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The Camera That's Also a Mac Mini, Or Vice Versa

timothy posted about a year ago | from the trying-to-kill-me-with-gadget-lust dept.

Input Devices 68

Joe Marine of No Film School has a short interview with two of the creators of the Black Betty, a deceptively old-school looking digital cinema camera. The Black Betty gets around one issue with the massive data processing and storage needs inherent to high-capacity, high-resolution video cameras by attacking it head-on. Rather than use the camera "merely" as a collection device, the creators have jammed into the machined aluminum case the guts of a Mac Mini, which means the camera not only has a powerful processing brain, but a built-in SSD drive, and can (in a pinch, or even by preference in the field) be used to edit and transmit the footage collected with the actual imaging system, which is based around the SI-2K Mini sensor, which shoots 1080p video at up to 30fps.

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Hmm... (3, Funny)

wbr1 (2538558) | about a year ago | (#44706565)

Maybe he had some help from Ram Jam? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R044sleOW6I [youtube.com]

Re:Hmm... (1)

Gareth Iwan Fairclough (2831535) | about a year ago | (#44707041)

Bam-a-lam! First thing I thought of when I saw the name of the camera and it just so happens to be the first post :D

If I had mod points, I would mod you up.

Re:Hmm... (1)

Tim99 (984437) | about a year ago | (#44707553)

If you don't like the early Lead Belly version, you could try AC/DC too YouTube link [youtube.com]

Re:Hmm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44708241)

Maybe Ram Jam had a little help from Leadbelly http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sYrK464nIeY

Retro ... and ... and ..APPLE! (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44706657)

I just CAME - in an ironic way! I guess that means I WENT!

-Hipster

What is the use case for this? (3, Insightful)

MetalliQaZ (539913) | about a year ago | (#44706661)

I just struggle to see a situation that wouldn't be better served by a laptop in the field or a workstation back at the studio.

Re:What is the use case for this? (1)

barlevg (2111272) | about a year ago | (#44706743)

And obviously it’s not super practical to use the camera as your editor, grading station, or to review all your footage, but if you didn’t have another choice or you don’t have the resources, why not take advantage of something like that? Why not share your frame grabs over WiFi. Say I’m in the field and I need to get a still frame, or I need to get my footage off, and I have nothing. Sure, just upload it.

Re:What is the use case for this? (1)

omnichad (1198475) | about a year ago | (#44707069)

Not completely impractical either, assuming the USB ports and mini displayport connector are accessible. It could have a copy of Final Cut Pro onboard.

Re:What is the use case for this? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44706765)

I just struggle to see a situation that wouldn't be better served by a laptop in the field or a workstation back at the studio.

Competitive Apple fetishism. Duh.

Re:What is the use case for this? (4, Informative)

djmurdoch (306849) | about a year ago | (#44706903)

Competitive Apple fetishism. Duh.

I guess you didn't RTFM, especially this line:

She runs good old Windows and the Silicon Imaging SiliconDVR software off of an internal solid state drive.

Re:What is the use case for this? (2)

tibit (1762298) | about a year ago | (#44708497)

I hope they were aware that you can get much better performing embedded PC boards for the same amount of money as a Mac Mini. There's really no reason to use a Mac Mini in a custom case if all you want is to run Windows on it.

Re:What is the use case for this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44710963)

Well fuck me, if only they had someone as smart as you to tell them they were completely fucking it up before they even picked up a screwdriver.

Re:What is the use case for this? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44707141)

Yo dawg, I heard that you are a hipster, so I put a mac in a camera so that you can hipster while you hipster.

Re:What is the use case for this? (1)

Full of shit (2908417) | about a year ago | (#44707793)

"old-school looking"

It was never going to be anything but a toy for hipsters given that introduction.

Re:What is the use case for this? (2)

gstoddart (321705) | about a year ago | (#44706921)

I just struggle to see a situation that wouldn't be better served by a laptop in the field or a workstation back at the studio.

Really? Because it's kind of in the summary:

The Black Betty gets around one issue with the massive data processing and storage needs inherent to high-capacity, high-resolution video cameras by attacking it head-on

This covers the data storage, the camera, and in a pinch or out of necessity you can do the editing on the device itself.

It's likely not going to be your primary place to do processing on the video, but it will cover your storage needs and give you some editing as well.

Re:What is the use case for this? (2)

dj245 (732906) | about a year ago | (#44707867)

I just struggle to see a situation that wouldn't be better served by a laptop in the field or a workstation back at the studio.

Really? Because it's kind of in the summary:

The Black Betty gets around one issue with the massive data processing and storage needs inherent to high-capacity, high-resolution video cameras by attacking it head-on

This covers the data storage, the camera, and in a pinch or out of necessity you can do the editing on the device itself.

It's likely not going to be your primary place to do processing on the video, but it will cover your storage needs and give you some editing as well.

Yes but why is this needed?? According to the website for the camera they are using [siliconimaging.com] ,

With it's low-noise, high-dynamic range sensor, over 10 f-stops of dynamic range are freely manipulatable with user generated Iridas look files, and IT-friendly connectivity through open PC platforms, battery-powered operation, and up to 4-hours of continuous shooting on a 160GB notebook hard drive round out an impressive array of digital cinema firsts in the industry.

. This looks like a very serious camera, maybe on par or somewhat in the same segment as the Red [red.com] cameras (I am not an expert on high-end videocameras however). Most cameras in this segment have some system of high-capacity SSD or spinning drive storage, usually with replaceable storage cartridges. I don't understand why they felt the need to build the camera in the article. In fact, the SI-2k (not mini) [siliconimaging.com] looks an awful lot like what they have built, and seems to use the same sensor as the SI-2K mini.

Re:What is the use case for this? (2)

shikari666 (770101) | about a year ago | (#44713173)

It's nowhere close to anything from RED in terms of image quality. The camera most like this in design is the Blackmagic Production Camera though the sensor puts it closer to the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera. None of this takes away from the sheer geeky cool of this project.

Re:What is the use case for this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44707045)

The situation is simply normal usage of a camera. Cameras need to do a surprising amount of image processing as they work. It's now getting to the point where general purpose hardware to do that job is cheaper than the specialised silicon that used to do it.

Re:What is the use case for this? (2)

jythie (914043) | about a year ago | (#44707295)

Only carrying one device?

Generally digital cameras have to have some on-board processing capability, the only thing that is unusual here is they used an off the shelf compact desktop system rather then some embedded board or system on a chip type solution.

Re:What is the use case for this? (2)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about a year ago | (#44707577)

They discuss this in the article and point out that.

Their point is that more versatility in tools is a good thing. Perhaps a situation arises where you for some reason need to do something funky. Maybe you're reporting on a situation and want to send a still image back to your newspaper/website/network immediately when you get to a wifi spot.

Maybe you have rented this camera for a one-time use and have a limited budget and someone else is using the computer.

Their philosophy seems to be "We made it, you use the features of it that you need."

I'll wager most of us, upon hearing about smartphones, thought "Why would I need all that in a phone when I have a computer?"

Re:What is the use case for this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44707821)

or something other than a mac

I think if its a computer, what about a custom media specific OS.

I want the option to run linux with the real time kernel patch for this one

Re: What is the use case for this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44709511)

Yes, I can see you'd struggle to imagine just about anything outside of your bubble.

Re:What is the use case for this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44711087)

You'd struggle to find your own ass with a torch and a map.

Good job! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44706707)

Seriously editors, good job. A decent hack we can all appreciate.

Re:Good job! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44707035)

Why is the text so hard to read on their website?

not a hardhack, (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44706737)

article needs a 'kitbash' tag

Queue Tuppe666 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44706761)

Queue Tuppe666 to remind us how Apple is evil, praise Google. (Made in USA)

Re:Queue Tuppe666 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44706813)

He'll be along spouting some nonsense about the Chrome book or something, you can count on it. Glad it isn't just me who finds his posts tiresome

An SSD drive you say? (1, Troll)

gumpish (682245) | about a year ago | (#44706769)

I should go to the ATM machine and enter my PIN number so I can go buy one of those SSD drives myself.

Re:An SSD drive you say? (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44706885)

You should RTFM the manual before you start throwing around all those TLA acronyms.

Re:An SSD drive you say? (1)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | about a year ago | (#44707005)

You should RTFM the manual before you start throwing around all those TLA acronyms.

Was the redundancy there intentionally redundant redundancy?

Re:An SSD drive you say? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44706897)

I should go to the ATM machine and enter my PIN number so I can go buy one of those SSD drives myself.

Yeah, you could do that if you were a little SOB bitch and a real PITA ass.

Re:An SSD drive you say? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44707063)

Fail.

Re:An SSD drive you say? (1)

samwichse (1056268) | about a year ago | (#44720517)

Fail fail.

What a let-down (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44706787)

i was hoping someone hacked a consumer-grade digital camera to run mac osx...

Re:What a let-down (1)

PrimeWaveZ (513534) | about a year ago | (#44706933)

Imagine a Hackintosh Beowulf cluster of those...

Re:What a let-down (1)

SpzToid (869795) | about a year ago | (#44707011)

I am now imagining the plethora of virtual machines, and I like what I see!

Re:What a let-down (1)

Genda (560240) | about a year ago | (#44714189)

Not to mention the global "Fly-Eye" video you could collect real-time!

Interesting DIY application of modular computing (3, Interesting)

jovius (974690) | about a year ago | (#44706861)

Components in general become more interchangeable in the future. Need your computer to be a camera? Attach a camera module to a CPU module - the handshaking happens and you have created a new device. How about a phone then? Add the phone module. The next wave of miniaturization is at hand.

Re:Interesting DIY application of modular computin (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a year ago | (#44707017)

Components in general become more interchangeable in the future.

That is quite the attractive alternative to the 'everyone has their own walled garden' approach we've seen of late.

Attractive from a consumer point of view, anyway.

Re:Interesting DIY application of modular computin (1)

Nerdfest (867930) | about a year ago | (#44707713)

It is, yet if people keep throwing money at manufacturers that are pushing everything towards walled gardens (with Apple being by far the worst), it's never going to happen. I've almost resigned myself to seeing the end of open computing in the next 10 years.

Re:Interesting DIY application of modular computin (1)

MozeeToby (1163751) | about a year ago | (#44707529)

Until someone puts out a device built from the ground up to be a and as a result has higher build quality, better battery life, lower cost, higher performance and a more appropriate user interface. All of which can be achieved by removing all the unnecessary "non-camera" things and removing the joints between the modules.

Re:Interesting DIY application of modular computin (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44714027)

What is wrong with USB?

Re:Interesting DIY application of modular computin (1)

Genda (560240) | about a year ago | (#44714213)

Please tell me someone is working on a functional politician module! Our current analog devices suck to high heaven.

It is really a mac mini at that point? (1)

damn_registrars (1103043) | about a year ago | (#44706895)

Sure the system started as a mac mini but it is very highly modified and running windows. In hindsight they could have just as well started from a different platform.

Re:It is really a mac mini at that point? (1)

jedidiah (1196) | about a year ago | (#44706947)

This reminds me of a mini Mac Plus I saw on Digg yesterday. It was supposed to be the world's smallest Mac. It was not running Apple kit but was a Raspberry PI running an emulator.

Without a discrete GPU, a Mini is a pretty generic system that can be replicated by any number of mITX boards.

If you don't need to boot MacOS, going out of your way to use Apple hardware is a little silly.

Re:It is really a mac mini at that point? (3, Insightful)

tlhIngan (30335) | about a year ago | (#44707237)

Without a discrete GPU, a Mini is a pretty generic system that can be replicated by any number of mITX boards.

True.

However, there aren't many complete systems readily available, and that's key. You can build a small computer using a mini-ITX board, but you still have to add processor, cooling solution (this one is fairly big) and all the other stuff (WiFi, Bluetooth, ...), and THEN build the camera. Plus being completely self contained means if it fails, all one really does is take it out, go to an Apple store, buy a new Mac Mini and shove it in. It's a lot tougher to go and buy a mini-ITX system to shove in (or run around town finding a computer store with the requisite parts).

In this case, the mini comes self contained and working out of the box - so they can concentrate on building a camera, and not on building a PC.

For its size, a mini makes a nice self-contained fully functional PC you can carry around.

Plus, as a bonus, it can run OS X, because there's still plenty who do use stuff like Final Cut Pro. And a lot of filmmakers are keen on Apple stuff - if you look, a lot of the film crew are lugging around MacBook Pros or increasingly these days, iPads.

Re:It is really a mac mini at that point? (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about a year ago | (#44706989)

In hindsight they could have just as well started from a different platform.

Are there many other PCs as small as a Mac Mini?

In this case, it sounds like they started with the smallest thing they could find, put whatever software onto it they needed, and built this case around it.

Sounds like it's far easier to work with something that has already been designed and built to be that small instead of trying to do it yourself -- because if it was harder, they probably wouldn't have done it.

If you've already got a small form-factor x86 PC, why reinvent the wheel?

Re:It is really a mac mini at that point? (-1, Flamebait)

jedidiah (1196) | about a year ago | (#44707143)

> Are there many other PCs as small as a Mac Mini?

Are you really that ignorant?

PCs come in all kinds of shapes and sizes and always have. I bought first low profile PC before Apple ever considered having something similar.

I even advocated that Apple build such machines right here on this website.

I bought my own Mac Minis because they were CHEAP, not because there weren't other x86 options available. Once that stopped being the case, I ditched Apple hardware.

The fact that my "ION" Mini cooked itself also didn't help.

Re:It is really a mac mini at that point? (0)

gstoddart (321705) | about a year ago | (#44707165)

Are you really that ignorant?

Are you always this much of an asshole?

Re:It is really a mac mini at that point? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44707399)

> Are there many other PCs as small as a Mac Mini?

Are you really that ignorant?

PCs come in all kinds of shapes and sizes and always have. I bought first low profile PC before Apple ever considered having something similar.

I even advocated that Apple build such machines right here on this website.

I bought my own Mac Minis because they were CHEAP, not because there weren't other x86 options available. Once that stopped being the case, I ditched Apple hardware.

The fact that my "ION" Mini cooked itself also didn't help.

Apple doesn't have anything on the market _remotely_ resembling a low profile PC, an iMac is a all-in-one, and the Mini is a mini-itx.
I'm only saying because you know, it's not like everybody has been ragging on Apple to make a Mac Pro Lite or anything right?

What made you go off on an Apple rant instead of listing all the alternative mini-itx systems the GP wasn't aware of?

That's a rhetorical question!

Re:It is really a mac mini at that point? (1)

jedidiah (1196) | about a year ago | (#44708445)

> What made you go off on an Apple rant

The usual bullshit assumption that Apple is inherently superior rather than terribly generic and behind the curve.

Low profile PCs are commonplace and easy to find if you just bother to look.

Just use a f*cking search engine.

Re:It is really a mac mini at that point? (1)

fast turtle (1118037) | about a year ago | (#44712495)

there's an even smaller standard called nano-itx by VIA. Works well for some things and may even be just about perfect for this use.

Re:It is really a mac mini at that point? (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | about a year ago | (#44707587)

You can get smaller PCs however most of them you'll have to build it yourself. And the cooling is not always great. There's also part compatibility. I built one from the Intel NUC system. It was pricey and you had to compromise and have to use mSATA SSDs. From the article, one of main points of Mac Mini was being able to use unregulated 12V. The NUC requires a separate 19V power pack which doesn't fit well into what these guys were doing.

Re:It is really a mac mini at that point? (1)

jedidiah (1196) | about a year ago | (#44708549)

> You can get smaller PCs however most of them you'll have to build it yourself.

This is the PC market we're talking about here. Just about anything you can think of, there's already some speciality vendor out there trying to fill the niche. The NUC is just the tip of the iceberg.

> And the cooling is not always great.

You mean like my Mini that cooked itself? The one I mentioned in the post you were responding too?

Apple gear is nothing special in this regard despite of all of the mindless and unjustified accolades they get.

Re:It is really a mac mini at that point? (0)

UnknowingFool (672806) | about a year ago | (#44708855)

This is the PC market we're talking about here. Just about anything you can think of, there's already some speciality vendor out there trying to fill the niche. The NUC is just the tip of the iceberg.

A specialty vendor would be beside the point. If you a replacement Mac Mini or another one, you go down to Best Buy or Apple or whoever and simply buy one.

You mean like my Mini that cooked itself? The one I mentioned in the post you were responding too?

If you can't take care of your own equipment that's not on me. I don't what you did. Did you leave it under a blanket with no ventilation? Co-location uses hundreds of Mac minis because they require little cooling. But your one use case is completely indicative of every Mac Mini out there?

Apple gear is nothing special in this regard despite of all of the mindless and unjustified accolades they get.

Because you can't see past the specs you think are important. Those specs are not important to everyone. In this specific case, using regulated 12V power was important. Not important in my case as I use my Intel NUC as as small desktop plugged into a wall socket.

Re:It is really a mac mini at that point? (5, Informative)

jasenj1 (575309) | about a year ago | (#44707157)

If you read the original source [blackbettycameras.com] , they did start with a different platform.
"I started building a small Mini ITX PC and put it inside a metal frame. Using some parts from a low mode cage from an elderly Glidecam V20, I mounted the camera with odds and ends into a basic camera shape. It was magnificently sucky; The computer heat failed within a week!"
The Mac mini can also run on "unregulated 12V power when the power supply was removed; this was a huge discovery! It removed the need to add any voltage regulation into the camera design." - Jasen.

Re:It is really a mac mini at that point? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44717635)

Umm... AMD's E series processors run fanless quite easily and a PicoPSU that runs from 8-24v is easy to find. Apple does use laptop LV CPUs so you probably get a faster processor for the same power envelope though. Depends on your budget and needs.

But it has no viewfinder (1)

Hemi Rodner (570284) | about a year ago | (#44707235)

Isn't it a problem?

Re:But it has no viewfinder (1)

Maxmin (921568) | about a year ago | (#44709645)

Did you see it has a monitor? Off-body monitors are how digital camera operators view through the lens today, for the most part. Yes, for some handheld or shoulder-mounted work, operators use monocular viewfinders, but on digital rigs they're still built around a miniature lowres LCD panel anyways.

I'm sure it's a future option on this one-off experimental rig- digital camcorders have gone all-modular, from the imager, recorder, processor etc to the monitor, viewfinder, lens, mounting, light shielding and so forth. They're extendible platforms.

A fine example of.... (1)

Lumpy (12016) | about a year ago | (#44707423)

Not giving up before a project is too expensive. he could have achieved his result with many used options from canon and sony. or just buy a blackmagic.

honestly, most of the build is to keep people from laughing at the collection of parts so it looks "pretty" and has nothing at all to do with making it work. They had a working system very early on.

Windows? (1)

ZaphDingbat (451843) | about a year ago | (#44707565)

And it runs Windows?

Re:Windows? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44707839)

Yeah. WTF?

They go to the trouble of stuffing a mac mini in there but then run Windows on it?

Re:Windows? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44709699)

The mac mini can run on 12V, and their testing with itx systems overheated.

Re:Windows? (1)

pauljlucas (529435) | about a year ago | (#44709877)

Yes, in the same way any Mac can run Windows. Google "Bootcamp."

Nice camera (2)

JockTroll (996521) | about a year ago | (#44707761)

That's what real hacking is all about: getting one's hands dirty and making do with available resources, ending up with a result that's more than the sum of its parts. That's a real jock's job. A nerd would have given up without even trying and then would have made up some lame excuses. Can't wait for their pocket cinema rig.

In the day (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about a year ago | (#44708039)

There was a time when Apple might have thought of this.

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