.

The SI2K seems to be fairly heat tolerant and one one fan start-up occurred. The only other fan start-ups occurred when actually shutting down.


Initial connection of the USB MyBook drive by the hot connecting method recommended went flawlessly. However on the first few hookups, the touch screen function was disabled and the "mouse" system on the left side of the camera had to be used.

On the first dismounts of the USB drive from the camera, the thouch screen controllability was not restored except via rebooting from scratch.

However, subsequently, after DVR was exited through its "Quit" command via the mouse controller, the USB disconnected and then DVR rebooted by double-clicking on its icon in Windows, the touch screen controller was restored.

During a copy operation, somebody switched on a light and killed off the power. The camera was fine as we were running it by battery but the USB drive went dead, initially failed on restart, but later at home was found to be okay. I have yet to re-try it on the SI2K.

This raises a suggestion which is that all peripherals attached to the SI2K should be protected by a UPS or alternative power source, not reliant on the mains power. A spike coming down the USB port as a drive collapses from a lamp related surge would not be a good thing.

The learning curve is steep and we are on a slope of slippery wet clay right now but getting there.

Last edited by Bob Hart; August 20th, 2008 at 01:45 AM. Reason: error
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Old August 20th, 2008, 07:30 AM   #15
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If you only need to copy a couple of clips a thumb drive works just fine and then you're not sweating over power hiccups. Other alternative would be to makeup a cable to power your drive from the DC out of the camera.
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