Open source software = nothing new. Open source camera = new and amazing! The team creating the Apertus Axiom Alpha camera is staying true to their word – they promised full disclosure of the development process, warts and all. If you've ever wondered what it takes to create a complicated device like a video camera, following this project will more than satisfy your curiosity. A little technical, you can see the first images from this prototype at the Apertus web site.
So many new cameras are appearing on the market from the secret R&D labs inside companies, it's exciting and inspiring to see into the step-by-step process to make a completely new camera that will, because it's open source, be flexible and customizable by the video community rather than hidden behind closed doors.
First Images from Axiom Alpha
After a seriously busy month spent programming VHDL for the FPGA (we had a backlash when we discovered a bug in the provided memory AXI slave interfaces, which required a workaround), creating Linux drivers and scripts, testing and establishing workflows, our Zedboard is now fully communicating with the CMV12000 image sensor. We knew this wasn’t going to be a walk in the park, and to explain how complicated it is getting data from the sensor (which probably isn't that obvious to the public), try to imagine a spaghetti network of 70 wires, working in pairs, all sending signals at 300MHz in both directions, and those signals are carrying the clock and data to and from the sensor. The data itself is broken down into serial streams of 8, 10 or 12 bits for each pixel. Following this, you have to tune the delay for each line separately to get meaningful data, and you then have to align the bit-stream on word boundary again for each channel separately. Now, this is all tech-speak, but we’re hoping you’re getting an idea of just what’s involved with building a functional digital cinema camera.
The following animation visualizes the so called “FPGA floorplan”. A map that shows all the logic gates as the result of the FPGA programming. There is also an option to show how all logic gates are connected to each other. When turned on its hard to see anything anymore.
First Axiom Alpha image: DVD booklet from the last film by Oscar Spierenburg (who founded the apertus° project more than 7 years ago)
For a complete analysis of the image content, visit www.apertus.org/axiom-alpha-first-images[ Via Apertus ]
(cover photo credit: snap from Apertus)