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Stephen Williams

MX v Alexa

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I dunno Jim, I've seen '19 from Kodak pushed 2 stops which it still a-ok in my book (on 35). . . . Depends, as mentioned on what one can accept and most importantly, scene content! I've seen film and digital look "noisiest," in lower contras scenes where the eye is more prone to "notice," the differences in luminance that grain and noise introduce...

I'd also say that while Digital sensors are getting better, I seriously doubt they'll outperform the blanket term of "film." Will they be better than 500asa film--- some of them probably already are. But, will they be better, which is in and of itself an arbitrary term, than 50D film at the same time, probably not. That's film's biggest strength, the ability to choose speed relative to what you're shooting. Regardless of what smart things you can do with data off of a chip, the fact remains that it is still balanced for some speed and some color. With a film camera you just swap out the stock for what's appropriate in that scene as opposed to doing so electronically. The electronic method can often yield very nice results, but the more you finagle the data, the more you tend to loose and the more artifacts you're prone to introduce. Perhaps one day we'll have "field swappable sensors," where you can load a 50D sensor into a camera for that shot in the desert at noon, and then swap out to a 3200T sensor for a night exterior in a hostile location where you can't rig. But, until that day comes I wholly believe that film and digital will coexist as production formats much as they do now chosen for budgetary(sad)/physical reasons as well aesthetics.

 

p.s. if you do invent "field swappable sensors" I request 1 free camera of the current generation for thinking it up!

 

Adrian... all good points. But I would suggest that if you haven't shot the Alexa or M-X sensor, a digital vs. film discussion is not current. I am not saying that every aspect is there today... but many are. And I have seen what is around the corner... sensors are moving way more rapidly than you might expect.

 

With the new sensors now being much more ND friendly... it is not hard to make your noise-free (relative to film) digital sensor act like ISO 200-2000 or ISO 25-250. With the M-X sensor and new color science... there is no drama to shooting tungsten. Something we couldn't say two years ago. We bought Ren-Mar Studios a couple of months ago and inherited several hundred tungsten lights as part of the deal. Our original idea was to convert half of them to daylight... until we saw the M-X sensor. Now we have decided to leave them all alone. Actually... almost everything I now shoot at the studios is tungsten.

 

I guess the point is that digital is just now coming out of the early years. And progress is accelerating.

 

Don't forget... our mission is to do film justice on its way out. Film doesn't submit to Moore's law. It will never be faster to process or cheaper. A 400' load of film will never be smaller. But it has a wonderful legacy and history based on it's capabilities. We not only acknowledge that but want to make sure the digital revolution pays homage to film. That means that 1080P or 2K is not good enough. Studios are now re-releasing 4K scans of many older classics shot on film. That can't happen with a 1080P or 2K digital camera. 4K bayer is the same measured resolution of slow speed S35 film (3.2K). 5K Bayer is a measured 4K resolution. 1080P digital doesn't come close. The best we have measured is a Sony F35 at 1.7K... about 1/4 the resolution of 4K Bayer.

 

We believe in everything film. That includes resolution, color, DR and feel. Our mission is to continue to provide a worthy alternative to film because digital is the future. God help us if 1080P and 10 stops of DR was deemed "good enough".

 

As for replaceable sensors... we have done the next best thing with replaceable "brains" in EPIC and Scarlet. I completely agree with you. You can have an ISO 25-250 brain. Or an ISO 200-2000 brain. And when new technology emerges, you can replace your brain without buying a new camera. If new battery technology comes out (and it will)... replace just that module. Our philosophy accepts that technology will advance and we don't think our customers need to buy a new camera every time a new recording media or capability shows up.

 

The RED ONE (obsolescence obsolete... remember?) is the 1st camera in the world to offer a sensor upgrade. While it isn't as upgradeable as EPIC... we have offered our customers full credit in trade for an EPIC. Not sure what more we can do to make the point that we are standing behind our customers as we get more proficient at this business and technology advances. And we knew nothing 4 years ago.

 

I have no issue with people shooting film until the last day it is produced... I have issue with people shooting 1080P as a film alternative. 1080P and 2K are not future-proof. Film is. I also believe it is the responsibility of digital camera makers to continue to improve sensors until there are no more questions about any aspect of performance. I wish it could happen in one day... but it is a process.

 

Someone commented about us being a marketing company. We are. But we also employ over 200 engineers developing sensors and electronics for our camera program. They are RED employees. I know for sure. I sign the checks. Everything EPIC and Scarlet is being core engineered internally. That doesn't really mean anything... except we are not just a marketing company. I am quite sure that we have more dedicated resources involved in digital cinema motion capture than any other company (assuming you don't count line-skipping).

 

Jim

Edited by Jim Jannard

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One clarification... with EPIC you can have an ISO 25-250 brain or an ISO 200-2000 brain. These aren't different brains... it is a quick mod to the same brain. Like loading different film stocks.

 

Another thought... the digital revolution is in your financial best interests. Let's assume that the day is coming when a digital camera has more resolution, equal color, greater DR and retains the "feel" of film because there is no in-camera sharpening. It will cost less to buy one than rent a film camera for two weeks. And the media you record to will be reusable.

 

Jim

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Now, by fiddling with the photoshop "curves" function, we can lift the darkest pixels away from the zero line, reducing the contrast.

The second picture has the blacks lifted up to a level of 32, so there is now only a 256/32 = 8 times difference betrween the brightest and darkest pixels. 8 = 2^3, so that's only three stops.

The third picture has the blacks lifted up to a level of 64, which means only 2 stops.

The last one has its blacks lifted up to a level of 128, so there is now only a 1-stop difference between the brightest and darkest pixels.

OK a trifle dull and washed-out looking, but you can still clearly make out the model's face, (or so they tell me :rolleyes:... )

 

Kieth, I'm confused about your demonstration and maybe you can help clarify.

At 128-256 you'd have 1 stop on a linear image but you seem to be showing a gamma encoded image in which case that wouldn't be the case, correct?

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Kieth, I'm confused about your demonstration and maybe you can help clarify.

At 128-256 you'd have 1 stop on a linear image but you seem to be showing a gamma encoded image in which case that wouldn't be the case, correct?

 

I don't know; it's just a JPEG I found. If it's gamma corrected, I didn't do it

When I started, the darkest pixels read 0,0,0 RGB and the brightest (white) 255,255,255.

After the "One Stop" treatment the figures were 127, 127,127 and 255,255,255.

This is not a meant to be a science experiment. I could have made a JPEG of a grey scale and measured the actual brightness of the bars with a lux meter I suppose, but that wouldn't have gotten anybody's attention :rolleyes:

 

There is a difference between the images viewed on a CRT an LCD computer monitor and an LCD TV used as a computer monitor, and so maybe it's not exactly one stop in real terms, but that's hardly the point.

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Keith, that was the most interesting mental image I've had in a long time!

It really should have been on page three of this thread, but there weren't enough responses :lol:

 

(Were the "Tits on page 3" only a feature of British and Australian Tabloids, or did they do that in the US as well? They disappeared during a tragic era when it briefly became fashionable to have women editing the Tabloids. Like the pretty TV weather girls who were suddenly replaced by deranged male dorks in bow-ties, they've been painfully slow to return :rolleyes: )

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The rotation is a good idea wrt aliasing on strong horizontal and vertical patterns, of which there are plenty in the real world

 

Only if the pixel size gets smaller though, as in a square pixel, the diagonal spacing is 1.414 times the length of the side of the pixel, so they give worse aliasing performance on the diagonal (because the pixel spacing increases), not better.

 

If the pixel size gets smaller then 1) you can't compare direct and 2) you make other compromises elsewhere.

 

Graeme

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Third out of the gate will be Sony's Q67 chip -- Basically it looks like a Bayer pattern rotated 45 degrees, with smaller photosites. It'll be the next generation in the F-35 line.

 

 

 

 

-- J.S.

 

hummm, sounds like video enthusiasts will have to replace their videocameras twice at year, instead of replacing only new filmstock in the same indestructible cinecamera....

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The RED ONE (obsolescence obsolete... remember?) is the 1st camera in the world to offer a sensor upgrade.

 

Jim

 

Red is a great camera, but unfortunately, the above claim in not true. Among some other possible camera company candidates that I have to check, we have offered a modular design where we can upgrade a sensor in less than 10 minutes, for a long time, much before Red camera was even conceived in practical terms. Please have a look at the following image that displays one of our camera that offers this design:

 

http://www.djjoofa.com/data/images/camera.jpg

 

BTW, the above image is of a desk in my office, and you can see the size of this camera by comparing it with the mouse next by, yet still, it offers 30% higher resolution than the Red One camera.

Edited by DJ Joofa

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Jim,

while it's true you can ND the lens, It's not really the same thing as switching to a slower film stock. Don't forget, for everything you put in front of the lens you are effecting resolution and the like. Also you can quickly get into issues where you're simply out of filter slots (or don't have any in the first place!). While this doesn't discount that "generally," one would be NDing even 50ASA film in bright sunlight, just adding more glass to the lens, or varying the electronics later on can't be equated to swapping out film stocks. I would also hazard to say the same is true of white-balances; granted you have made huge strides with that in the new color sciences as well as the chips. Just my take, of course.

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Only if the pixel size gets smaller though, as in a square pixel, the diagonal spacing is 1.414 times the length of the side of the pixel, so they give worse aliasing performance on the diagonal (because the pixel spacing increases), not better.

 

This is easy to test. Shoot a Marconi chart twice: normally, and rotated 45 degrees. You might change your opinion.

 

Marconi Resolution Chart #1 just below the middle of this page:

 

http://www.oodletuz.fsnet.co.uk/tcd/otherstds.htm

 

 

 

-- J.S.

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This is easy to test. Shoot a Marconi chart twice: normally, and rotated 45 degrees. You might change your opinion.

 

Marconi Resolution Chart #1 just below the middle of this page:

 

http://www.oodletuz.fsnet.co.uk/tcd/otherstds.htm

 

-- J.S.

 

I always tend to see stronger luma aliasing along 45° on a normally oriented bayer pattern sensor.

 

Graeme

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Guest Jeremy Hunt
Adrian... all good points. But I would suggest that if you haven't shot the Alexa or M-X sensor, a digital vs. film discussion is not current. I am not saying that every aspect is there today... but many are. And I have seen what is around the corner... sensors are moving way more rapidly than you might expect.

 

With the new sensors now being much more ND friendly... it is not hard to make your noise-free (relative to film) digital sensor act like ISO 200-2000 or ISO 25-250. With the M-X sensor and new color science... there is no drama to shooting tungsten. Something we couldn't say two years ago. We bought Ren-Mar Studios a couple of months ago and inherited several hundred tungsten lights as part of the deal. Our original idea was to convert half of them to daylight... until we saw the M-X sensor. Now we have decided to leave them all alone. Actually... almost everything I now shoot at the studios is tungsten.

 

I guess the point is that digital is just now coming out of the early years. And progress is accelerating.

 

Don't forget... our mission is to do film justice on its way out. Film doesn't submit to Moore's law. It will never be faster to process or cheaper. A 400' load of film will never be smaller. But it has a wonderful legacy and history based on it's capabilities. We not only acknowledge that but want to make sure the digital revolution pays homage to film. That means that 1080P or 2K is not good enough. Studios are now re-releasing 4K scans of many older classics shot on film. That can't happen with a 1080P or 2K digital camera. 4K bayer is the same measured resolution of slow speed S35 film (3.2K). 5K Bayer is a measured 4K resolution. 1080P digital doesn't come close. The best we have measured is a Sony F35 at 1.7K... about 1/4 the resolution of 4K Bayer.

 

We believe in everything film. That includes resolution, color, DR and feel. Our mission is to continue to provide a worthy alternative to film because digital is the future. God help us if 1080P and 10 stops of DR was deemed "good enough".

 

As for replaceable sensors... we have done the next best thing with replaceable "brains" in EPIC and Scarlet. I completely agree with you. You can have an ISO 25-250 brain. Or an ISO 200-2000 brain. And when new technology emerges, you can replace your brain without buying a new camera. If new battery technology comes out (and it will)... replace just that module. Our philosophy accepts that technology will advance and we don't think our customers need to buy a new camera every time a new recording media or capability shows up.

 

The RED ONE (obsolescence obsolete... remember?) is the 1st camera in the world to offer a sensor upgrade. While it isn't as upgradeable as EPIC... we have offered our customers full credit in trade for an EPIC. Not sure what more we can do to make the point that we are standing behind our customers as we get more proficient at this business and technology advances. And we knew nothing 4 years ago.

 

I have no issue with people shooting film until the last day it is produced... I have issue with people shooting 1080P as a film alternative. 1080P and 2K are not future-proof. Film is. I also believe it is the responsibility of digital camera makers to continue to improve sensors until there are no more questions about any aspect of performance. I wish it could happen in one day... but it is a process.

 

Someone commented about us being a marketing company. We are. But we also employ over 200 engineers developing sensors and electronics for our camera program. They are RED employees. I know for sure. I sign the checks. Everything EPIC and Scarlet is being core engineered internally. That doesn't really mean anything... except we are not just a marketing company. I am quite sure that we have more dedicated resources involved in digital cinema motion capture than any other company (assuming you don't count line-skipping).

 

Jim

 

Dear Jim

 

I am a 21 year old film student/cinematographer.

 

And i was wondering why you limit yourself to mimicking film?

 

Just a little background, i grew up with an almost all digital home video collections, and i learnt photography on a digital slr, but recently i started using film and projecting my own super-8, and the results are fantasitc, i was always dissapointed by my little dv camera, but super-8 effects me more (and even when converted to mini dv, still has that immediate strength without any grading). Im not anti-digital, i just see the difference between using an ink pen and a pencil for sketching etc.

 

My point is that digital and film arent simillar, at all. They will never be, the same way the watercolour and oil are different, but both can achieve something different that the other cannot. So why, in your aproach to your cameras, do you still feel this need to provide a replacement if film fades away? is that not a limit on what you could really achieve? could you not achieve something comepltley new and different?

 

And have you considered ways of working with film where it can be blended in with modern society in a better way? For someone like me who has no money, this would be the most intresting thing of all.

 

-Jeremy

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And i was wondering why you limit yourself to mimicking film?

 

We don't. We wish to provide a valid alternative to film, and to better it's many qualities, not duplicate film warts and all. There are many aesthetic aspects we enjoy in film, just as with the aesthetic we've developed for digital has many positive attributes as well.

 

Graeme

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Guest Jeremy Hunt
We don't. We wish to provide a valid alternative to film, and to better it's many qualities, not duplicate film warts and all. There are many aesthetic aspects we enjoy in film, just as with the aesthetic we've developed for digital has many positive attributes as well.

 

Graeme

 

Im sorry i must of got my words mixed up.

 

But this is exactly what i meant, what does "to better it" mean? and once you have done this then what? Surley it makes more sense to free your self of it comepltley?.

 

Im not trying to attack you at all, RED is far better than any camera in its price bracket, im just curious.

 

-Jeremy

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But this is exactly what i meant, what does "to better it" mean?

 

In motion picture imaging, film is a well known (if somewhat nebulous) reference point. Because we mention film as a reference point doesn't in any way constrain our thoughts on how things should work or look.

 

Other than to say that, there's no real way to answer your question, other than that we don't feel that comparisons or references are constraints.

 

Graeme

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In motion picture imaging, film is a well known (if somewhat nebulous) reference point.

 

 

Nebulous (Websters) : Indistinct, Vague

 

For more than a hundred years film has delivered from Nosferatu and Metropolis to The African Queen, Wizard of Oz , Taxi driver and Imax Batman anything but Vague and Indistinct images.

 

-Rob-

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Did Arri leave out on board RAW recording capabilities on the lower end Alexa?

Edited by Neil Duffy

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Nebulous (Websters) : Indistinct, Vague

 

For more than a hundred years film has delivered from Nosferatu and Metropolis to The African Queen, Wizard of Oz , Taxi driver and Imax Batman anything but Vague and Indistinct images.

 

-Rob-

 

I said the reference was nebulous, not the image quality of film. "Film" is not one thing you can point at with a single look or character, hence it forms a nebulous reference - a reference cloud so to speak, rather than a single point.

 

Graeme

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This is easy to test. Shoot a Marconi chart twice: normally, and rotated 45 degrees. You might change your opinion.

 

Marconi Resolution Chart #1 just below the middle of this page:

 

http://www.oodletuz.fsnet.co.uk/tcd/otherstds.htm

 

- J.S.

It would be interesting to try shooting a circular pseudo-random dot pattern mounted on a microwave oven turntable motor.

 

I suspect it would be like the test pattern DVDs made from an animated GIF file that jiggles the picture one colour subcarrier's-worth.

They completely destroy the smartest "smart" PAL/NTSC decoder!

Not that anybody is ever going to let me test their precious whatever-cam.

The answer may turn out to be too painful.

 

It's a bit like the vehement anti-scientific arguments of your average bible-basher: You know, what is this actually meant to achieve?

I always have this image of the old Warner Bros cartoons, where cartoon animal inadvertantly runs off the edge of a cliff, but doesn't actually fall until he realizes he's standing on thin air.

So, somebody has been happily shooting with his whatever-cam, and then he discovers how lousy its measured performance is, and then he can't shoot any more.

 

This picture might make the above concept a little clearer:

 

adriana.jpg

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I said the reference was nebulous, not the image quality of film. "Film" is not one thing you can point at with a single look or character, hence it forms a nebulous reference - a reference cloud so to speak, rather than a single point.

 

Graeme

 

 

I think one 'distinct' thing about 'film' is it's malleability as a medium 'it' can be stressed to great effect I find that unintentional or incorrect application can yield deep emotional response. In my opinion too much of the look of a film no matter the origination medium is made in some 'post' box these days with too timid use of in camera creation and pushing the camera original.

 

I agree that digital camera systems have largely been holed into a emulation of 'film' but I think that emulation has only been in a normal 'straight man' way largely because the 'nebula' for digital origination is much smaller than the possibilities available with emulsion. Right now the 'money' in digital origination is simulation of clean 35mm ecn for 'mean' tv and film production.

 

-Rob-

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