High Definition

Hans in HD

The other day, I ran across an innovative new little POV videocam, produced by Sony, and posted the info in a  link to my Facebook page.

It breaks ground in a number of very important areas, oh and check out the price tag.  $200.00

Sony HDR-AS10 HD Action Camcorder

The conversation that ensued on FB with some of my talented colleagues, underscores how we as content creators, are moving into a new arena, one where POV may be  the simplest and most flexible to convey in the history of Cinema, and we are able to do it inexpensively and without a lot of fuss.

Almost 2 decades ago, I was fascinated by the arena of high speed motion picture Cinematography and was forced to design and build quite a few systems at great expense. Those motion picture camera systems were fairly bulky and complex, weighing up to 6o pounds per unit and capable of shooting up to 500 frames per second. I still have them all. They still work perfectly. But everything has changed and continues to really come together, with some companies listening to the right people and some others taking bad input and completely missing the ball.

Right now, I am particularly impressed by two camera Companies. Sony, and Black Magic. Canon, whose systems I have used and which made my stills career: not so much. It seems that they only have conversations with idiots these days. I sometimes wonder if they will survive those, after some recent developments I have been sad to watch occur.

One need only to look at the Red Camera System and you see  how a competitive market, demands critical, accurate informational input by users, for company product design and development. I have only shot on the Red System a handful of times. I won’t be purchasing one, nor would I rent one to bill out to a client. For me and what I do, they simply are not facile-versatile enough, and are approx 4-10 times the cost of other systems that will completely satisfy any end user demands, are simple, reliable, and that I could actually justify owning.

This was illustrated last year when a VERY talented DP and I were out collecting some footage for a TV Pilot pitch reel for a surf show. He was on the Red. I was filming with a Canon 5DM2 and the Canon 600 F4 IS. We were on a pier, pre dawn. One of the guys comes walking up and casually mentions he is going to do a  back flip off the pier with a surfboard. “Hang on a sec” I said and switched lenses, made a quick camera setting adjustment, and walked over to where he stood. “Okay, ready, I will cue you. 3, 2 1 Action” and I watched through the LCD as he did a perfect backflip, and handheld, I got a flawless capture with camera move.

I walked back over to my colleague and played back the shot. This is what he said. “My God that is perfect. I could not get my system in position or up fast enough to get that” My comment was this. “In this rapidly changing world we come up to speed or we are out of business”. The rest of the day went like this, as we filmed down at Zuma later, and I swum that same system I had shot the backflip with, and captured imagery infinitely more compelling than the Red could have.

This is just where we are today. It is about being there and not being in the way with our gear and systems ramp up times, while capturing a file that will be adequate for accurate post production, and delivery for web, broadcast or the big screen.

Here is a great review of the Black Magic by Philip Bloom.

Lest one thinks I have lost all faith in Canon, here is what I consider to be the single best camera in their lineup for Video, basic Cinematography and Commercial stills. It costs approx 750.00 and is generally known in our US Market as the Rebel t4i. I have access to a lot of high end and complex subjects, and use a lot of different cameras to capture those. I  always have a Rebel or two around. I have never seen one fail, and I shoot in the water a LOT. It even features phase pixel AF tracking in video mode, something the new flagship 5DM3 does not have, at 3800.00.

I continue to be stunned at what I see head our way daily, both good and bad. I spend a lot of time on study and research, as well as shooting. My colleague, Rob Dafoe, who is a talented DP and Editor,  pointed it out the other day. Systems are going off the back and being jettisoned every day due to inaccurate design and poor ROI (return on investment, time as well as money). For an independent creative, ROI is everything, and time, well you do not get any new seconds added in your life, and some companies take great liberty in stealing yours if you let them. Best not to give them that option.

In this thread are a few stills I captured that are fairly high bar. Easy to do, now, compared to 10 or even 5 years ago. But I also have the footage from these days in Motion, captured on the Rebel, the 5DM2 and the GoPro HD systems, that would have been impossible, prior. I shot these for Corbis Images, general editorial, and for the Ocean Lovers Collective, which I am also building a series of branding-message video pieces for, that will screen online, and in a couple film festivals.

My expensive, heavy, and most excellent high speed film kit, may be a museum piece soon.

What it is.

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