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A review of Philips Spirit DataCine
Dear Telecine Colleagues,
For months I have been reading the mail on the Telecine Internet Group
regarding the FLH-1000. While rumors of an FLH in NYC were proliferating,
I quietly read and chomped at the bit. I had signed a non disclosure with
Phillips BTS and had to remain silent. But now my muzzle has been removed
-- just In time for me to post this before NAB.
I was one of five Colorists invited to Darmstadt, Germany, mid February,
for a week long Focus group on the "Spirit." We represented Germany,
England, France and the United States. Jean Clement Soret of Duboi, Paris,
one of the participants, wrote to this group on 4/3/96. He ended his note,
"What is sure is that the presentation of BTS Datacine will be the major
event at NAB in the world of telecine." I will second that.
On 4/5/96, Steve Russell, the Marketing Manager of Film Imaging
Products-Phillips, posted a comprehensive disclosure of the Spirits
technical specifications. I would like to add my subjective judgements to
I was impressed with the Phillips/Kodak FLH-1000 when it was first
demonstrated at SMPTE LA over two years ago. Credit should be given to
Phillips and Kodak for resisting the temptation to market a prototype.
Building on the FLH-1000, the "Spirit" is a completely re-engineered,
deliverable product that will be the REFERENCE STANDARD for our industry,
now and into the next millennium.
The images in both HiDef and standard Def were outstanding. We likened them
to a large format Chrome viewed on a light table, displaying subtle black
details and textural highlights. The highlights soft clip at peak without
cyan rings. Transfer curve characteristics were perfectly matched to every
film type. OCN, Master Positive, and Print all yielded exceptional results.
Lift, Gamma, Gain tracked flawlessly through an awesome range. Fleshtones
reproduced with a radiant quality. Want your Master Positive (IP) to look
like HiCon.....No Problem. Stretch gamma to Kingdom Come with no noise
penalty. Electronic noise is below the film grain in all colors. Negative
film can be reproduced with a rich cinematic look that currently can only
be achieved by transferring print. When the art director asks for that
"edgy look," open the flood gates!
Correct Masking value presets, a Blue rich Xenon light source, and matched
filters produce proper phosphor display reproduction from the film dye
values without the need to tweak Secondaries. The Shading is ruler flat,
producing images at all Gamma settings without a Magenta to Green
transition across the screen. There is User Definable Shading which is
useful when transfering faded films.
Fluid, optical type zooms and pans can be programmed or executed in still
or run mode with perfect Geometry, giving needle sharp resolution edge to
edge, even in Super 16. There are no burn transitions on Super 35 and Super
16 and no single line Cross-over to worry about.
The diffuse light source minimizes scratches. Point source light such as a
flying spot refracts (bends as it passes through a scratch, producing a
dark or light line depending on negative or positive reproduction); whereas
diffuse light illuminates the film and the scratch from multiple angles
therefore negating the light refracting properties of the scratch. Film is
manufactured with a slightly rough surface or tooth to eliminate Newton
rings during contact printing. This surface texture, when exaggerated by
Point Source light, appears as grain. The Spirits diffuse light source
eliminates this phenomenon. The Xenon light is an arc lamp. Service life in
excess of 1000 hours, this bulb will never burn out in the middle of your
session. Towards the end of its life span, the bulb will draw more current.
The power supply displays the Amp draw. Worst case, the bulb will not
ignite in the morning on power up. Five minute replacement, costing
The big news is the Resolution Independence. Every frame of film is scanned
at full 2K resolution and all internal color corrections, image
manipulations, and enhancement are processed at this high resolution and
in-real time. This data is then reformatted into the desired output:
4:4:4:4 10 bit digital and analog
4:2:2:4 10 bit digital and analog
8:4:4 10 bit digital and analog
1125/60 HDTV Digital and analog
1250/50 HDTV Digital and analog
For connecting into workstations or file servers, the Hippi Interface
delivers 2K RGB 10 bit log or 12 bit Linear data in a standard DPX or TIFF
Colorists will now be able to feed the Flames, Dominos, and Cineons of the
world Progressive Scan, Square Pixel, multiple resolution image files.
Images are free of the Matrix artifacts inherent in the 4:2:2 CCIR 601
Standard. There is a "Colorists Value Added" when scanning with Spirit over
current non-real time scanners. Spirit images can be delivered into the
workstation with primary color grade, aperture correction, size and
position already incorporated within the image file. The future is Data
transfers and the Spirit includes Colorists in the process.
The 2K images, when reformatted in the Spacial Interpolator, produce
Standard Def and HiDef images, free of aliasing artifacts. Gone are the
jagged edges on chrome details, grills and bumpers. Ford, GM, BMW,
Mercedes, Honda are you reading this?
Panasonic will be showing a cost effective way to record your HiDef
transfers. They have a scheme for recording HD onto D-5 at 10 bits with a
4:1 compression. HD is essentially 2K x 1K (1920 x 1035).
Our focus group noted that objects in front of a blue or green screen
reproduce with no Telecine induced dark edges around them. Compositing
artists will love the Spirit.
The transport produces rock-steady real time images as is. Pin Registration
will be available as an option. The Phillips Quadra will show a new pin
registered gate for the Quadra developed by Steadifilm. Without having to
factor Scan-tracking into the equation, we should expect flawless pin
I will be at the Phillips [booth#9300] demonstrating the NEW "Spirit
DataCine." There will be two DataCine units at the booth. One running In
4:4:4:4 mode controlled by a da Vinci Renaissance 8:8:8, complete with DUI.
The second Spirit will be in glorious HDTV (1125) mode, controlled by a
POGLE, complete with a HiDef DCP.
On a personal note, I should mention that the Tape House -- on my
recommendation -- has bought a Spirit. We broke ground the day after, and
on the very spot that the Telecine SMPTE meeting was held on February 21.
I look forward to seeing all of you at the Phillips booth. You may have
trouble recognizing me. After 26 years I shaved off the beard and
moustache, but just look for the guy with the big, 'HiDEF' smile on his
Safe trip to the Gilded Desert,
The Tape House Editorial Co.
jdowdell at interport.net