London-based high-speed specialist, Love High Speed, is taking delivery of the first two of Vision Research’s new Phantom Flex4K cameras in Europe. The Flex4K ships in October and can record up to 940fps at its full resolution of 4096×2304, 1000fps at 4K (4096×2160), up to 2000fps at 1920×1080, and over 3000fps at 1280×720.
Love High Speed specialises in digital high-speed work for movies, TV and commercials, and has been involved in such productions as Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes films, Danny Boyle’s Trance, and Ron Howard’s recent Formula 1 film, Rush.
According to Stephen Price, high-speed camera specialist and Love High Speed director, the Phantom Flex4K “is the most advanced digital high-speed camera ever produced”, and offers many improvements, notably “much more latitude, so it can capture much higher brightness levels than before.”
This will make it much easier to match to normal cameras and to use in variable lighting conditions, particularly high-contrast situations, where its higher dynamic range will prove valuable. “It’s a much cleaner video signal. You can look much deeper into the blacks,” he said.
It has been “completely redesigned from before,” and he thinks it will be instrumental in improving the technology standards for high-speed work. Precise figures for the camera’s latitude etc, aren’t yet available as the camera has been enhanced since it was previewed at NAB, and Vision Research will unveil the final production model at IBC, but Price is more than happy with what he has seen so far.
“We tested and researched other camera systems that can record slow motion images in a 4K resolution format, but their image quality and workflows could not compare to the Flex4K. There are many factors we consider when looking at new camera technology. Image quality is very important, but we also consider ergonomics and usability. Speed of use is very important to our clients and us,” he explained.
“The Phantom camera range has always offered an unrivalled quality of images, speed of use and ability to integrate with standard film accessories,” he added.
“We place a great importance in supplying equipment that is user-friendly to camera crews. We regularly work with our Phantom cameras on a wide range of productions and used in a variety of ways; from hand-held to Steadicam, to tracking vehicles and specialist wire rigs.”
While moving to 4K should allow it to deliver higher-quality images, it is not without its challenges. “The data rate has increased dramatically. The new 4K Phantom records approximately three times the amount of Raw data when compared to the current industry-leading camera, the Phantom Flex,” he said. This has implications for on-set data management, archiving and data transcoding, and will affect the way they work.
He sees demand for high-speed 4K being closely linked to both availability and costs. As the cameras begin to ship, interest in what can be done with 4K, particularly the ability to manipulate pictures in post, has grown. The associated costs are also beginning to reduce, such as data storage, monitoring and post-production, which should also help. Love High Speed does the majority of its work on commercials, as high-speed cameras “are a great tool for advertising products”, but 4K opens up new markets.
“In the recent past, we have seen interest in 4K resolution mostly from heavy visual effects productions and specialist projects such as IMAX films,” said Price. But as the technology availability broadens and associated costs reduce, he sees 4K being in demand from feature films through to documentaries.
Love High Speed recently held a demo day, the first time one of the Flex4K prototypes had been seen in Europe. It was demonstrated alongside Mark Roberts Motion Control’s new Bolt High Speed Cinebot (pictured). This robotic system is designed for high-speed work and can “perform incredibly precise moves at very high speeds” said Price.
“One of the most interesting ways to use high speed is when moving the camera at high velocity. The result adds a new dimension, as the subject appears almost static in frame, their surroundings continually change as the camera tracks round a scene. This new tool has already proved very useful for advertising commercials, and more specifically food. The robotic arm can track and keep up with free-fall objects such as liquids with ease. The slow-motion camera can record split-second events in great detail, while the robotic arm can add the element of quick movement through a scene.”
“The ability to control every axis of movement available on this robot including high speed focus pulls is something that just hasn’t been possible before,” added Assaff Rawner, MD, Mark Roberts Motion Control. By using MRMC’s Flair software, operators should be able to “produce amazing shots that will further push the envelope and take creative boundaries yet further into the horizon,” he claimed.
By David Fox