A Monster of a Camera

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 18x3.5 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 Replies to “A Monster of a Camera”

    1. 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: 18x3.5, 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.

    1. 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 50x2000€ (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… ;-)

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