2009 Camera Assessment Series

Back in December & January, I volunteered to work on a rather historic shoot being produced in conjunction with Revelations Entertainment, the Producers Guild of America, and the American Society of Cinematographers.

As the PGA has finally started to release publicity about it being a part of their 2009 “Produced By” conference, now is a great time to finally release some of the behind-the-scenes photos from the production.

2009 PGA-ASC Camera Assessment Series

The link above is to a Picasa Album of the pics – though I’ve not yet had time to caption them – I’ll try to over the next few weeks.

The shoot itself was really quite interesting, and we assessed both the physical production and the image capture performances of eight cinema cameras. The cameras were selected based upon their common ability to capture 4:4:4 10 bit images, and deliver 4:4:4 10-bit DPX files for DI and film outs. (which is the reason a number of other excellent cameras, such as the Sony PWM-EX3 were left out – it can “only” record 4:2:2).

The cameras in the test included:
– Arri 435 film camera (various Kodak film stocks, but primarily 5217)
– Arri D21 digital camera
– Panavision Genesis digital camera (based on the same sensor as the Sony F35)
– Panasonic 3700 digital camera
– RED One digital camera
– Sony F23 digital camera
– Sony F35 digital camera
– Thomson Viper

Some cameras were tethered to decks, some had their own on board storage, some used tape. The full results of the test, as covered by ASC members from the whitepaper perspective, and from the production and narrative side by nine field teams of documentary filmmakers (which I produced, along with PGA member Michael Shores), will be presented this summer, and then be archived in the libraries of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, the American Society of Cinematographers, and the Producers Guild of America.

We took each camera from delivering 10 bit DPX files, (and conversions from native capture files such as with RED RAW) to Laser Pacific for both one-light and fully-windowed Digital Intermediate passes, which are then being finaled as DCP (digital cinema packages) and as filmed out negatives.

The results of the tests really showed that producers and DP’s alike face a growing need to consider not only the aesthetics and the budget of their shows, but the workflows in production and post production in terms of extra time transcoding or managing data.

Anyone interested in the results should really check out the upcoming conference, and I hope that eventually the PGA and ASC will make the documentary (for which we shot over 100 hours of footage) and the white papers accessible online.