Pop Into Post 1
My lecture notes for the recent Digital Cinema Pop into Post sessions at Waterfront Studios.
Published on: Mar 4, 2016
Transcripts - Pop Into Post 1
Pop into Post 1 Indy Package:
Lecture Notes by Richard Lackey
Hello Everybody, and welcome to today’s Pop Into Post session.
As you are all aware. Times are tough, budgets aren’t what they used to be, and there is a vast sea of
new and confusing technology at your disposal. The only thing greater than this vast sea of
technology is the sea of half‐information, half‐truth and myth surrounding it.
The purpose of this session is to cut through some myth, and outline some easy ways you can make
sure you are achieving the absolute highest production standard for the least possible amount of
First of all, I want to touch on cameras before I move to post. I want to outline some background and
1. 1880’s: Celluloid Film: Traditionally cinema has meant 35mm film, and where budgets allow
(mostly in the U.S. as we have recently experienced with ‘The Philanthropist’) even high end
TV means film.
2. 1940’s: Analogue Video: Video on the other hand has been something totally different, it
was PAL, NTSC, SECAM and it was shot to tape.
3. Late 1980’s/1990’s: Digital Video ushered in a revolution and represented a high enough
jump in quality for some to consider it as an alternative to film for low budget standard def
motion picture production. Some have even blown up digibeta to 35mm, although I
wouldn’t recommend anyone do this.
4. 1990’s: High Definition: Digital High Definition technology made it possible for George Lucas
to break new ground when he shot Star Wars, Episode II – Attack of the Clones with the first
Sony CineAlta HD camera, the HDW‐F900.
5. Late 1990’s/Early 2000’s: Consumer DV format cameras (PD150, DVX100 etc…) are
combined with lens adaptors to allow 35mm film stills lenses and in some cases cinema
lenses to be attached to DV camcorders.
6. 2000’s: HDV: The world’s first consumer level HD format (HDV) brought a highly compressed
HD resolution format to those already experimenting with lens adapters and “cinema style”
setups on DV camcorders.
The biggest problems:
a. Field of view and depth of field – one of the biggest challenges to achieving the “film
look” with video is the fact that the digital imagers used in video cameras are too
small. However, the use of 35mm adapters compensate for this as well as allowing
the physical mounting of 35mm lenses.
b. Dynamic Range – Video suffers from terribly limited dynamic range when compared
to the exposure latitude of film.
c. Interlacing and frame rate – Video and even HD is by nature made for broadcast and
can suffer from interlacing and video frame rates.
d. In camera sharpening and signal processing
7. 2000’s: True Digital Cinema Acquisition is born. The first to develop a commercial product
that is not limited by the above issues is DALSA, the “Origin” is the world’s first 4K digital
a. Features a large, single 35mm size CMOS sensor and 35mm cine lens mount with
standard 35mm backfocus.
b. Achieves a much higher dynamic range than video, although still not near that of
c. Records true progressive frames at full 4K resolution, 12‐bit colour depth,
uncompressed to attached storage over a fibre optic link.
d. Records the RAW image from the sensor, there is no in‐camera processing at all. All
image manipulation is left to post processing.
8. 2000’s: Silicon Imaging: SI1920 – SI2K: Silicon Imaging develop a camera under similar lines,
but with a smaller 16mm sized imager recording Cineform RAW, a “visually lossless”
compressed high resolution video codec.
9. 2000’s: Red Digital Cinema: In the early 2000’s, rumors began to spread of the development
of the mysterious “Red One”, and if the specifications were to believed, it was the stuff of
legend, more than that, it was a call to revolution.
a. Large super 35mm 4.5K CMOS “Mysterium” sensor, a brand new sensor designed
from scratch for digital cinema acquisition.
b. Standard 35mm PL cine lens mount, Canon and Nikon stills lens mounts also
c. Redcode RAW (similar in principle to Cineform RAW)
d. A price tag of $17,500 for the camera body.
Red Digital Cinema had everyone sweating. None of the big name manufacturers had
anything close to the Red One. Jim Jannard sold Oakley to start Red Digital Cinema, and he
broke ground week after week. The development of this camera was shared with the public
from a very early stage on the internet using a forum to connect engineers and Jim himself
to the wants and needs of his customers, something the big names would never attempt.
Most of all, it was affordable, even dirt cheap for the specifications offered.
Jim was involving his customer base, and this created a level of loyalty that has cemented
the Red One in the minds of film makers worldwide.
10. 2000’s: The Sony F35, Panavision Genesis, Arri D21 all offer large, single sensor digital 35mm
alternatives to film for cinema acquisition. These cameras are superb digital cinema
cameras, specifically the Arri and the Sony, however they do not have the appeal the Red
One and SI2K have to the low budget indy film maker in terms of cost.
Anatomy of a Video Camera:
Video cameras were never designed with cinema in mind, and they were never designed to achieve
a cinematic aesthetic. They were designed primarily for broadcast video acquisition, at broadcast
frames rates and they achieve this very well.
The majority of professional camcorders make u use of small CCD imagers (c
charged coup ple device) of
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The camera most like this is the Arri D21. Arri chose to retain a mechanical shutter and optical
viewfinder. The Red One and others opted for a digital shutter and electronic viewfinder.
Introducing the next logical step, the DSMC “Digital Stills and Motion Camera”. This is the
convergence of the digital stills camera with the digital cinema camera.
Red Digital Cinema have committed to this route for the Epic and Scarlet, the next offerings the
world will see from them. Canon have followed a similar cue with the Canon 5D Mk II, allowing 1080
HD recording at 30fps from what is essentially a DSLR camera body. This doesn’t match the 4K
resolution of the Red One or Dalsa Origin, but it’s the same idea.
Others will follow.
So how do I keep it cheap?
1. Take advantage of the technology. Shoot with the Red One, or take a look at the Silicon
Imaging SI2K, use cinema lenses and negotiate with your camera supplier for a package deal
or take ours as part of a whole lens to finish solution.
2. Don’t be afraid of new consumer and prosumer DSLR or DSMC cameras like the Canon 5D
MkII for special shots, these tend to all be RAW data based cameras and can be handled
though post in similar ways. The camera bodies are small, light and afford some great
3. If you really have to shoot HDV, take a look at the adapters that will allow you to use 35mm
lenses, and shoot data to hard drive or compact flash.
4. Stay in the digital domain. Avoid tapes and VT’s.
5. Avoid transcodes where possible. If you can edit in our facility on Final Cut Pro, cut direct
from the Red proxies and don’t pay for transcodes.
The Red One – technology overview – the pros and cons, myths and what
you need to know before you decide to shoot with the Red One.
1. The Waterfront “Indie” package aims to facilitate low budget features producers to
maximise their limited budget by ensuring:
a. A cinematic 35mm film aesthetic rather than the video look that characterises low
i. 35mm cine lenses
ii. 35mm field of view – single 35mm sensor (as opposed to 3 x 2/3” or ½” CCD)
iii. High resolution image acquisition (4K)
v. True progressive frame recording
vi. 4 channels on camera sound – no need for sync in post (optional)
b. A tapeless editorial process cutting directly from the Redcode proxies.
i. No logging and capturing tapes
ii. Direct import of Red proxies into Final Cut Pro for immediate editing in HD
iii. If sound recorded to camera, basic tracklaying can be performed in offline
without separate sync process.
c. Painless conform process to full resolution Redcode media for online and grade.
i. Autoconform from Final Cut Pro project (preserves multiple layers)
ii. Grading – primaries, secondaries, layers, motion masks, wire removal.
iii. Play out to digital master and any tape deliverables required
d. Stereo and 5.1 Surround audio mix
i. Basic tracklay taken from offline for Pro Tools mix
ii. Foley, limited ADR
1. The Red One isn’t actually a 4K camera – There is some truth in this, the fact that a single
sensor is used rather than three (one for each colour R,G,B) presents some challenges. There
are a few ways around this. Red Digital Cinema chose to employ a Bayer pattern imager. The
imager, is actually a 4.5K sensor, there are 4520 x 2540 active light sensitive elements on the
surface of the imager. However any single “pixel” can only sense either red, green or blue,
not all three and so the matrix is arranged in a pattern of alternative red, green and blue
In a complex mathematical process called “DeBayering” the measured light values of
surrounding pixels are used to calculate missing colour values of any given pixel. In the end
after processing, we have a pixel for pixel true 4K RGB image, and this cannot be denied.
Open a single frame in Photoshop and it really is 4K, there are RGB values for every pixel and
it’s clean and crisp. However, the actual resolving power of the imager is actually about 3.5K,
what this means is the sensor can cleanly resolve up to about 3500 alternating vertical black
and white lines on a chart.
2. The post production is complex – This is a myth entirely. The post process couldn’t be much
a. You shoot 4K Redcode RAW to a hard drive (let’s call it drive A) on the camera.
When it’s full, you take the drive off, take it to a laptop on‐set and attach an empty
hard drive (drive B) to the camera to continue shooting.
b. The data on drive A is copied to two external hard drives, i.e. two identical copies
are made. Once all the copies have been check summed (an automatic process
whereby the copied files are compared to the originals and verified), drive A can be
formatted ready to be put back on the camera when drive B is full.
c. One of the two drives can then be brought to us. Depending on your chosen offline
edit platform, we will do one of three things.
i. If you are editing in Final Cut Pro outside of Waterfront Studios, or you want
standalone Prores media to cut, we will run a transcode of all your Redcode
media daily to create Apple ProresHD copies for you. The resulting copies
can then be used for your offline edit. We will accumulate and store our
own set of all your Redcode material and Prores proxies on our server as
ii. If you are editing in Final Cut Pro inside our building, the option is open for
you to cut directly from the proxy “wrappers” made by the camera itself. In
this case, no transcoding for offline is necessary. We make sure your final
cut suite has access to all the Redcode media and proxy files on our server,
and you simply import and cut away. We will continue to accumulate your
Redcode media on our server each day as hard drives arrive from set.
iii. If you are editing in Avid, we will transcode all of your Redcode media daily
to make standalone Avid DNxHD MXF copies which are then brought into
your Avid HD project via the Media Tool. We will accumulate and store our
own set of all your Redcode material and Prores proxies on our server as
d. When your offline edit is locked, we will export either the project file or an EDL into
the online DI suite. Your final conform can be SD, HD, 2K or even 4K resolution. We
then simply point the system to the Redcode media on the server and it will
autoconform to the original full quality, full resolution Redcode RAW media.
Depending on the resolution of the conform, this can be time‐consuming, but is not
really complicated or unreliable.
e. We check the completed conform against a cutting copy created from your offline
and make sure all cut points and transitions are right. From this point on, you are in
a normal DI environment and the grade and output takes place just as it would if you
had shot any other format.
Crank 2 – High Voltage – Canon XHA1 and HF10 (HDV)
Slumdog Millionaire – SI2K