Seems almost every week or so a new camera is released these days... Just this week there are new offerings from Sony, Canon, Panasonic, and Blackmagic.
I'm exaggerating a tad bit of course on the weekly release, but it's not far from the truth. And this is a good thing... no, GREAT thing for filmmakers everywhere.
Since the release of the Canon 5D three or four odd years ago filmmakers have had the ability to create very cinematic images at previously unheard of low prices.
But it wasn't always like this...
When I started making films in the mid to late 1990s we used 16mm film.... and it was very expensive to shoot. Not necessarily because of the camera rentals (very few folks owned their own rigs then) but because of the purchase of the film, the processing and then the transfer to video (DigiBeta or Beta SP back then, no HD!).
Before the rush of affordable video cameras began (in the late 90s and early 2000s), we were all in awe of an affordable Russian made 16mm camera called the K-3 (Krasnogorsk-3). At the time it was revolutionary for it's functionality and price (around $700) - I bought one and used it a lot. It of course wasn't a sync sound camera - way too noisy and wasn't blimped. So we'd shoot a scene and then have the actors do the scene again - right after we shot - to record the audio (with no camera running). Yes, seriously, that's what we did. But again, never before had we been able to afford such a "professional" camera (we had used 30 year old Bolex cameras prior to that).
In 1997-ish (as I recall) the Sony VX1000 was released and it took the indie film world (along with the corporate video world) by storm. It was a sub $5000 camera that shot to Mini DV tape but only in the NTSC interlaced format. It was revolutionary at the time. And I put my K-3 on the shelf (for the most part).
The big rage then was finding software that would make your interlaced video "look like film". Of course it never really did, although we thought at the time it looked pretty good and compared to the footage directly out of the camera, it did. Wow, were these the dark ages, huh?
The Next Big Thing didn't happen for several years.
It was around 2003-ish when the Panasonic DVX100 was released that shot 24p... now this really looked like film! This was the go to camera for indie filmmakers for several years - and to think that it was originally only a 4x3 aspect ratio camera. I don't think it was every truly a wide screen camera, but a later version did have a 16x9 "mode". I say this because it's unfathomable to shoot anything but widescreen today.
And speaking of today... we're now all so very spoiled.
I mean seriously, you can get 1080 HD video out of an iPhone that rivals or is even better than full on video cameras from just a few years ago. It's really amazing if you think about it.
During my 16mm film time in the 90s the main kind of video camera was a Sony Beta SP camera. Those could easily cost $50,000 or more. And DigiBeta were $100k! To that point, when I hear folks today complain about a $15,000 camera (like the Canon C300) I seriously have to roll my eyes. As I mentioned, we are all so very spoiled now.
But I guess in reality, that too is a good thing.
Filmmakers today really have NO excuses for not making great looking films. None.
The hard part of course is making good films. And that's really what it's all about these days (or should be). The camera is no longer an obstacle.
In the past you were often commended for making a good looking film, even if it wasn't very good. It was very, very hard as an indie to make a "real" looking movie just a few years ago. I used to take it as a huge compliment when my friends or family would comment on my work and say, "wow, that looks like a real movie" (usually meaning it was shot on film).
But today, pretty much anyone can make a "real" looking movie with the help of all these great cameras at our (affordable) disposal.
To name just a few of these incredible devices:
1. RED Scarlet (4k/5k camera)
2. Canon C300 (and soon to be released C100)
3. Canon 5D MkIII
4. Panasonic GH3 (just announced)
5. Black Magic Cinema Camera (rolling out as we speak)
6. Sony FS100 or FS700 (amazing bang for the buck)
And there are a dozen more that are all within reach. These are all affordable cameras (purchase or rental) to every filmmaker out there. Like I said, no excuses for making good looking movies today.
Now if we could all just concentrate on making good movies (myself included).
Maybe that'll be the Next Big Thing.
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Who Am I?
I also created the Streamy and Webby award-winning web series PINK, which to date has been viewed online around 10 MILLION times at places like YouTube, Hulu, Koldcast and TheWB.com. And speaking of TheWB.com, I also produced and directed an online thriller for them called EXPOSED. It was released summer 2010. And most recently I created a new online sci-fi series called CONTINUUM, which is part of the online indie TV network JTS.tv - Just The Story and NOW available via VOD through indie platform Distrify.
Oh, and I don't shoot weddings. Thanks for asking though.
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