Earlier in 2021 we finally solved some major software stability issues. The C++ code that runs on the Nanopi Neo Air inside the cartridge was crashing relatively often during shooting. Causing loss of captured images.
After long research we found out that this was caused by an imagefile write (the captured image) and an image file read (an image file to monitor the captured result in real time).
By changing the setup of the system, making the Nanopi run its code from fixed eMMC memory (on board the Nanopi) and writing the RAW files to its separate microSD card. The monitor files are read off of the eMMC memory while the RAW files are written to the MicroSD. This avoiding memory acces issues and subsequent code crashes due to segmentation fault.
we now feel confident to continue developing the Digital Super8 Cartridge with software that is reliable enough for the user.
Note: the Digital S8 Cartridge runs on C++ code, while it also has its own WiFi accesspoint and webserver on board. This allows users to run our HTML5 app on their iPhone or smartphone to have full cartridge control and monitoring functionality.
We shot some new footage to test the quality of the Digital Super8 Cartridge. Our software app takes the RAW Bayer images of the cartridge and performs S-Log encoding before we do any further processing. Using the Digital Super8 application we added contrast with S-curve and then applied individual S-Curves on the RGB channels to add warmth. Because Digital Super8 consists of individually captured 12 bit RAW images (global shutter) there’s a lot of flexibility in how to process afterwards. One could do B&W, natural color, warm, cool or whatever else. Also the software provided allows for export of TIFF image format.
The Nizo 801 Macro we used has some motor instability, leading to a bit of flicker.
We’ve got a working prototype of the Digital Super 8 Cartridge that runs with the Raspberry Pi 3 in an external module with touch screen. Benefits of that solution is the high level of control of operating the Digital Super 8 Cartridge and its settings through the touch screen. Plus the additional real-time monitoring of what is being filmed (in B&W) is a plus.
However the drawback is that the ‘filmtype viewing pane’ of the super 8 camera has to be knocked out of your camera in order to enable the USB connection from the cartridge to the external module.
Some people have suggested to us to try and fit all electronics into the cartridge. Clearly we had to find a smaller Single Board Computer than the Raspberry Pi. Ports and test with the NextThing Co. C.H.I.P. SBC failed as this single core ARM SBC is simply not powerful enough. Now our hopes are on the Orange Pi Zero, which sports a quad-core ARMv7 SOC in a tiny form factor. We have ported the software and the OPI Zero performs reasonably well. Great results for VGA and QHD resolutions. But we need to find optimisations in the code and push for the 720p to runs without dropping frames as well. Whether this will be at all possible we don’t know yet.
Benefits of this solution is that the Digital Super 8 Cartridge can simply be dropped into your camera and you don’t have to work with external module or screen. However the cartridge will have to provide a few buttons and LEDs for powering on/off and controlling settings. Alternatively we are looking at using VNC to provide connection via WiFi to your smartphone where you can then see the desktop of the Digital Super 8 cartridge and control its settings.
We are now waiting for the appropriate Lithium Polymer battery and boost/charge circuit and first need to get all the electronics really to fit within the cartridge. More to follow.
During our last coding session we developed the ‘ConnectCam’ button. This button allows users to functionally re-connect the digital super 8 cartridge to the raspberry pi control unit.
This comes in handy in case the USB cable between control unit and cartridge gets accidentally disconnected or wasn’t connected before the control application was started. This will help users solve small issues that may lead to a ‘DS8 Cartridge not connected’ error messages in the application.