Who, what and why Z CAM? What do you think about this seemingly unstoppable brand!
The team have not only been singing along too Beautiful Love by Justin Bieber x Free Fires Music Video. But also are extremely proud to see their marvellous work on the video enjoyed. To capture this content we had to use the industry underdog, ZCAM, to aid in collecting the data.
ZCAM has been one of the most recognised brands to enter the world of imaging products in recent years. The Chinese Company released to the world their MFT E1 ZCAM in 2015. Labelled the world’s smallest 4k camera it was competing with the likes of RED for its space in the media industry. Being used as stunt cameras on film sets such as Mission Impossible, they started to make a name for themselves. Fast forward to today and they have a strong flagship E2 line amongst various other VR and video capture products. This highly modular, lightweight, cuboid cinema camera is now a strong contender across all budgets and possible projects. A full frame [email protected] machine that boasts 15 stops of dynamic range and sporting an EF mount with a variety of ports for around £3000; it’s hard to see why people wouldn’t use it.
At Visualskies, we love it for another reason. Our recent work on Justin Biebers Beautiful Love music video required a high resolution 4D scan to make sure that all the facial features he exhibits while he sings were captured in digital form. Accuracy for our client is key and with 21 ZCAMs in operation, the ability for them to be genlocked (generator locking) is one that we cannot do without. This is made possible through its gigabit ethernet port/master and slave functionality.
Genlock was first used in broadcasting when the need to use multiple video sources first arose. When switching cameras whilst live, they would experience a “jumping” effect. To overcome this jumping it was necessary to make sure field rates were all in phase with each other; they all had to be synchronized and in step.
Why is this important for 4D?
For 4D capture you create a 3D model for every single frame captured; creating multiple 3D models whilst still allowing an actor to go through different performances. This means that in a fraction of a second the frame rate, colour burst and line rate needs to be at exactly the same frequency. In other words all aspects of the capturing process need to be in sync.
The word sync is a broad term and many people believe a camera is in sync if you have used a timecode or simply pressed record at the same time. Now, let’s take the human error of pressing a button out of the equation for a moment and consider what controls the frame rate that a camera records at; this being the camera’s internal frame clock. When we are talking about millisecond accuracy, a variety of factors come into play influencing its rate. Generally speaking the clock starts when the cameras are turned on and when you are dealing with multiple there could be a variation in the timing of their internal clocks. Even if you were able to record at the exact same moment in time it will still be unsynced. Timecode is too susceptible to drifting apart over time.
The Best Solution
The high end cameras used in all that we watch today, from film to live sports, usually have a way to externally control the sync clock. That being this process of “genlock” that I mentioned earlier. But as you would expect these cameras are expensive and usually of a substantial size. When using 21 cameras you can see how you would need to manage a budget and the amount of space on a rig. Thanks to the ZCAM we had no such worries in either department.
In New York we combined the ZCAMs on our 3D scanning rig for a fully integrated setup. We captured 4D Data and 3D scans of his body to provide as much data as possible. The final outcome by Passion Pictures is incredible; combined with a very catchy song we feel it is a landmark piece. Seeing how our work can be styled and manipulated creatively is always amazing to see. Special thanks to Dave Scanlon, Patrick Duguid and Dave Walker for allowing us to help on this shoot and all those at Passion Pictures and Flüg for their trust and continuing collaboration.
As mentioned it's a modular cuboid cinema camera that packs a punch. It's high end specs: [email protected] for low cost makes it a formidable choice for many filmmakers... And now 3D specialists
Compared to our rigged cameras these are extremely fast firing allowing for more accuracy when capturing the positions held by the subject.
IDA TRONIC Photon LEDs
These LEDs are extremely bright. However the main reason we love them is there ability to be synchronised and individually programmed, allowing for greater flexibility when programming lighting setups.