Burbank, CA – Early one Saturday morning over 40 members of the Digital Cinema Society gathered at Band Pro Film & Digital’s headquarters for a presentation of Silicon Imaging’s SI-2K Camera System. As the awards and accolades for Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire piled up, so did the intrigue surrounding the digital camera used to shoot 60% of the film.
Emcee’d by DCS founder James Mathers, the event was arranged to educate increasingly interested industry professionals about the camera that few of them had used but all had heard about.
Silicon Imaging Engineer Sinclair Fleming began the presentation by explaining how the company has evolved from industrial camera manufacturer to digital cinematography pioneer and how it is approaching image capture from a different direction. Rather than a video-based recorder like most digital cameras, the SI-2K records images (raw digital negatives) as data directly to a PC (or a Mac run in BootCamp) via gigabit Ethernet and utilizes a Super 16mm-sized 2K sensor with 11 stops of dynamic range. Other revolutionary Silicon Imaging achievements are the integration of the virtually lossless CineForm RAW codec and the unique touchscreen interface for in-camera control.
Cinematographer Ulf Soderqvist spoke next and qualified the interface as “very mature and stable.” And Soderqvist would know. He was one of the first cinematographers to embrace the camera technology over three years ago and has used it on three indie feature films and numerous commercials. Among the greatest benefits of the system that he cited is the ease of editing. The SI-2K outputs files that can be dropped directly onto a Final Cut Pro timeline without additional conversion. Also, LUTs can be non-destructively added during shooting, travel with the footage into post, and then be applied seamlessly to achieve the desired look of the footage.
Soderqvist spoke at length about the form factor of the SI-Mini, the stand-alone camera head that measures only 105x70x45mm, allowing it to be configured in almost limitless compact variations from handheld to mini jib arms. He also noted that the interchangeable lens mount system gives him creative flexibility not available to most DPs: one camera that can be outfitted with PL, C, Nikon F, or B4-mount lenses, such as the Zeiss DigiPrime and DigiZoom lenses.
Band Pro Technical Consultant Randy Wedick then gave a thorough walkthrough of the SiliconDVR interface and the seemingly limitless in-camera options available via the touchscreen monitor. Some standout items are a false color exposure and histogram meter, which give the cinematographer a quick and precise check of exposure. Additionally, edge detection and display zoom provide an accurate focus reference. The system also features the ability to create non-destructive 3D LUTs that can be toggled on and off, a first for an in-camera control system.