FAQ | apertus° - open source cinema


Table of Contents 

General FAQ

Why create cameras the open source way?

Other companies do it differently, those are not the cameras we want to be using. We believe in open designs rather than technical secrets and protected patents. Bringing together all the talent and knowledge needed for creating an affordable cinema camera that continually improves with the advent of new technology. We try to use only open or at least well documented standards for connectors, interfaces, power supplies, etc. And we promote free software.


How do you expect to make a successful business when giving most away for free or not protecting your work?

We believe that a modern business has to care about openness and has a responsibility towards its customers to provide open products. We as film-makers always wanted to have tools that we can use to enrich what we are already doing as daily business now we want to pass on these tools so others can benefit as well. Also we ARE protecting our work, with the GNU GPL license for example we ensure the freedom and availability of all assets of our software in the future.


What if someone steals your ideas to make his own product?

If somebody uses our ideas for their products - nice, go ahead. An idea cannot be protected with copyright or patents. We promote open knowledge so if you were inspired by parts of apertus° and were able to create something new because of that we are honored! If someone takes our source code/blueprints, etc. to create a closed/proprietary product this will a) violate the GNU GPL license and b) it will just cripple the product, reduce functionality. The openness of the design is deeply embedded, you can not separate the parts without losses.


I am an individual and want to contribute to the project How can I do that?

Beside donating your specialized knowledge and time is the most valuable precious you can donate to the project. This is not limited to contributing to software or hardware tasks, we also need people to deal with management tasks, writing documentation, doing graphics design or you can also be a filmmaker or DOP and provide valuable feedback or even create sample footage with the camera. Just get in touch with us with your ideas and we will together find what you could do for the project.


We are a company and want to participate in the development of apertus°. How can we do that?

Donating is a great way to advance the project. But you can also contribute in other ways. The most important thing you need to understand when considering taking this step is that open source projects like this work totally different than proprietary developed ones. There is no strong hierarchy, the project leader (benevolent dictator) is more a community-approved arbitrator and in the end the project is mainly run democratically. If you want to read more about this see this. Basically everyone involved in the project shares what he/she wants to do (propose goals) and then shares his/her progress of the development, others can comment, share ideas or improve it themselves. A lot of time is spent communicating, probably more than in proprietary projects. Everything anyone creates for the project is released (and protected) under the projects license (the GNU GPL V3 in most cases).

Again a very in depth read about financial involvement in an open source project is available in Karl Fogels online book: How to Run a Successful Free Software Project



Crowdfunding Backer FAQ

In 2014 we made a successfull crowdfunding campaing. Here are some specific question and answers we got in the course of this campaign.


When I got the crowdfunding perk for a camera at-cost voucher do I HAVE to buy the camera?

If you got a voucher for an AXIOM Beta you are entitled to get one at cost but not obliged to buy it.


Can I buy the AXIOM Beta earlier than my batch?

If you got a voucher for a camera you can decide when to actually get your camera as long as there is room in the queue.

We will first ask 1st batch voucher owners and a few might want to wait so we will fill up the empty slots with second batch owners who want to order earlier, and so on.

So getting the camera earlier than your batch might be possible depending on what people from an earlier batch choose.

Of course if everyone from the first batch wants his/her camera as soon as it is available, you'll have to wait for your batch to be produced and sold.


Can I buy the camera later than my batch?

If you got a voucher for an AXIOM Beta you can ask to get your camera later than your batch.

We will first ask 1st batch voucher owners and a few might want to wait so we will fill up the empty slots with second batch owners who want to order earlier, and so on.

So getting the camera later than your batch is always possible.

Of course if everyone decides to wait we will not have a full first batch in April and then the camera will also not have a chance to mature over time. But we think there are enough backers who cant wait to get their hands on their cameras :-)


Can I convert my AXIOM Beta to the AXIOM Gamma?

Our conversion path is that if you have an AXIOM Beta and want to change it to the AXIOM Gamma once it is available you can send us your Beta and we will reuse all components that are also used in the Gamma (like the image sensors, etc.). As the image sensor is the most expensive component in the AXIOM Beta this helps to save on the Gamma component purchases significantly. Now if you decide you do not want to get the Beta physically and only want to straight to the Gamma we can offer a very similar deal: namely that once available we build your AXIOM Gamma but those components that we would have reused from your Beta in the Gamma we provide to you at-cost if your are a crowdfunding voucher holder. So this makes the Gamma significantly cheaper again. How much the AXIOM Gamma will cost in the end is impossible to predict at this point as we are still in development with our EU consortium. Our goal is to get down the cost "well below 10.000$" but if we can really succeed with that we will only know once the EU project is finished. The savings on the Gamma will be much more than the 350€ you paid in crowdfunding for the voucher - that much we can promise!


Can I sell/give my voucher to a friend?

The camera perk vouchers are linked to personal accounts so the best way to make a friend happy is to use your voucher, get the camera and then give the camera to your friend.


I’m late to the party and would like to buy a voucher, but the campaign is finished. Is there any way ?

We already extended the campaign for two weeks to give those who just heard of the project a chance to get a late AXIOM Beta. Now we have to focus on developing the actual camera so it is not possible to buy vouchers anymore. There is a waiting list though for when a backer has to return his voucher - we pass on this voucher to the next one in line on the waiting list. If you want to get added to the waiting list please contact us.


Is an external recording device required for the AXIOM Beta?

That very much depends on what you want to do with your device and the resulting amount of data per second. For recording low bandwidth data (still frames, or video at up to 50Mbps) an external recording device is not required. You can store the data on microSD or transfer it to a device connected through Ethernet, USB or even WiFi. For high resolution and high framerate you will need a suitable recorder connected via HDMI (other IO shields will follow later on).


Why did you give away the AXIOM Beta so much under retail price in crowd funding? What was the catch?

With the AXIOM Beta crowd funding campaign we did not just try to find customers that purchase cameras. We wanted to lay the foundation for an active community that is ready to participate in defining and shaping where the AXIOM development is going and that is able to work with pre-production hardware and test new features as they arrive providing valuable feedback and contributions to the apertus° development team and community. That’s why we’re providing the hardware to the crowd funding community at cost.


Do I need to be a programmer to use the AXIOM Beta?

During the early stages it won't hurt to have some skills or at least the willingness to learn from and contribute to the software development but as soon as that early days will be over the useability will be on par if not already beyond the experience of using any other conventional camera without requiring any programming skills.


Do I need to be a programmer to use any future AXIOM?

No, absolutely not! It is of great importance to us that you - the end users - are able to access the source code and the blueprints for our designs. Whilst everything is open hardware / free software, this does not mean that you are required to study our code and implement changes. If you simply wish to use the AXIOM for film making purposes, it will operate in a manner similar to any other camera you might have used before. There may come a day, however, when you want your camera to function in a manner beyond what it was initially intended to do. In these scenarios, it's great to be able to access the source files (required for modification) and re-program the hardware as you see fit.


Does the AXIOM Beta include a video recorder?

No, the AXIOM Beta has no built in recorder, but will provide several options and add-ons to allow external recording. Currently we advise to use any existing HDMI recorder. We will work closely with manufacturers to provide “out of the box” compatibility from the popular recorders.

This being said, the camera includes multiple micro-SD ports, so you WILL be able to record 4K RAW still images out of the box. The micro SD card just doesn’t allow motion picture recording. And there is also the reached 4K raw recording option stretch goal to a PC.


Does the AXIOM Beta include a monitor/viewfinder?

No, the AXIOM Beta has no built in monitor or viewfinder, but provides all the interfaces for connecting external monitors/viewfinders.


Does the AXIOM Beta record sound?

The AXIOM Beta has no audio inputs but as it relies on an external video recorder these devices can be used to record audio in sync with the video.


Is there a 16mm / Super 16mm crop mode planned for the AXIOM Beta?

It is on the wishlist with low priority currently: http://lab.apertus.org/T246


AXIOM camera specific FAQ


Can I buy any AXIOM yet?

The AXIOM Alpha was never meant to be sold but the AXIOM Beta has been crowdfunded successfully and we presold around 500 cameras in the campaign. The next chance to buy an AXIOM Beta is when it goes retail in Q3 2015.


What is the difference between AXIOM and AXIOM Alpha?

"AXIOM Alpha" is the name of the first AXIOM proof-of-concept prototype. The motto for AXIOM Alpha is to "Keep it simple!". The features in this unit are reduced to only those that are required for core functionality. Over time, AXIOM has evolved and now designates cameras in the same family line more so than referring to one single model. Check out this overview for more details.


What is the difference between AXIOM Alpha and AXIOM Beta?

The AXIOM Beta is the streamlined version of the AXIOM Alpha. It is the next iteration in the AXIOM development process. Whilst the AXIOM Alpha is a customised proof of concept prototype (with only two units in existence), the intention with the AXIOM Beta is to give more people a chance to purchase an AXIOM camera. For this reason, we are designing the AXIOM Beta so that is smaller, lighter, more affordable, and with a greater range of features than the AXIOM Alpha. Check out this overview for more details.


Can I test/shoot with the AXIOM Alpha prototype?

At present, we only have a single AXIOM Alpha unit with a full grade CMV12000 image sensor. Please understand that we can't afford to start touring the world with this unit. If you live close to Vienna (Austria), then there is a good chance that we can arrange a testing session or discuss a project wherein we can work with you.


Why does the AXIOM Alpha have a Nikon F-mount?

AXIOM Alpha is a proof of concept prototype. For this reason, we've selected a lens mount that is simple and easy to implement from a technical view point, whilst also allowing full manual aperture control. Canon-EF mount lenses are not an option here, as pretty much all of these require electronic lens control in order to change aperture. Any future AXIOM models will have exchangeable lens mounts and will not be limited to the Nikon mount.


Why HDMI and not proper SDI interfaces for AXIOM Beta?

We know HDMI is a consumer connector and would never have entered the professional arena if it wasn't for the current wide adoption of DSLRs and other hardware designed to function with an HDMI feed. A 3G-SDI encoder (plus connector) is around $50, and for 4K data signals, you'll need at least Quad-3G-SDI. This comes in at approximately $200, and that's just for these parts alone. The HDMI encoder is around 10$ and can already deliver 4K signals. Alongside this, most camera developers have a computer monitor which can be hooked up to the camera. How many of them are likely to have a 3G-SDI display? Whilst we are very aware of SDI input / output connectors (and will surely utilise these in the future), SDI is not yet a viable primary choice for the AXIOM Beta.


Are AXIOM cameras going to be available only as unassembled DIY kits?

No, the AXIOM will come assembled and fully operational straight out-of-the-box. For people who are interested in receiving their camera unassembled and in separate parts (so as to make modifications and/or re-arrange them in a non-standard manner), there may be the possibility to do so, however we are not expecting this to be the norm.


If your question has not been answered with the existing entries please send us your question in the contact form.


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