Magic Lantern + Blackmagic + RED = Apertus Axiom??

by Hugh BrownstoneLeave a Comment

What happens when you mash up the community ethos and competence of a Magic Lantern with the scrappy capitalism of a Blackmagic and the modularity espoused by a RED? Maybe – just maybe – you get Apertus and their crowd-funded, open source cinema camera, the Axiom.

When you think about the video technology available to the masses today – the just-announced Apple iPhone 6 Plus with 120fps, for example – let alone what is available to the indie filmmaker compared to what the giants of Hollywood had at their disposable just a generation ago, it’s beyond whine-y to lament what a giant company like Canon hasn’t done for us lately.

Guilty as charged.

Or maybe the lament is about something else: maybe it’s about philosophy and values.

It is.

That thought ran through my head yet again as I watched the Indiegogo campaign video for the Apertus Axiom, a wildly ambitious and optimistic effort to bring a different product to market – and with it, a different mindset to camera manufacturing.

To be fair, those giants have given us some amazing tools and do even better things when they compete against each other; there are more than just those giants out there; and the Apertus team are not the only ones out there espousing an open systems philosophy (hats off one more time to the Magic Lantern community).

The basic idea behind the Apertus Indiegogo campaign is this:

1) morph a community of volunteers who have been working on a
2) modular, commodity parts-based cinema camera into a
3) professional, for-profit company so that they can finally
4) bring that camera to market
5) practicing the values they espouse while they
5) disrupt a complacent, oligarchic industry which operates on the basis of
6) business principles and practices which the Apertus team finds
7) antithetical to the greater good and
8) contrary to their own culture.

Did I mention this is a wildly ambitious and optimistic? What else can you call a cinema camera with your choice of super 35 or MFT sensor; your choice of Nikon F, Canon EF, or MFT mount on day one; an ecosystem designed from the ground up as a kind of app store for it; and the gumption to take on the giants?

And yet their crowd-funding campaign on Indiegogo is halfway to its goal of raising 100,000 Euro with 25 days still to go.

You can find the details of the camera and the community itself by visiting their Indiegogo campaign.

The video especially is a hoot, and the group’s guiding principles are admirable.

We wish them bon chance.

What do you think? Worthy of backing? Sound off in the comments section below.

AXIOM Beta: The First Open Digital Cinema Camera

Meet AXIOM Beta

Axiom Beta GIF

AXIOM Beta is a brand new professional digital image capturing platform and you get access to it before anybody else does. So we want to make sure that you are aware of what you are getting yourself into. We're inviting you to be part of this journey as a contributor (you do not need to be a programmer to use the AXIOM Beta), helping to shape the final product.

Professional Digital Cinema Hardware – Modular and Open Source

axiom beta image 1
axiom beta image 2

Shape the Future of Cinematography

Axiom Beta Image 4

apertus° was started by filmmakers who were fed up with the limitations of the tools they had to work with every day. Compared to 50 years ago, cameras today are technologically far superior, but at same time a lot less accessible. AXIOM Beta intends to fix that. Full and open documentation, the ability to add new features, change behaviour of existing ones and to use any custom accessories are intended and plausible goal of AXIOM Beta.

The plan is to democratize camera technology and put the power back into the hands of the users. It is a self liberation by creating high end tools that we ourselves loves to work with – fully independent of any of the big established camera corporations. The time has never been better for such a revolution than it is today!

By contributing to this project you enable the evolvement to a new stage of cameras, a whole new world of possibilities. Your ideas and experiences will help us advance AXIOM in the future. The crowd funding backers community will play an active role in deciding where the AXIOM development is heading.

AXIOM Alpha Colorgraded Sample Footage

Axiom Beta Specs

IO Shields

Triple HDMI Shield:
3x HDMI out each up to 1080p60
4:4:4 (4K RAW output via experimental HDMI formats)
Experimental Alternating Frame High Speed output (3x 1080p60 = 180 FPS)

Breakout Shield:
IO Breakout shield for developers
more shields will follow (eg. 3G-SDI, TC, Genlock, Trigger IO, etc.),
see Future Additions

Image Processing

  • in-camera looks (4 channel LUTs) for flat/log mode per output (fully customizable)
  • real time: matrix color conversion, Fixed Pattern Noise correction, false color display, dead pixel compensation, look around, overlays
  • Entire image processing in real time through Reprogrammable Hardware (FPGA) leading to zero CPU load

Lens Mounts (passive)

  • Nikon F
  • Canon EF
  • Micro Four Thirds

(PL mount, IMS mount, Sony E-mount and electronic lens control later on, see Future Additions)


  • HDR and logarithmic response curve options (depending on image sensor)
  • built-in 3D accelerometer, 3D magnetometer and 3D gyroscope sensors(9DOF-IMU e.g. for image stabilization)
  • wide 5 – 40V input range (via built-in DC-DC converter, power monitored & power managed)
  • estimated enclosure dimensions:
  • 108mm x 69mm x 37mm

Xilinx Zynq 7010/7020 based MicroZed

Check out their Indiegogo campaign “AXIOM Beta: The first open digital cinema camera”

(cover photo credit: snap from Indiegogo)

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