I just got back from Toronto, and I have a lot to report.
First off, on the fun side, we had Digital Bolex Class Picture day, so you could start to get to know the rest of the team in Toronto. We’ll be updating our “History” page soon to be an “About Us” page, and provide more info about everyone who’s working on the project. Exciting!
We have completed the final board which is the DSP board…
You can see a little preview of our GUI overlay being demoed here, which is another element we’re still finalizing.
The primary goal of this meeting was to finalize the body details. We are very close, but of course, there are always hiccups. Luckily, very few.
One thing we came across was a conflict in the way the interchangeable lens mount front end was interacting with the sensor board. Up until this last revision there was the possibility for there to be a .2mm variation based on lens mount placement. Two tenths of a millimeter might not sound like a lot, but in critical focus land, it could be potentially bad. So we decided to separate the actual lens mount from the front skin.
The new lens mount will be made out of machined brass and mount directly to the sensor structure, using 4 screws, ensuring perfect placement. Then the front aluminum skin of the body that helps keep out the elements will be placed over that with 4 more screws. So changing the lens mount will be a two step process instead of one, and it will require removing twice as many screws as originally planned, but this will ensure good back focus and proper lens centering, which is essential.
Another debate we’re having is a good solution to help protect the HDMI cable. Currently we feel it is not in an opportune place and are having trouble building protection for it because it is too close to the XLR ports. I feel like we are close to a solution here though.
Unfortunately, there is some bad news. We were really excited to receive the FPGA board around the time of our last update, which was designed by two freelance contractors that we hired outside our core team to speed up the process. We tested the board on its own, it worked well, and then we tried to connect it to the sensor board, and… it didn’t fit. Turns out the freelance designers weren’t staying in regular contact with our in house engineers. We’ve let the outside designers go, and both boards are already in the process of being redesigned, but it’s not clear how much time this error has cost us.
The silver lining is that we’ve hired an additional hardware guy, and two more software guys to work in house, so from now on we won’t be using any outside contractors for our engineering work. It will take a little time to get them up to speed, however. But once they’re settled in we should be moving a lot faster.
The best thing to come out of this meeting is a feature we’ve been working on for quite some time, and are very happy to announce: we will be adding in-camera playback!
We know that playback is crucial for many of you who prefer the advantages of a digital workflow rather than the traditional film workflow, and after many discussions about the most appropriate way of implementing playback, we’ve come to a good solution that our engineers have signed off on.
As the camera moves into its final stages, we’ll be heading up to Toronto more frequently, as it seems many of the hiccups we’ve encountered are more quickly solved when everyone is in the same room. We wish things were moving faster at this point, but the discussion, detail, and precision we’re putting into every aspect of the camera will definitely be worth the wait. Thanks for all your support!
Joe, Elle, and the Digital Bolex team