The American Society of Cinematographers

Loyalty • Progress • Artistry
April 2014
Canon Embraces Hi-Res Future

Canon hosted a press tour in Japan last fall for a select group of journalists from various trade publications and websites, including American Cinematographer.

Arri Announces Amira Pricing, Details

Arri has announced the pricing for the Amira, the company’s recently unveiled documentary-style camera.

BriteShot Upgrades Luminator Line

BriteShot has introduced the Luminator Studio Tungsten.

MTI Carries Cortex on Set, Location

MTI Film has introduced Cortex CarryOn, a portable all-in-one on-set dailies solution for cinematographers and DITs.

P+S Technik Enhances Viewing with Finder Loupe

P+S Technik has introduced the PS-Finder Loupe, designed to work with TV Logic’s VFM-058W 5.5" Full HD LCD monitor.

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Canon Embraces Hi-Res Future

Canon hosted a press tour in Japan last fall for a select group of journalists from various trade publications and websites, including American Cinematographer. The eight-day excursion included business briefings and interviews with the company’s top executives at Canon headquarters in Tokyo, a comprehensive tour of Canon’s lens-manufacturing factory in Utsonomiya, a visit to the Inter BEE trade show, and a series of dinners where top brass could discuss the company’s future in relaxed settings.

The company also provided a spotlight demonstration of its new DP-V3010 4K Reference Display monitor, designed to provide “exceptional detail, color and gradation accuracy” for color-grading and postproduction professionals as motion picture, television and commercial production continues its transition to higher-resolution digital video and CGI formats. Hinting at Canon’s future plans to produce more hi-res production and post tools, Yuichi Ishizuka, executive vice president and general manager of Canon USA’s Imaging Technologies & Communications Group, noted, “These displays are the result of the enthusiastic response we received to the Canon Cinema EOS System of cameras and lenses, and we look forward to continuing to demonstrate our commitment to these markets with outstanding technology, quality and reliability to help creative professionals deliver and tell the stories as they envision them.”

On Nov. 11, Canon executives outlined the company’s history and technical achievements in a series of briefings. In his presentation on the Cinema EOS System, Ken-Ichi Shimbori, a group executive of Canon’s Image Communication Products Operations (ICPO), identified the 2008 unveiling of Reverie, a demonstration video shot with the EOS 5D Mark II DSLR (co-directed by Yoni Brook and cinematographer Vincent Laforet), as a key moment in the development of EOS technology. Shimbori identified high image quality, high ISO speed, compact design and low production cost as some of the primary reasons Canon was encouraged to develop higher-end EOS cameras (specifically, the C300 and C500) for professional users. In their separate presentation on the company’s lens products, Shimbori’s colleagues Naoya Kaneda and Yasunori Imaoka added that EOS users could also exploit the company’s extensive arsenal of high-quality lenses (87 models in all, including 73 in the EF Series and 14 in the EF Cinema Series), a competitive advantage Canon enjoys over some of its rival camera manufacturers.

The following day, to underscore the company’s in-house lens production, Canon hosted a rare tour of its Utsunomiya facility, which provides mass production of the company’s optical instruments, as well as technical support. Canon began producing EOS SLR cameras with interchangeable EF-mount lenses in 1987; since then, the company has built more than 90 million EF lenses. The growth of the company’s lens production has been exponential. By 1995, 10 million EF lenses had been produced, but that number doubled to 20 million in 2001, reached 30 million in 2006 and hit 40 million in 2008. Those numbers ramped up dramatically as digital EOS SLRs became predominant: 50 million lenses in 2009, 60 million by Jan. 2011, 70 million by Oct. 2011 and 80 million by Aug. 2012.

During the facility tour, the press visitors met the company’s “lens meisters,” observed the various stages of lens manufacturing and quality control, and received an overview of Canon’s human-resources development program for students pursuing a career in optics craftsmanship — a 9-month-long mentorship program that has produced 3,064 skilled workers since 1959.

Although Canon executives did not announce any new EOS cameras during the press tour, they did detail a series of new technical developments. Hiroo Edakubo, another group executive from Canon’s ICPO, reviewed some of the company’s recent undertakings, including firmware upgrades to

C-Series cameras that boost their maximum ISO setting to 80,000. Edakubo also outlined an optional upgrade to the EOS C100 to support Dual Pixel CMOS AF autofocus technology, for continuous autofocusing with Canon’s EF lenses. (In May, this upgrade will be available for the C300 as well.) He touted the improved signal-to-noise ratio in Canon’s high-end cameras (made possible by the company’s second generation of chip-noise reduction technology), as well as their wider dynamic range (credited to the Dual Pixel CMOS diode structure, which also helps to reduce “rolling shutter” effect). Edakubo added that while Canon launched its C-Series cameras mainly for motion-picture use, the company has been pleasantly surprised by their popularity for shooting other types of projects, including commercials and sports events. (Most recently, Canon was selected by NBC to provide more than 70 HDTV portable, field and studio lenses for the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.)

During the press briefings, Masaya Maeda, managing director and chief executive of Canon’s ICPO, offered a general overview of the company’s business strategies, placing further emphasis on the company’s on-site development of image processors, lenses, software and sensors. In a one-on-one interview with AC, he conceded, “In the world of cinema, we’re still in the process of learning [and gathering] opinions and insights, [not only] from distinguished and great filmmakers but also independent filmmakers and students. I think we’re still at the stage [where we are] absorbing all of those insights so we can learn from them and [reflect] those suggestions” in new product designs and systems. With regard to the Cinema Series cameras, he added that “we anticipate that one day we will be there to meet that challenge to become the A camera,” and foresaw that any new technologies that the company develops for its high-end cameras would “trickle down” to the company’s lower-end camera models. He maintained that the development of higher-end cameras would require increased processing speed for semiconductors (in order to handle the sheer volume of digital data funneling through the workflow pipeline) and reasonable, energy-efficient power-consumption standards.

In a separate group-interview session, members of the company’s EOS team addressed a range of other topics, including questions about the ergonomics of Canon’s C-Series cameras and the ongoing need for productions to add third-party accessories to these cameras in order to meet the high-end requirements of cinematographers like Anthony Dod Mantle, ASC, BSC, DFF (Rush; AC Oct. ’13); Sofian El Fani (who used the C300 on Blue is the Warmest Color, which won the Palme d’Or at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival); and Shane Hurlbut, ASC (who offers a detailed assessment of the C-Series cameras in this issue’s coverage of the feature Need for Speed).

During the group session, ASC member Jon Fauer summarized the desires of many top cinematographers by suggesting that the C500 should be adapted for easier handheld work, with adjustable handgrips and shoulder mounts that would make the camera less reliant upon third-party rigs. Fauer praised the compact design of the C500, but also suggested that the next model should be more modular and offer an adjustable viewfinder. “It would be nice if you could interchange the lens mounts between Canon and PL mounts, or some other neutral mount system,” he added.

The EOS spokesmen conceded that the company “must be more flexible” in the design and engineering of future camera models, but stressed that Canon was still in the process of “collecting a lot of feedback from C-Series users. Our products are being used by many people in different and diverse manners, so compiling all of those comments and reflecting [those suggestions] in a new model is going to be very difficult. We knew from the beginning that the C500 would not [occupy] the high end [of the market] like the Alexa. For those people who are very used to using [high-end] A cameras and B cameras, this is not [an ideal design], but people who have been using the EOS system with DSLRs say this is the form they would like to see.”

ASC associate Eliott Peck, senior vice president and general manager of Canon USA, firmly asserted the company’s commitment to research and outreach, and its willingness to incorporate user suggestions into new camera designs. “We entered this business with a thirst to learn and to listen. Every different film and every setup is going to be a little different. We’ve sent our engineers and our technical people on set. [When] Ron Howard was shooting his film Rush, every day there was something new. We approach [those visits] to listen and to learn, to make adjustments and changes, [and to bring] that feedback on technical concerns and issues back to Canon Inc.”

Both Maeda and the EOS team confirmed that Canon would still be striking deals with third-party manufacturers to produce rigs and accessories for the C-Series cameras. “Regarding accessories,” Maeda stated, “of course if it is in the domain where we have the expertise, then we might produce them ourselves, but currently we have [partnerships with] a lot of dedicated, expert manufacturers of such rigs and accessories, so we would like to establish great working relationships with them to provide the best accessories [for our products].”

One area of new exploration was emphasized by Laurence J. Thorpe, a senior fellow at Canon who supervises professional engineering and solutions within the company’s  Imaging Technologies & Communications Group. Thorpe emphasized Canon’s commitment to the ACES workflow standard, noting that the company had developed a new ACESproxy output that is now available via the C500 camera’s 3G-SDI monitor terminal. ACESproxy allows filmmakers to immediately grade raw footage using a compatible ACES monitor (such as Canon’s DP-V3010) and the ASC CDL system, providing an accurate representation of how the footage will look after being graded in the DI suite. Thorpe added that Canon’s support for the DCI-P3+ Color Gamut allows the C500 to capture a far wider range of color in raw mode than the current DCI-P3 industry standard for digital cinema projection, enabling an increased ability to faithfully reproduce more saturated elements. The DCI-P3+ gamut shares the same white point as DCI-P3, but accommodates a much larger color range that allows users to take full advantage of the large volume of color space available in ACES. “I think that’s going to be huge,” he concluded. “We’ve immersed ourselves in [the ACES] technical committee, which includes all the major manufacturers, and we’re way down the road in terms of the ACESproxy. There are great exchanges, we all understand each other, and we’re also playing in that workspace of ACES. We totally bought into it, we totally support it, and it’s the workflow of the future.”

— Stephen Pizzello

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Arri Announces Amira Pricing, Details

Arri has announced the pricing for the Amira, the company’s recently unveiled documentary-style camera. Prices for the camera with OLED viewfinder start at $39,999, and customers can choose from a wide range of feature and accessory options to build their preferred package.

There are three Amira configurations to choose from, differentiated by their software feature sets. The entry-point Amira camera allows Rec 709 ProRes 4:2:2 recording up to 100 fps. The Advanced license adds features such as Log C, ProRes 4:2:2 (HQ) at 200 fps, in-camera grading and a pre-record function. Finally, the Premium license incorporates such features as ProRes 4:4:4:4 and 2K up to 200 fps as well as color control with custom 3-D LUTs; the premium offerings make the Amira an ideal companion to the Alexa for high-end productions. Software upgrades — which can be purchased outright or “rented” on a temporary basis — will be available directly through the Arri website, allowing Amira owners to adapt to the particular needs of the project at hand while extending the return on their initial investment.

To complete the Amira camera package, customers will also select a lens mount, battery mount and bottom plate. With various options for each, customers have the option of changing these pieces after their initial purchase. Lens-mount options will include PL, PL-LDS, EF and B4; each mount attaches to the front of the camera body via four captive screws and can be easily changed in the field.

The versatile Amira combines exceptional image quality — it incorporates the latest generation of the Alexa 16x9 sensor technology — with affordable CFast 2.0 workflows. With a projected startup time of approximately 10 seconds, the Amira is ready to roll straight out of the camera bag, and its rugged design suits a wide range of production types and shooting environments. The camera’s ergonomic design is optimized for the shoulder-mounted operating of run-and-gun-style documentary shooting; the camera body weighs approximately 10 pounds on its own, and with shoulder mount, handle and viewfinder weighs approximately 14 pounds.

The Amira also boasts a unique cooling system: Air enters the front of the camera via vents on both sides, cooling the sensor, and then moves through the hollow center of the chassis, which is completely sealed from the circuit boards to protect them from dust and the elements; the boards are cooled as the air moves through the chassis, and the air is finally pushed out the back of the camera, on the right side, via two small fans.

Arri has mitigated the need to navigate the camera menu by incorporating user-assignable buttons on the operator’s side of the camera body, as well as user-assignable preset switches for white balance and exposure index. (Additionally, a lock button precludes any settings being accidentally bumped during a shoot.) The operator’s side of the camera also features controls over the camera’s four-channel audio; slots for two CFast 2.0 memory cards; two USB inputs for importing looks, user settings or software updates; and an Ethernet connection for remote service via network access.

The rear of the camera features two wireless antennas, one for Bluetooth audio monitoring and one for Wi-Fi to enable third-party apps such as menu control via an iPhone. Also included are two four-pin hirose connectors, an eight-pin power connector, two HD-SDI connections and a D-tap power tap. Audio inputs on the camera-right side comprise two three-pin and one five-pin that can serve as a splitter; microphone line, phantom power and AES are all assignable. The camera body also boasts a bubble level and tape hook, and a motorized magnetic track for its built-in IR-ND filters (.6, 1.2, 2.1 and clear); eschewing a more traditional filter wheel allows the camera its slimmer profile when compared with the Alexa.

The top handle for the camera boasts a vulcanized rubber, non-slip design that also incorporates 3/8" threads and a hot shoe for additional accessories. The handle attaches to the camera body via dovetail, as does the shoulder mount on the bottom; both dovetails lock on the camera-right side for quick, easy balancing by the operator. Additionally, the shoulder mount features Arri rosettes and 15mm lightweight support rods.

The Amira’s OLED viewfinder boasts a +/-5 ocular and a proximity sensor to prevent image burn in. The viewfinder also incorporates a monitor that doubles as access to the camera’s menu, which is arranged similarly to the Alexa’s. The viewfinder can be mounted on a wedge off of the top handle, and it also features a 3/8" thread for attaching via an articulated arm.

Further pricing details are available through Arri and its official sales channels. Delivery of Amira cameras is due to begin in the second quarter of this year.

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BriteShot Upgrades Luminator Line

BriteShot has introduced the Luminator Studio Tungsten. The LED fixture is twice as bright as the company’s two earlier Luminators and draws 350 watts/3 amps of power while delivering 27,000 Lux at a distance of 10' in its spot setting, and 7,000 Lux at 10' in flood.

The Luminator Studio Tungsten boasts a lighter instrument weight, a punchy throw of more than 200 feet, and a simplified control panel. The unit’s precision dimmer control enables dimming down to 2 percent.

The Luminator Studio Tungsten is manufactured in Southern California. BriteShot selects a tight four-bin package of Cree LEDs and blends them to target a perfect balance on the green/magenta axis. The Studio Tungsten works well with the high-speed Phantom camera and has been tested flicker-free at 1,500 fps. The solid-state system also boasts noiseless operation.

All BriteShot Luminators come with a three-year/50,000-hour warranty.

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MTI Carries Cortex on Set, Location

MTI Film has introduced Cortex CarryOn, a portable all-in-one on-set dailies solution for cinematographers and DITs. Compact, lightweight and rugged, Cortex CarryOn comes equipped with MTI’s Cortex Dailies software and is capable of processing dailies at any resolution up to 6K from all popular digital cinema cameras, including Arri, Sony, Canon and Red.

Loaded with a liquid-cooled Intel i7 processor, 12TB SSD RAID, GPU-accelerated rendering and Thunderbolt 2 technology for fast copying, Cortex CarryOn is ideal for on-set production, whatever the location. “We designed Cortex CarryOn for producers and rental houses seeking a plug-and-play dailies appliance that is extremely portable and does it all with maximum efficiency and reliability,” says MTI Film product manager J.D. Vandenberghe. “Designed by users for users, Cortex CarryOn handles every dailies task with ease and keeps pace with production demand, even when processing 4K.”

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P+S Technik Enhances Viewing with Finder Loupe

P+S Technik has introduced the PS-Finder Loupe, designed to work with TV Logic’s VFM-058W 5.5" Full HD LCD monitor.

The PS-Finder Loupe consists of an eyepiece, a lightweight metal tube and a mount for the monitor. The eyepiece features an integrated, high-quality +/-1.5 diopter for eyesight compensation. On request, P+S Technik offers an eyepiece cup with a mechanical shutter to avoid sun damage. The PS-Finder Loupe is compatible with standard Arri eyepiece cups.

The PS-Finder Loupe can be used with either the right or left eye, and an integrated quick-release mechanism allows for one-handed switching between viewfinder and monitor viewing.

In addition to the VFM-058W, P+S Technik offers mounts that make the PS-Finder Loupe compatible with the TV Logic VFM-056W/WP, Ikan D5W, Hamlet HDW5, Marshall V-LCD56MD, Red 5" Touch LCD and Convergent Design Gemini 4:4:4.

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