Kodak PreView System

Discuss older Nikon-based Kodak digital SLRs, including DCS 100, DCS 200, NC2000, DCS 400/600/700-series, etc. Ask questions, post general comments, anecdotes, reviews and user tips.
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Kodak PreView System

Postby Ashley_Pomeroy » Sun Jul 03, 2011 9:46 pm

While doing some research for one of my older blog posts about the Canon D2000, I stumbled on some information - thank you Google Books -about the Kodak PreView system, which intrigued me. I haven't read about it before. It was aimed at cinematographers, as a means of judging exposure, and consisted of a Canon EOS-1n-based Kodak DCS 520 modified to work with Panavision Primo lenses. As I understand it, APS-C and 35mm motion picture film have roughly similar diagonals depending on the aspect ratio, so I'm not sure if the focus screen, viewfinder etc were modified. There was also some software that presumably did remote shooting and preview, and I can only assume that it didn't have any kind of Live View, which would have been splendid but probably technically infeasible unless it was at a very low frame rate. This would have been 1999, about the time the moon was blown out of orbit and then sucked through a black hole.

Damn, that episode where the man wakes up in the casket - and he's trapped! And the one with the tentacles, and the smoking corpses. Brrr. And Martin Landau's scary face. But still, the Kodak PreView system was apparently used to shoot The Haunting and Rocky & Bullwinkle, neither of which covered themselves in box-office glory, although the latter film had Rene Russo which is always a good thing. Literally the only non-Google Books reference I could find was this:

"Another Kodak product, the PreView system (see "PreViewing apparitions," page 75), marketed by Panavision, helped to compensate. With the system's digital camera and software that simulates film stocks and other cinematographer's tools, Lindenlaub could print out a previsualized image of a scene before exposing any footage. Though the system has any number of potential uses, on The Haunting, Lindenlaub primarily relied on it as a record of looks. "Especially on this movie, I had to relight the same directions on the same sets over and over again," he says."

I wonder if Kodak patented the whole "electronic system for emulating film stocks with software" thing. It might explain why the Fuji S3's film simulation modes are "F1" and "F2" instead of named film stocks (which always puzzled me; they were Fuji's own films!). It sounds like the kind of generic but fundamental thing that a company would patent. I surmise the PreView system sold in tiny quantities and was quickly superseded by real-time digital video previous, or perhaps Panavision hired out the systems and then disposed of them once they had done their business. I wonder what happened to them? A Kodak DCS 520 with a Panavision Primo adapter would be a thing to behold (as far as I can tell there are modern-day EOS-Primo adapters, so there'd be no point in e.g. stripping the camera down and grafting the mount to a 5D MkII).

The article as a whole is yet another reminder that no matter how terrible a Hollywood film, a small army of professionals busted a collective gut in order to make it. They sweated blood. And all that talent was just wasted, like a Formula One ace who gets stuck driving for Minardi.

Stan Disbrow
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Re: Kodak PreView System

Postby Stan Disbrow » Fri Jul 08, 2011 11:40 pm


Motion picture cameras drive the film the other way, so what we think of as height is actually width. So, the APS-C sensor size is just about the same as cinema 35mm film. I can see where this would have worked great to dial in exposure for a cinema camera using the still cameras histogram. :)


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