Thursday, September 10, 2015

It's Not the Camera...

The common questions that is raised among student filmmakers is, "What camera did you use?" While each camera has it's own perk, the Phantom with amazing variable frame rates, the RED with insane resolution reaching up to 8K, or even the A7s with its outstanding low light capabilities, it all really comes down to the operator. Its proven every day on Instagram that you can produce beautiful images with an Iphone or Go Pro. But there have also been plenty of bad movies shot on high level cinema cameras as well.

Above is a video created by DigitalRev that shows filmmaker Philip Bloom create a very unique piece of work with just the camera that comes in a specialized Barbie doll. If you have the chance to watch it please do, it is quite amusing and the results will amaze you. Below is the trailer to a recent Sundance film that was shot completely on the Iphone 5s and has been one of the most talked about movies to come out of the festival.

These are just two real world examples of how the camera really doesn't matter when it comes to story. Films are about relaying a message. Even though I would love to shoot pretty Bokeh images all day long, the fact of the matter is viewership comes from how well the story is told. Only the film students in the audience will be thinking about what camera and lens the DP used, the rest of the audience will be focused on what is happening in the universe that is being created before their eyes.

Composition of shots and the technical precision of the camera work will be noticed in film only when done badly. But when done right, these factors drive the film. Blown out windows is commonly a jarring feature of a movie and the most common mistake among students is breaking the 180 degree rule. But both a RED and a Iphone can break this universal rule.

We are no longer in the age of film where every shot literally costed money. With digital media you can shoot for hours on end for no extra cost, and this has created a shift in the way filmmakers work. Any yahoo can operate a camera but doing it well is another story. 3 hours worth of bad footage will never trump the longed for 1 minute tracking shot. We are sacrificing quantity for quality and students are the number one culprit. We need to get back to focusing on how the technology we have available to us can add to the story rather than focusing on what certain cameras can and cannot do. Will 4k really make your movie better? Or is it just being used because thats what "The Hobbit" shot in? Story is the center of cinema, the camera is what relays that story, they are two separate factors that combine to make a masterpiece, but only when sculpted together with the right hands.

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