On Shooting Movies and Stars
Digital cameras now do the unthinkable - capture a far better image than film
By Shawn Lawrence Otto | May 31, 2011 | Comments (4)
Disclaimer: You may have to be an astronomer, director, dp, cosmologist, or visual effects geek to appreciate the wonder in this post. My pal Clark Graff is a great visual effects artist, with experience creating visual magic on films like the Lord of the Rings and the Matrix. He turned me on to a terrific post by Snehal Patel over at fearless productions blog, recounting the 2011 Zacuto Hollywood Great Camera Shootout.
The truly amazing thing (this is the wonder for me) is you can now shoot a studio-quality film with a handheld camera costing less than $2,000. I've used the Canon 5D and 7D and they are, in a word, amazing. They are great for taping in a car or getting other tight shots, and yet I've shot commercials that look so great you can't tell on TV that they are not film. The audio synch problems people complained about early on with the 5D have never been an issue for me.
On my next film I'm looking at the Alexa (of course) but also the Sony F35 and one that wasn't tested in the shootout but that I like the look of, the Arri D21. These cameras cost 100 times or more than the Canons. The incremental difference on a major production is worth it because you just have so much more information to work with. These days directors I talk to are all shooting wide or medium shots and simply zooming in for closeups in post - the resolution is that good!
These wonders that are transforming Hollywood were invented by George Smith and Willard Boyle in 1969 at Bell Labs - the same place that gave us the transistor. They won the 2009 Nobel prize for their "charge-coupled devices" - CCDs - that convert light into electrons, which have changed photography, scanning, shopping checkout lanes and astronomy forever, making images such great stars as these possible.
Tags: Astronomy, Art, Filmmaking, Cool Research, Technology