A Monster of a Camera

Four Canon 5Dmk2's rigged to operate simultaneously - shooting still, timelapse or video (Camera nr. 4 is missing from this picture, so you can see the Gitzo underplate).

I thought I share one aspect of my work which I don’t usually talk so much about  and that is commissioned R&D and consulting. For obvious reasons – usually client is paying for your input and they would not be happy if you gave that away for free to a competitor.

But, in this case I think there is no danger – actually, I am hoping that by posting this I might get some useful feedback or links which might then in turn be a benefit to the final product – and the client. I’ve said before that I am a great believer in sharing and somebody taking it further – to everybody’s benefit. Not copying, but taking it further.

Anyway, to cut a long story short: the camera rigging you see above is a prototype, set in our livingroom on a sturdy carbonfibre tripod and a Gitzo head. It has four Canon 5D mk2’s rigged on a watercut aluminum plate on a form of an arch, each set on a very flat Gitzo underplate. Covering together a total FOV of c. 130° they are linked with a shared timing system so that you can fire them  precisely at the same time.

The result: still, (HDR) timelapse or video. Still images are  a piece of cake – you could establish that with just one cam (without any parallax issues). Timelapse is a bit more challenging, but as it is a collection of still images turned into video, no real technical challenge there. Well, except that the resulting video might have a resolution of c. 24 000 px horizontal… you need quite a set of  computers to process that – but that’s just raw power -no big deal. But the video is the most interesting: horizontal resolution of c. 7000 px…. I mean, we are talking two  4K REDs set side by side here. Huge, huge file. Never , ever seen anything like it.  Each cam producing full HD quality, we have four of them side by side.

OK, I hear it: “Where in the hell you are going to publish that?” Well, actually… the place does not exist yet… But it will in two years time. Here in Finland – but I cannot say no more. What I can say at this stage is that the projection plane is 18×3.5 meters large, i.e. we are talking super, super, super wide (forget 16:9 or CinemaScope 2.39:1 – we are talking 6:1 ratio here….)  i.e. a partial panorama on a cylindrical projection.

Does it work? You bet. Did some test shooting earlier this year and I’ve seen it projected. Pretty impressive. And yes, obviously, this is a team effort: I won’t say a word about the projection solutions, software needed for video stiching or anything else which is not my turf – mainly because it’s over my head.  My responsibility is the cameras and their operation. But there are some smart and experienced people working on this so I am really looking forward to see what gets cooked up in the end.

But – as we stand now – more stuff to test, some final issues to resolve, maybe more testing…

I just thought this monster of a cam looked kind of impressive…

So basically, I guess you could call this post a teaser? :-)

8 Comments

  1. OlliS
    December 9, 2010

    Small correction: Academy ratio is (was) 1.39:1, CinemaScope tends to be 2.39:1 nowadays.

    Reply
    • kkuukka
      December 9, 2010

      Thank you for your correction… I always thought it was 1:2.1… Will correct (and two min later: corrected)

      Reply
  2. Tatu B
    December 9, 2010

    Holy shit! I’d love to see an anti-something demonstration filmed with that behemoth :-D

    Reply
    • kkuukka
      December 10, 2010

      Well, you won’t… Due to obvious parallax issue you are limited in your min. focusing distance – as there is only so much you can do in post to compensate for that. But – should everything work out allright – you should be in for a visual experience which – as a photographer – will blow your mind. Think about it: 18×3.5, viewing distance 5-10m, cylindrical plane, 16 channel heavily directional sound….
      I so totally agree with what C Jarvis said in his keynote in Photo Plus Expo in NY some weeks ago. Opening words: “This is the most exciting time ever in our history to be a photographer….” (http://bit.ly/gHMo5W)

      BTW, if you haven’t seen that, I strongly recommend. And don’t miss the discussion in the end. Trust me, it’s one hour of your time well spent.

      Reply
  3. Harri
    December 11, 2010

    Matrix -style: http://i.imgur.com/YMvCs.jpg

    Reply
    • kkuukka
      December 11, 2010

      yup, seen it. Fifty something cams to freeze action in mid air to simulate a dolly in a circular path. Used in matrix a lot…
      So – all you need is 50×2000€ (or whatever 5d mk2 plus a lens costs… so 100K more or less… sure, my client is so happy to pay that… we do that every week… ;-)

      Reply
  4. Tombe
    January 29, 2011

    Impressive in deed…

    Reply

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