Cinematography

Interview with Ikonoskop — shooting 16mm RAW with the A-Cam dII in Stockholm

Cinema RAW is the holy grail of low-budget filmmakers. With the popular release of Black Magic Design’s Cinema Camera, along with Philip Bloom’s review of it rising to the all-time number one post of his blogging career, it is easy to forget that the Swedish company, Ikonoskop got there first. Indeed, Joe Rosenstein of Digital Bolex, was inspired by the Ikonoskop due it’s use of a Kodak CCD. And don’t forget, Philip Bloom at NAB 2012, tweeted “My favourite image from a camera at the show? Probably the Ikonoskop (@ikonoskop). Lovely! [H]ope to shoot with it soon!”

Due to its sleek Swedish design, along with an engine that puts out cinematic-looking shots, The A-Cam dII, simply cannot be ignored. At this date, it’s one of the best designed “video” cameras on the market.

DSLRs are great cameras for their price point and can put out cinematic quality images if you get the look you want in-camera — there’s very little latitude for error, due to it’s heavy processing as images get compressed to 8-bit in the H.264 format.

Cinema RAW DNG utilizes Adobe’s standard for shooting RAW photos carried over to the video world (Digital Bolex, Black Magic Design, and Ikonoskop utilize this format).

RAW is not a finishing format. It is the 12-bit data carried from the sensor to the memory card. The difference between 8-bit and 12-bit? 256 vs. 4096 bits of data! The 12-bit files are graded in post (using such software as DaVinci Resolve, the Lite version is free), and then you can export them as ProRes 422 (or better), for example and bring the footage into Final Cut for editing.

The key, the ability to shape the look of your film with a large bit-depth. While an 8-bit DSLR clip may look great, if you try to make major changes in  post, it falls apart. With a 12-bit raw file, the image holds up, so even if you shot tungston (indoor lighting) outdoors, it’s an easy fix. However, you still can’t blow out your highlights — clipped image data, like clipped audio, can’t be fixed in post!

The following interview with Peter Gustaffson of Ikonoskop occurred in the Ikonoskop offices in Stockholm, Sweden in September 2012.

A followup post will discuss my use of the A-Cam dII in the making of a short organic farm documentary in Stockholm, as well as the DaVinci workflow.

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Kurt Lancaster, PhD, is the author of DSLR Cinema: Crafting the Film Look with Large Sensor Video, 2nd edition, Focal Press, 2013 and Video Journalism for the Web: A Practical Introduction to Documentary Storytelling, Routledge, 2013. He is currently working on a new book for Focal Press dealing with the new 16mm RAW cinema cameras coming out. He teaches digital filmmaking and multimedia journalism at Northern Arizona University’s School of Communication.

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