AXIOM Beta USB 3.0 plugin module
If you've been following the project you'll know that, where recording data is concerned, the AXIOM Beta has relied solely on external, off-the-shelf, HDMI recorders and all the pros and cons that are known to be inherent with those devices up to now. With the USB 3.0 plugin module, however, any computer with USB 3.0 connectivity can be used as an AXIOM Recorder. This will allow us to define format/container/metadata/etc. of uncompressed raw 4k footage for the first time. The software for this is in development and first tests have showed the data exchange between camera and a connected PC over USB 3.0 is working well (albeit with some room for improvement). One AXIOM Beta USB 3.0 plugin module provides users with around 400MB/S bandwidth (3.2Gbit/s) and, in theory, this can be doubled by utilising two of the Beta's module slots. If everything works as intended this will allow for the recording of uncompressed 4K raw data, plus metadata, directly from the Beta in any frame-rate that available bandwidth can handle.
AXIOM Beta Naming Scheme
When we first started the AXIOM project, one of the underpinning motivations was that we wouldn't emulate the common trend whereby cameras are given artificial lifespans that make users feel they need to constantly replace their camera with a newer model in order to benefit from slightly improved features. As is typical in development we naturally used version numbers eg. AXIOM Beta I, AXIOM Beta II etc. but it eventually became obvious that this numbering could be perceived as one version superseding the other, or one model being more powerful than another, when there's no sequential nature to versions at all in fact. To make options clearer we are renaming the different AXIOM Beta enclosure variants.
|Planned AXIOM Beta Enclosure Options:|
|Developer Kit (DK)||A skeleton frame provides support for the electronics, lens mount (e-mount) and tripod footplate. No surrounding enclosure allows for easy access to the AXIOM Beta's core components and their connectors.|
|Compact (CP)||This enclosure option provides a solid but lightweight aluminum layer around the camera's electronics and incorporates several mount points and future expansion slots. Great for rig integration or general in-the-field protection.|
|Extended (EX)||With the Extended enclosure the AXIOM Beta resembles the golden age of film cameras. With ergonomics in mind and space for an integrated recording device (AXIOM Recorder), this enclosure is ideal for shoulder mounted operation.|
We would love to see members of the community eventually design and name their own enclosures, but in the meantime these changes should make the newcomer's decision-making with respect to which enclosure is right for their needs much simpler.
AXIOM Beta Compact
The AXIOM Beta Compact enclosure can be considered as being in its final stages of CAD design. The renderings below demonstrate current design state - thick, CNC milled aluminum parts that will give camera electronics considerable protection in demanding film shoots, with several mount points having been added on different sides so that attaching accessories or integrating AXIOM Beta Compact into rigs is straight forward (partly inspired by the Silicon Imaging SI2K). Initially we designed an enclosure around the camera's PCB stack as this promotes scope for rig customisation but we've also been mindful that some users may demand something that could be considered more ergonomically sophisticated (EX).
AXIOM Beta Compact Shell
In the event that some users should require yet more mount points and thread-holes than those incorporated into the standard enclosure we also wanted to provide an optional solution that offers even more protection and flexibility. It's commonplace for film-makers to mount their camera inside what's commonly known as a camera cage, but on this note, and in accordance with what AXIOM Beta is about, we felt that the word 'cage' implied restriction or imprisonment of some kind, so we decided to name this solution AXIOM Shell.
Inspired by 35mm film camera magazines of yesteryear we set out to design our own portable recording PC package combination. The search for a small form-factor PC lead us to the INTEL NUC, an ideal platform measuring in at 4x4 inches (10x10cm). The NUC provides serious computing power whilst being reasonably affordable, it consumes moderate degrees of power, and because it uses off-the-shelf electronics, in the apertus° and open source spirit, it also encourages people to modify and adapt the recorder. In addition, having a powerful PC at hand would allow us to also take care of various other tasks, e.g. transcoding preview clips/dailies while the camera is not recording or uploading clips to remote servers, onsite backup systems, or video distribution platforms for quick and easy offline-editing. Another nice aspect to this solution is that the recorder PC can scale from small form-factor, low capacity solutions with just one SSD, to larger, raid-based solutions with multiple high capacity SSDs, simply by using off-the-shelf hardware. Naturally, this AXIOM Recorder would utilise the USB 3.0 connection provided by the aforementioned AXIOM Beta USB 3.0 plugin module.
AXIOM Beta Extended
From the feedback gathered around the AXIOM Beta Compact enclosure design concepts it became clear that integrating a small camera body within a typical rig setup would work for a lot of users, but that there was also demand for a highly ergonomic camera body. With this in mind, and by taking advantage of the fact that AXIOM Beta Compact is in the closing stages of planning, we wanted to be mindful of the possibilities where the project's future evolution is concerned. After a lot of consideration, discussion, and the examination of systems proven to work well in the past, we worked through a total of ten concept iterations to modernise good camera ergonomics. With a fully integrated enclosure system's modular nature being a key requisite, it was clear that allowing for the positioning and rotation of an AXIOM Recorder and AXIOM Remote across several orientations, and thereby accommodating for the full range of shooting scenarios, i.e. hand-held/shoulder/tripod/jib/crane mounting, would be essential. The design was also complimented with a large number of mount-points to provide flexibility where accessories are concerned. Feedback of course is encouraged and a thread on AXIOM Labs for this purpose can be found here.
We designed AXIOM Beta Extended concepts inside computer programs, so in order to get a better feel for the dimensions of these CAD models in practical terms, and prior to our printing 3D representations, we spent some time making actual-size builds from Styrofoam. This allowed us to fine-tune design and ensure that the enclosure will work well in all shooting environments.
AXIOM Beta Extended Roadmap
Of course, this system should be seen as something that hasn't yet got off the workboard and improvements may be made to what's been showcased today. Nevertheless, incorporating AXIOM Beta's core printed circuit boards into the enclosure in the future can be expected to be a relatively simple transition for camera owners. At some point during 2018, upon such time that project backer AXIOM Beta Compact orders have been satisfied, it's likely that we'll start to look at prototyping for AXIOM Beta Extended and thereby offer the upgrade to existing camera owners and project backers, first, as and when it becomes ready. On this note, where project backers are concerned they'll have the option of purchasing either an AXIOM Beta Compact or AXIOM Beta Extended enclosure at cost, but unfortunately we're not sure, specifically, what this cost will be yet. A better idea will be gleaned when we start milling/constructing the first prototypes of each. As per, the community can expect complete transparency regarding costs, though. What this article is intended to demonstrate is that, first of all the flexibility of the camera means that scope is there for its being adapted around many form factor solutions and that, also, we're listening carefully to feedback from the community.
AXIOM Beta Compact General Update
You may remember that almost three months ago we listed eleven items that are presently being worked on here. We're pleased to report that this list is gradually shortening as items complete - The past few weeks have seen good development on the hardware production side with our pick and place machine becoming operational, modules either completing or nearing completion, works on CSO (Center Solder On) modules beginning (dealing with inertial measurement unit (IMU) e.g. acceleration, orientation, magnetic field, air pressure Re camera 3D motion tracking or image stabilization in the future), and Version 2 Powerboard and Dual 6G SDI plugin module prototype PCBs being ordered, on the software side with AXIOM Beta automated firmware image creation (GitHub), REST API and control daemon (GitHub) progressing well, and on the documentation side with things like user manual restructuring and website materials being updated. There's still a lot of work to do but we're happy with the level of progress since our last report.
Join the Development
If you're not a project backer and would like to receive an email notification when we're ready to accept pre-orders of AXIOM Beta Compact, see this form, and if you'd like to contribute ideas please consider creating a profile in AXIOM Labs - AXIOM Beta Extended Enclosure thread can be found here.
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