The MFT Blackmagic Cinema Camera cost USD 1999. Is it a good choice for low-budget digital cinema filmmakers?

Updated

The MFT Blackmagic Cinema Camera cost USD 1999.
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/891443-REG/Blackmagic_Design_cinecam26kmft_Blackmagic_Design_Cinema_Camera.html

Is it a good choice for low-budget filmmakers doing a digital cinema (DCP format) production?

The SSD BMDFILM Prores/Raw recording mode of the BMMC is great for DCPs. But if you need to film in low-light or in slow motion (high frame rate) there are better alternatives. Like renting the Arria Alexa SXT.  Or using the Panasonic GH5 or the Sony A7S II.

PROS
-You get the full version of Resolve (USD 449.99)
link Mac App store

The full version lets you work in
DCI 4K, (the free Lite version is limited to 2K/UHD)
use multiple GPUs
and use noise reduction.
The Resolve USB dongle gives you a lifetime license to Resolve.

-It records 13 stops of light in the BMDFILM RAW (Compressed CinemaDNG) format.

-It has a cinematic 25P/24P 180 degree shutter mode.

-It has framing lines for 2.39:1 and 1.85:1 cinema aspect ratios.

-It can record in 2.5 K. You can crop and scale the footage to DCI 2K or DCI 4K to make 2K or 4K DCPs:

CONS
-No super35 cinema sensor.
A Super 35 sensor has a 1,4 crop factor compared to a full sensor. It is the standard sensor size used on cinema cameras.

The Blackmagic Cinema Camera sensor has a 2.3 crop factor compared to a full sensor. You can compare the Field of View (FOV) at the abelcine.com FOV comparisor.

The MFT version can use a Blackmagic cinema camera Metabones speedbooster to achieve the FOV of a super 35 mm sensor. Or use a MFT speedboster to achieve almost the FOV of Super 35.

-It lacks cinema color space 3D LUT support (P3).
Low budget productions often use rec709 for cinema productions.

-It lacks Pro audio XLR connections with phantom power.
You can use an external audio recorder. Or an adapter.

 

Summary of BMMC features
-Internal monitor with focus peaking, histogram, audio levels, framing lines.
-Records compressed cinemaDNG 12 bit log 2.5 K 16/9 (2400—1350) raw video to SSD.
-Records 1920×1080 Prores/Dnxhd with film (log) or video dynamic range.
-1920×1080 HD-SDI 422 10 bit out.
-Records 23,98, 24, 25, 29,97 or 30 FPS.
-200, 400, 800, 1600 ASA settings. 800 is the camera native ASA.
-3200K, 4500K, 5000K, 5600K, 6500K, 7500K color temperature settings.
-180 degree shutter. It also has a 172.8 degree shutter for using 24P in countries with 50 hz power to avoid flicker from indoor lighting. It has 360 degree shutter for low light. It also has: 45, 90, 108, 144, 216, 270 and 324 degree shutter modes.
-Time lapse mode
-Built-in microphone and two audio inputs.
-Includes the full version of Resolve (4K, multiple GPUs, noise reduction)

With the BMMC Camera firmware 2.1 you can use the 2.39:1 and 1.85:1 framing lines when shooting.

The BMCC compared to other cameras

The Competition

The Panasonic GH5 and the The Sony A7S II are popular at B&H Photo.

The Panasonic GH5

https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1283257-REG/panasonic_dmc_gh5_mirrorless_micro_four.html
-DCI 4K
-400 Mbps 4:2:2 10-bit All-Intra video internal recording

The Sony A7S II
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1186034-REG/sony_ilce7sm2_b_alpha_a7sii_mirrorless_digital.html

-Slog 3 capture in 8 bit XAVC-S.
-PAL/NTSC
-Good low-light capture
-Internal UHD capture
-Full frame
-Super 35 mm mode
-120 FPS 1080 mode
-Big sensor
-Supports Sony 55mm F1.8 Sonnar and other full frame e-mount full frame lenses. Can use adapters for Contax, Nikon and other lenses.

The GH5 and Sony A7s II cameras compared to the BMCC:
Pros:
-both have native Pro Audio add ons with phantom power.
-are both better in low light, especially the Sony A7S II.
-both have higher frame rates for slow motion.
-have a bigger sensors, especially the A7s II. The GH4/5 has a 4/3 mode that can be used with 2x anamorphics.

 

Other digital cine cameras:

Canon C300 MKII
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1134579-REG/canon_0635c002_eos_c300_mark_ii.html
-Good in low light

Sony PXW-FS7 II
https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1295217-REG/sony_pxw_fs7_ii_xdcam_super.html
-4K (4096 x 2160) internal recording


Blackmagic Design URSA Mini Pro 4.6K Digital Cinema Camera
https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1322801-REG/blackmagic_design_ursa_mini_pro_4_6k.html
-Super35
-4608 x 2592 Video up to 60p

Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera
https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/964117-REG/blackmagic_design_blackmagic_pocket_cinema_camera.html

-A Super 16 sensor has a 3x crop factor compared to a full sensor and a 2.1 crop factor compared to a super 35 mm sensor.
-You can use Metabones Speed Boosters to reduce the crop factor to 1.75x (Super35)
-This camera can use the active Panasonic MFT lenses.
-A 14 mm lens has the same FOV as a 48 mm lens on a full sensor and 30 mm on a super 35 sensor
-With a m43 adapter you can use some super 16 mm lenses.
-The Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera is limited to HD resolution so you need to upscale and crop to reach 2K resolutions.
-Records lossless compressed CinemaDNG raw and Prores 422 on SDXC cards like the SanDisk Extreme PRO UHS-I/U3 SDXC 512GB Memory Card
-Lots of rigs like the Redrock Micro retroFlex Rig Bundle

 

More Expensive/Rentals

RED WEAPON 8K S35
http://www.red.com/products/weapon-8k
-8K
-High frame rate

Arri Alexa SXT Studio
http://www.arri.com/camera/alexa/cameras/camera_details/alexa-sxt-studio/subsection/sxt_studio_features/
-P3 3D LUT
-Rotating Mirror Shutter
-records in DCI 4K
-records in UHD
-WCG (Wide Color Gamut) is rec2020 compatible

Panasonic Varicam 35
http://www.panasonic.com/business/provideo/varicam-models.asp
-Super35
-DCI 4K prores 4444
-Variable Frame Rate 1 to 120 fps in 4K

Sony F55
Sony link
B&H
-Super35
-DCI 4K
-Global Shutter

The DCP format (Digital Cinema Package) and the BMCC compared

DCP Resolutions
-DCPs uses these standard resolutions:
2K Flat 1.85: 1 1998×1080
2K Scope 2.39:1 2048×858
4K Flat 1.85: 3996 x 2160
4K Scope 2.39: 4096 x 1716
-Getting the resolution correct is important.
-Flat and Scope are the standard presets in all cinemas.
-1.78:1 (16/9) and 2.35:1 films can get image artifacts (trapezoid shape) in the cinema because the standard side masking presets are made for 1.85 and 2.39.
-Scope films are projected wider than Flat films in a common height cinema.
-A 4K DCP is compatible with 2K and 4K projectors.
-Full container (C) 2048×1080/4096×2160 is not used by Hollywood feature films. Films made with these resolutions will probably be projected in Flat with cropping on the sides at most cinemas.

DCP frame rates
-Interop DCPs uses these frame rates: 24, 48
-Newer digital cinema equipment support SMPTE DCPs and can play these 2K frame rates: 24, 25, 30, 48, 50, 60, 4K frame rates: 24, 25, 30
-In Europe where many productions are 25 FPS = 25 SMPTE DCPs are common.

BMCC frame rates
The BMCC can record in 23,98, 24, 25, 29,97 and 30 FPS.

DCP = 12 bit 2.6 gamma
-DCPs uses 12 bit 2.6 gamma encoding and preserve more dynamic range and shadow detail than 2.2 gamma 8 bit web videos.

BMCC = 12 bit Log
The BMCC can record cinemaDNG in 12 bit log 2.5 K 16/9 raw video,
12 bit LOG gives you more information in the important darker areas than in the brighter areas of the picture. This is similar to digital cinema DCPs that use 12 bit 2.6 gamma encoding which also gives you more range in the important darker regions of the picture.

DCP P3 color space
-DCPs can use the P3 color space with more saturated primary colors, but you can also use ordinary SRGB/rec.709.

The Arri Alexa camera got a documented wide gamut and pre-made 3D LUTs to convert C-Log Prores or RAW footage to Rec. 709, P3 DCI, P3 D65.

The BMCC only comes with a rec709 3D LUT. 

DCP: 250 mbit jpeg2000 compression
-24 FPS DCPs uses 250 mbit jpeg2000 encoding which preserves a lot of detail and can keep more film grain/noise than 10 mbit web videos.
-It will also keep high ISO noise, fake film grain or added noise.
-Film grain is difficult to do with low bit rate h264 web videos because of compression artifacts.
-Software like filmconvert can simulate film grain.

The “Hollywood” Cinema look and the BMCC
-It is usually the films that have the best story and artistic vision that win short film festival awards/get noticed, not the ones that are technically best.
-Having a good looking film can help. Having a look that is different than others can help.
-If you live in a city that have a cinema that screen 35 mm print or DCPs correctly, watch a lot of films at that cinema.

Hollywood look: Anamorphics
-Hollywood films are often shot with the Arri Alexa XT cameras that can use anamorphic film optics in 4/3 (4 perf) mode.
-The look from anamorphic lenses is difficult to do on a low budget.

Hollywood look: Fast cine prime lenses with shallow depth of field.
-Hollywood films often use fast cine prime lenses near open aperture to get shallow depth of field and bokeh.
-This look is easier to do on a budget.
-You need to use ND filters to get a shallow depth of field on a sunny day.
-With adapters the BMCC can use Super 35 mm film optics like the Cooke and other cine prime lenses that have a “Hollywood” look.

Hollywood look: Warmer white
-Hollywood films seldom use clipped/blown whites if that is not what they intend to use.
-100 percent white is almost never used.
-White is usually warmer than video monitor white (D65), it is closer to traditional film projection (around D60).

Hollywood look: 180 degree shutter
-Hollywood films almost always use a 180 degree shutter. Films with 360 degree shutter have a lot of motion blur.

Hollywood look:Conclusion
A film made with a cheap camera and cheap lenses using ND filter, 180 degree shutter, shallow depth of view and grain/noise can look more like a Hollywood film than a film with made with an expensive camera that has a “made for TV” look.

More info:

Equipment needed to use the Blackmagic Digital Cinema Camera

SSD drive

You need a supported SSD drive for RAW capture.
Blackmagic Support: Supported SSD drives

SanDisk Extreme PRO480 GB (supported)
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1059852-REG/sandisk_sdssdxps_480g_g25_480gb_extreme_pro_ssd.html

Lenses

Manual MFT photography lenses
You can’t use the active MFT lenses, but there are some manual MFT photography lenses like the fast de-clicked Voigtlander Nokton F0.95 (17.5mm 25mm 42.5mm) lenses:
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/855215-REG/Voigtlander_BA175M_Nokton_17_5mm_f_0_95_Lens.html

Cine lenses
-are built for manual focusing with follow focus systems
-often lack “breathing” when focusing
-come in matched sets
-are expensive and are often rented.
Like these Cooke and Leica sets:

Cooke miniS4/i Cine Lens Set (18mm to 135mm)
bhphotovideo link

Leica Summicron-C T2.0 Lens Set (6 Lenses) with Case
bhphotovideo link

Focusing with just about any still photo zoom lens will create a breathing effect that is simply an optical design characteristic. There is no adjustment for this flaw within the lens. It’s part of the optical-mechanical design and is taken into consideration during the development of a lens. Breathing is a bad thing in cinema because it really pulls the audience out of the scene. It changes the field of view of the lens and appears as though the lens is zooming in and out during even a small focus pull. This is why cinema lenses are designed not to breath and add substantially to the cost in order to do so.

Duclos: Why Cinema Lenses Cost So Much

Used lenses
KEH and ebay sells used lenses like the Zeiss Contax lenses
Link to contax lenses at keh

If you build a set of Voigtlander Nokton, Zeiss Contax, Leica R, Nikon Ais or Zeiss ZF.2 lenses, you can do the Duclos Cine-mod on them.

For USD 250 each you get:
-80mm front with cap,
-focus gear
-de-clicked, damped aperture movement. Or USD 60 for just the declicked aperture.

5) What lenses work best with the Cine-Mod?
The lenses that benefit from the Cine-Mod the most would be Zeiss ZF.2 lenses and Leica R series lenses. Other lenses such as the older Nikon Ais series and Zeiss Contax lenses can also be used along with the Cine-Mod for cinema with great success.

http://matthewduclos.wordpress.com/cine-mod-faq/

 

Extra equipment

ND filters
For shallow depth of field in daylight.

The Arri Alexa FAQ recommends ND Filters with a far-red cut off filter on digital cameras:

While traditional ND filters work great for film, for digital cameras we recommend the use of ND filters that have a built-in far-red cut-off. Such filters are available from a number of manufacturers, often called “ND filters with an IR-cut off”. A single filter that combines an ND and a far-red cut off generally yields better results and fewer reflections than a traditional ND filter stacked on top of a separate IR cut off filter.


ND filters and matte boxes:
Bright Tangerine Misfit Atom Clamp-On Matte Box with Anti Reflective Tilt Bracket and 15mm LWS Rod Clamp
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1128443-REG/bright_tangerine_b1230_0012_misfit_atom_clamp_kit.html

Tiffen 4 x 4″ Full Spectrum IRND 2.1 Filter (glass)
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/886782-REG/Tiffen_w44irnd21_4_x_4_Full.html

Microphones
The microphone on the BMCC picks up the noise from the fan on the camera.
The Audio inputs on the BMCC:
-can be switched between line-in and microphone levels.
-does not have a knob for controlling input levels.
-does not have phantom power.

Professional shotgun microphones
Sennheiser MKH416
(
The shotgun mic with the best reviews at B&H PHOTO.)
bhphotovideo link

Field Mixer
Sound Devices 633 6-Input Compact Field Mixer and 10-Track Digital Recorder
(
The most sold field mixer at B&H PHOTO)
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1015171-REG/sound_devices_633_6_input_field_production.html

 

Rigs
ikan Tilta ES-T07 Blackmagic Cinema Camera Rig
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/992632-REG/ikan_es_t07_blackmagic_cinema_camera.html

 

Monitor
SmallHD 702
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1186278-REG/smallhd_mon_702_702_bright_7_daylight.html
-3d lut support which is useful when recording in BMDFILM.

Electronic Viewfinder
Zacuto Gratical HD Micro OLED EVF 
Viewfinder with 3d lut support
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1097499-REG/zacuto_z_ghd_gratical_hd_micro_oled.html

Batteries

Switronix PowerBase 70 Battery for Blackmagic Cinema Camera (12″ Cable)
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/884706-REG/Switronix_pb70_bmcc_Powerbase_70_Battery_Pack_for.html

Useful links:
Use this Angle of view/Field of view comparator to compare the field of view (FOV) on different sensors (16×9 recording area) and find what kind of lens you need.
http://www.abelcine.com/fov/

Pre-made 3D LUT with “look” that can be used on Prores/CinemaDNG LOG recordings
Captain Hook Blackmagic Cinema Camera LUT 

Film stock 3D LUTs that can be used on Prores/CinemaDNG LOG recordings
Juan Melara: Print film emulation LUTs for download

Film grain and stock emulator software compatible with Blackmagic Cinema Camera footage
Filmconvert

3D LUTs with film looks that can be used with Blackmagic Cinema Camera footage
Looklabs: Speedlooks

Contax Zeiss Survival Guide
Nick Morrison reduser.com forum post

What is Angle of view/Field of view?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angle_of_view

What is depth of field?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Depth_of_field

12 Things to Think About Before Committing to the Blackmagic Cinema Camera for Your Film
http://nofilmschool.com/2013/04/12-things-think-about-blackmagic-cinema-camera/

 

Links:
Philip Bloom:Sample BMCC footage

Arri Alexa LUT GENERATOR

Some best common practice DCP color space workflows part 2

Recommended links :

Cinematic Color Motion-Picture Color Management

Real-Time Rendering – 2011 Color and Imaging Conference, Part II: Courses A

Arri Alexa – Working with HD – Color Grading

How to make 3D LUTs in Nuke

Updated:

Summary:

In commercial cinemas you may see your movie projected in different environments with too much or too little light.

Dark scenes without contrast can look grey in many cinemas, especially 2D movies projected on 3D silver screen with too much light.

If the movie is graded on a monitor with too much light, the movie will lack contrast when projected with less light in the cinema.

To avoid a video look, it is better to use conventional 35 mm film grading techniques.

Many Hollywood movies uses a Orange and Blue color scheme to get a picture with contrast.
See Why Every Movie Looks Sort of Orange and Blue

See also the videos at:http://prolost.com/blog/magicbullet12

Check that your software uses the correct conversion to the DCP gamma encoded DCDM X’Y’Z’ color space.

Otherwise white would look pink.

Some people uses DCI white in mastering, but there is no point in using DCI White because it is greenish and DCDM X’Y’Z’ support other standard color temperatures like D60 or D65.

It is more important to get the contrast right than using P3 colors, you are allowed to use Rec.709 colors.
Workflow: Converting directly from Rec. 709 video to DCDM X’Y’Z’

I have done this color space workflow using Fraunhofer Easydcp Creator on film festival video material intended for cinema projection.

-Some of the other DCP software I have tested have picture artefacts.

-It is possible to retain the D65 white point of REC709 with white at 14 fL.

-The REC709 colorspace fits inside the minimum color gamut of DCDM X’Y’Z’ which currently is DCI XENON P3/Virtual White (SMPTE RP 431-2:2011).

 

Workflow: Converting from source material to P3 and from P3 to DCDM X’Y’Z’
For a cinema look you could use the same workflow as high budget movies where they use a film stock 3D LUT that converts the source material to P3 with a film stock emulation, and then convert P3 to DCDM X’Y’Z’.

Update
Easydcp Creator 2.2 includes a color transformation from P3 DCI WHITE to DCDM X’Y’Z and let’s you make custom transformations.
See this post

You could also go from LOG to P3 without baking in a film stock emulation.
Example: Alexa 3D LUT generator has both LOGC to REC709 and LOGC to P3 3D LUTS.

This way you could first look at the material on REC709 monitors
and then later get the more saturated colors and 12 bit grey scale range (in 2.6 gamma) that is possible when grading on a P3 grading projector.

Testing DCP software

To do a test for picture artefacts you could make a test image (with 8-bit values)like this in After Effects:
-make a solid layer with the color 2/255, (black is rarely 0)
-then add a circle with white at 255/255. Blending mode: Add.
-then add some noise. 1 percent.
-Run this through your DCP software with a rec.709 setting

you should end up with the blacks and noise a little bit higher (around 0-3/255)

and D65 white at around 242,247,255 in 8 bit. (12 bit = 3883, 3960, 4092)

When I tested some software solutions they raised the blacks to around 10/255.

These blacks will now look grey and the barely visible noise will be very visible noise.

It will also look this way in the cinema.

The reason some people do not notice the elevated blacks could be because of high light levels in the movie theatre.

Another software solution clipped some of the channels so white would be tinted. Others had the wrong white values.

Some of the others just used the max white value (255,255,255) which would make white go out of gamut and you would get tinted white. And if the projector is set up to map illegal values to the projector’s internal color space you would end up with a different tinted white. Usually this is seen as a red cast.

Another software solution crushed the blacks and removed the noise. To use this solution you could raise the blacks to a level where they are not crushed.

Before converting your video material to DCP you should check if the software is usable for your purpose.

Most software have a trial version and you can use the trial version of Easydcp player or use the trial version of the Easydcp plugin that is integrated in Resolve 10 to check the result.

Different p3 color spaces

4 different P3 color spaces are mentioned in SMPTE RP 431-2:2011 D-Cinema Quality Reference Projector and Environment:

P3 D55
P3 D61
P3 D65
(P3 DCI WHITE)

These four will fit inside the color space of a P3/Virtual White digital cinema projector. Others white points will also fit, but these are the four mentioned.

If you want to move from REC 709 to P3, you could use P3 D65 to keep the 14 fL D65 white point.

You can use any artistic white you want in a movie.

You don’t have to use a chromatic adaption to the DCI WHITE white point.

But it is common to use the maximum RGB value for R, G, and B as white (Max 12 bit values are 4095, 4095, 4095) and calibrate it to the white illumination target (14 fL).

In P3 D55 the values 4095, 4095, 4095 will correspond to the D55 WHITE values 3893, 3960, 3838 in DCDM X’Y’Z.

In P3 DCI WHITE the values 4095, 4095, 4095 will correspond to the DCI WHITE values 3794, 3960, 3890 in DCDM X’Y’Z.

In P3 D65 the values 4095, 4095, 4095 will correspond to the D65 WHITE values 3883, 3960, 4092 in DCDM X’Y’Z.

In DCDM X’Y’Z the D55 WHITE, DCI WHITE and D65 WHITE have the same luminance (Y) level for all three white points. But the X and Z values are higher/lower for each of the three white points.

White (Y=3960) is 14 fL / 48 cdm2 for all three white points and is also the maximum allowed Y value.

Y values higher than 3960 is illegal and out of gamut, but the projector may have a setting enabled that fits illegal values inside the projector gamut.

Virtual White is described in SMPTE RP 431-2:2011
D-Cinema Quality  Reference Projector and Environment
which is based on the SMPTE Digital Cinema White Gamut Practices Study Group Report. It is also a PCF (projector configuration file) and a color calibration target on digital cinema projectors that can be used to calibrate the projector to comply with SMPTE RP 431-2:2011 instead of SMPTE RP 431-2:2007.

Going from different P3 color spaces to DCDM X´Y´Z´ is described in
SMPTE EG 432-1-10

 

Converting to DCDM X’Y’Z using 3×3 matrix linear algebra

Also see this post: How to calculate RP-177 3×3 matrices in Matlab

RP-177 math is implemented in this free python package:
Colour Science for Python

If you want use the 3X3 matrix linear algebra used in SMPTE EG 432-1-10  to convert to DCDM X’Y’Z,
you should grade the material in a digital cinema reference environment.
http://www.dcimovies.com/archives/spec_v1_1/DCI_DCinema_System_Spec_v1_1.pdf
SMPTE RP 431-2:2011 D-Cinema Quality  Reference Projector and Environment:

 

The mathematical transform from reference projector Rec.709 D65 WHITE to reference projector X´Y´Z D65 WHITE is available here:
SMPTE Digital Cinema White Gamut Practices Study Group Report

page 42

 photo page42.png

 

This transform is not automatically correct if you convert from monitor graded REC709 to DCDM X’Y’Z’ because:

-DCDM X’Y’Z’ is a display referred gamma encoded color space that is meant to be seen on a digital cinema projector with white at 14fL/48 cd/m2 in a dark environment ( and that meets all the applicable SMPTE Standards and Recommended Practices.)
-Monitor Rec 709 material is meant to be seen on a monitor with white at around 80-120 cdm2 in a dim environment.

Only when you grade the Rec 709 material in a cinema with 14 fL/48 cd/m2 will the mathematical transform be correct.

The example math uses:
-12 bit = 4095,
-maximum luminance = 48,
-the normalizing constant = 52.37,
-2.6 gamma
DCDCM X´Y´Z´ = 2.6 gamma encoded CIE XYZ 1931 with DCI primaries (currently P3) with 48 cdm2 maximum luminance and a normalizing constant of 52.37.

For more info see this post: How to make 3D LUTs in Nuke PLE


More sources on color science and color space conversions:

Digital Color Imaging Handbook
google search: Digital Color Imaging Handbook

 

Digital cinema colors vs 35 mm colors

When using some film emulation 3D LUTs you can get a desaturated effect on video material because the colors that are not possible to show on 35 mm film can be mapped to 35 mm allowed values. But 35 mm can show very saturated dark colors.

Digital cinema can show bright colors that is impossible on film.

Digital cinema uses an additive color system while 35 mm film uses a subtractive color system.

-In an additive color system if you combine all the colors you will get white.

-In a subtractive color system if you combine all the colors you will get black.

-Some colors are not very bright on 35 mm film, because you have to combine layers of color to make them, and these layers stops light.

-The Xenon P3 color space was made for grading film and have more saturated primaries than REC709.

-P3 can show more of the saturated 35 mm colors, but it is also a additive color system that can show the brighter colors that was impossible with film.

-There are some films using brighter colors for dramatic effect. This is perhaps because the digital cinema version of the film is now usually the master that other versions will be made from. The 35 mm print would look different than the digital cinema version on these films.

 

REC2020. The future color space for digital cinema?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rec._2020

Today the reference projector for DCI XYZ  uses the Xenon projector P3 primaries. It is the current minimum Color Space Gamut.

The TV standard REC2020 have been standardized and there is a reference projector that can show the REC2002 laser primaries. This Super Hi-Vision color space can show 99 percent of the colors humans are able to see.

Maybe REC2020 will be adapted by the Hollywood studios as the new color standard for movie theatres in the future. Setting the white point at the max values of a RGB color space could be less confusing than the current DCI P3 RGB white point.

The DCI P3 RGB white point is not meant to be used as a mastering white point because it is greenish. You are supposed to use something like P3 D60, which is similar to the white Xenon light of a 35 mm projector.

The DCI X`Y`Z`standards can also be upgraded to REC2020 primaries in the future. If the minimum Color space gamut changes from Xenon P3 to Laser REC 2020, the reference projector standard will change and all post production labs need to move to Laser projectors.
The Xenon projectors still in use in cinemas will need some kind of mapping of REC2020 to P3, but would be able to use the same DCPs as the Laser projectors. Most likely there will be two different DCPs, one for Xenon and one for Laser. The contrast ratio possibly with laser projector is much greater.

 

 

 

Using FFMPEG to convert DCPs to other formats ?

Ffmpeg can read the MXF files used in DCPs and automatically apply a XYZ-RGB color transform when converting them.

This could be useful if a movie is only in the DCP format and you need to convert it and screen it on an ordinary projector and you have no time to get a replacement, use resolve or easydcp player.

Or you have no other way to check sync or 5.1 sound on a DCP.

You will also get an idea of the picture quality.

Note: the resulting video from FFMPEG will have crushed blacks. This is because it is difficult to do the color conversion from XYZ-RGB because a DCP is in a display referred color space called (DCDCM) X’Y’Z’ that is meant to be watched in a digital cinema projector enviroment. So you can’t use the same color transform that you would use to convert between TV/Monitor standards.

for more details on RGB-DCDM X`Y`Z`conversions see this post

Some FFMPEG tests I did:
With FFMPEG you can convert a DCP to a Prores file.
You can also convert to a TS file that you can play on a PS3.

You can even watch a low res version in real-time.

Links:

Belle Nuit: Use ffmpeg for dcp playback

Open Source DCP Player Proof of Concept

I tried to play a DCP with the newest build of FFMPEG for windows using this command in cmd.exe:

c:\downloads\ffmpeg\bin\ffmpeg -lowres 2 -i 1_j2c.mxf -i 2_pcm.mxf -c:a copy -c:v mpeg2video -f avi - | c:\downloads\ffmpeg\bin\ffplay -

I used proxy option 2 (0 is full quality) and full quality audio.
I tried it on a 25 FPS DCP and it played in realtime in low quality.

To get a better look at the DCP you can convert the DCP to other formats:

Converting a DCP to Prores 422 HQ Quicktime with FFMPEG

c:\downloads\ffmpeg\bin\ffmpeg -i 2_j2c.mxf -i 2_pcm.mxf -c:a copy -c:v prores -profile:v 3 -pix_fmt yuv422p10le -vf scale=min(1920\,a*1080):min(1080\,1920/a),pad=1920:1080:(ow-iw)/2:(oh-ih)/2 test4.mov

I copied the audio from the DCP: -c:a copy

I used Prores 422 hq: -profile:v 3.

You can also use:
Prores 422 LT = -profile:v 1
Prores 422 Proxy = -profile:v 0

I reversed the scaling/padding from here so 2048×858 and 1998×1080 will be scaled and padded to 1920×1080

FFMPEG prores files plays fine in VLC, but not in quicktime player. DNXHD is an alternative.

To play the DCP on a PS3 with 5.1 dolby digital sound you can convert it to a TS video file with this command:

c:\downloads\ffmpeg\bin\ffmpeg -i 3_j2c.mxf -i 3_pcm.mxf -c:a ac3 -ab 448k -c:v libx264 -preset slow -tune film -b:v 20M -pix_fmt yuv420p -vf scale=min(1920\,a*1080):min(1080\,1920/a),pad=1920:1080:(ow-iw)/2:(oh-ih)/2 test7.ts

It played fine on the PS3 with Dolby digital 5.1 sound. I used h264 compression with 20 mbit bitrate, -b:v 20M.

Notes:

The converted files are a bit dark (crushed blacks).

Update: I tested the prores conversion again in 2014. See comments.
The prores is in 10 bit.
A test image with grey patches with original values around 11,11,11 in 8 bit did not get converted to 8 bit values in the prores. But the patches in the prores was off from 11,11,11, one patch had values 10,6,10.

Some DCP conversion software raises the blacks a lot.

DCPs with offsets on the MXF files can be out of sync.

DCPs with soft subtitles will not keep their subtitles.

To watch DCPs in better quality (10 bit) with offsets and subtitles use Fraunhofer Easydcp Player. It can also convert DCPs to quicktime files or 16 bit TIFF with better image quality and subtitles.

You could try to find the offset in the CPL XML file and cut away the frames from the start of the video/audio in a video editor and convert the subtitles to srt in Subtitle edit and load them in VLC.

Some tips on video projection and converting video for film festivals

Projecting video can look good in a cinema if it is done correctly.

Here are some tips on video projection:

-Use a good video processor.
-Use the best audio/video connections.
-Use a cinema technician to calibrate the digital cinema projector.
-2.4 is the recommended gamma for HDTV monitors in a dim enviroment Link:ITU-R BT-1886. 2.2 – 2.6 can be used.
-A non-digital cinema projector should at least be adjusted with the contrast and brightness controls on the projector. You should not clip the whites or crush the blacks.
-You have to decode Stereo sound with Dolby Prologic or similar. Otherwise speech will either sound as it is coming from the right or the left speaker.
-Video Cassettes can be converted to digital files in a visually lossless format like Apple Prores 422 and be played with a HD-SDI device from a computer.
-Alternatively you can convert video to the DCP format with Fraunhofer Easydcp Creator and play the video from digital cinema servers.
I have done this at several film festivals. Fraunhofer Easydcp Creator does not raise the black levels or crush the white level. It displays the d65 white point correctly. It has a fast jpeg2000 decoder that can convert prores 422 quicktime files in real time speed on fast computers. If you only accept SRGB prores 24/25/30 FPS 422 Quicktime files in 1920×1080,1998×1080 and 2048×858 with 5.1 sound as separate 24 bit, 48khz wav files you can convert the films without other software.

The best video scalers:

-have good upscaling algorithms.
-have 10 bit HD-SDI OUT/IN.
-can auto adjust sound sync.
-detect if the source is interlaced (video) or progressive (film).
-detects the correct cadence.
-detects common video mastering errors.
-can switch between anamorphic 16/9, standard 4/3, letter-boxed 4/3.
-have good conversion from one frame rate to another.

A modern scaler that have HD-SDI in/out is the Blackmagic Design Teranex 2D Processor..
It might not have the ease of use of a consumer scaler and it lacks HDCP but it has better upscaling/frame rate conversion.

Review: Blackmagic Design Teranex 2D Processor

Blackmagic Teranex 2D site

The best transmission of video signals:

1.Digital component SDI/HD-SDI
2.HDMI
3.Analog component
4.S-video
5.Composite video

The best transmission of audio:

1. 3 digital AES pairs with 5.1 sound (HDCAM SR)
(You might need 75 ohm BNC to 110 ohm XLR adapters)

2. Analog 5.1
3. DOLBY E bitstream 5.1 sound (HDCAM)
(you need a DOLBY DMA-8 plus or similar to decode it.)

4. Digital stereo AES pair
(You need a HD-SDI audio de-embedder on some HDCAM Decks. Need to be decoded with Dolby Pro Logic 1/2)
5. Analog stereo
(Dolby Digital is compatible with a lot of cinema equipment, but the professional video cassette formats do not support it)

Do you need a video scaler?
A proper video scaler makes video projection easier.
But if the only video source is HDCAM/Blu-ray you can manage without a video scaler.
I have used HDCAM directly on a Christie digital cinema projector:
-A Christie digital cinema projector can auto detect the field type on the hd-sdi input.
-If the auto detect does not work you can try the different field types until you get a correct picture.
-If the sound needs a delay you can set it in the sound processor.
-You could make different presets on the projector for different aspect ratios.

Converting video to the DCP format
I have converted video material to DCPs at film festivals with the help of After Effects, Pro tools and Fraunhofer Easydcp.
To do this you need to:
-Tell the people who submit films that the films will be converted.
-Have a HD-SDI capture device to capture digibeta and HD-CAM cassettes to prores hq 422 quicktime.

-Have a computer that can capture the video cassettes to Prores 422 Quicktime files. Like a Mac Mini.

 

-Ask for HD prores quicktime video files with separate 5.1 sound to make the conversions easier.

The video material I work with are mostly 25 fps and I convert them to 25 fps DCPs.

Projecting video with a video scaler and a computer with hd-sdi

Before I started converting all video material to DCPs (2006-2011), I used a computer with a SDI/HD-SDI Card to send the video in it’s native form to a video scaler. This way it is was the chipset in the video scaler that did all the work.
A video scaler:
-Upscales
-Decides if the source is interlaced or progressive
-Decides how to fix mastering errors
-Guess the cadence
-Decides how to convert frame rates…
-The DVDDO scaler I used had buttons for the aspect ratios 4/3, 16/9 and letterbox for standard definition material.
-For HD material the HD-SDI device can be connected directly to the projector.

The equipment I used then has been replaced with cheaper alternatives:

Here are some current video playback solutions:

A mac and a Blackmagic Design Ultrastudio Monitor
– The mac can play prores files in their native form and send it through the thunderbolt cable to the Blackmagic Design Ultrastudio Monitor that sends it to the scaler/projector in either pure 8 bit HDMI or 10 bit HD-SDI.

If you use Final cut x as the playback software, you can upscale and fix aspect ratio errors and then render in a prores 422 project before playback.

– A scaler that accepts audio on HDMI or HD-SDI can be used.

– If you use an audio de-embedder you could connect the HDMI/DVI or HD-SDI directly to the projector if you are only using 1080p HD video.

Another alternative is The Teranex and a Mac with a thunderbolt port:

-you can use the teranex as a video scaler in standalone mode and play HD-CAM cassettes directly with the HD-SDI IN/OUT connections
-you can capture video with it.
-you can play captured video or master Quicktime files through the thunderbolt connection IN/ HD-SDI OUT connection.
-you do not have to decide if the film is interlaced/progressive or decide how to convert framerates.
-you can play 5.1 sound
-you can upgrade to DCP conversion with Fraunhofer Easydcp Creator later and convert the captured video to DCPs.

Notes on the Teranex:
-It can be used instead of After Effects for upscaling and deinterlacing video that is going to be converted to DCP. But it does not yet have 2K upscaling so you are limited to 1080P DCPs.

-The teranex will automatically do some of the things you do manually in After effects.
In fields and pulldown in interpret footage in After Effects you have to find the right cadence, and decide if the material is no field/upper fields/lower fields (progressive/interlaced).
The Teranex does this automatically and support mixed cadence/progressive/interlaced material.
To convert mixed cadence material in After Effects I have used adjustment layers and the fieldkit deinterlacing plugin

-If you can’t show the SMPTE DCP framerates like 30 FPS and need to convert hard telecined material to 24 FPS, this is the box that does it the best.
It can convert these formats to 1080p24, and record them as prores 422:
486i59.94
576i50
720p50
720 p59.94
1080p23.98
1080PsF23.98
1080p24
1080PsF24
1080p25
1080p29.97
1080i50
1080i59.94

-You could make a XLR patch panel that is connected to the digital 5.1 inputs on the cinema sound system, this way you can connect to the terranex using a standard yamaha db-25 to xlr AES cable.

-It does not support HDCP. But if the Terranex is connected to the HD-SDI input on a Doremi IMB, you can switch between DCPs, Terranex and HDMI with HDCP (commercial blu-rays)

Some digital cinema projection best common practices

The best cinemas comply with the current DCI Specifications and SMPTE 431 standards.

DCI/SMPTE 431 compliant
The first versions of the DCI specifications described all aspects of digital cinema projection like the minimum contrast ratio and the white illumination target. The latest version says that cinemas must follow the projector environment described in these two SMPTE 431 documents:

ST 431-1:2006
D-Cinema Quality – Screen Luminance Level, Chromaticity and Uniformity

RP 431-2:2011
D-Cinema Quality, Reference Projector and Environment

RP 431-2:2011 replaced ST 431-2:2007 and introduced a new projector color gamut / projector configuration (PCF) called virtual white.

Different kind of cinemas:
SMPTE 431 Review room 14 fL, 100:1 Intra frame contrast, 1500:1 Sequential contrast
SMPTE 431 Cinema Theatre 14 fL, 100:1 Intra frame contrast, 1200:1 Sequential contrast-
Studio Projection Guidelines calibrated. 14 fL.
Uncalibrated uncalibrated. 8-35 fL.

The best cinemas are the common height cinemas where scope films are projected wider than flat films.

The best cinemas recalibrate their lamps at least once per week to get a flicker free image and the recommended light level of 14 fL for 2D and 7 (5-9) fL for 3D.

If the image still flickers or is too dim after a cold start and auto adjustment, the lamp should be changed.

The best cinemas keep their port glass, 3D systems and optics clean to avoid a washed out picture.
This must be done according to instructions in the projector manual. Link:Christie CP-2220 manual

The best cinemas keep up with cinema technology improvements like Atmos and better silver screens like Harkness CLARUS XC and REALD ULTIMATE SCREEN

The best cinemas have good acoustics with a mix of reflective and damping materials on the walls.

The best cinemas are adjusted and calibrated to sound good.

The best cinemas are powerful enough to be able to play content at reference levels.

The best cinemas do not turn down the volume faders to low levels for all features because some are mixed too loud.

See this post for more info.

Example: In a Uncalibrated cinema with 35 fL and low contrast ratio:
-The image will be too bright.
-Black will be gray.
-Dark scenes will look brighter.
-Muddy and washed out picture.

In the Studio Projection guidelines “The Pixar Projection guidelines” you find some tests that will insure better projection.

These are similar to other studio projection guidelines that film studios deliver with their films:

http://projection.pixar.com/2D/
http://projection.pixar.com/3D/

The tests mentioned in the studio guidelines are projection best common practices in digital cinemas:

-adjust the white illumination to 14 fL (using a DCI White test image, not a projector white test image which is 15-16 fL)
-check and adjust the framing with a framing chart,
-check the sound for 85 dBc per channel and play the movie at reference level (7 on dolby, 0 on other equipment)

This is how I do the standard tests from the projection guidelines:

1. Check for 14 fL

“Lamp Levels

Projection lamp levels that are set too low have a disastrous effect on the picture. When projected at the SMPTE standard of 14fL full white, the image is sharp and colorful. At lower levels, the colors become muddy and gray. The picture has less snap to it and feels lifeless. Important details in the darker areas will disappear if the light levels are too low. “

-Check that light path is clean.
-Turn the lamp on the projector and wait 10 minutes.
-Auto adjust the lamp.
-Go to the middle of the auditorium
-Point the spot meter on the Sekonic L-758-C-U at the DCI white square inside the Disney 2D framing Chart test DCP.
-Check for 14 fL.
-Then adjust the power until it is 14 fL.( If the projector is set to to auto adjust the power, check that the projectors auto power adjustment is really 14 fL.)
-Repeat at least once a week.

 photo 31dd0fe7-fec0-447c-b992-5ac6d80e5337.jpg

 photo cfdeb80b-1e9f-4a3a-856a-98cf97821e86.jpg

For 3D movies you want to hit the fL target for that specific movie. (DCI says it should 7 fL, their acceptable luminance levels are now between 5 and 9 fL.)

The light level specification for _________ is 6 foot Lamberts, measuring white light through the 3D display system. The acceptable range is between 4.5 fL to 7 fL.

RealD ZScreen System and other polarized systems: Remove filters from the projector. Set the light level between 30 and 48 fL.

With the Sekonic L-758Cine I check that the the white is betweeen 30 and 48 fL illuminated from the middle of the screen which will become 4.5 fL to 7 fL when glasses are used and the Masterimage/RealD 3D system is on.

Another test that should be included is a basic intra frame contrast test.

 photo d9d6502a-58e5-41f0-9a9a-248f5798ebc5.jpg

To read the intra frame contrast accurately you need the Minolta LS-110 or similar and the correct Intra Frame test image DCP.

But with a Sekonic L-758Cine or L-758-C-U spotmeter and a projector checkerboard test image you could measure the light from the black and white squares and get some idea of what the intra frame contrast is. The intra frame contrast should be 100:1 for Theaters according to SMPTE/DCI. If you get around 0,5 fL in the black squares, the intra frame contrast is around 32:1.

If the intra frame contrast is bad you could try to:
– Clean the port glass and optics.
– Avoid spill light from projection booth.
– Use matte black seats and furnishing.
– Install a iris in the projector.
– Upgrade to a RGB laser projector.

2. Check the framing chart.
If the movie has a framing chart you can adjust a preset on the projector to fit the framing chart. It is important to avoid cropping 3D movies because it could break the 3D illusion on movies with floating windows.

You can also use the projector framing test images to check framing.

You could also check if the picture is in focus when checking the framing.

3.Check sound levels

Your theater sound system should be tuned to 85dB (C-weighted) on all screen channels using pink noise. The correct fader setting on Dolby and DTS systems is 7. On SDDS systems, the correct master volume setting is 0.

Use a SPL meter to check the dBC level. If there is a drop in dBC in one channel you should check speakers and amplifiers for faults. You should also play a familiar DCP at the reference level to check if the sound system works OK.
Note:A cinema sound system can pass the 85 dbC test without having enough amplifier power headroom. The pink noise signal that is measured to 85 dbC is -20 Dbfs, a cinema system should also be able to play louder material without clipping.

Note: Many films these days (2015) are not meant to be played at reference levels. The dialogue can be mixed at high levels and you need to turn the fader down to a low level. These movies lack dynamics.

 

Notes:

RTA/SPL

Alternatively you could use a Real Time Analyzer (RTA) to check dBC level when playing the pink noise.

– With a RTA/SPL you would see both the pink noise frequencies and the pink noise dBC level.
– If there is some frequencies missing on the display when playing the pink noise an amplifier, speaker or other equipment could be faulty.
– With a RTA/SPL You will notice which frequencies are peaking.

I’ve tried the Behringer DEQ2496 with ECM8000 microphone as a SPL/RTA and the umik-1 microphone with 90 degree calibration in REW as a SPL/RTA. They will both give decent measurements .


The DCI/SMPTE standards

Some cinemas may need to change port glass, change audio equipment, change screen, upgrade to series 2 projectors, dual projectors, laser projectors and similar actions to meet the DCI/SMPTE standards.

The X-Curve/85 dbc sound standard:

Virtually all cinema playback systems today are aligned using SMPTE 202M or ISO 2969. The two documents are virtually the same and both define the measuring method and the resulting frequency response known as the “X-Curve”. This provides a uniform frequency response adjustment for all theaters throughout the world. Cinema playback is also tuned to a specific level. All standard cinema systems are optimized for 85dB SPL (2/3rds back in the center) from each front channel and 82dB SPL for each of the rear channel arrays. All channels should have 20dB of headroom. The LFE channel is set at 10dB of in band gain; that is, 10dB greater than the screen channels in each 1/3 octave frequency band. SPL ranges from 88dB to 92dB, depending upon the specific bandwidth of the LFE system in use.

“Recommendations for Surround Sound Production” -The Recording Academy’s Producers & Engineers Wing

More info here: http://duc.avid.com/showthread.php?t=87830

There is some work being done to update the SMPTE 202M and other cinema standards:

Making a movie soundtrack sound consistent in multiple venues is a big challenge

https://www.smpte.org/sites/default/files/2013-03-12-Standards-Cinema_Audio-Vessa-v2.pdf

Suggested new documents include:
• SMPTE Standard: Electroacoustic Performance of Theatre Sound Systems, In Situ
• SMPTE Recommended Practice: Measurement and Calibration of Theatre Sound Systems
• SMPTE Standard: Theatre Sound-System Performance Requirements and Verification
• SMPTE Engineering Guideline: Designing Theatre Sound Systems to Meet Performance Standards
• SMPTE Standard: Theatre Room-Acoustics and Measurements
• SMPTE Recommended Practice: Measurement and Verification of Theatre Room-Acoustics
• SMPTE Engineering Guideline: Theatre Room-Acoustics Design Considerations

– B-Chain Frequency and Temporal Response Analysis of Theatres and Dubbing Stages
https://www.smpte.org/standards/reports

The present alignment standards and recommended practices leave some room for degradation of the sound system, by using equalization to mitigate problems which should be solved in more fundamental ways.

– B-Chain Frequency and Temporal Response Analysis of Theatres and Dubbing Stages
https://www.smpte.org/standards/reports
Other tips from the report:
-Match the channels. Do not use a different rollercoaster EQ on the left and right surround channel. The phase cancellation from the different speakers in the surround array can not be removed with EQ.
-Do not EQ the subwoofer too much.
-Use a 120 hz low pass filter on the subwoofer.

You can also read more here http://www.aes.org/technical/sdctv/

The current concepts of calibration were developed at a time when reasonably good room acoustics and high output, low distortion, wide directivity loudspeaker systems were by no means as easy to find as they are today. Good systems in good rooms should automatically produce good sounds

Newell et. al. Cinema Standardization V.2

Loudspeaker and amplifier technology has also moved far ahead of where it was in 1971. Above all, however, there has been a trend towards reduced theatre sizes and drier acoustics, which reveal much more detail in the sound and render much more obvious the effects of inappropriate equalisation.

Is the X Curve Damaging Our Enjoyment of Cinema?

Many cinemas turn down the fader level because the sound does not sound good at the standard level. The problem with turning down the level is that the sound will be different at lower fader settings:
-The dynamic range of the sound will be less, some sounds may not be audible anymore.
-Different frequencies will sound louder.
-The surround sound could sound lower compared to the main channels.

A better solution would be to get the sound mix to sound good at the standard fader level.

This is difficult.

Applying one calibration level for all cinema rooms has been shown to lead to an unpleasant, overpowering sensation in smaller rooms.

Newell et. al. Cinema Standardization V.2

You have to turn down the fader in small auditoriums to get a pleasant sound.

Here are some possible ways to improve the sound:

-The sound X-curve has some +/- tolerances, so the X-Curve EQ could be adjusted by ear to sound better. The X-Curve was made for big rooms, for small rooms you need to use a modified X-Curve.
-“Floor dips cannot, and should not, be equalised.”
Newell et. al. Cinema Standardization V.2
-Listen to material at the standard level and check if the sound system sounds good and can handle it.
-Better acoustics (example: more damping material around the speakers, mix of reflective and damping materials on teh auditorium walls )
-Modern loudspeakers like QSC, Luis Wassmann Krix)
-Modern amplifiers with more power that is closer to the loudspeakers like QSC
-Digital transmission of sound to the amplifiers (Example: QSC Q-SYS) . Digital transmission of the sound from server to the sound processor.

Is the 1 degree Sekonic L-758cine spotmeter good enough to measure fL levels?

“A spot photometer is used to measure screen luminance, with a spectral response of the CIE standard observer (photopic vision), as defined in CIE S002. The photometer should have a collection angle of 2 degrees or less. For white field measurements, an accuracy of +/-0.5 cd/m2 (+/- 0.2 fL) is required. For black field measurements, an accuracy of +/-0.007 cd/m2 (+/-0.002 fL) is specified. In order to provide stable readings that are insensitive to flicker, the photometer must integrate over a period of time sufficient to remove all frequencies above 24 Hz, displaying the arithmetic mean value. The Konica Minolta LS-110 is a commonly used photometer in the motion picture industry”

-Color and Mastering for Digital Cinema
by Glenn Kennel

When I compared the Sekonic L-758Cine to more expensive measurement equipment it gave the same fL levels measuring a white test image.

Intra Frame Tests

“Intra-frame (or ANSI contrast) is measured with the Checkerboard target shown earlier in Figure 5.3. The luminance of each of the white patches and each of the black patches is measured with a spot photometer. Intra-frame contrast is then computed by summing the white patches and dividing by the sum of the black patches. In its operating environment, the intra-frame contrast is reduced by many factors including projection lens flare, portal glass flare, ambient light spilling onto the screen and back reflections from the room itself.”

-Color and Mastering for Digital Cinema
by Glenn Kennel

The Sekonic L-758cine has less accurate fL readings than a Minolta LS-110, but it will give you a good idea of what the intra frame contrast is and gives you a accurate white illumination fL reading. Flicker is not a problem.

A LS-110 costs around USD 2000 on ebay
ls-110 minolta | eBay

An L-758cine costs around USD 600 on ebay.
L-758cine | eBay

The L-758Cine is a good tool to adjust the projector settings as the lamps age.

The LS-110 gives accurate readings of intra frame contrast and sequential contrast. The sequential contrast should be 1200:1 in a cinema theatre.

Alternatives to using a L-758cine:
– You could use the built-in fL system in the projector and match the fL values the various presets had when they were calibrated. But having a L-758cine to check the projector’s fL system for accuracy is great.

Lamp best practices
http://www.christiedigital.co.uk/TechPapers/Christie-Xenolite-Lamp-Best-Practices-Guide-English.pdf

-You should be at the target illumination 14 fL (2D)/ 4,5 fL (3D) when a new lamp is at 65-75 percent power in the Scope preset.
-You should regularly auto adjust the lamp and then increase it’s power to get 14 fL
-At the end of the lamp’s life it should be at 100 percent, not at the start.

Silver screens

All silver screens used for 2D films should be upgraded to the new Harkness CLARUS XC  and REALD ULTIMATE SCREEN screens to try to meet DCI/SMPTE 2D standards.

3D silver screens/high gain screens can cause some difficulties in conforming to the 2D 14 fL standards.
In a common height cinema you often have to use a more powerful lamp to get 4.5 fL for 3D, and another less powerful lamp to get 14 fL for 2D. If you use the same lamp for 2D as you did for the 3D feature, you could get too much light in 2D.

Old silver screens have difficulties conforming to the SMPTE 431-1-06 standard that says:

Luminance sides – Theater – 75-90% of center.

-Even with a curved screen, 75 percent luminance on the sides of center is not likely.
-You are allowed to have 14 fL +/-3 fL in the center so you could use up to 17 fL (or more) in the middle to compensate for the lower total luminance because of the low luminance uniformity.
-The checkerboard test image will give you some idea of the luminance uniformity.

Some tips on making DCP trailers

For more info on fitting trailers inside flat and scope containers in Easydcp Creator 2.2, see this post

Trailer DCPs should be delivered in two resolutions: 1998×1080 (Flat) and 2048×858 (Scope). This way the cinema can play the trailer before both Scope and Flat movies without changing presets on the projector. With common height cinemas a preset change involves zooming the lens and changing the side masking.

For a Scope movie you should deliver the Scope trailer filling the Scope resolution 2048×858, and then use “fit to width” in a Flat 1998×1080 project in After Effects or similar software to make the Flat trailer.

For a Flat movie you deliver the Flat trailer filling the Flat resolution 1998×1080, and then use fit to height in a Scope 2048×858 project in after effects or similar software to make the Scope trailer.

Sometimes I see DCP trailers for Scope movies that do not fit the presets. The flat trailer is correct, but it seems they used this flat trailer to make the scope trailer. Instead of fitting it to the width, they fitted it to the height of the scope resolution 2048×858. This results in a scope trailer with a small letterboxed and pillarboxed picture.

A Scope trailer without soft subtitles could be shown at both flat and Scope presets. When played with a Flat preset only the pixels between 1998 and 2048 would be cropped. A local distributor could add normal 8/14 “from bottom” subtitles to make the scope trailer and add 22/28 “from bottom” subtitles to make the flat trailer.

Trailers should have a good cinema 5.1 sound mix. Trailers are normally louder than feature films and the cinema may play the trailers at a lower volume setting than the feature films.

If making a commercials/PSAs that will play together with trailers at a cinema, you should try to match the sound level of trailers and deliver in both scope and flat formats.

To deliver trailers you could use a service like filemail.com business which lets the cinemas download the trailers as zip files. Filemail lets you track the downloads and the download speed is fast. You can also send the trailer on USB flash drives.

How to make 25 FPS SMPTE DCPs with Interop subtitles

Update:
Easydcp player now support SMPTE MXF subtitles. Easydcp player can play 25,30 FPS films transferred from HDCAM or other sources with both MXF and interop subtitles and 5.1 sound. You can get a module for Easydcp Creator to make 25 FPS SMPTE DCPs with Interop subtitles. You can also use the “burn in subtitles” option in Easydcp Creator to avoid making them.

Doremi supports SMPTE 2010 MXF subtitles on their servers when you use the Doremi’s internal subtitle engine, but not all servers do.

This is how I made a 25 FPS SMPTE DCP with interop subtitles with Easydcp Creator and Openssl (Windows).

I used Michael Cinquin example 25 FPS SMPTE DCP with interop subtitles as a guide. He uses a extra font file in the root of the DCP but that was not necessary to play the DCP in Easydcp player. I have only tested this DCP in Easydcp player and on a Doremi server.

-I made a 25 SMPTE DCP without subtitles in easydcp creator.

-I also had a 24 interop DCP of the same DCP without subtitles.

-I opened the 24 DCP in easydcp creator and made a supplemental package (I marked the MXF assets as references) with the 25 DCP Interop XML subtitle file added to the reel(s).
You could use any 24 FPS DCP to make the supplemental package.

-When making different versions of a DCP it is common to make supplemental packages that only adds the subtitles.

-I opened the Assetmap, CPL and PKL from the 24 fps supplemental package and the 25 SMPTE DCP in a text editor (notepad ++).

-I took the subtitle asset and the font asset from the 24 Assetmap and pasted it in the 25 Assetmap and edited it to match how the 25 SMPTE Assetmap looked. You can find the length in the pkl file, but you can also find it with right clicking on the file and choosing properties (size).

-I copied the main subtitle part(s) from the 24 cpl to the 25 cpl and changed the edit rate to “25 1” and matched the duration with the sound and picture.

I changed the titles of the 25 DCP so it was marked as having subtitles in the CPL. http://digitalcinemanamingconvention.com/

-I then saved the CPL, PKL and Assetmap from the 25 DCP to a new folder. I also copied the font directory from the supplemental package to this folder. And the VOLINDEX file from the 25 DCP directory.

-I changed the size of the CPL file in Assetmap to it’s new size

-I changed the size value of the CPL file in the PKL

-I changed the titles of the 25 DCP so it was marked as having subtitles in the PKL.

-I copied the subtitle font and XML entries from the 24 PKL to the 25 PKL.

-I changed the Type for the subtitle XML to text/xml in the 25 PKL

-I installed cygwin with openssl, went to the DCP folder in the cygwin shell and used this command from the Wikipedia DCP page openssl sha1 -binary "FILE_NAME" | openssl base64 on the cpl file and got the new hash value for the CPL file which I then entered as the new hash value for the CPL file in the PKL file.

-Then I copied the MXF files from the original 25 DCP folder to the new one and opened it in Easydcp player. Easydcp player checks if the sizes match when you open the DCP, and can check the File hashes when you have opened the DCP.

How to fix broken DCPs with Fraunhofer Easydcp Creator and Fraunhofer Easydcp Player

How to salvage parts of a unencrypted DCP from a broken harddrive
This is similar to cutting away broken frames from a 35 mm print.

If you get an error message on the server or TMS that says copy failure the hard drive could have bad sectors.
(Try changing cables and try to copy the DCP from the hard drive to another hard drive before trying to salvage the DCP)

You can to extract the usable frames from the sound MXF and picture MXF of the DCP with Easydcp player

The DCP I tried to salvage stopped copying when it had copied 10 percent of the picture MXF file.

-I started extracting all j2c frames from the MXF,
when it stopped because of the broken hard drive I wrote down the frame number and restarted Easydcp player,
-I tried extracting from the frame number I wrote down + 10 and it did not work,
-I restarted Easydcp player and tried +20 and it worked.
-I restarted Easydcp player again and extracted the first part until the broken frame number, both sound and picture. This would be the first reel.
-Then I skipped 20 frames and extracted sound and picture, this would be second reel.

In easydcp creator I then made a DCP with two reels.

(Updated)

Repackage faulty DCPs.
Easydcp Creator do not let you make DCPs with errors, but some other mastering software lets you make DCPs with errors.
These may play on some servers, but not on others.

Error:
A DCP fails the hash tests when ingesting.

possible solution:
Use the subtitle XML, sound and picture MXF from the corrupted DCP
-write down the reel lengths and frame offsets from the CPL
-and repackage the DCP.
If it is only the subtitle XML that has been edited, this would work. If a MXF file is corrupted, this would probably not work.

Error:
You are not allowed to use different resolutions on different reels.

A Sony server can play these, but not a doremi server.

Solution:
If it is a reel with a logo at the start that had a different resolution, remove this reel and repackage the DCP.

Error:
You are not allowed to use offsets on subtitles.
A doremi server can play DCPs with offsets on subtitles, but not a Christie server.

Solution:
If the subtitle time code starts at 1 hour, do a search and replace on the subtitle xml in a text editor and adjust 1 hour to 0 hour and repackage the DCP without offsets on the subtitles.

Upmixing stereo to 5.1

Stereo soundtracks are usually played with Dolby Prologic 1 or 2 decoding in cinemas. Many cinemas have not the option to use Dolby prologic on stereo DCPs. If the stereo soundtrack is played in stereo, the audience not sitting in the middle will hear the dialogue coming from either the left or right side.
This makes a 5.1 mix essential on DCPs. Film festivals often specify that they do not accept stereo sound.

A good 5.1 sound mix is important, but if you do not have the budget you can use one of these 5.1 upmixing  plugins:

Pro Tools 12 plugins Anymix Pro, Auro-matic Pro, Penteo. DTS Neural™ Surround Collection

Pro Tools 12 has a fast bounce to disk mode.

Normalizing
-You often need to normalize the dialogue on the stereo soundtrack to a lower sound level before using the plugin to avoid clipping.

Limiters
-Limiters will often alter the relationship between dialogue/music/effects on the stereo mix. But sometimes you may need to lower the dynamics on stereo mixes.

Phase detection mode
Pro logic uses a phase detection algorithm to convert stereo to 5.1. Film makers are not always mixing stereo sound in Pro Logic so you can try other algorithms.

DTS Neural™ Surround Collection
-Uses a phase detection algorithm.
-I have used it on the Auto setting to convert different material to 5.1.
-If the calibration of sound levels is OK this plugin works great on a lot material.
link

 

Penteo Pro
-I have used this with both music and film soundtracks.
-The LCR mode is compatible with cinemas with bad sound calibration.
-Does not have a phase detection mode.
Link

Auro-matic Pro
-Does not have a phase detection mode.
-Does not use LFE.
Link

Pro Tools 12 30 days trial

How I converted all the short films at a film festival that were not DCPs to DCPs

In 2011, 2012 (2013,20142015) I converted all the short films (30) for a film festival that were not DCPs to the DCP format. In 2012 I used Easydcp Creator 2.0 that supports Quicktime files so the process was very simple. The DCPs was mostly 25 FPS SMPTE DCPs, but there were also some 24 FPS and some 30 FPS SMPTE DCPs.

Here are some tips if you want to do this for your festival:
– When using only DCPs the people who make the films can know that their film will not be shown on different equipment. Instead of using time and money on scalers and videocassette decks you can make sure the screen follows DCI specs, is 14 fL, has good enough intra frame contrast ratio and that the sound follows the 85 dbc per channel standard. The main advantages is that Scope films will be shown in Scope and will not letterboxed and that 5.1 sound is not a problem.

-Ask for 24, 25, 30 FPS 1998×1080, 2048×858 or 1920×1080 Prores 422 Quicktime files. The stereo track or 5.1 track from the Quicktime could be used to make the DCP. But I prefer separate 5.1 mono 24 bit 48 hz audio tracks. Scope should be 2048×858.
We accepted videocassettes that we captured with HD-SDI, but I don’t see why a festival should accept them anymore.
Videocassette formats like HDCAM is only 8 bit and do not have 2K resolutions and are often in stereo. The Prores codec can be bought cheaply with Apple Motion from the Apple App store and is 10 bit, has 5.1 sound, is 4444 and has 2K resolutions. This makes it better than HDCAM SR masters which are usually 1920×1080. There are hardware players for 422 Prores files (AJA KI) and Prores files can be converted directly to DCPs in Fraunhofer Easydcp Creator 2.0.
I also converted h264, DV and other formats. But I don’t see why a festival should accept them either, they involve a lot of extra work in Adobe After Effects.

-Ask them to upload the films using a filemail corporate account or FTP server.
Why use a physical medium at all, downloading the films is much easier. Zipping the files and using a fast wired connection to the internet is recommended.

-Have a deadline for submissions so you have enough time to convert and test the DCPs.

-Stereo DCPs should be played with Dolby Prologic 1 or 2 like stereo videocassettes. Alternatively you can tell the people on the submission form that films with stereo soundtracks will be normalized and converted to 5.1 with the DTS neural upmix Pro Tools plugin on the auto setting. Note: You should not make a fake center channel by mixing the right and left channels, this will make the movie sound like it is in mono. The volume setting for each film should be checked and written down.

-Fraunhofer Easydcp Creator 2.0 can convert Prores Quicktime files to DCPs in 2-3x real time on cheap quad core computers. If you buy a quad core computer together with a non profit license for easydcp creator, the cost could be justified because videocassette rental fees would be less for the festival or the quality of the screenings would be better.

I have run Easydcp Creator on a mac mini

http://store.apple.com/us/buy-mac/mac-mini

 

This is the text I used with the submission form:

Deliver on mac or windows hard drive or send it with this corporate file mail account:
(link to corporate filemail upload page)

SD file: Deliver as a 10 bit Prores 422 HQ Quicktime file and it will be converted to a 24 or 25 FPS Digital Cinema Package (DCP).

HD file: Deliver as a 10 bit Prores 422 HQ Quicktime file and it will be converted to a 24 or 25 FPS Digital Cinema Package (DCP).

DCP: ZIP file with the DCP.

File format: Prores 422 HQ 10 bit Quicktime. Cineform Quicktime.
Image sequence: DPX 10 bit linear (After Effects), TIFF 16 BIT (After Effects).

Frames per second: 23.97, 24, 25, 29.98 fps.

Specifications:

Resolution:
1:1.77 = 1920×1080
1:1.85 = 1998×1080
1:2.39 = 2048×858

Color space: Rec.709/SRGB or DCI XYZ 2.6 gamma

Sound:
Quicktime with 5.1 sound: 24 bit, 48 hz, L, R, C, Lf, Ls, Rs
mono wav files: 24 bit, 48 hz

Quicktime with stereo: 24 bit, 48 hz,

Subtitles:

If you deliver a 24 FPS or 25 FPS Prores/image sequence you can supply a SRT file with the subtitles.

Safe zone:

Do not have text too close to edges of the picture

More info: knut.erik.evensen@gmail.com

Notes:

-To make it easier to convert all films, only accept 1920×1080, 1998×1080 and 2048×858 Prores 422 Quicktime files with separate mono 24 bit, 48 khz audio 5.1 tracks.