Issue: Cameras - March 2006


WOODLAND HILLS, CA – Dalsa, the maker of the Origin camera, a 4K data recorder that has begun to see use in the Hollywood community for acquisition, will be prevalent at various NAB vendors’ booths where the ease and benefits of working in 4K will be presented. But Dalsa’s (www.dalsa.com) mission to Hollywood is year-round.

Patrick Myles, director of corporate communications, says the Dalsa Digital Cinema facility here is “open for business, with 4K Origin cameras ready for rental.” He calls the Woodland Hills facility “our digital ecosystem,” adding, “demand is definitely growing. We feel strongly that 2006 will be the year that Dalsa builds significant traction in the market as DPs get their hands on the Origin camera for their productions.”

Dalsa Digital Cinema offers competing camera packages and many lenses in an egalitarian attempt to get filmmaking professionals, and indies, into the digital workflow. The “ecosystem” includes color correction and the opportunity to do test work in a 4K environment and screen it in 2K.

Of the facility’s screening room/theatre, Myles says, “Origin 4K test footage that has been captured in our ‘living set’ or in our test bays can be developed in our digital lab, mapped in state of the art image processing tools, and displayed in our 33-seat screening room.” The theater features an expertly calibrated Christie 2K projector.

Post asked a few questions of John Coghill, Dalsa Digital Cinema’s VP/GM.

Post: What is the color grading system you use? We presume it works in 2K?

Coghill: “Our facility is not intended to be a post house but rather a test/demo platform for any and all new tools coming to the market. Our ‘digital ecosystem’ has been a test bed for a number of new systems such as Nucoda, Lustre, Speedgrade, Filmlight and others. We work with partners to test their new 4K systems in a ‘friendly fire’ environment as there is mutual benefit to both parties. We have also opened up our facility to them to use as a training/seminar facility. For example, Iridas has run Speedgrade and Speedgrade On-set sessions at our place.

Post: Dalsa’s Digital Cinema effort is aimed at Hollywood producers, DPs and directors. Are you also seeing any humbler professionals such as indie producers, or are most of whom you see high-end filmmakers?

Coghill: “Absolutely across the board! If you read the January issue of Hi-Def mag you'll see the Postcards article that talks about using Origin and the benefits to ‘low budget’ productions - on the other end we are working on more ‘traditional’ Hollywood blockbuster projects that we hope to be able to tell you more about later this year.”

Post: I understand your facility is "agnostic" in that customers can rent non-Dalsa equipment there as well. Is the idea there to bring in additional rank-and-file customers and give them the opportunity to experience 4K?

Coghill: “It's actually a two-pronged strategy. We do get people coming in all the time that rent our Sony or Panasonic equipment, for example, that are curious about 4K and want to learn more. We are certainly more than happy to do that and in fact we run our own training seminars on a regular basis - you never know if the person renting the HD package today is going to be working on a larger budget film tomorrow, so we have the tools to fit whatever project may be on their plate. Also, on the larger budget projects we can offer a one-stop shopping center for not only the 4K A and B camera crews but the behind-the-scenes/EPK crews as well.”

Post: Why, in your words, does a producer need 4K to do his or her best work?

Coghill: “I think there are really three key points here. First, our approach to 4K (the only one currently) gives the producer the ability to future proof his asset by giving him the option of archiving a 4K ‘digital neg.’ Second, as you say, it allows them to produce a superior product - it's not only about 4K resolution but equally important is exposure latitude. Origin meets or exceeds the exposure latitude of film. Finally, it is a business, after all so you have to follow the money and, given that most projects are going through some level of DI today (and by some estimates all will be within two years), there are significant savings to be had in skipping the front end film related steps and feeding high quality digital directly into the DI process.”

Patrick Myles: “We're looking forward to NAB where we can showcase our 4K footage in multiple vendors' booths. I think a lot of people will be surprised just how much 4K workflow has advanced in a short period of time and just how viable it is.”