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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 October 2nd, 2009, 12:05 PM   #1
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Realistic Monitor options for SI-2K Mini in the field?

Laptop screens are not bright/contrasty enough outdoors in sunlight, and also it seems impractical to rig the laptop next to the cam.

So let's say, there is no laptop at all. Instead, there's a mini-PC that captures the video from Mini.

Now we have a choice of the monitor.

1. wearable? Someone mentioned MyVu glasses. However it seems they still may not be bright enough in the surrounding sunlight, and have low resolution of 640x480?

2. attached to the camera? But what about the brigtness/glare issues in sunlight. Would OLED technology help? (Sony?)

3. ??
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Old October 2nd, 2009, 01:35 PM   #2
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Alex.


You might have to consider the SI2K OLED viewfinder which mounts to the Mini optional handle. It reproduces the image from a computer monitor source (VGA?) not a composite AV source so would have to be driven by a VGA? return line from your MiniPC.

Steve Rice has a P+S mini rig which also carries a Anton Bauer or V-mount battery on back and his SI2K OLED viewfinder fits onto the camera head handle and is powered by some sort of cable split from the battery pack.

You can get the same USB daylight touch screen monitor P+S Technik uses on the full SI2K system from CarTFT.com but it does not have the extra P+S breakout box added on back and has a lot more untidy cabling hanging off it including an RCA audio pair. The monitor contains small speakers that P+S does not use.

The connectors are a bit ordinary in robustness compared to the much stronger Lemo's P+S use and the standard mount is pretty ordinary also and will not tighten to a secure fit. P+S did quite a lot to it to bring it up to scratch.

The connectors provide for computer monitor (VGA?) and AV composite. Your miniPC would need to have a standard computer monitor out socket to provide image to the OLED viewfinder or CarTFT monitor.

Whilst this monitor will work on the full SI2K as a focus assistant's extra monitor and will control the full SI2K via USB on the existing installed driver. I don't know if this non-standard touch-screen controller will work to a MiniPC with the laptop version of Silicon DVR installed as this may not also contain the touchscreen driver. The Car TFT monitor comes with a driver software on a disk.

Somebody better than I will likely more clearly and more wisely comment here soon.

Last edited by Bob Hart; October 2nd, 2009 at 01:49 PM. Reason: error
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Old October 6th, 2009, 03:55 PM   #3
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Bob,
You gave the right info. You can use pretty much any device for I/O that comes with XP drivers. I've used Xenarc touchscreen monitors (not industrial enough), the P+S (same touchscreen driver works), mice, keyboards and other things. One customer was using a wireless mouse.
On the display side, Band Pro was using a VGA set of eyeglasses with their SI-2K that were quite cool. The OLED display is great in bright daylight. That is why we put the mouse on the side of the camera - so you can control it with the OLED display without a touchscreen.
-Steve
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Old October 6th, 2009, 04:54 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Steve Nordhauser View Post
we put the mouse on the side of the camera - so you can control it with the OLED display without a touchscreen.
This is with full-body cam, not Mini, correct?

How can I see a photo closeup showing that mouse?

I'm currently trying different things (touchpad, trackball mouse) without much success so far. Touchpad works precisely but kinda slowly. This particular trackball mouse is crap - the ball sticks. Large trackball like Logitech is huge.

I really loved the convenience of touch-screen monitor, but that particular monitor quality of the displayed image was bad.

Grrrr

I want as far as investigating screen overlay controllers that supposedly let you operate as if it was a touch-screen, but without blocking any light from the monitor - see:

KEYTEC is a leading touch screen manufacturer since 1987.* Award winning Magic Touch add-on touch screen, integrated touch monitor, built-in touchscreen kit, OPTIR Touch large-size IR touchscreen, View Touch laser interactive DIY whiteboard, kiosk.

Did not try them. They are very very expensive, and not precise enough, i'm afraid.

Soooo.... which mouse do you guys use?

So far I find that SI-2K is wonderful in studio setup, hooked to large, powerful PC and a good monitor.

However I have to figure out how to effectively use it in the field, specifically handheld...
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Old October 6th, 2009, 10:20 PM   #5
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I think, metal backpack frame with padding and straps, custom Mini computer or laptop with enough power, hardfitted into the frame, battery hardfitted into the frame, Mini rig with battery on back for cam power and balance, OLED viewfinder will be about as good as it is going to get for you if a split unit is your preference.

The touch screen monitor according to the CarTFT vendor website is available in a version which is a working barebones in sheetmetal frame for fitment into custom enclosures or maybe military vehicles.

My inclination would be, if custom building a Mini PC, would be to fit one of these up to a side cover on the Mini PC case or inside the side cover if there is still enough space inside. This would enable a camera assist to do stuff while the backpack is on the operator's back. A Mini PC might also be able to provide for a CRU dataport docking bay like the full SI2K. Removeable drives, once tasted, spoil you for any other workflow.

The full sized camera-recorder unit assembly is a bit bulky but for a recent horror short here, the camera operator worked with it on the shoulder with an onboard battery much of the time and found it no more difficult to throw around than a big ENG cam once he became used to it.

The Slumdog split arrangement was a special customised form to enable filming in public as discreetly as possible without rousing a horde of curious onlookers. The recorder unit operating remotely in the backpack enabled more agility for the operator.

My personal preference would be to stick with the full camera/recorder unit assembly as much as possible, purely for convenience and reliablility reasons, less things to remember to unplug and repack.



Steve.


The new Weisscam configuration on the pstechnik.de website - is that the general pattern an upcoming SI2K generation 3D might adopt?

The casting pattern in front casework looks like it could be multifunctional, a cloverleaf styled two-sensor Mini head with two C-mount compact lenses at 60mm separation looks like it would fit in that housing quite nicely for a complete standalone unit. The cloverleaf styled black piece in front of the Weisscam casework would be a pointless piece of arty stuff otherwise.

The processor box on top of the Weisscam could well morph into the "onebox" for 3D work in a studio environment.

Is my imagination straying away too far?

Last edited by Bob Hart; October 6th, 2009 at 10:27 PM. Reason: added text
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Old October 7th, 2009, 08:58 AM   #6
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Bob,
Our current thinking is that for 3D, MINIs will be mounted separately on a rig (parallel or beamsplitter) and the recorder box could be something like a 2K body or something more compact that could fit on the back of the rig or wearable. Honestly, we are watching what customers are doing now on their own as options for the configuration.

Alex,
The thing we call a 'mouse' can be seen in this photo:
Silicon Imaging
It is really just a waterproof, low profile joystick. Not as easy as the touchscreen for sure. We also allow button scripts for the right hand button so you can program it to go through a set of functions when pressed plus a remote run/stop switch. If you are really looking for a high resolution daylight viewable viewfinder, maybe the optical viewfinder is what you want.

What would you think of our enabling an optional keypad, probably over USB that you could program the keys for your favorite functions?....kind of like this:
Genovation Computer Keypad Solutions

You have a real need here and I'm trying to see how it might apply to our next release and future products. One of the advantages of the lack of hard buttons on the design is this kind of thing is a software upgrade. Your present camera isn't obsoleted.
-Steve
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Old October 7th, 2009, 10:04 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Nordhauser View Post
What would you think of our enabling an optional keypad, probably over USB that you could program the keys for your favorite functions?....
Actually I meant to ask you if I missed this functionality of your software :)

Apparently it's not there yet. But yes, I'd love it - this way I could position a row of buttons under/above/on the side of the monitor, and just do some clicks.

This would be the next best thing to clicking directly on the screen.

It turns out, when you shoot, it really hinders you to fumble around the screen with the mouse, so assigned buttons would be an excellent answer!

I'd love to beta test.
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Old October 7th, 2009, 12:02 PM   #8
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3d? Interesting times indeed. I'm probably being a bit mischievious imaginatively speculating on the restyle of the casework in the Weisscam version and a two-sensor head/processing chain. I certainly don't know what I am talking about regarding 3D, still reading books at this stage.

My imagining was that the existing recorder unit space might remain as a passthrough to removable hard disk/solid state drives and perhaps an audio mixer if spare space occurs and the main processing unit Onebox module would be Weisscam style on top of the existing style body with monitor touch screen mounted to the One-box on an approx 45 degree up and down simple robust tilt.

Maybe the One-Box and touchscreen could be mounted to swivel on the top through 180 degrees like a tank turret with a feedthrough cable going into the lower recorder unit to enable side-on viewing and operating of controls or the simpler fitting of a second touchscreen for the camera assistant on the left side.

It would be a bulky brute but carry the advantage of being as self-contained and amendable to quick setups as the existing SI2K combination in a minimally agile environment.

My sense is that the Gen 1 dual camera arrays in metal and mirror workarounds, users and vendors are putting together would be put down like a wornout toy the moment an integrated dual HD camera system in one body hit the stands. - A lot of severely devaluated junky looking stuff on eBay?

My wild guess is maybe 18 - 24 months if the gnomes and elves in the basements of Panasonic, Canon and Sony have already started chipping away.

The biggies might be looking at two sensors and processing chains in one body, the old Andromeda and JVC HD families were almost there in a vague sense.

What they don't have is Cineform 3D. Depending on Cineform's business structure an aggressive corporate raider might soon fix that by aquisition.

To automate the 3D convergence or to trim a parallel alignment might only require a factory hack of the existing fluid prism optical steadyshot tech which is already been around and finessed by the big players for a long time now.

The hurdle an integrated two sensor system would have to beat would be the 60mm interocular distance. This would require an abandonement of heavier film camera industry lenses and some mounts. Two legacy mount contenders remaining might be ARRI/ARRI B and C-Mount both of which have issues. This leaves compact styles like JVC GY-HD***/Sony Z7, Canon XL or maybe ARRI/P+S Technik might evolve a compact PL-style mount which would unfortunately sideline the IMS system.

35mm sensor systems and lenses might because of their physical size vote themselves out of an integrated two-sensor system. Side-by-side and mirror rigs would remain necessary, updated for dust exclusion and more systematic and user-friendly ergonomics.

Limitations imposed by 3D might mean that 2/3"/Super16mm might become the preferred format but not if all the same awkward concoctions with cables going everywhere remain present.

I don't envy any of the companies being forced into an R&D regime for something which might yet again fall away as a temporary fad. In these financially straitened times R&D is not easily affordable.

All idle imaginative and poorly knowledged speculation on my part of course.


A USB touchpad with assignable keys. Those who want to fly their cameras on a steadycam or remote rig the full camera/recorder unit, might be happy if there was also a handheld wireless version with a receiver feeding into a USB port. Now all we need is a compact VGA or HDMI to RF converter box/lowpower video transmitter.

I sincerely hope that many more sensible and realistic user-suggestions than mine come along soon.

Last edited by Bob Hart; October 7th, 2009 at 12:27 PM. Reason: error
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Old October 8th, 2009, 04:42 AM   #9
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Stay away from the PS EVF the image quality is VERY bad - i would be surprised if it resolves even 320px wide image - the input resolution is not output resolution. We have had it for almost 2 years now and never used it on any work because it is impossible to focus with this thing. I would go as far and say stay away from VGA, prefer digital signal where ever possible.

So far the best monitoring options are various HDMI monitors, either manhattan, smallhd or ikan 5600.

For controlling we developed our own trackball system that is integrated into zacuto handle and a larger handle for tripod work.

Hope this helps a bit
-Kaspar
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Old October 8th, 2009, 07:55 AM   #10
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Thanks Kaspar.

Yes, I'm using ManhattanLCD now, it's good.

For handheld shooting, I'm now experimenting with myVu glasses and they seem to work, will report on details when everything is set.

>> we developed our own trackball system

What trackball device it based on? I have Logitech trackball but it is huge.

Is yours wired or wireless?
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Old October 9th, 2009, 03:18 AM   #11
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C & K|TBWB2A00|Trackball Navigation Switch | Farnell United Kingdom
and have built our own serial controller and drivers

-Kaspar
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Old October 9th, 2009, 07:45 AM   #12
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Kaspar,
That is a nice little trackball. Easy to build into small places. How long have you been using it? Do you have any problems with crud getting behind the ball and making it work erratically? Can you use it with gloves?
Very nice idea.
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Old October 9th, 2009, 08:02 AM   #13
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I use BlackBerry Bold every day. The navigation ball on it is fantastic - precise, responsive, never gets dirty/erratic. It'd be great to have it ported to PC IO.
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Old October 9th, 2009, 09:56 AM   #14
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You'd know where to get the entire electrical assembly for blackberry because this ball has serious shortcoming, only 12 pulses per revolution, yet with some software trickering it is the best option by far.

I gave it to my kid for 2 weeks to play (2.5 year old, who plays in mud, sand etc.) works nice after that.... so must be good (y)

I use arduino mini to interface to usb parallel port, and use perl script to drive the mouse (not elegant yet effective for prototyping)

-Kaspar
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Old March 15th, 2010, 10:35 PM   #15
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...and finally I have made a miniPC with built-in monitor, battery operated so totally mobile.

Shot in the car and on location, works great.

Image attached is on location at the Madison Ave in NYC, which is a dental office.

MiniPC is behind the monitor and is smaller, so you can't see it from the front. Monitor is 11" diagonal HD monitor.

Buttons at the bottom are XKeys custom mapped to the SiliconDVR controls. Most of the operations are done through them.

Glidepoint is for when I need the rest of controls (monitor is non-touchscreen).

This setup seems to be practical and works fine.
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Realistic Monitor options for SI-2K Mini in the field?-phdrig1.jpg  
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