April 1, 1994

SAN CARLOS, CA -Virtual Imagining, Inc. announced today the release of the world's first virtual camera system encompassing traditional film, video and the latest digital technologies. The VI-1000 and has been called "the perfect virtual camera system" by professionals who have tested it.

The VI-1000 camera is capable of multiple media image capture, allowing it to record both still and moving images in a variety of standard formats, ranging from 35mm and medium format film, to high-definition (HDTV) video, 16mm motion picture film and digital electronic imaging.

The VI-1000 camera body incorporates a unique, gyro stabilized prism which can focus an optical image onto a traditional film plane at the rear of the camera or on an ultra high resolution digital CCD sensor, located below. A selection of film backs and adaptors provide users with a choice of film formats. Standard 35mm and medium format backs are the most compact, and are projected to be the most popular, in addition to the camera's internal digital capabilities.

A 35mm film holder will accept traditional 36-exposure canisters, as well as long, 250-exposure rolls. The 8 frames-per-second motor drive makes the system perfect for sports and fast action shooting. The medium format back accepts standard 120 or 220 films, and can shoot at 2.8 fps with the motor set on continuous. All film backs for the VI-1000 are interchangeable and can be mounted or removed from the camera in mid-roll.

For motion picture shooting, super-16 film magazines are available in 100-foot, 200-foot and 400-foot sizes. Four tracks of synchronous digital audio can be recorded by on-board or external stereo microphones onto a small DAT tape deck built into the left side of the camera. The four tracks allow for two tracks of stereo sound, a narration track (for shooting notes by the camera person) and a sophisticated timecode track, which allows for automatic, unsupervised audio syncing at any frame rate. Super-35 and Panaflex magazines are expected to be available by the end of the year.

High definition and standard NTSC video are captured using the 6,000x6,000 pixel CCD located in the base of the camera. This CCD has an active image area of 624x624 mm (roughly 2.5 inches by 2.5 inches) with 48-bit color depth. It is capable of 60 fps capture at HDTV resolution (8-bit color) and continuous 4.8 fps at 6,000x6000 resolution. HDTV and component video can be output directly from the CCD through cable connectors in the input/output panel, located beneath the lens mount on the front of the camera.

For high resolution digital imaging, the camera utilizes the power of the VI-1000 CCD. At 6,000x6,000 pixels with 48-bits of color per pixel, the camera offers digital resolution greater than the sharpest silver halide films currently available. Light sensitivity is adjustable between ASA ranges of 100 and 3200. Dynamic range of the sensor is approximately 13 stops at ASA 100 and eight stops at ASA 3200 ­ surpassing traditional silver based materials, as well.

At maximum resolution, the VI-1000 can capture three 216 MB images per second. Sixty full resolution images can be stored on compact, rewritable 3.5-inch optical disks, inserted into a disk drive located just underneath the CCD in the base of the camera. The tremendous file capacity is achieved through a complex FPEG lossless compression scheme, which records the sums of the ones and zeros of the digital data. There is no information lost in compression of the data, although some data is lost when decompressing the files. Virtual Imagining, Inc. expects to have this bug fixed by the time the VI-1000 ships.

Three breakthrough VI-1000 optics will be available initially. They include a 13-180mm f/1.7 (T/2.0) APO zoom, a 90-300mm f/2.2 (T/2.4) Macro zoom and a 300-800mm f/2.8 (T/3.3) APO super-tele zoom. All three lenses are designed for an imaging area 5 inches in diameter, so they can be used for shooting in all formats and modes.

The lens mount offers limited tilt, swing and shift movements, providing view camera-type control. The 1.6 ounce gyro spinning at 28,000 rpm on the focusing prism stabilizes the image reaching either the film plane or the CCD. Successful hand-held exposures as low as 1/4 second have been consistently made during VI-1000 field testing. The viewfinder is a familiar reflex-type so users see the image exactly as it will appear on film. The viewfinder also automatically adjusts to the proper aspect ratio of the imaging format the user chooses. An optional light amplification module is available, which increases viewfinder brightness by up to 16 times for work in low light situations.

The camera is powered by removable 12-ounce quick-charge battery packs that power the system continuously for up to 14 hours. It will also operate on eight AA NiCads for up to 10 hours. Battery power is conserved by a sensor that turns the camera off after a five-minute idle period.

For photographers and cinematographers who want to use their existing camera lenses, the VI-1000 system includes a number of adapters for the most popular lens mounts. They are available for Nikon, Canon, Leica, Hasselblad, Mamiya, Pentax, Bronica, Sony, Arriflex, Fuji, Angenieux and Panaflex systems, as well as for standard C mount lenses. Large format optics can also be mounted with the LF adapter. Both Canon and Nikon autofocus systems are incorporated for use with those manufacturers' AF lenses.

The suggested retail price of the basic VI-1000 camera starts at $3,950. The three initial VI-1000 lenses are priced as follows:
13-180mm f/1.7 APO zoom ­ $2,895.
90-300mm f/2.2 Macro zoom ­ $3,595.
300-800mm f/2.8 APO super-tele zoom ­ $6,995.

 

About Virtual Imagining, Inc.

Virtual Imagining, Inc. is a virtual corporation formed in 1994, to develop and bring to market the state of the art in real world virtual photography technology. It was founded by Dr. Peter H. Otgrøffe (known affectionately by his peers as Dr. Photography), who became discouraged by the inadequate efforts made by established high technology firms to bring his virtual products to market. "Photography and the making of images in my mind, have always been my passions," he said. "Finally, I have created a company with powerful products that enable us to do them together.

"Previously, this level of technology was unavailable and virtually impossible to conceive," he added. "Now, virtual images are a virtual reality ­ and Virtual Imagining, Inc. is making them possible."

 

Virtual Imagining, Inc. ­ "From virtual genius to virtual images."

Qualified members of the press should request a demonstration or loaner VI-1000 unit prior to publication through the exclusive North American distributor at (415) 592-5277.

 

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©1994 Scott Highton
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