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Re: Thunder and Spirit

Several people have asked questions about Thunder from Kodak and its
relationship with Spirit (and URSA). If someone from Kodak or Philips replies
their answer will be more authoritative than mine, but this is the result of my
journalistic researches.

A very long while ago Kodak wanted to make a high definition telecine. They
carried out some developments, including coming up with the idea of a two-level
CCD block, and offered them to the manufacturing industry. As you would expect,
Cintel was the first to bite, and worked with Kodak for quite a while before
they fell out. The disagreement was fundamental: Kodak believed that a high
definition telecine had to be CCD, Cintel believed that it could be done, and
better, with flying spot.

So Kodak and BTS (as it was then) formed a partnership, eventually resulting in
the FLH-1000 high definition telecine, of which four entered service (including
Producers' Color in Detroit and Channel 4 in London). Although it was assembled
by BTS in Darmstadt, significant parts of the telecine - including the lenses
and light sources as well as the CCD blocks - were made by Kodak.

Spirit is a development of the FLH-1000. The big difference is that, as well as
a high definition output it has a standard definition output (so that, to answer
Benjie Lopez) it can act as a regular telecine like the URSA. It also has what
is known as a 2k data output (actually 1,920 pixels across the film frame in
luminance), suitable for feeding into digital film workstations.

Because of its derivation it uses the same CCD block which is optimised for
HDTV, so at 2k it cannot quite make real-time scanning: it can run at a maximum
of a little over 23 frames a second. This is academic, as there is no way to
transmit the data at that speed, so 6 frames a second is about all you can
expect at present. As a telecine, of course, it runs at real time.

It was always the intention for Kodak to produce its own version, and I
understand it will be formally launched at IBC. The difference, apart from the
paint job, is that Spirit from Philips has raw RGB data output, Thunder from
Kodak is ready formatted for Cineon.

I have no confirmation of this, but I cannot imagine that a company as clued-up
as Kodak would attempt to charge a million dollars or more for Thunder if it did
not have the full range of outputs, so I am sure that, like Spirit, it will have
the three alternative (though not simultaneous) outputs for standard definition,
high definition and 2k data.

Hope this helps for now. We should all know more when IBC opens next Thursday.