Another year, another smash by Black Magic. I didn’t make it out to NAB to see the dazzling new offerings in broadcast and cinema products but with the live feeds and daily video posts it is not necessary. So there are more cameras coming out. Ok, but who was really asking for new cameras? These days we are working with smaller cameras at high resolutions. The market just gets a little more crowded and eventually there will be fewer cameras if resolution and compression stabilize. Most likely the startups like Digital Bolex will suffer the same fate as DALSA. Not enough reserves to make it through the next technical or manufacturing hiccup or the camera is too expensive for the market it was created for. But it could also be the makers with deep pockets that decide to back away. RED stopped making lenses after a short period, leaving it those that do it best.
Anyway, I was hoping to see more innovation (and lower prices) in cameras that acquire slow motion at 240FPS and above. Some cameras have pushed close as a standard feature or add-on (Arri Amira), but the Sony FS-700 still remains the best deal for short bursts of slow motion and very capable 1080 video work. With 4K add-on for that camera you are getting close to the price of a RED Scarlet, but with more features including better audio. On the upside of the the new cameras is the realization that they should still be operator friendly and shoulder mounted. The modular box is cool, but by the time you add all your third party accessories you have doubled the price of the camera.
On the horizon we have the GoPro Hero 4 being talked about with 120FPS at 1080 and 4K up to 30. Also the GH4 is shipping so there are plenty of new toys to try out. Do we really need them? Nope, but does a child with a room full of toys still enjoy a visit to the toy store? YES!
Once upon a time you could shoot 60FPS material on a video camera and use Cinema Tools to conform or alter the properties of the clip to 23.98 (or 30 if you were so inclined). With more folks using Premiere to edit I couldn’t find the solution to do the same until I stumbled upon another blog post. Within the project folder right-click on the clip that was recorded at 60FPS and choose Modify>Interpret Footage.
In the dialogue change the Assume Frame rate box to the appropriate time base for your project.
Now this does not change the size of your clip so if you recorded slow motion clips at 720 and the rest of your project at 1080 you will have to scale up the slow-motion clips or scale down your 1080 footage.
It is not often you get to chat about Cinematography with other Cinematographers in a public forum. Today I had the opportunity to discuss with my fellow Cinematographers the state of things in the MSPIFF forum. There was a packed tent with folks that were industry veterans and film students. We talked about the number of options today with electronic motion picture cameras. Too many? We talked about tools of the trade and 3 out of the 4 really missed pulling out the meter and really only Greg Winter said he still does use a meter regularly.
We talked some about lens quality and the overall shortage of quality lenses acknowledging that more lenses are being produced than ever before. Of course the discussion led to presentation and all of us agreed that digital projection is not there. Inconsistent, inaccurate, poor quality. All were hopeful that the quality would improve, perhaps. There was some discussion about the effect of not having a shutter on the electronic projection as a possible change to how we view films subconsciously.
Along with tools, we talked about how some of the lighting tools have changed, but others have not been replaced (18K).
We also had some discussion about other formats like 3D and interactive. Across the board 3D was viewed as a gimmick but Bo Hakala and Greg Winter had some interesting ideas on pushing the interactive nature of storytelling.
One question from the audience was on practical vs digital effects. Kevin Horn and I said we would prefer to film practical effects in camera and Greg and Bo brought up the idea of shooting digital effects with enhancement from the practical. Really blending the two.
Two hours went by really fast and I’m sure we could have kept chatting for at least another two.
Every year it is fun to play tricks on people with April fools. Sometimes the manufacturers come out with a post for new gear that seems so amazing and perfect, but just a little bit off. April fools. My favorite was this one on Facebook from Edelkrone.
With NAB starting very soon new gear has been slipping out just ahead of the big announcements to get more attention. One I saw was the collapsable rail from Rigwheels. Could be cool. We’ll see if Black Magic can steal the show again this year. I also think we will see a lot more stuff for flying cameras around. Gimbals for stabilizing everything. And of course lots more 4K and beyond.