Los Angeles-based rental house Radiant Images has created a new tool for filmmakers by conducting comprehensive testing of all available digital cinema production cameras. The wide-ranging, non-biased tests covered a variety of categories, such as dynamic range and color rendition, and are designed to help cinematographers evaluate and choose cameras and lenses based on visual comparisons rather than technical specifications. By making appropriate gear choices earlier in the production process, filmmakers can save time and money and reduce frustration. Radiant Images claims to be the first rental house to perform such comprehensive camera testing.
The company performed a series of tedious, exhaustive tests over a week in late May 2013 with the participation of some of the industry’s most skilled cinematographers, including Fred Goodich, ASC, Steve Mason, ASC, Vilmos Zsigmond, ASC and David Stump, ASC. Digital camera tests used the Sony F65 and F55, ARRI ALEXA RAW and ALEXA SxS, RED EPIC, Canon C500 and C300, Canon 1DC, Canon 5D Mark III, Silicon Imaging Si-2K, Novo, Vision Research Phantom Flex and Phantom Miro, and the Blackmagic Design Cinema Camera. Testing categories included dynamic range, color rendition, side-by-side lens test, modern lens vs. vintage lens, bracket test, green-screen test and a solution for noise reduction. “We want to be able to communicate with our filmmakers both technically and visually, artistically,” explains Radiant Images VP Michael Mansouri. “With the move toward digital, our industry has been so focused on technical data and numbers that we’ve forgotten that when we shot on film, it was all about look and aesthetics. With our comprehensive camera tests at their disposal, filmmakers now have this powerful, relevant, purposeful new tool that permits them to again make those evaluations in a visual way, even in the digital format.”
Radiant Images showed a demo reel of the testing in its booth at the Los Angeles 2013 Cine Gear Expo in June. “How do you tell someone that [color saturation] is too red with a particular camera?” asks Mansouri. “You can’t. You have to show them. They need to see it. And with these tests, they can. We feel that collaboration starts here in the rental house. We come up with solutions before the start of production. Our camera testing is an important element of that collaboration.” The color rendition test examined how many different cameras processed and captured color, and how true those shots were to real life. But instead of looking at color charts, which often seem unrelated to what is being shot, Radiant Images used a range of fabrics in different colors and materials as well as a range of skin tones for a more realistic comparison.
The company also tested and recorded an exclusive noise profile or fingerprint for each digital cinema camera. This effort helps in postproduction, as the noise characteristics unique to each camera can be more easily removed without as much or any softening of the image. Mansouri adds that postproduction houses will be able to utilize the camera tests before and during production to avoid delays later on: “They can run tests through their post pipeline to make sure everything is working perfectly.”
To view a demo reel of the testing go to: http://vimeo.com/45455419.
For more information about Radiant Images visit: www.radiantimages.com.