We went to the demonstration of the SI-2K mainly to get a sense of what other companies are doing with the new technologies, and to see what aspects of the workflow might be applicable to Red. The guy from Silicon Imaging gave a great presentation with the SI-2K Mini. My overall impressions:
1) The power of marketing: I went as a Red disciple, but did find that simply hearing about all the great things SI-2K can offer made me sit up and take some notice. Just shows it really IS worth it for these guys traveling around and doing these demonstrations, because if I wasn't so brainwashed I might be getting the Visa card ready. Certainly, if I had a film I really wanted to shoot immediately, I'd definitely go for one of these SI-2K cameras. And it does put the camera on my radar. Nevertheless, at only 2K (only?!) I am still a Red 4K zombie...I mean convert.
2) Speaking of the power of marketing: the demonstration was informative-- Steve from Silicon Imaging is smart and on the level, definitely a good spokesman for the company...but I hated the footage they presented. I'm sure it was entirely appropriate for some cinematographers to see things like dynamic range and such, but it sure lacked some "wow." Just wasn't cinematic. I think if you're gonna fly that far to show your stuff, show some footage that is really artful and beautiful, with shadow and shallow depth of field, and colours, and all the things that make a bunch of pictures look like a real "movie." This type of cinematic footage might not be great for "analysis" but it seems like getting someone to buy your camera is as much about sales as it is about "data." I would like to have seen some highly treated/artfully produced footage to show what the camera can do in the right hands, alongside the footage that was good for analysis (i.e., brightly lit talking heads on a black background). They did show some footage from a feature called "Spoon" which was shot with the SI-2K in South Africa--I guess I just didn't like those images that much.
3) Where the SI-2K really won me over was the "Mini." Ironically, this is not their "real" product--they want you to buy the full meal deal camera at $20,000+. But the SI-2K Mini is what I'd go for if I couldn't scrape the money together for a Red. Seriously, 2K is enough for a low budget indie movie! And at something like $12,000, it might fit the bill for some pocketbooks. Yes, you're tethered to a laptop with the Mini, but these cables can run up to 100' or something (I'm pretty sure Steve said that). That's not really being tethered then--not really. Not for any dramatic type shooting anyhow. For sports or something, fine you don't want to run around with a cable trailing behind you, but otherwise, it seems like a very workable solution for indie filmmakers.
4) The Interface: I loved the interface and menu options of the SI-2K. I didn't think I'd like the idea of a touch-screen menu. But the demonstration made it look amazing. Very easy to navigate on the fly, even with "fat fingers" as Steve said (cinematographers eat too much, I say!). And the options like being able to freeze-frame and then re-match your camera alignment later; white balancing from any point of white on the screen (white balance is all meta-data because it shoots RAW); and the focus assist, were all pretty darn cool. And it offered way more too.
5) The production rental house where this demonstration took place is buying a few Reds. And a couple SI-2K's. They seem unsure where the future is going. It's all really precarious and unpredictable. Makes for an exciting world for an indie filmmaker, and a scary world for the established pre-digital-$50K+ type businesses.