Discuss what emerging technologies like the Red camera mean to you, and if you’re a purist share your insights of on the debate of film vs HD. The saga continues, would like to see how this plays out.
Robert Richardson is the greatest cameraman working today, in my opinion.
The timing of this post is uncanny. I just sent the following e-mail to some friends in London about a short film called Curfew that’s just been made, funded by the UK film Council through their Digital Shorts program and shot on, yep, RED.
“I watched Curfew….Let’s turn to more important issues. The cinematography. Colour and contrast levels are just what we’ve been led to expect. Exterior scenes are sumptuous! The quality of the image in tableaux shots is very impressive indeed…providing the action stays pretty still. As soon as anything moves quickly in the frame the strobing is awful. One moment it’s glorious celluloid, the next it’s a horrible hyper-realism. The latter looks fine in a hip hop video or an extreme sports commercial but here it’s ghastly. Very distracting. Like looking at a bad projector image. What the fuck’s going on there? Is it the frame rate? And if so why not go with a different frame rate? I don’t get it. Wasn’t it apparent to the DoP? First serious doubts about RED creeping in. Thoughts please.”
I’m noticing this flickering more and more in short work shot on RED. Now I can ask you guys here at TA for your thoughts as well.
Film in my opinion will usually beat out digital. But for a low budget filmmaker the best bet is digital. Like mumblecore film is almost all sot on Digital and it comes out rather nicely although I don’t necessarily thing mumblecore is famous for its camera work. I guess what I’m saying is a great film can be made on digital but film will usually be better.
I also agree with Carl on this one. 30 fps looks terrible once there is lots of movement, why they don’t change it to 24 fps is a mystery to me as well. But other then that the red camera is quite amazing.
What I’m starting to dig lately is the way late 90s/early 00s DV movies look.
I doubt I’m anywhere near as qualified to speak on the subject as you others, but from my own perspective, all things digital have been a monkey’s paw blessing that takes with one hand while it give with the other. (Mixed metaphor? Sorry, but it sort of fits.)
The problems I hear from folks regarding video are pretty similar to what’s been brewing in the realm of music. Everyone loves the convenience of the technology without realazing what compromises there are in things like resolution and texture. The final product is unnatural, and—whle it may sound like a bit of a stretch, ultimately dehumanizing. (I liken the sound of mp3 to aural styrofoam—but try to find anyone under 30 without a player of some sort.)
To my mind, digital has been indispensable for what it can do regarding restoration, archiving, and mass-production. But as regards the initial stage of creation, forget it. It was heart-wrenching for me to hear David Lynch say he was abandoning film for digital; sort of like hearing Neil Young embrace lossy sound.
Digital is a relatively young medium, but so is film. To be honest I believe it’s usually content over format, but for the sake of debate film will look better for the time being. Digital technology is evolving and will continue to evolve and eventually replace. In many respects it already has, theaters are integrating digital projection and many comedies are shot digitally. SUPERBAD is one film that comes to mind, I think they used the genesis, it seems to be a dollar and cents thing because comedy is a genre that tends to favour content over visuals.
The wonderful thing about digital technologies is that they level the playing field allowing more people to become filmmakers and tell the stories they may never were able to before. This technology allows for coverage, that is the biggest advantage it offers, film is very expensive with all of the processing and transfers regardless of finishing.
Having a chance to shoot some test footage for the red I have to say it’s the next step, not quite there, but almost there.
Red has proven its advertizing in generating buzz as if everyone is still waiting for the results of that camera (Red 1) to this day, while Hollywood has used digital for quite a while. The Genesis, The Arri model, these are working in Hollyweird on a daily basis alongside the lovely Panaflexes.
A hundred years of film, and the attendent mentoring and old school ‘climbing the ladder’ has given us not just a process in different countries that has made for solid great crews and craftsmen, along with the regular improvements in film stocks, but also a language that is like any foreign tongue: you have to learn it to speak it well to use it.
The ‘level playing field’ assumes that ‘becoming a filmmaker’ means you are satisfied with compressed video as your format, having bought one of the new low level cameras. It may be HDCam, or similar, but it has a look that has nothing to do with film, and nothing will make it so. Marshall McCluhan will now raise his sign again saying “The Medium is the Message” and that is still truth.
It is telling that the camcorder people still refer to themselves as ‘making a film’ as opposed as the (perhaps poisonous) notion that they are, in fact, making a video. How about ‘making a production’? Could that possibly still the waters a bit and make them sleep better?
I shoot broadcast video (regular and HD) and I have no illusions about it being that high on the food chain of picture qualtity, relative to film.
In the end, it is the esthetic that wins. If you know and look at film and video in a way that is freeing and smart (composition/images/editing) and let the greats of the past and present guide you, you can do good things that can overcome the cheap cameras and their looks. It does take extra work, and it will not be film, but you can win on different terms. What riles me are the folks who insist there is no difference between said formats and the resultant differences we always see, even if we “don’t see them”.
Claus, good points.