AJA Ki Pro Mini Scores Checkmate for Computer Chess
Retro-inspired indie flick Computer Chess received an enthusiastic response from audiences when it debuted at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival.
November 19, 2013
Retro-inspired indie flick Computer Chess received an enthusiastic response from audiences when it debuted at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. Set in the 80s and directed by Andrew Bujalski with cinematography by Matthias Grunsky, the film follows a cohort of young geniuses in a computer chess tournament as they race to design a program incapable of human defeat. To achieve a surreal aesthetic that transports audiences back in time, Grunsky captured the film using a tube camera from the 70s, converted the black and white analog signal from the camera to SD using an AJA D5D Mini-Converter and recorded the SD feed in Apple ProRes HQ with an AJA Ki Pro Mini.
From the onset of production, Bujalski and Grunsky were confident that the tube camera would facilitate the distinct look they had envisioned for the film. Cognizant of the complications that could arise from using such an antiquated camera, they began building a workflow around it. Throughout the design process, one of the largest hurdles proved to be finding a method to record footage that would be compatible with today’s standard NLEs.
“The tube camera possesses a certain magic in how it reacts to light and contrast; trying to shoot with one of today’s top-of-the-line cameras and recreate the same effect in post would’ve been near-impossible. A big challenge was figuring out how to get this older camera to communicate with digital technology from this decade,” Grunsky said. “Ki Pro Mini came up quickly in our thought process, because of its simplistic nature, compact size and ProRes recording capabilities. It was vital to getting our film into a present-day format; I don’t think any other device would have worked as well for this project.”
To obtain a black and white analog signal, Grunsky shot the film using a Sony AVC 3260 tube camera with a modern-day Panasonic monitor attached, which replaced the camera’s original viewfinder. He and his crew then used a time base corrector to stabilize the signal coming from the camera composite and fed it through an AJA D5D Mini-Converter, which has since been replaced by the new V2Digital Mini-Converter. Recording the SD feed in ProRes HQ with the AJA Ki Pro Mini, the team backed up the footage from the CF cards onto hard drives in one of the hotel rooms next to the set during shooting days. Once filming wrapped, the drives were used in post on an Apple® Final Cut Pro® workstation for editing.
Impressed by the ease-of-use and solid performance of the Ki Pro Mini, Grunsky concluded, “The Ki Pro Mini is an affordable, reliable device that gave us an added feeling of safety for recording. It never gave us any trouble and was so easy to operate, which was definitely refreshing, especially when working with an older camera that posed several risks.”
Since earning an Alfred P. Sloan designation at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2013, Computer Chess has been featured in several other prominent film festivals around the world.
About AJA Video Systems, Inc.
Since 1993, AJA Video has been a leading manufacturer of high-quality and cost-effective digital video interface, conversion, acquisition and desktop solutions supporting the professional broadcast and post- production markets. With headquarters in Grass Valley, California, AJA maintains an extensive sales channel of dealers and systems integrators around the world. For further information visit www.aja.com.
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