Raw Quality Key

The most exciting new camera launched at IBC records uncompressed 12-bit 4:4:4 HD pictures on a solid-state cartridge using a new raw format. “Not another new format?,” some might complain, but this is the first camera to use a new open file format based on Adobe’s royalty-free DNG (Digital Negative) stills format, which Adobe hopes to persuade other camera manufacturers to adopt so that post production software will be able to work with any new camera without having to wait months for new drivers to be released.

Adobe already has to support more than 180 different raw formats for stills cameras, and wants to avoid the same problems when it comes to raw video formats. The DNG format was designed for stills photography, but the new Ikonoskop a-cam dII will upgrade to Adobe’s Cinema DNG format for digital cinematography once that standard is finished. The format will work with any resolution and use different file packaging to DNG (almost certainly MXF). Even before that happens, it is relatively easy to convert the existing DNG files to other motion formats. The tiny a-cam dII was a big hit at the show, as it packs a lot of high-end features into a small package at a low price. The dII will cost €6,950 for camera, 9mm f1.5 S16 cine lens, memory card and battery. It ships in December, but Stockholm-based Ikonoskop took 40 orders at IBC, more than selling out its first production batch.

It is claimed to be “the smallest digital motion picture camera” on the market and can record up to 60fps uncompressed HD, at about 3.5MB per frame. “Instead of compressing the images we have made the writing higher,” 240MBps, explained Ikonoskop founder Daniel Jons├Ąter. It records on Ikonoskop’s own design 80GB memory cartridge, which stores 15 minutes. “It’s the fastest memory in the world,” he claimed.

It has a single, progressive 2/3-inch CCD (believed to be a new design from Kodak), and takes C-mount, PL-mount, and Leica M lenses or P+S Technik’s Interchangeable Mount System (which allows it use a very wide range of stills and motion picture lenses). It has a Lemo connector for two 48kHz audio channels, three monitor outputs (including HDMI), timecode, and weighs less than 1.5kg — ideal for handheld use. The LCD viewfinder has a pixel-topixel zoom (available during recording) for checking focus. It also has a small OLED monitor panel on the side, which can be used to view footage as well as settings and audio levels.

By being uncompressed, the dII avoids the cost, heat, size and power usage of a compression system, which means that it only needs passive cooling — allowing it to run completely silently.

Adobe is working with half-adozen camera manufacturers on the raw format, so that “when a new camera comes out you’ll be instantly able to adopt it in your existing workflow,” explained Michael Coleman, Adobe’s product manager for After Effects.

“The benefit for a software manufacturer is they don’t have to implement a dozen or more proprietary software formats. Photoshop today supports about 180 raw formats. It’s very expensive to develop them, so we’re looking to avoid the same problem of raw format proliferation and to streamline workflows.”

By David Fox, TVB Europe