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ReBlog: DSLR and SI-2K for Cairo

This is a re-blog from my production company, Red Futon Films.

I’m going to answer two questions I had last week in this post. The first being what’s my DSLR gear? This will be in concert with my inventory for Cairo for this latest international short doc. The second will be why I chose the SI-2K for this trip.

DSLR: What I don’t use on a regular basis will be noted.

  1. Canon T2i

  2. Canon EF-S 17-55 F/2.8

  3. Canon EF 70-200 F/2.8L (rented)

  4. Zeiss 50mm F/1.4

  5. Cinetactics Matteblox DV Mattebox

  6. Tiffen Water White IR ND 4×4 filters (0.6/0.9)

  7. Generic Resin 4×4 filters (0.6, 0.9, 1.2×2)

  8. Edirol 09-HR stereo audio recorder (SFX/main audio)

  9. Sennehesier G2 wireless w/countryman B3 (rented)

  10. Trek-Tech T-Pod

  11. Treck-Tech MagMount Pro

  12. Best Buy Monopod

  13. CF tripod with fluid ball head (rented)

  14. CalDigt VR mini (w/extra sets of drives)- RAID 1

  15. 13” MacBook Pro

In place of the Sennheiser, I usually record my doc audio to an Audio-Technica 897 battery powered mic. I needed low-profile for this trip though so no shotgun. 1 wireless set-up only.

SI-2K + Cinedeck This is the other question I go this week. “Why’d you choose the SI-2K Mini?” There are a couple of reasons. First of all, the opportunity came up. Secondly, this camera has always been very, very attractive to me because of it’s silly-small size and the ability to shoot at a 2K resolution. Until now, it’s only been able to record to laptop so not great for the doc filmmaker like myself.

Enter Cinedeck. I’ve been following them for a long time and have gotten to know them and their leadership over Twitter and had a beta HDMI model for a couple of weeks to play with. They offered to toss me one for this trip. This happens to be a unit that’s not in production though. I’m sure if you want one, he can custom build one for you but the SI doesn’t have enough market to justify a full production run in this configuration.

What’s the impact on the doc filmmaker? Well, I’ll be able to tell you more after I get on the ground with it for a few days. But my initial thoughts are form factor, footprint, and quality:

Form Factor The Cinedeck and SI-2K Mini are both very, very small. These two units plus my HDDs take up roughly the same space as my DSLR kit does. This SI can be mounted in a gazillion different configurations. The Cinedeck can be run from a backpack, fanny pack, or mounted to a rig with the camera.

Footprint Related to form factor but slightly different. I can leave my laptop, memory cards and monitors at home. I usually don’t take additional monitors, but I know lots of people who do. I also always take my laptop and a huge stack of memory cards with me. This box replaces my monitors, memory cards and laptop. It records to SSD drives and easily connects to a set of HDDs to offload footage or even record to those instead. All the while taking up less space in my bags. So, I dunno, more room for lenses or snacks or something.

Quality This thing shoots RAW 2K resolution! There really is NOTHING on the market that has this capability with this footprint and form factor. I’ll be shooting primarily to Cineform 444 at 2K. These files are instantly editable in Premiere CS5 or Avid MC5 on my 2.66GHz laptop. I’ll say it here, Epic won’t hit this price point and Scarlet is well, this combo has been here since the first of the year.

If your stuff doesn’t go beyond the web or DVD, this setup probably isn’t for you. Save yourself some bucks and pick up a DSLR (remembering to spend some time working through the handicaps). If you’re stuff is going to the big screen? This is the set up to have. I do almost entirely non-profit work and while it doesn’t go to the movie theatre screen, it always ends up on huge conference screens so I will take the best quality I can get.

Finally, I didn’t want to deal with DSLR aliasing and the blurring in post that it requires. I don’t have access to the artists and time I need to work through some of those issues on this project. I can get right to the edit.

The one major downside right now is glass. I have a wide angle lens but it’s not high-quality enough to produce a real tight image at this resolution and detail level. My EF-S lenses do NOT work with P+S’s IMS-Canon mount. I’ll work through that though.

I’ll try to answer any questions you might have regarding workflow as I go, if you have any- but it’s pretty straight forward.

So, from the Middle East and Southeast Asia, Cheers!

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©2019 by Jay Friesen.

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