FlashBox for film makers

Film professionals can now store hours of digital films without compression using a new on-camera recorder.

FlashBox, developed by researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits (IIS) in Germany, docks directly onto a movie camera and records images for digital cinema and high definition (HD) in a resolution of up to 2,048 x 1,080 pixels.

The images are stored on solid-state disks that operate in two slots so that the disks can be exchanged. The Fraunhofer researchers claim that, together, these disks can store 500Gb of film takes.

The production of digital motion pictures requires shooting individual scenes of 20-50Gb and this data needs to be stored on set.

FlashBox is claimed to simplify the entire film production process by allowing digital movie cameras such as the ARRI D21 or the Sony F35 to send uncompressed data for storage.

‘The motion picture business tries to keep the highest-quality data from the camera as long as possible,’ explained Angela Raguse of the IIS. ‘By storing it uncompressed there is no data loss.’ She added that uncompressed data allows post-processing artists to choose the best processing algorithm for image adjustments such as colour correction.

‘If this is done with compressed data, the artist is limited to pre-defined hardware algorithms,’ said Raguse.

FlashBox can automatically detect the camera and data type for the respective camera model. The correct recording format can also be manually inputted through the menu.

The recorder is equipped with an adapter to allow film material to be downloaded from FlashBox’s disks to a computer.

The researchers plan to make the onboard recorder available to beta testers starting in spring 2010.

In the meantime, the team is developing methods for integrating the storage device into digital movie cameras in a way that resembles a cassette.

Siobhan Wagner