Zeiss Cinemizer

Zeiss – OLED Cinemizer Goggles

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Eyes Of The Future – Cinemizer Goggles

Zeiss, one of the world leaders in professional optics and lens systems has created the OLED Cinemizer Goggles. These goggles might make you look like you just walked off of a Star Trek set, but the forward looking concept and practical application open up some truly exciting possibilities for future film making.

What Is It and What Does It Do?

Essentitally the Cinemizer goggles allow you to connect an HDMI signal into the classes and view the video material in two high-resolution OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diode) displays. The goggles can display a variety of formats (see input specs below) and display the images on each of the two displays with a resolution of 870×500 pixels. This simulates an image size of a 40 inch, 16:9 display at a simulated distance of two meters. The viewer has a 30° FoV (field of View) which isn’t too bad. There is also a head motion sensor in the device which opens a whole new realm of interesting possibilities for MOCAP PreViz.

Practical Application of the Zeiss Cinemizer

So why would you want to strap a pair of these to your face instead of look through and EVF of view finder on the back of the camera? Well there are numerous instances where you might find it difficult to see these types of screens in brightly lit conditions, like exterior shots in sunshine. (Not generally a major issue here in the Seattle area, but the sun does come out for a few days in August.) Another situation may be if you were flying a drone or quadra-copter where you would be able to see the on camera POV directly instead of having to look at a monitor placed above the controls. EVF’s give you a similar perspective, however the downside of an EVF is that it is for one eye only, and yet when we watch a screen we are using both eyes to process the information. One eye is fine for focus, but it’s a different perspective than using both, such as when we are watching content as the end viewer would be on final playback.

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Been There, Filmed Like That

Back in 2004 I had the good fortune to attend a talk by Director Fernado Meerelles   about his then recent film, City of God. One very interesting parts of the discussion was about the opening sequence and the particular scene where the camera tracks the chicken escaping for it’s life as it races down the cobbled streets with the camera low to the ground. The chicken is somehow  always in focus and in almost perfectly in frame. (City of God – Chase The Chicken Scene). Fernando explained that the DP, César Charlone used a pair of glasses that had basic video monitors in them (probably something like what you’d have seen in the Skymall Catalogue a few years back) that were connected to the video playback of the camera and was thus able to see straight from the lens while tracking the chicken in a run and gun style. I remember listening to this and being fascinated by the concept and approach. It seems that César Charlone was on to something even way back in 2002 and now Zeiss is brining a much higher resolution piece of equipment to market that would allow for this same style of cinematography.

The Power of Peaking

These days we have the ability to use Peaking in almost any professional camera set up, and thanks to Magic Lantern it is easy to add Peaking to many Canon DSLR’s. It’s a great feature to use and can really help you dial in your focus when you get a solid feel for it. However having this same feature, but directly in your field of view can only mean consistently more accurate focus (given the assumption that the person pulling focus knows what they’re doing.) Having accurate focus becomes even more vital when you start looking at material shot in higher resolutions such as 4K where image clarity is far greater than what we’ve been dealing with in HD.

What’s The Down Side?

Wearing a pair of ($800) goggles on a set or during a shoot is certainly a negative when it comes to being able to keep aware of what is happening around you. I’m willing to bet insurance premiums are going to go up after a few disasters occur due to DP’s and Directors who walk into playback monitor setups or knock over a few lights. Some people reported that when they tried the Cinemizer Goggles they could not focus on the image, even though the goggles offer separately adjustable diopters that go from -5 to +2 and support a pupils distance of 59-69mm. This is a good range, but it won’t cover everyone’s particular visions needs and thus render the goggles useless for some.

The Future is HUD, The Future Is Near

In the same way that WiFi and cellular internet combined with tablets and phones has revolutionized the way we consume, create, and distribute the digital content of much of our lives with one another on a daily basis, HUDs (heads up display) will be the next major step in our visual interaction with not only releavnt daily information but how we capture the cinematic image as well.

RC flyers have been using HUD’s for a number of years to be more effective in flying their helicopters and airplanes. Google is going to give HUD’s a major push with the consumer release of Glass. And Zeiss, with the OLED Cinemiezer has offered DP’s and Directors a well thought out, and well designed HUD for creative film making. The beauty of the Cinemizer is that it’s not proprietary. You can connected it to any camera’s HDMI port (or iOS Device with an adapter), or you can take it up a notch and consider using connecting it to a wireless receiver that is getting it’s image from a wireless transmitter that is attached to the camera in a moving car, a person, anything really.

[zt_video type=”vimeo” id=”https://vimeo.com/76888460″ ]

 

Is It For Me (or You)?

It’s hard to say whether this is technology I really see myself using commercially in the next few years. I have trained and strained using one eye to focus using everything from mechanical SLR cameras to HD monitors and EVF’s over the last two decades. I like seeing the image I’m focusing on, while also keeping aware of my periphery for other shot opportunities. I can foresee that the use of wearables in our daily lives is just about to dawn, and Zeiss is showing us the first rays of what that technology and it’s application will look like for the filmmakers of today, and certainly for those that come in the days ahead.

 

Specs:

 

Display

  • two high-resolution OLED displays (Organic Light Emitting Diode)
    each with 870 × 500 pixels and a fill factor of 100%
  • Simulated image size: 40 inch (= 1 m) at a distance of 2 meters
  • Aspect ratio: 16:9
  • Color depth: 24 Bit RGB
  • FoV (Field of View): 30°

Input

  • HDMI: 640x480p 60Hz, 720x576p 50Hz, 720x480p 60Hz, 1280x720p 50/60Hz, 1920x1080i 50/60Hz, 1920x1080p 50/60Hz, 1920x1080p 24Hz, HDMI 1.4 3D 1080p 24 Hz, HDMI 1.4 3D 720p 60Hz
  • iPod/iPhone: iPod and iPhone models with video capability
    via optional accessories more details
  • AV-In: 3.5 mm/4-pin connector for audio & video (PAL/NTSC)
  • Connection options for various sources: Overview

3D Support

  • Side-by-side/Top-Bottom/Line interleaved
  • Frame Packing with HDMI 1.4 (720p/1080p)
  • NVIDIA 3DTV PlayTM supports the cinemizer OLED as a 3D display unit
  • Supported 3D formats

Power

  • Rechargeable lithium-ion battery
  • Charge via USB
  • Voltage: 5 V
  • Power supply: 450 mA
  • Battery life: up to 6 hours for iPod/iPhone and AV-In and up to 2.5 hours for HDMI
  • Charging time: approx. 2.5 hours

External Connections

  • Mini-USB to charge the integrated battery
  • 3.5 mm audio port for external stereo headphones

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