October 25, 2015

QuantumFilm Is an Exciting New Sensor Technology that Results in Higher Dynamic Range

InVisage QuantamFilm Camera
California-based startup InVisage is looking to revolutionize the image sensor industry with QuantumFilm, its proprietary nano-coating material that results in sharper images with higher dynamic range and more naturalistic motion.

The problem with traditional CMOS sensors arises in the fact that silicon-coated sensors become more inefficient at transmitting light as they become more pixel-dense, which is a natural byproduct of consumers' demand for higher and higher resolution cameras. The engineers at InVisage have developed a material that they call QuantumFilm, which should alleviate this problem entirely.

Here's how it works:

InVisage is also working on a technology called QuantumCinema, which has the goal of bringing cinema quality and higher dynamic range to smartphone camera sensors. Here's the description of QuantumCinema's underlying technology from the InVisage site.

Conventional digital image sensors rely on silicon to sense light linearly and therefore saturate when the number of electrons a pixel can store exceeds a fixed limit (known as a pixel’s full well capacity, or FWC). Because the FWC is largely determined by the size of the pixel in a silicon image sensor, sensors with smaller pixels in smartphones and tablets suffer most from this lack of dynamic range. In contrast, the silver halide crystals used in photochemical film have a non-linear response to bright and low light that can preserve details in more extreme light conditions.

Not only does the QuantumFilm sensor provide a higher FWC than a silicon sensor at any pixel size, but its photosensitive layer also has a non-linear response to light, just like film. QuantumCinema takes advantage of this non-linear response to expand the dynamic range of the sensor even further. The images below illustrate two scenes shot with three different cameras: a conventional smartphone camera with high-resolution silicon image sensor, a camera using Kodak film, and a QuantumFilm smartphone camera sensor in QuantumCinema mode.

InVisage QuantamCinema Comparison
With all of that out of the way, InVisage just released Prix, the first short film shot with a QuantumFilm sensor. The film shows off the QuantumCinema technology and makes use of lots of fast-moving subjects in dynamic exterior lighting situations to show how the global shutter sensor handles rapid movement and challenging lighting. Keep in mind that this was shot with a smartphone-sized sensor and is an early version of the technology. The team behind this short film, Automaton Creative, used that cobbled together camera seen at the top of the post to shoot the film.

Here's Prix:

In the BTS video, not only do we get to meet the team pioneering this technology at InVisage's California office, but we also get to see some side-by-side footage of the QuantumFilm sensor and a comparable silicon-based sensor. I'm not sure if the traditional sensor is coming from a smartphone that's on the market (the footage looks too poor for that, in my opinion), or if it's being used on a rig comparable to the QuantumFilm camera that they used.

Either way, the video is fun and educational. Enjoy!

Though the technology is seemingly being marketed towards the smartphone camera market, which makes sense considering just how massive and truly global that market is, QuantumFilm technology has the potential to revolutionize the entire spectrum of consumer and professional digital imaging. If a sensor manufacturer such as Sony — who is now the most dominant player in sensors worldwide, and who is currently aggressively expanding their sensor business — were to acquire InVisage and incorporate this technology into their manufacturing processes, we could see QuantumFilm become the standard tech in all types of cameras in just a few year's time.

With that said, it will likely take longer than that for the technology to make it into a future generation of DSLRs, mirrorless cameras, and dedicated cinema cameras. Hell, we're still waiting on that super cool graphene sensor technology to manifest itself in a product. Still, the work InVisage is doing seems like a great step forward in sensor technology, because it solves the problem of sacrificing performance in favor of pixel density and higher resolution. Now it's just a matter of getting QuantumFilm to consumers.     

Your Comment

25 Comments

Very cool technology, but DAMN is the color grading on "Prix" ugly... The exaggerated teal and orange look makes it hard to really appreciate any of the things they're trying to show us.

October 25, 2015 at 9:33PM, Edited October 25, 9:33PM

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David West
Filmmaker
1150

Yeah-- but the color grading was just one of many problems in "Prix". This short is so badly written, directed and acted that it's embarrassing. It's surprising that a tech company trying to promote a product to creative professionals would allow work this bad to represent them.

October 25, 2015 at 9:58PM

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Jeffrey Norman
Director / Editor
91

I think you totally missed the style and aesthetic they were going for with this short film. I didn't enjoy it either, but I did recognize the fact that it achieved its artistic goal with pretty good success. It's fairly obvious that this film was meant to be a cheesy hybrid of '90s kids' tv shows and Hal Ashby's filmmaking style. In any case, I don't think it was a good idea to use this film to showcase this new technology.

October 26, 2015 at 2:34PM, Edited October 26, 2:39PM

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Alexandra
Videographer / Documentary Filmmaker
399

I think that the issue is most likely the sensor, the whole point of this film is to show how good their technology is, so if it's not looking good it's just that the sensor is not good enough right now. The colorcast is very wierd, I think the poor color grading is actually the best they could do to salvage the poor color science issue.

October 26, 2015 at 5:31PM

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AvdS
1162

I liked the short. It reminded me of some of those campy 80's and 90's movies! I agree the colors were weird but it definitely gave the short a vintage look. I'm excited to see where this technology goes!

October 26, 2015 at 2:13AM

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K W
471

CMOS is now old news, huehuehue. Fuck Yeah, Mr. White, Science! xD

October 26, 2015 at 6:13AM

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Terma Louis
Photographer / Cinematographer / Editor
1586

Seems like a cheap ripoff of what Fujifilm/Panasonic are working on with their organic sensors... I smell a lawsuit a brewing!

October 26, 2015 at 7:50AM

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Hard to judge the sensor accurately when they have put such poor quality glass in front of it. Every image is flooded with the chromatic aberration and diffusion.

October 26, 2015 at 8:12AM, Edited October 26, 8:12AM

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Matt Carter
VFX Artist / Director / DP / Writer / Composer / Alexa Owner
831

I love the motion and color and highlight handling. The chromatic aberration and diffusion is from the small crappy lenses they are using - but I like that .

Anyway it's not a rip off of Fujifilm/Panasonic or even Samsung - they have it - they made a FILM with it! These guys are in the lead.

What's next, do you want to copyright every new idea? Should Oculus Rift copyright VR tech? No, Samsung and Sony are in the game too. I don't think they are getting sued.

I remember Red Camera suing Arri for stealing from them. They dropped it.

October 26, 2015 at 4:16PM, Edited October 26, 4:17PM

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Ed David
Director of Photography
1682

RED didn't sue Arri because of that, they sued Arri because Arri spyed on them, and they didb't drop it, they won. They did sue Sony for copying their technology tough, and I don't know the end of that...

October 31, 2015 at 3:52PM

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Rodrigo Prata
Director of Photography
232

Short was fine. Seemed like the image had a lot of DR, which is exciting for how small the sensor they were shooting with was. And the motion looked good, too.

October 26, 2015 at 1:03PM

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Steven Bailey
Writer/Director/Composer
1008

It's very impressive what they've done in such a short time, I'm a bit sad they used a smartphone for their demonstration. It looks like my old iPhone 4s, but with twice the DR. I'd love to see what their tech does on a bigger/higher res sensor.

If you dig into their site a bit, they discuss being able to theoretically scale the resolution of the QF to let in more or less light (bigger or smaller 'photosites'). That's fascinating.

October 26, 2015 at 2:53PM, Edited October 26, 2:53PM

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Zack Wallnau
Cinematographer & Tinkerer
642

Was the entire opening scene out of focus? The actors' faces were smeary but the bricks behind them were sharp.

October 26, 2015 at 3:24PM

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J Robbins
550

yes it was out of focus. They are using brand new tech with a bad lens. Still, it was good that something was in focus.

October 26, 2015 at 5:34PM

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Ed David
Director of Photography
1682

Headline: "Here's the tech that will murder every piece of gear you've ever spent a dollar on"
[watches footage]
*shew*

October 26, 2015 at 9:46PM, Edited October 26, 9:46PM

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Weird strobe-like motion issues from the sensor claiming to fix motion issues.
Blown out highlights from sensor claiming to improve dynamic range (at 1:30 look at boy's hair). Is this 100% pure snake oil???

October 26, 2015 at 11:32PM, Edited October 26, 11:32PM

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Ryq
178

The highlights at 1:30 aren't blown. Pull down the gamma and see for yourself. It's just a very very soft shoulder. It reminds me of 80s film stock.

October 27, 2015 at 3:19PM

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Bad colour and blown highlights. What was it, that was suppose to be good about it?

October 27, 2015 at 6:36AM

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Wildlite
168

No way. The color was fine. Looks like 80's film stock to me. I'm impressed.

October 27, 2015 at 2:45PM, Edited October 27, 2:53PM

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Mike Tesh
Pro Video / Indie Filmmaker
840

A photochromic ND filter would do the same thing for any camera.

October 29, 2015 at 7:48PM

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Dean Post
IC design engineer - sensors...
74

Sounds interesting but using an iPhone as your benchmark? That's like introducing new automotive technology and using base package Honda Civic as comparison. The iPhone cameras are impressive for what they are (meaning tiny sensor crammed into a phone with a tiny lens) but it'll never even be a pro-summer device let alone professional one.

October 30, 2015 at 9:02AM

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Douglas Bowker
Animation, Video, Motion-Graphics
261

The comparisons against the Kodak film is illustrative
of JUST HOW GOOD FILM still is!

The Kodak film is noticebly sharper, the colours are far more realistic
and the dynamic range is stunning! The other two images compare
POORLY against film.

The ONLY technologies I know that will outperform film are quantum wells
and carbon nanotube light sensors for ultra high dynamic range light gathering
in cameras and the use of quantum dots for ultra high resolution,
beyond-human-visual-system light emission technology
for TV screens and computer monitors.

This QuantumFilm is a bandaid technology that will be superseded
by quantum well and quantum dot/ single-wall carbon nanotube light
gathering and emissions once manufacturing costs become reasonable
within 10 years.

November 4, 2015 at 2:25PM, Edited November 4, 2:25PM

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Henry A. Eckstein
Director, Research and Development
251

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August 15, 2016 at 8:19AM, Edited August 15, 8:19AM

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lucavid99
147

Pass4sure 210-260 ICNS Exam dumps , It's really great technology. Hard to judge the sensor accurately.

February 7, 2017 at 2:42AM

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February 8, 2017 at 2:48AM

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sophia rose
Marketing Manager
81