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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 April 22nd, 2010, 02:14 AM   #1
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Some Useless Operator Notes.

Here is an extract of some notes I prepared for someone taking two camera/recorders offshore as a 3D pair, not the ideal configuration but the best available here right now.

The comments are my own, assume the very worst and uncommon possiblities and are not authorised by P+S Technik or SI. So they should be regarded merely as hypothetical, should be tested or dismissed by your own researches and serve as a prompt for you to devise your own counter-disaster plans.


Clear sky lighting at Kuta's main beach will likely be in the ballpark of f16 - f22 which will be at the limit on the SI2K even at -3db gain. Tight apertures are not ideal on film or video lenses and as good as they are, the Ultimos may not like it.

More critical is that any dust on the front of the sensor or back of the lens becomes most apparent at tight apertures. Much better to ND filter down to about f5.6 on the lenses which will be more likely their sweet spot. Spots on the image are not acceptable for high quality broadcast - period. To remove them with CGI, - costly.

Lighting by about 1030am - 1100am may have dropped to f5.6 - f8 with broken deep cloud overhead and total overcast by about 1pm. By end of May - early June, the skies might be clear as the ICZ might have been pushed north of Kuta by then.

Your surf subjects will be lit directly front-on in early morning and backlit in the afternoon. Polarisers might be handy. Sun will be about 20 degrees to north of overhead at midday which means shadows will be on your left. Surfers going from right to left might not show their faces in the light from about 1000am, just foreheads and noses.

You might need a true cut IR filter for true blacks if using the ND filters but I think most of what you shoot in bright daylight will be colourful, not deep black.


My camera has two software repair options known to work if the operating system becomes corrupted.

There is a spare 2GB CF card ( C: drive ) with good operating system embedded which can be physically swapped out.

There is a USB repair key for 2GB version which has already been prepared for that camera, tested and known to work without need for USB keyboard to be connected to change the boot drive preference.

Do not use your USB key on my camera if there is an operating system corruption. It will fail because your key is for the 4GB version. Your key may be over-written and made useless.

Your own camera does not have a spare 4gb CF card ( C: drive ). If it corrupts, you might get away with swapping my spare 2Gb card in but the operating system might not recognise your camera serial number and may shut down. I don't know for sure.

The camera heads themselves can be swapped between recorder units as well we already know, so CF cards might also work across recorder units.

Your USB key may either be an unprepared system image or already prepared for your camera. If it has not been prepared or copied to another USB key and that one prepared, restoring the system image may not work.

Without having a spare 4Gb CF ( C: drive ) card as a backup I am reluctant to test yours in case it corrupts the one good 4Gb card you have.


I recommend you do NOT select "user WB" to manually white-balance the cameras. This will make the editor/colorists colour grading job harder as there might be many variations between the two cameras if you manually white-balance to each location. Use the daylight ( 5600k )and tungsten ( 3200k ) presets.


Use the false colour exposure screen for setups and leave the histogram on so you can monitor to keep your exposures balanced. Do NOT trust the iris ring witness marks on the lenses to set your exposures.

The cameras did NOT behave identically for exposure on our last test. This may be related to the recorder units themselves being slightly different or the camera heads themselves as they are different structures or even the lenses themselves.


On beach shots, check very often that your horizon in the shot is perfectly level. Do not trust the levelling bubble for more than a general indication as it is simply not precise enough for ocean horizons.

Unless you bother to check, a slight sink of a tripod foot in sand will not be noticed until the footage hits the edit suite, by then too late - game over. This is a common error. Take care if you pan to a view straight up or down the beach. A false level will make this shot look particularly crappy.


If the recorder unit bodies are placed near each other, put them face-to-face, back-to-back, not side-to-side unless a divider is placed between the camera bodies and there is plenty of space, otherwise one may overheat from the other's hot air.


If water gets on the recorder unit bodies, turn them off. Mop out the receiver for the Mini heads. This is not a watertight hole. The rear face with the Lemo sockets appears to be a separate panel, not part of the casing and may not be watertight.

If floor water rises slowly and creeps in just before you can rescue the camera or there is a heavy splash to back of the recorder unit, it will enter slowly through the rear where there are close-fitting but open joints. Lift the camera gently slightly nose high to avoid water surging about inside from your movements.

Once the level reaches the four cooling fan vents or if they receive a direct heavy splash of water, entry will be rapid.

The power should be disconnected immediately by the quickest method of removing the battery or power cable.

The camera body should be tilted gently rearwards to keep the water level inside from touching the memory battery and the upright circuit board which are in front. Water should begin drainage out through the openings in the rear.

Next, the detachable computer module tray should be removed to isolate it from the memory battery current as soon as possible. The memory battery cannot be accessed except by tipping the recorder unit body, which will spread any water inside and do more damage.

When the module is removed and water has drained out, remove the dataport, then remove the bottom cover and remove the memory battery. Tip the body on its rear to get at the bottom cover screws not on its side.

If you cannot get the recorder unit and camera to a recovery centre quickly, you might want to try spraying in a water repellent like ignition spray or CRC on all cuircuit boards to drive out the water. In the damp of Bali it is likely not to dry out on its own.

If saltwater has got in, you might want to rinse off the visibly wet surfaces with fresh water, then mop out the fresh water and spray the boards as already mentioned.

I was initially encouraged by the downwards tilt of the silver Lemo power cable plugs, however the plugs themselves may not be watertight.

If water, especially saltwater, gets splashed in the back of the plug, if neglected it could wick in and there could be a short from 12V pins across to the 5V pins which might cook the OLED viewfinders and maybe fail the 5V rail in the recorder units.

If water gets into a recorder unit body, tilt it slightly nose up to get the water to drain out through the back. Do not tilt it forward because any water inside will rise up to the bottom of the front upright circuit board. There is still electricity around from the memory battery which might damage something if it gets wet.

Until conservation and repair has been done, don't even dream of trying to operate a drowned camera again.

If there is any likelyhood of rain, the recorder units, Mini heads and cables should be bagged and gloved as much as possible with a wrap of tissue inside the bag to mop any leakage. The multiple wires and woven shields on the cables make them near-impossible to waterproof reliably.


Use the focus assist. Please do not make FAITH BASED focus decisions. With long zooms it will look crap if you get it wrong.

Do not rely on the focus witness marks on the CP Ultra lenses for setting focus as these lenses have not been accurately collimated to the cameras. The lens with the home-made PL-insert does not focus to infinity at all as it is too close to the camera sensor and needs shimming out.


To copy from camera, do not use the touch screen for the "copy" command. If the screen mapping has drifted, you could too easily touch the "cut" command. Use the mouse buttons on left of the recorder unit body.

If you accidentally touch "cut", you should complete the "paste" command otherwise you may lose the data. It may be okay to reverse back out but until I test for this I can't be sure the clips won't be erased.


A corrupted or damaged filename in a list, when it is reached during a copy process, will conclude the copying process without any warnings. Any files recorded after the damaged file was recorded will not be copied and you will be none the wiser.

Always check the numbers and data amounts of the files copied on the exporting and receiving drives to make sure they are identical and no files are missing.

If a clip fails to complete because of a sudden camera shutdown from flat battery, disconnected power or a kid-eager manually switching the camera off too soon by the Nagra switch on the side, it is best to delete this last clip before recording any more, unless there is critical vision known to be on that clip.

There are repair utilities available to fix damaged clips for .mov and .avi files. DVR v2.0 will now fix damaged clips automatically in-camera. We are still on DVR v1.1.681.


Be careful when two cameras are wired up for 3D.

If one camera becomes disconnected from power. Shut down both and reboot both, otherwise the sync function may not work. One camera may remain rolling.

Do not button-on with any controller other than the remote wired to the sync box. If one camera is buttoned-on with its local control, stop both cameras, shut both cameras down and reboot both.

If you must switch to playback to review a clip in one camera, after you have reviewed the clip, shut down both cameras and reboot.

If you accidentally double-button the wired remote and it will then not button-off one of the cameras and this remains rolling, use the recorder unit's own rear mouse button to stop it rolling. Shut down both cameras and reboot. Check the red "record" light on the recorder unit to make sure which one is actually rolling.


If a record unit takes a hard knock, bump or violent twisting movement while switched on, chances are the D: drive can become damaged unless is it a solid state drive.

Before recording any more clips, check the drive by going to "play clip" in DVR. Play last recorded clip back. If it has been damaged, DVR may freeze and you may need to do a hard shut down.

If the camera was recording and continued to roll after the knock and you buttoned-off normally, this clip, if found damaged on playback is a fair indication the drive itself is damaged.

If possible, no more recording should be done to this drive as it may fail completely and all data which might be recoverable and any newer recordings will be lost.

Likewise, if a dataport itself is dropped, it should not be used for furthur recording but put aside for data recovery.

If a dataport itself is dropped, checked and the internal drive found to be good or it has been replaced, if you find the dataport will not slide home into the docking bay as easily as it used to, do not continue to force it as the conductors in the docking bay and on the dataport itself may become damaged.


In the event of a D: drive failure and the drive is known to be good by testing on another computer, possible field repairable failure points may be :-

conductor tab on the rear of the dataport, - ( fold back and glue down any copper strips which might have detached and rolled back. If the strip has cracked off, solder a bridge over the crack)

conductor socket in the docking bay, - (a bitch to get at - check for flattened or bent conductors and gently pull back into shape with thin wire lassoo on the end of a satay stick. )

cracked right-angled plug on the short red SATA cable to back of docking bay inside the recorder unit, - ( replacement only. - By careful folding and no force being used, a longer internal SATA cable with normal straight plugs out of a computer can just fit in the available space. At a pinch, you might be able to wedge a cracked plug shut by packing hard thin paper between the shield and plug sides but this is not likely to be satisfactory or enduring ).

broken or disconnected dataport power supply wires to back of docking bay inside recorder unit. - (this is not likely to fail unless somebody has been inside stomping around changing the memory battery or just exploring where they shouldn't).

Last edited by Bob Hart; April 22nd, 2010 at 02:35 AM. Reason: error
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Old April 22nd, 2010, 02:37 AM   #2
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Cont'd from above


Recorded files known to be good, appear to be missing or are not correctly archived in the project directory in logical order. - ( flat memory battery or resistive surface on contact faces of memory battery holder. Replace memory battery. Before removing old battery. mark the battery surface near the silver clip a with permanent felt tip marker. It is otherwise hard to see which way it came out. Clean contact surfaces. Battery is accessed by removing tripod mount plate and the cover beneath the recorder unit which is attached by four screws corner screws and two mid edge screws. Four smaller screws are attached to the dataport docking bay and support it. Remove the D: dataport drive from the docking bay first. These small screws must also be removed. The bay becomes loose and unsupported when all the screws are unfastened and the bottom cover is removed. This movement will disturb the SATA cable and power cable to the docking bay and may introduce a D; drive fault if you are brutal, careless and break something. When re-assembling, take extreme care not to trap the fan power supply wires which may drift between the cover and casework. A short of these wires to the metal case by being pinched will cause permanent and expensive damage.

Any adventures inside of the recorder unit body will void warranties. There are invisible donkey traps to let P+S Technik know you have been in there.

After the flight and the cameras are unpacked, take your allen keys and check all screws especially the bottom mounting plate ones.

Do not ship the cameras with any lenses attached. Tape the PL-rings and covers so they don't fall out. Pad the cameras firmly against movements in their boxes.

Large aircraft, especially 747s can be quite violent with excessive lateral shaking to cargo if it is in a rear baggage hold. Baggage handlers and conveyer systems will be rough with heavy equipment cases.


I should point out that the camera I have used has experienced a lot more wear tear and abuse than most. None of my comments should be taken in any way as negative reflection on the SI2K camera system but as hints of things to look for if the camera suffers in field abuse. In practice, the camera system has been reliable and any issues have traced back to the uncontrollable third agency, the human hand of myself or another.

If anyone else has any handy in-field hints, please do not be shy. Please add them. All good advice will be muchly appreciated.

Last edited by Bob Hart; April 22nd, 2010 at 02:47 AM. Reason: error
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Old April 23rd, 2010, 08:45 PM   #3
Join Date: Sep 2003
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Hey Bob, awesome remarks.

>> You might need a true cut IR filter for true blacks if using the ND filters

Did you run into such necessity yet? I was forced to have IR filter permanently attached on my Sony EX1 because of crazy bad IR contamination in blacks; however, did not notice such issue with SI-2K yet...

>> Do not trust the levelling bubble for more than a general indication as
>> it is simply not precise enough for ocean horizons.

You know, my Canon 7D has an aircraft cockpit-like horizon indicator. Sometimes very useful. This is one feature that may be added to future releases of SI-2K head, perhaps? Ari?

>> If saltwater has got in, you might want to rinse off the visibly wet surfaces with fresh water

Shouldn't it be alcohol? But frankly, I don't even want to think about the camera-drowning scenario you are describing here. One might as well take alcohol internally after such event :)

Question... what do you use for monitoring in the field?
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Old April 24th, 2010, 11:06 PM   #4
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EXTRACT FROM NOTE TO INTENDING USER. ( posted in haste due to approx 20 sec window before my browser spits it.)

It is not good to get a SI2K wet, however the most worry for us so far has been getting water in the lenses. The recorder unit has some splash resistance and there are basic aircleaners on the fan pairs on each side.

If the fans are protected there is a fair chance that air pressure will resist splash water from getting in too far through the back where the most gaps are. The side plugs are angled downwards so that water runnels along cables do not go across the plugs into the sockets and there is less bending load on the joins.

The worst issue we had was a fogged image when water steamed off the camera body and condensed between the sensor and the rear of the lens.

It probably got in during a lens change in the teeming rain under flapping plastic when we should have had more sense. We swapped heads and were off again in 4 minutes.

The SI2K is apparently more heat tolerant than the RED. Steve's rig was up to 72 degrees C on the weekend "Two Minds" shoot.

It just started as it should when buttoned on and stopped when buttoned off all day. We took the precaution of doing more "Set Blacks" but that was all we needed to do - no ice packs or shut downs for cooling.

I have the old P+S Technik demo camera, which they sold at a good discount rather than ship it back to Germany. There is evidence of a few good thumps and knocks before it came into W.A. and it is still kicking.

So when you get your film up, you should feel confident the product will see you through.

As there are two cameras for redundency here in W.A. the SI2K won't be an orphan. If the absolute worst happens like a nutter runs onto the set and lays about left and right with a pick handle, LEMAC hire the SI2K from over east.

There is another feature with the SI2K I have not yet explored. You can import and overlay a matte on the viewfinder image for shooting background motion plates, a great aid for best composition it seems. The camera will also do extended shutter and timelapse. Again it is one of those "Do I need to know this right now? No." things I have not expored in detail yet.

As for alcohol - I see it somehow thus as the crew cries in their cups in a Kuta Bar over a bottle of Stoli vodka and the camera body, about to laid out upon a beach towel before them on the outdoors table like a frog on a high-school biology lab dissection tray. The bottle is passed round, in turn, a suck off the bottle for the crewman, a pour for the camera guts, pass the bottle, another pull for the next crewman smack of seared lips and throat, another pour for the camera, then the canned air to blow it all out and a little collective prayer for its resurrection.

ROLLCALL. RED style badge-of-honour time.

SI2K 178

Last edited by Bob Hart; April 25th, 2010 at 05:27 AM. Reason: error
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Old April 25th, 2010, 05:55 AM   #5
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Chris seems to have wrought some miracle to make dvifno compatable with my aged and virus afflicted and cleaned but cranky computer, so I can take my time with replies again.

Monitoring in the field. For 3D we are still very much wires and monitors everywhere through working two standard recorder units, not the special recorder or the new 3D cinedeck. For stereo preview, two OLED finders make a binocular viewfinder, a bit tricky to get right but it works. Otherwise the monitors are the standard P+S type.

I also have a Palsonic LCD TV which has VGA input on it which I use on a simple Y-branch splitter if I want a videocity. I was powering it with a burglar alarm battery but it would only run a very short time and it would sense a voltage drop and shut down. I think it would be happy with an AB or V-mount battery but have not yet got around to arranging that.

We cheated the viewfinders in the 3D tests by putting both recorder units side-by-side and bunging one viewfinder mount into the handle from the right and turning the viewfinder 180degrees in its mount ring. You have to do that because the rods have to go in upside-down from the right side.

We were able to get both finders close together that way as Steve Rice had P+S make up a special pair of viewfinder mount rods which are longer. He does not have to crowd the camera body with his head and can use a left eye if necessary with the longer rods.

One of the 3D enthusiasts has a laptop and some magic boxes which convert the VGA image into something the laptop can see two off on the same screen in anaglyph, so for 3D monitoring we can use that also.

They also have one of those little GPS looking handheld Blackberry things which has all the 3D convergence and distance math programmed into it.

Last edited by Bob Hart; April 25th, 2010 at 08:59 PM. Reason: error correction - blackberry
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