Quick, easy and high spec. That was our brief for the Witness system we built.

For our recent New Pictures and Netflix production, The Innocents, we needed to build something that we could employ quickly, wouldn’t be intrusive onset and met a particular price point.  Capturing multiple angles, performances or moving objects enables a smoother match-moving process in post-production for use with VFX augmentation.

Testing the system and working out the best configuration.

Traditionally, witness material can be captured with a range of cameras and formats by small camera teams involved to do just that. It gets expensive, it can be time-consuming, data wrangling can be involved and all of sudden you have tons of people to manage.

To avoid the complexities of multiple cameras on set and keep it manageable, we built our own witness system that’s portable, cost-effective and technically the best it could be.

The system comprised entirely of a Black Magic end-to-end system created like a multi-camera studio in a box.  We had a four-camera head system all shooting with fast, matched, 14mm primes. We recorded genlocked images to UHD ProRes via 10 bit SDI onto a matched set of HyperDecks. The system was controlled and monitored with BM’s ATEM, which enabled a single person to monitor and control the four cameras from a remote location (up to 30M away). The cameras were mounted, neatly onto C-Stands for ultimate portability but could be mounted anywhere we could get a K-Clamp. The current system is capable of eight heads, four over SDI and four over HDMI. The system can be easily scaled to have more cameras by installing a  bigger ATEM .

Four witness cameras record the main performance during a MoCo move.

We are now working on developing the system further to offer a quick way to capture textures and marker-less witness capture using IR techniques.

The system is available to rent for your own needs through Brownian Motion.

Blackmagic Design’s press release about the system can be seen here.