The D16 in the Wild

On Friday morning, Team Bolex was waiting with bated breath for a special delivery from Canada. The package had landed in Memphis at 1:43 am, and when I got up around 8am FedEx’s website said it had arrived at the warehouse, less than 2 miles from my house. Around 1:30 someone knocked on the door, and it was here. After a month of waiting, our first working camera had arrived in Los Angeles.

Screen Shot 2013-08-13 at 1.04.49 AM

The camera wasn’t the newest model–the engineers in Toronto need all the newest parts for development–but it was the same camera we shot still tests on in July, updated with the latest firmware. Firmware which was written for the newer boards, so Mike wasn’t sure how it would run on the old parts. This would be an experiment. For the first time the camera was on its own, thousands of miles away from its engineers. Mike said we were going to break it. It was our job to break it.

Over the weekend Elle was planning to try out a new process for some of her personal artwork, and I wanted to shoot her working as our official release footage. So I did some tests Friday night, and when I looked at the transcoded stills, I was surprised to see a ghosting effect we hadn’t encountered before. I realized it was because the FFD was off. The updates to the sensor block were throwing off the balance of the old C mount on this particular camera. I decided if I was going to try and shoot the next morning I was going to have to change the camera over to PL mount prototype, even though it didn’t quite fit the newest body. The PL lenses would be more flexible.

The PL mount prototype needs to be adjusted to the latest body. Until then, there's always gaff tape!

The PL mount prototype needs to be adjusted to the latest body. Until then, there’s always gaff tape!

We started shooting on Saturday around noon with a pretty basic setup: Kino, slider, Switronix battery, Zacuto follow focus, Small HD EVF, tripod, and laptop for dumping footage. This camera ran a little hot, as Mike said it would, but that didn’t seem to be causing any problems. We shot for a number of hours on Saturday and Sunday, and stitched together a little vignette for you guys to download and grade.

The footage is 10GB, so it will take a while to download.

Part 1 (3.1 GB)
Part 2 (2.8 GB)
Part 3 (2.7 GB)

We also had a friend come and shoot some BTS footage, so you can see our set up.

We did eventually run into a huge firmware bug, and at least 3 different minor errors that we called Canada about in a panic and that the engineers hadn’t seen before, so I guess we did our jobs, even if it meant the camera had to return to Canada on Monday morning for more updates. I was a little bummed out–not because I was worried about the project, but because for the first time in years I had in my possession a camera that got me excited about shooting again. A camera that would let me use the lenses I love, and whose footage made me smile instead of frown with disappointment. And I had to give it back already.

This weekend, after watching our footage on the camera monitor and later on the computer, I truly understood one of the big reasons uncompressed raw is important to me. It’s because the D16 (and all uncompressed raw cameras) is pixel democratic, meaning it doesn’t hold any one pixel as any more or less important than any other pixel. When looking at DSLR footage it is very clear that out of focus areas, large color blocks, and soft gradations are less important than the detailed areas. Their algorithms literally compress those areas more. As if to say, we know you aren’t looking at the out of focus background. But sometimes the out of focus bit is the most beautiful, the most precious.

The D16 thinks all of your pixels are important. And there is something beautiful about that.

Can’t wait to see what you guys do with the footage.

Thank you all, Joe, Elle, and the Digital Bolex Team

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joerubinstein

About joerubinstein

Joe Rubinstein is one of the founders and CEO of Digital Bolex. At Polite in Public, a photo marketing company he also co-founded, Joe was the Chief Technology Officer who worked with electronics developers and software developers to create the Polite in Public Photobooth which helped define modern photo marketing services.

99 thoughts on “The D16 in the Wild

  1. The footage has so much motion blur. I recently saw some samples of Ikonoskop A-Cam dII and it didn’t have motion blur at all. If your camera can do that, it will be great. Btw, what frame rate did you used in the footage?

  2. Wow! Camera looks amazing as well as the footage and the brief glimpse of the UI, great job Guys!.

    Are most of the firmware features implemented? Did you use CF cards or dumped the footage directly from SSD?

    Are there some shots in the BTS from the D16? Is that the sound captured from the camera? It sounds different but don’t recall a mic plugged in the footage.

    Congrats!!

    • This camera was one of the older models, a lot of parts from the december build. There was no in camera sound, and the CF card section did not work. There are of course units that have all that stuff working, but they need them in Canada for development.

  3. What’s the verdict on the camera??? Was it good enough to ship out soon after the minor problems are fixed? Is there going to be another test run with newer parts soon?

    –aries

  4. I love this post… Indie productions are all about making it through a shoot no matter all that goes wrong and keeping your head up. Regardless of the issues you ran into, you guys rocked it.

  5. Hi, the story you guys are telling us is just wonderful. Thank you for sharing, making us part of the adventure.
    It is more than just a camera, for me you are incarnating a new way of doing bizness. With technology, art craft, passion and authenticity.

    I’m following your progress since the beginning and I’m not that interest in RAW, because it doesn’t fill my needs. But when I saw yours faces opening up the box, and I saw this little beautiful machine, I just wanted one.

    I give up, you got me there.

    I’ll adopt one and I will love her like my child, for the beauty of it, and than, I will create with it.

    Cheers to the team!

    • Thanks Guillaume!
      I hope we can inspire more artists to get into the business technology world. I think everyone benefits in great ways when the two merge.
      And I’m glad you have decided to own one, I think that after you get a chance to shoot raw, at least on your more creative projects, it will win you over too :)

  6. motion blur is not a bad thing. just like iris and ISO, it can be a storytelling decision.
    just like color grading can give the audience a specific emotion while watching, blur or crispness in footage can be an intentional choice. if you only make all your videos crisp they can (possibly) become dull, boring and predictable.

  7. Wow looking good. Getting close now.
    As a backer I am happy that you guys are taking your time getting everything perfect. There is no rush in my mind.
    I have a Pocket camera and a BMCC here with me and am still very excited about receiving the Bolex D16 and having all those options in one unit.
    Keep up the good work guys

  8. an example of when motion blur is necessary would be when you want the illusion of fast motion, or possibly in a scene involving disorientation. pretend the main character has been drugged and you want to make it look like the audience is looking thru his eyes, you might add motion blur (among other things) to help the viewer relate to how the character feels. or think of the movie King Kong, the recent one, when Adrian Brody (spelling?) was sitting at a type-writer spelling “Skull Island”. heavy motion blur was used to draw the attention of the viewer and help the viewer realize how important whats going on is.
    crisp footage is not good or bad, and blurred footage is not good or bad. what matters is these are tools in your story telling toolbox, and picking the right one for the situation you are in.
    obviously here, joe and elle had no choice cause it was locked :-)

  9. And here we are… ;)
    Exciting times.

    I guess you already know this but dropbox: “links are generating too much traffic and have been temporarily disabled”. I guess it’s good sign.

    • Yup, arrived, at least this far :)
      Delivery is in sight though.
      We are going to migrate the footage to another site or our own server, hopefully by tomorrow.
      We will let everyone know of course!

  10. Pingback: Digital Bolex RAW Footage now Available! | wolfcrow

  11. this new website “copy” offers 15gb free at signup. I like it as an alternative to dropbox. sign up with our refferal and get extra 5gb for 20gb total. https://copy.com?r=NMK3SC
    not tryning to promote, just trying to help. might be a better solution for the footage downloads.

    • So I looked into copy.com, but they have a 1gb file limit size so to keep things linearly named I would have to break the files up into 14 different zip files.

      Seems like a barrier to entry for downloaders to me.

  12. Can’t wait. I am really excited.

    Also, this reaction to people as, “hipsters” is so strange and moronic. It is looking at some stylistic choice of a person’s wardrobe, and making all sorts of usually negative assessments about them. I just don’t understand what that has to with anything.

    Joe and Elle you guys are awesome.

    • Thanks Adam!
      It has been an adventure for sure :)

      We’re going to try just hosting it on our server for now, that way we get a bit of tracking info. It will cost us some cash I’m sure though. If this doesn’t work we will look into other options.

  13. Don’t worry, I don’t think the Hipstergate affair(!) will sink the camera. If you contrast the last two nofilmschool articles, I sense the mood is becoming less cynical and more voices are sounding in favour of this achievement.

  14. I’ve transferred zip files larger than 1gb. There is no size limit using their desktop app. Glad you found a solution. Can’t wait to check out the downloads! keep up the good work!

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  16. Pingback: Digital Bolex Releases 10 GB Of Footage | Stray Angel Films Blog

  17. Wow it looks beautiful…just great love the look…
    hope to play soon with this camera in the tropical forest and beach on the Bali Island…
    congratulation …
    best regards

    orlando

  18. Actually, 180 degree shutters have been the standard on film cameras since forever. Adjustable shutters usually only went smaller than 180, not larger. Shutters faster than 180 cause a perceived flickering or staccato effect with motion or camera movement because of too little motion blur.

  19. Dear Joe,

    as a frequent user of the ikonoskop and a hughe fan of the s16mm format, I started to work with the dng files.
    I started in resolve, and adjusted the camera raw settings to color space BMD film, just to see with a basic linear flat look, what I could do with it. I work ed within the ”Aces color science”. The whitebalans was after a small brainstorm to be found at 6800 (a sweet spot for this footage), and the exposure at 1.50 (some shots got a a little more).The Tint was set to 30.
    In the primary color correction I got the shadows down (averagly -0.15), and the reds and blues a little bit up while remaining with the same amount of green for shadow detail…the gamma in blue was a little bit up (00.02). I gave the reds a little bit a hue ofset (23,6).
    In the RGB mixer (which was in this case really usefull), i got red in red a little bit up, and green in red a little bit down…red in blue, and especialy blue in blue where a little bit pushed. Normally i make my dailies in resolve, and export them to h264 so, i can later go back with an xml, but in this case, i instantly went away with tiff 16 bit full scale etc..
    From there out the magic happened.
    With some scripts ( ive recelty been working on) in after effects, and some scientific plugins i started to create a look, because what i got out from davincy was really neutral looking ( i can send you these files of course if you like too), In after effects i always start up with a adjustment layer with a extractor, which basically shows, me when the highlights clip, and the blacks clip (for every individual color i created a script, with different false color pixels). With some tweeking in color finesse, and some hue and saturation offsets, a nice curve, and in the end levels, to make sure, that black is black and white is white (in the wider shots), I ended up.
    The clipped area’s in the d16 looked the same as the ikonoskop, and while there are some gradients, its really small, and almost not usable to work around. You can decrease the dynamic range by rolling of the whites (i dont like…), or you can copy the footage in a layer above, extract the clipped (or almost clipped highlights) from the footage, and use a nice blur. For this case i used a box blur (because i wanted to render this footage a little bit faster..). The footage is now uploading on my server in h264 keyframing 25, and 25mbit, but is also available in ”fake” youtube hd.
    What I noticed, is that I had abut the same control over the footage as with the ikonoskop ( i can not know for sure untill i shoot with this machine by myself), so it looked promising. I think the motion blur was , although recognized, by many as a camera failure, really nice. Its a impressive blur, which renders about the same as some really good analog shutter cameras. I noticed that the hrizontal movements got a little bit more noticable blur, then then vertical, but i can be mistaken, because most movements where horizontally. I am not hundred percent sure, if the backfocus was perfectly, because although it was shot at 220 , I think with these lenses it can look a little bit more shaper. Of course I didnt add sharpness to the whole thing, and I hope no one will ever do with such a sweet camera. I love your work, and I feel that your gonna succeed!, Your so close!!!!
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gn1_Jb705QA

    • Thanks for the in depth look into the footage! That info is very helpful!

      Yes you are correct, the back focus was off on this particular unit, as you can see in the photo the PL-mount was being held on with C clamps and gaff tape. This is why almost all of the shots are on the 50mm, cause it has the most straight light path and the back focus being off effected it the least.

      New footage coming soon with day light!

  20. hey here is the download link:
    http://we.tl/1Q2IydUgsI

    Would love to have a look at new footage!
    Do you have a sekonic, or something else, so you can do some incidental and spot metering? Would be nice to have every shot covered by a photo with some f stops.. Would be nice to have some macbeth 19 percent gray etc. I would love to make a neutral lut, for people to start of.
    I guess the kino had daylight bulbs? I would love to see some 3200 kelvin shots as well.
    Would be nice to have some more perspective color rendition, or mis-en scene, would love to see extreme color differences and to see how this camera copes with that.

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  22. Pingback: Digital Bolex Releases Massive 10GB of RAW Sample Footage from the D16 Camera « No Film School

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