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Axiom Open Source Camera Handily Tops 100,000 Euro Fundraising Goal 31

The Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign for an open-hardware cinema camera has closed far in the black, though the project continues to accept contributions. The Axiom's designers raised enough (€174,520, topping their €100,000 goal) to fund development of their stretch goals (remote control, active lens mount, active battery mount), and then some. If it actually gets built and catches on, it will be interesting to see what custom modules users come up with.
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Axiom Open Source Camera Handily Tops 100,000 Euro Fundraising Goal

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  • I've had a few short chats with one of the members of the team, and the tech is simply gobsmackingly droolly. The data bandwidth required for readout from the sensors alone is massive - 300 fps of 4k video, even without deep colour is 20 x that of 1080p.(around 60Gb/s).

    Congratulations for what has been years of effort!

    • by rduke15 ( 721841 )

      I guess you mean 60 GBytes per second, not Gbits.
       

      • Bits... in my world comms is always in bits per second :-)

        3840 H pixels x 2160 V pixels x 24 bits per pixel x 300 frames per second = 59,719,680,000 bits per second

  • by janoc ( 699997 ) on Thursday October 09, 2014 @04:23PM (#48106747)

    The problem is that this device will never get built. 100k is a ridiculously low budget for the production of a device of this complexity. Just to have an idea of what is involved for a much simpler device with the same budget (a silly 3D printer): https://www.kickstarter.com/pr... [kickstarter.com] Basically those guys have also asked for 100k, got them, spent a year on it - and went bust. At least they had the balls to admit it and are going to refund the backers. Going to an assembly house with less than a million in budget? Forget it, they won't even speak to you.

    That leaves assembling these cameras in a garage, by hand. Which means soldering those nasty BGA by hand - good bye any reasonable yield, not to mention that those chips aren't exactly cheap.

    Which leads to the second point - I have serious doubts about their BOM costs. If they are planning to sell the camera for $500, with the FPGA/SoC costing about $100 alone, that can't work out. The 4k camera sensor is likely in the similar range (probably more - 300fps 4k sensor? Those things cost hundreds of dollars just the bare sensor ...). Which leaves about $200-300 for everything else on the camera *INCLUDING THE MARGIN* to pay all their expenses/salaries (and they have a LOT of people on the team!). Then there are fairly expensive licensing costs for anything HDMI related, USB related (USB vid/pid costs alone around $5k!), EMC compliance testing and certification (obligatory if they want to sell it in EU/US, it is ~$10k/iteration depending on type of the device), case molds are few thousands each iteration ...

    In short, unless they have an order of magnitude larger external funding as well this isn't happening. Period. They may have a prototype which perhaps works (who knows, the videos could be fake, all pictures are labeled "concept drawings/renderings", irrelevant testimonials about open source, etc.), but they have no idea how much the manufacturing is going to cost. And I doubt that this is going to be a charitable undertaking with the team paying for this out of their own pocket.

    • by janoc ( 699997 ) on Thursday October 09, 2014 @04:29PM (#48106783)

      Oh and check out their team - "new media artistst", "filmmaker", "3D artist", "software developer" ... I don't see any electrical engineers, FPGA/signal processing experts, mechanical engineers ... Who is actually going to BUILD this camera?

      This looks very much like CLANG (https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/260688528/clang) 2.0 ...

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 09, 2014 @04:31PM (#48106795)

      They aren't selling it for $500 - $2,300 is due once its finished depending on model. Actual release price will be higher. $500 is reservation of one for backers.

      • by janoc ( 699997 )

        Sorry, even $2300 isn't enough for a device of this complexity. And anyway, they don't have that money - the backers paid only $500, so they have to fund the work from that, not from the $2300 that they may hope to get at the end.

        Also check out how much a commercially produced (including all economy of scale discounts!) camera components costs: http://www.red.com/store/camer... [red.com] Believe me, that isn't 100-200%+ of margin there.

        And the team lacking any engineers or anyone with a verifiable experience in build

        • by Optic7 ( 688717 )

          You're being a bit overly negative. This camera is nowhere near a RED competitor. This camera is going to be closer to a Blackmagic Production Camera competitor (which currently retails for $3k), at least in terms of hardware. In fact, their costs will likely be even lower than Blackmagic's, because they are concentrating on core features and openness, and will not include things like a video display, internal recording, etc.

        • by Wescotte ( 732385 ) on Thursday October 09, 2014 @07:38PM (#48107987)

          I think you are confused about what they are actually producing... The beta camera was never meant to be a fully functional cinema camera and should be treated more as a developers kit than a retail product.

          Apertus has already completed the first stage of development by building a prototype (see Axiom Alpha) capable of producing images.. The purpose of the crowd funding was to raise capital so the core team could take their current prototype and create a developers kit to expand their community of developers. The 350 euro donation let's Apertus know that not only do you want to support this project but also want to actively participate in future development by purchasing a developers kit for an additional 1900-2300 euro. Apertus is saying thank you by assembling these kits for only the cost of parts which I assume is why it seems unreasonable to produce a camera of these specs for so cheap.

          I seriously doubt many will purchase the beta model at retail when it's completed because it's not really intended to be a product. Sure, you could use it to film a movie but there are better and cheaper solutions out there. I think your comments are more geared towards the Axiom Gamma stage which is what the crowd funding/beta is the first step in.

        • Sorry, even $2300 isn't enough for a device of this complexity.

          But when you can raise €100,000 with another €460,000 when you ship you can get a business loan to cover the ongoing costs. Not to mention it is already at Alpha stage and this is only to get it to Beta and from there commercial production.

          And the team lacking any engineers or anyone with a verifiable experience in building projects of similar size?

          Well the Alpha shows they have the ability to produce the product.

    • 100k is a ridiculously low budget for the production of a device of this complexity.

      $100K is salary+benefits+overhead for one engineer for six months.

    • $100k gets it to beta, not production.

    • by tibit ( 1762298 )

      Frankly said, a paid-for VID/PID is not necessary for very much these days. You can piggyback on some defunct vendor's VID and use whatever PID you fancy. I don't think that DRM-free HDMI requires any licensing? I agree with other points though. They really need someone manufacturing savvy to set up their garage. I can't really see soldering their stuff in uncontrolled atmosphere either, you need clean room conditions - not hard to rig up a garage for it, but you need to have some upfront engineering experi

      • To use the HDMI logo/name you have to pay them. They probably have lower rates if you aren't using HDCP but to call it HDMI you will have to make sure it meets their requirements. You could probably build an HDMI port without the HDCP and not call it HDMI, but I'd wouldn't bet they don't have a patent or two in there so they can sue you dead.

        • by tibit ( 1762298 )

          HDCP in a freakin' camera? I don't think so. And I'm sure one can call it whatever they want, once the things ship there can be fees paid, compliance tests done, etc.

      • by jtara ( 133429 )

        | I can't really see soldering their stuff in uncontrolled atmosphere either, you need clean room conditions

        Huh?

        When I worked at Widcomm, we did a lot of prototype assembly with these kinds of parts. We hired a part time worker who came in after her day job soldering this stuff all day. The little workstation in the corner of our lab worked just fine. You need to get proper equipment and somebody who knows how to use it.

        But, yea, the budget is ridiculously inadequate.

        • by tibit ( 1762298 )

          For prototyping you can do whatever you want, if you've got the money to potentially wreck a $10k chip (some high-end FPGAs cost that much). For production, you really don't want any hair or dust under those hi-density BGA chips. Really, decent electronics manufacturing requires clean room conditions, no matter what you might think. When you buy anything made by brand-names like Apple, the inside is always much, much cleaner than the outside. In anything with an image sensor in it, you'd want it to be tripl

    • by Optic7 ( 688717 )

      While I agree with you that the goal of 100k Euro was a bit low (they actually ended up getting 175k Euro = 221k Dollars right now), the 350 Euro was just deposit/voucher that would allow you to buy a camera from the early batches for half the retail price. That means, you had to shell out another 2600 Euro to get the actual camera when they become available. Retail buyers will have to pay in the 5000-6000 Euro to get it.

      I'm guessing that the money from this campaign will pay to build the prototype and get

      • Digital Bolex and Blackmagic Design built a fully functional retail product where Apertus beta camera is closer to a developers kit. While it could be used to make films there are better, cheaper, and easier to use alternatives out there. The crowd funding was more about expanding their community of developers than building a retail product.

        The Axiom Gamma (next stage of development) is intended to be that type of device.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      >Going to an assembly house with less than a million in budget? Forget it, they won't even speak to you.
      >
      >That leaves assembling these cameras in a garage, by hand. Which means soldering those nasty BGA by hand - good bye any reasonable yield, not to mention that those chips aren't exactly cheap.

      That's flat our ridiculous.

      Maybe you don't work in Silicon Valley but even you don't, you should know that's ridiculous.

      Small companies routinely run 10, 20, 30 boards at assembly houses. It would be imposs

    • by gl4ss ( 559668 )

      for low run electronics assembly you don't need half a mil.. few thousand would suffice.

      now, sourcing the parts that would be assembled can be a bit trickier.

      emc compliance? silly rabbit, there's no need for that in the "new innovation economy".

    • by Art3x ( 973401 )

      If they are planning to sell the camera for $500, with the FPGA/SoC costing about $100 alone, that can't work out.

      No, the $100,000 they raised is purely for research and development. Backing the project puts you in line to later buy the AXIOM Beta model [apertus.org] at cost, which will be around another couple thousand dollars.

      I don't know the people behind this project, but because of my side interest in filmmaking I've been keeping tabs on it. For what it's worth, it's been going on for years, and this is the first time they've asked for money.

  • Buy a RedOne used and have another $5K left over to buy lenses. They will not get anywhere near the quality of a redone, and why wait for them to make something that you can buy right now.

    Honestly, it's all silly, The digitalBolex is another one that is only for hipsters. Real cinematographers, cimply use what they can get their hands on, and there is already options that are just as good for less money.

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