But as imperfect as these images might have been when compared to the quality of raw files from the same sensors, changing the image 24 times each second can hide a lot of sin. And of course there were some really significant virtues.
First and foremost, these cameras are really cheap. If you consider that all the development costs of the hugely successful Panavision Genesis camera were initially amortized over just 100 cameras, and that the RED ONE, arguably the motion picture marketing coup of our time, is rumored to have sold around 7,000 cameras, then the significance of selling 100,000 professional quality cameras in around a year becomes clear. This, in turn allows fantastic research and development costs to be amortized over so many cameras that they can be sold at a fraction of the cost of purpose-built professional movie gear.
Second, the cameras are small and inconspicuous. As one example, the wedding scene in Up in the Air was shot with DSLRs. Camera operators wearing tuxedos passed for guests shooting still pictures and could be seen working right in the middle of scenes without distracting viewers.
Third, they offer 35mm class selective focus. Sometimes better! This selective focus is achieved by having a limited depth of field which in turn is achieved by having a large diameter lens opening. For a given lighting condition, the lens diameter is directly proportional to the size of the image sensor. Therefore, it is much easier to achieve effective selective focus with a large sensor. DSLRs generally provide a large sensor in a relatively small camera, and there you have it: selective focus from a cheap, tiny camera. Brilliant!
Finally, despite their imperfect compression, modern high end DSLRs still have extraordinary sensitivity to low light levels. ISOs of 3200 and more are commonplace. We saw even greater ISOs in tests described in this article. This is astounding and allows cinematography in previously unthinkable venues.
ASC, PGA, CAS
Last year, the Producers Guild of America and the American Society of Cinematographers compared seven high quality digital cinema cameras to film, running a specific set of tests designed to reveal the characteristics of each camera. The cameras were the Sony F35 and F23 Cine Altas, a Panavision Genesis, an ARRI D21, a Panasonic 3700, a Grass Valley Viper, a RED ONE and a 35mm ARRI -- each of which had its own crew, generally including an ASC cinematographer. Eight challenging scenes were devised, each under the direction of another ASC cinematographer. By the time we were through we had a cast and crew of almost 400.
Dave Stump, ASC asked me to shoot a scene using a single bare light bulb on the Desperate Housewives set (Ed. Note: Be sure to check out our informative interview with Dave Stump in Creative COW Magazine's "Workflow 3.0" Issue, entitled "Metadata and the Future of Filmmaking.")
I started with a close-up of a clear 150 watt light bulb with the filament showing, silhouetted against a small window. We dimmed up the bulb and an actor entered, becoming significantly overexposed due to his proximity to the bulb. We dollied with the actor as he walked to a more normally exposed spot. Dark objects in the background were significantly underexposed due to their distance from the globe. The challenge was to attempt to capture both the under and over exposed areas without adjusting the camera.
Robert Primes and his 'famous' light bulb. All photos courtesy of Zacuto, except for the title image.
Although no formal judgments or conclusions were made, this body of camera assessments showed, in my personal opinion, that well-shot digital effectively rivals film.
|Related Articles / Tutorials:|
The Lion King's Virtual Cinematography: Caleb Deschanel, ASC
Caleb Deschanel, cinematographer for Disney’s live-action The Lion King, shares how they used traditional cinematography to create the life-like virtual film. Caleb and Go Creative Show host, Ben Consoli, discuss modeling cameras and lenses for virtual filmmaking, how Caleb was able to move the sun around in virtual space to get the perfect lighting, using a real drone for the Circle of Life sequence, and more!
Shooting RED 8K for Danny Boyle's Yesterday
The magical romantic comedy Yesterday reunites cinematographer Christopher Ross BSC with director Danny Boyle to tell the story of a singer-songwriter who wakes up to discover that he's the only one in the world who remembers The Beatles. Christopher selected the RED HELIUM S35 8K sensor (with as many as 17 cameras rolling simultaneously in a single scene!) to capture a variety of looks as the story takes viewers from East Anglia to Los Angeles. With 10-15TB of footage coming in every day, this is also a workflow story, featuring DIT Thomas Patrick and the team at Mission Digital for dailies, and Goldcrest Post for online, VFX, conform, and grade.
Spider-Man Far From Home Cinematographer Matthew Lloyd
Matthew Lloyd, cinematographer for Spider-Man: Far From Home, takes us behind the scenes of the film and shares techniques for lighting and shooting massive visual effects scenes. Matthew and Go Creative Show host Ben Consoli, discuss working in Marvel’s Cinematic Universe, using pre-vis to prep for shots with VFX, creating Spider-Man’s holographic world, plus Matt’s camera and lens choice, his experience with commercial and fashion filmmaking, audience questions and so much more!
DJI Osmo Action Camera In-Depth: Taking on GoPro
The DJI Osmo Action is DJI's first GoPro-like action camera. It shoots crisp 4K video at 60 FPS, and super slow motion at 240 FPS at 1080p, also with support for HDR and terrific RockSteady image stabilization. Especially interesting: TWO LCD screens to make it easy to see what you're shooting from every angle. VFX guru and filmmaker, Surfaced Studio's Tobias G puts the Osmo Action through its paces and tells all about what he likes and doesn't, with lots of sample footage for you to judge for yourself!
Stuart Dryburgh: DP for Men In Black International
Stuart Dryburgh, cinematographer for Men In Black International, joins Go Creative Show host, Ben Consoli, to discuss creating the look for the film. Stuart talks about the challenges of working in an established franchise, filming in NYC in the snow, why Stuart prefers Arri Alexa cameras, his lighting and lens choices for the film, shooting action scenes, and more!
Capturing ProRes RAW
Apple ProRes RAW has lots of buzz, and can offer some great opportunities in both shooting and post, once you know how to capture it. Director Steve Pierce and DP Igor Kropotov explain why they love it, how to capture it on set, and what tools you can use.
Small HD FOCUS 7 4K Monitor Hands On
Here's a first look at the SmallHD FOCUS 7, a 7-inch, 4K monitor that packs significant production value in a moderate price. The monitor includes Small HD’s OS3 software, which gives users access to features such as pinch-to-zoom, waveform monitors, focus pulling, 3D LUTs, and more, in a build that's lightweight, durable, and retains mobility.
GoPro HERO7 First Look
The new GoPro HERO7 can do WHAT? Join Steven John Irby, co-owner and director of Street Dreams Magazine, for a look at the most advanced GoPro yet: HyperSmooth Stabilization, TimeWarp Video, live streaming, voice control, waterproof, and much more.
Five Cinematic Drone Shots For You To Master
If you tend to put your drone up in the air and then struggle with what to do next, or if you just randomly shoot around filling up your memory card, then this tutorial is for you. Here are 5 cinematic drone shots that, with a little practice, will take your aerial cinematography to the next level.
Filming In Small Spaces
"Penned" is a narrative series shot on location in New York, which means working in lots of small spaces. The team not only explores how these challenges call upon their highest level of creativity in the shortest amount of time, but also lay out how these challenges give some of the most creative results. The producers, director, and DP all share their tricks and advice including connecting the corners, putting light in Z space, having the lens closer to a foreground element, and utilizing high ceilings.