siliconimaging.jpgSince appearing on the digital acquisition scene at NAB 2006, it seems every month Silicon Imaging has some major upgrades to their cameras to announce. Maybe that is because it does.

Here’s a laundry list of the new functionality to be shown at IBC:

  • The stereo 3D function allows the cameras and recorders to be genlocked with the touch of one button and for live 3D preview on a monitor. Silicon Imaging is currently working with IRIDAS to incorporate Speedgrade and FrameCycler for 3D.
  • A new SI-2K MINI features an optical viewfinder with a PL mount. The former MINI offering interhangeable lenses will continue to be sold.
  • The updated drive functionality will allow any new commercial SATA drive to be used to record the images and it will soon offer a coupe varieties of RAID options for recording.
  • The OLED electronic viewfinder running of the standard SGA port for a cost of $3,000.
  • Recording QuickTime files via the Cineform RAW codec.
  • Pricing will go up slightly: The full SI-2K camera will cost $28,500 and the SI-2K MINI with the standard PL mount will cost $17,500m the price for models with B4 Mount Optical Viewfinder product are not yet announced.
  • In addition, Silicon Imaging has been working with Paradise FX to develop a system that records 360-degrees and Paradise is using it on an aerial shoot over Niagra Falls. As for the SI-2K 3D, a music video for Bjork, currently in production, is shooting with in 3D mode.

    Back at NAB this past spring, president Ari Presler told me “we are getting out of the acquisition business and into the digital cinema workflow businees.” At the time, it sounded like a nice bit of marketing language. But in this case the marketing language seems to match the actual directive as Silicon imaging and it’s partners, namely Cineform and IRIDAS, have been able to develop a system that with a complete workflow in mind. And more than that, a workflow that can nimbly grow and adapt depending on the needs.

    But even from a pure acquisition tool, the Silicon Imaging system is designed to be redesigned. The CPUs and drives can be swapped out at will, so as they improve the system can be upgraded. The MINI’s can also be swapped out of the camera, so as the the company improves and expands the MINI heads the camera is instantly upgraded. “We will continue to develop MINI modules,” Pressler told me today. Does that mean they are looking beyond 2K? Pressler shied away from answering this directly but did offer this clue, “The intent is to provide a modular and upgradeable system.”

    The ability to add and upgrade the Silicon Imaging system as technology develops essentially means that the company will never really have to design a new camera from the ground up like every other camera manufacturer does – it can just add to the existing platform. In an age when everyone worries about future-proofing their investment in an uncertain digital world, this prospect has to be extremely attractive.