For a number of years now, indie filmmakers who could afford it would shoot with the prestigious RED camera to much acclaim. They had been promised a smaller, price-friendly version (Scarlet) but when it finally arrived it had a sticker price much higher than anticipated.
Yet the ability to shoot in an uncompressed video format seemed to be the domain only of the very rich or the studio system. DIY filmmakers adopted DSLR cinematography and compression-heavy HD cameras as a bandage-of-sorts as they looked to the Hollywood community and advertising world which had the money and the power to use all of the big-boy tools.
Image compression and image manipulation within the DSLR community is a hot topic and the dream of shooting RAW and uncompressed cine files seemed like a dream for those only with deep pockets.
What’s a filmmaker to do?
Well, two companies will roll out exciting new cameras in summer into early fall that promise us the ability to shoot films in uncompressed RAW format allowing a comparable image quality to the much lauded RED - for a hell of a lot less money.
Blackmagic designed to produce RAW cinema files
First out of the gate is the Blackmagic Cinema Camera — a stripped down DSLR looking camera designed to produce RAW cinema files that work with the industry standard DaVinci Resolve color correction system (included FREE).
Just the software alone is $1,000-plus, as the camera provides shooters to record 2.5K 12 bit images at a price under $3,000.
With a choice of lens mounts (Canon, PL adapters available), this is going to be the go-to camera for many indies.
All of your DSLR peripherals will strap quite nicely onto this camera. Combined with a small footprint and a wallet friendly price, the Blackmagic Cinema Camera is the weapon of choice for many as pre-orders are already exceeding expectations.
Digital Bolex price-friendly and film-like
For those of you looking for a more retro experience, the Digital Bolex is currently moving into production after an incredible Kickstarter campaign that raised the bar for going directly to the public and getting filmmakers worldwide to help bring the pro types to life.
Like the Blackmagic Cinema Camera, this funky filmmaking tool shoots in UNCOMPRESSED RAW FORMAT and promises to be as price- friendly and “film-like” as possible.
Initial tests look great on this rig and the name brand recognition of Bolex (the original 16mm filmmaker’s workhorse camera), coupled to the digital demands of today, make this a MUST HAVE for the hipster DOP and director near you.
Like the Blackmagic camera, the specs are user-friendly and allow you to shoot at HD or other compressed formats should you want to and you can expect to see a number of support partner and peripheral options coming soon. Digital Bolex shared booth space with Chicago equipment supplier Zacuto at NAB 2012, so you can expect to see some very Bolex specific elements by 2013.
Disc storage size to increase dramatically
Disc storage size is going to increase dramatically as filmmakers gobble up terabytes shooting in this mode - regardless of which camera they pick. As drives are becoming cheaper and cheaper still, it really becomes a question of asset management and having enough hamsters under the hood to edit the ginormous files that either system will generate.
Publishers are rushing to print support documentations and books dedicated to RAW CINEMATOGRAPHY with these platforms and already tests and sample footage are popping up on the web.
As DSLR filmmaking became the industry standard just two years ago, we are leaping into the future once again with dedicated cinema cameras capable of creating imagery on par with high performance camera packages costing hundreds of thousands more.
Julian Grant is an acclaimed indie cinema filmmaker and a Columbia College professor. His latest film is award-winning “Fallen Away.” Email news of your project to email@example.com