Austrian-born Nino Leitner recently posted on his widely read blog (www.ninofilm.net) about the significance of shooting 8-bit vs. 12-bit footage. Today, the Austrian-born writer, director, and cinematographer favors the 8-bit Canon C300, but he knows what the future has in store. An 8-bit JPEG can represent 16.7 million colors, whereas a high bit-depth file, offering the best image quality possible today, can represent over 28 billion. Being a narrative filmmaker, Leitner often has to shoot under very difficult lighting conditions. The added dynamic range of 12-bit shooting enables a level of control over a scene’s look and feel that is physically impossible with 8-bit. Leitner knows that 12-bit represents both his future as well as that of the film industry. The problem, of course, is that 12-bit requires dramatic change in storage capacity and performance.
Such technical improvements are nothing new to Leitner. From his earliest documentary production in 2007 to his recent work on the fiction short film ALEX, one of the first films to use the 4K raw capability of the Canon C500, Leitner has been elbow-deep in dealing with storage throughout the cinematographic process. He knows that wrong storage solution will cripple and potentially derail a project. This is why Leitner now leans heavily on storage solutions from G-Technology.
Capacity and Convenience
“Obviously, file sizes are growing exponentially,” says Leitner.“You shoot uncompressed 4K on a Canon C500 camera or something like that and you end up with huge amounts of data that need to be saved. It’s 1TB of data for 1 hour of footage with that camera—insane! And I usually try to never delete anything on-set, because that’s just asking for errors to happen. I try to pull data off only from backup copies of the drives and cards. I keep the original drives untouched as long as possible.”
The upside to this approach is maximum data security. If original copies are never touched, there’s almost no risk of information loss. Of course, this also means needing double or triple the storage capacity on hand in order to make and work with backup copies. Leitner notes doing a recent job for a railway line that yielded almost 2TB of raw footage, and he needed three times that capacity for his total workflow. On average, he uses 4TB to 5TB per month, although that number is clearly climbing.