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You Don't Need A New Camera


fuzzynormal
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This is related to the film making tangent going on in the motion cadence thread.

I like new cameras.  I own way too many of them.  But, I also like to remind myself that the camera doesn't really matter all that much.  We can accomplish more by worrying about the storytelling craft rather than the technical craft.  And I really enjoy the technical craft, but it's not expression.  It's engineering.  Sure there's certain creativity there, but I'm now trying to be more of the architect.  (not succeeding yet, but trying)  

As indy film makers I believe too many of us strive for technical achievement at the expense of the other ingredients.  This website is aimed squarely at jack-of-all-trade sorts of people, but ironically focuses it's editorial content mostly at gear.  Not a bad thing, mind you, it is what it is for practical reasons.

Still, many new film makers don’t need motion picture cameras at all.  This is a cool evolution of the craft that is happening more and more as we move deeper into the digital era.  Some directors are so creative and inventive all it takes is their imagination —and a lot of time locked away in their bedroom in front of a computer.  Well, okay, the camera is a requirement for some of the work, but it’s not the priority.

Has anyone been following the film making career of Don Hertzfeldt?  His films are gems of emotional existential storytelling.  Hardly any of his techniques rely on fancy camera gear.  Rather, using lush soundscapes and crudely drawn stick figures the guy is able to make narratives that are completely engaging.  It’s decidedly low-fi film production, but by no means does it lack in sophistication.  Quite the opposite.

On the other end of the spectrum are technical achievements such as Erik Wernquist’s “Wanderers”

It’s a CGI masterpiece.  By Hollywood standards it’s not CGI that’s an overwhelming violent spectacle, but it’s spectacular for so many other reasons.  His images, familiar narration (a famous scientist), and storytelling prowess, combine to create awe and inspiration.  Images used to create his short were mostly from NASA.  With a large dose of patience at the seat of his 3D software he’s created an extremely memorable film.

These are just two examples that I’ve been impressed with over the past few years, but many many more are out there.

When it comes to films wherein the motion picture camera is not the primary tool what are some of your favorites?

It's such an exciting era of film making!

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I fully agree

but at the same time, we are mostly cinematographers, not directors on this board.  And DOP obsess over lenses, filtrations, film stocks, etc etc etc - I can't stop obsessing myself while I should be doing my comedy writing.  

 

ARGGG it's hard - this internet and these boards have so much information floating around that no one in my normal life ever wants to talk about .

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I fully agree

but at the same time, we are mostly cinematographers, not directors on this board.  And DOP obsess over lenses, filtrations, film stocks, etc etc etc

I don;t agree.  Since most here (including myself) will very unlikely be drafted in to undertake the sole job of shooting anything of worth without shooting something of worth before hand, those obsessing about gear prior to making a single completed piece of artwork are doing so for no real purpose other than to feed the consumer within (IMO).  I imagine Bob Richardson wouldnt be where he is today if in his early days he had been on forums all day looking for the newest most high dr camera instead of doing work putting him in the eyes of people like Stone in their early years.  If it hadn;t been for his proactiveness in actually making do with what he had, Tarantino wouldn;t have drafted him in for what is the only 'real cinema' being shot in hollywood right now.  For that matter, if Tarrantino had been sat watching NAB coverage instead of writing R Dogs he probably wouldnt be where he is today.  

 

Almost everyone here will need to write their own piece (and shoot it), and probably edit it, distribute it, etc and make something good before any obsessing about gear is even worth bothering with.  In the current situation it's definitely the ideas men who are king.  everyone can afford to shoot stuff that looks good.  Very few are in a position to be seen and selected to shoot a really really good piece written by someone who has the time and dedication to write stuff rather than putting imaginary equipment hurdles in their way.

 

   

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This website is aimed squarely at jack-of-all-trade sorts of people

No it isn't. Aimed at artists.

Still, many new film makers don’t need motion picture cameras at all.  This is a cool evolution of the craft that is happening more and more as we move deeper into the digital era.  Some directors are so creative and inventive all it takes is their imagination —and a lot of time locked away in their bedroom in front of a computer.  Well, okay, the camera is a requirement for some of the work, but it’s not the priority. Has anyone been following the film making career of Don Hertzfeldt?  His films are gems of emotional existential storytelling.

That's a different field to film. It's called "animation".

Hardly any of his techniques rely on fancy camera gear.  Rather, using lush soundscapes and crudely drawn stick figures the guy is able to make narratives that are completely engaging.  It’s decidedly low-fi film production, but by no means does it lack in sophistication.  Quite the opposite.

I love Hertzfeldt. He's a brilliant filmmaker in the field of animation.

He does actually use photography in the mix though, so presumably he does actually need a camera.

On the other end of the spectrum are technical achievements such as Erik Wernquist’s “Wanderers”

It’s a CGI masterpiece.  By Hollywood standards it’s not CGI that’s an overwhelming violent spectacle, but it’s spectacular for so many other reasons.  His images, familiar narration (a famous scientist), and storytelling prowess, combine to create awe and inspiration.  Images used to create his short were mostly from NASA.  With a large dose of patience at the seat of his 3D software he’s created an extremely memorable film.

So your revelation in all this is that CGI wizards and animators don't need to research into camera choices...

Genius!

These are just two examples that I’ve been impressed with over the past few years, but many many more are out there.

When it comes to films wherein the motion picture camera is not the primary tool what are some of your favorites?

It's such an exciting era of film making!

Stop stating the obvious and tell us something we DON'T know!​

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You may not need the latest tech to tell EVERY story, but better tech makes it easier to tell better stories. Steven Spielberg, on the role technology played in his filmmaking:

"Well, my filmmaking really began with technology. It began through technology, not through telling stories, because my 8mm movie camera was the way into whatever I decided to do. Film was so slow that you were forced into a technological choice - if you wanted to create something indoors, you suddenly had to discover a bright light. So that was technology for me: going to Sears and Roebucks and buying a bunch of those floodlights you put outside to light your backyard and putting them on stands with Scotch tape, because we didn't know what gaffer tape was in those days. I had the will and the technology was the way in for me."

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'Need' is a strong word. But I'm sure a lot of folks would 'have use for' a new camera.

Like any other piece of gear, it's a tool. And one tool might just get the job done better than the other.

If you want to cut the grass by hand using scissors, go ahead, but wouldn't you secretly rather just use a lawn mower already?

I mean, you don't care that much about the lawn mower itself, do you? It's about what it enables you to do.

Now I'm not saying your old camera doesn't cut grass (although, uh, any camera doesn't, obviously; don't try this at home), but a new camera will do it faster and trims the bushes too (ok, this is getting ridiculous, I'll stop).

What I'm trying to say. You say it's a bunch of technical nonsense, not expression. But isn't the artistic/creative choice purposely using 4K or slowmotion for example expression in itself? Therefor, isn't picking the right tool, a newer tool with more bells and whistles, allowing for more creative freedom rather than taking that freedom away?

But even if you disagree. Where do you draw the line? When DO you need a new camera?

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I can't stop obsessing myself while I should be doing my comedy writing.

​Yeah.  Seems like I'm always willingly getting into the tech talk.  I wonder if it's procrastination, fear of artistic failure, or just a general place where I feel comfortable?  Probably all of the above.

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No it isn't. Aimed at artists.

​Good time to ask then.  If it is, how so?  

Because most stuff here is gear talk.  I always thought EOSHD was mostly (not all) for people that were trying to do low-budget cinema with this new era of consumer cameras; so very tech-centric.  I mean, I don't mind that, but threads about the artistic side of things don't seem to generate much discussion.

Seems more about the technical craft.  After all, talk about dynamic range and skin tones on some upcoming new camera and a 10 page thread is likely.

Hey, if I'm wrong, no problem.  Just curious to hear from the head honcho.

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I don;t agree.  Since most here (including myself) will very unlikely be drafted in to undertake the sole job of shooting anything of worth without shooting something of worth before hand, those obsessing about gear prior to making a single completed piece of artwork are doing so for no real purpose other than to feed the consumer within (IMO).  I imagine Bob Richardson wouldnt be where he is today if in his early days he had been on forums all day looking for the newest most high dr camera instead of doing work putting him in the eyes of people like Stone in their early years.  If it hadn;t been for his proactiveness in actually making do with what he had, Tarantino wouldn;t have drafted him in for what is the only 'real cinema' being shot in hollywood right now.  For that matter, if Tarrantino had been sat watching NAB coverage instead of writing R Dogs he probably wouldnt be where he is today.  

 

Almost everyone here will need to write their own piece (and shoot it), and probably edit it, distribute it, etc and make something good before any obsessing about gear is even worth bothering with.  In the current situation it's definitely the ideas men who are king.  everyone can afford to shoot stuff that looks good.  Very few are in a position to be seen and selected to shoot a really really good piece written by someone who has the time and dedication to write stuff rather than putting imaginary equipment hurdles in their way.

 

   

​Great post and I agree, but also you need to be aware that many outlets now are requiring 4k masters of your project if it's a narrative, definitely something to consider. Content will always be king and your ideas/story is what will separate you from everyone else, so I definitely agree with you on you on this.

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OP asked why we tend to have threads on tech rather than art. Tech discussions are based on fact; art discussions are based on opinion. Consequently (as this thread is already showing), art threads invariably degenerate into attacking the straw man, where even reasoned opinions are countered by making an extreme and absurd interpretation of them. If one can shoot a Star Wars movie on T2i today that competes with "Gravity," great.

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Not many people realize it but most Video DSLRs (including the T2i) are way better than what George Lucas used on Star Wars Episode 1,2, and 3

At the end of the day it's all about the lighting in terms of visuals.

​You are out of your mind if you think a Canon t2i has the same resolution, frame rates dynamic range, etc as a film camera like the Arriflex 435 which was used for Star Wars Episode 1.

 

 

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Guest Ebrahim Saadawi

I think he meant the Sony F900. It shot features and cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to make, and now we have better cameras in our pockets and manbags. Technology is awesome, embrace it, use it to fill your nerdy urge to follow technology and/or use it to make creative projects. Both are fine. I do both. 

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I have never actually owned more than one camera at any time (besides GoPro and smartphone). In most cases, buying numerous bodies is a waste of money. Many people have a problem. 

The reason why I only own one camera is because it's enough. I'm still able to run my business and attract clients, because I know my camera inside out and when needed, just rent the others. 

Maybe as progress is made this will change. You are better off investing in lighting - this is truly the most important area of the craft, and technically, the most creative. 

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I agree w fuzzynormal. Most of it is a giant waste of time.

 

I just watched an arri amira video because i am thinking of renting this camera and the video was nice but creatively boring. They are all tools.  I rather shoot on my flawed nx1 because i can quickly make a story.

 

But we are also camera nerds too. i am obsessing right now over anamorphic adapterand the new dji phantom 3 as cheap ways to create new tools for my storytelling all made possible by this site and others.

 

Some of the talk is worthless some isnt

 

If you want to talk about the art of filmmaking please please come to my new blog http://www.eddavidblog.com where i talk about the art of it all. I invite all if you to come

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I kind of agree with fuzzy.

My own profession is design (web / print / mobile apps), and I also have a background in traditional arts.

If I work with web / screen as output, I have certain limitations due to the medium, if I work with print I have other limitations. If I paint with water colors instead of crayons, ink or acrylic paint - I have different limitations. Not mattering the limitations, I can still produce beautiful art works within the constraints of each medium.

My own outlook on cameras is similar. Every camera will have some kind of limitation or constraint, it's up to me to find out how I can achieve the best results with the constraints the equipment has - in a style that I personally enjoy. Whenever a client is involved, my own style should also be adjusted to fit the needs of the client.

Better image quality, resolution, higher fps etc and all the advancements with cameras are great - because they open up new possibilities to further learn and experiment. But they aren't always a necessity. If there's a constraint and a limitation, there's almost always another way to find an interesting way to express something.

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Maybe a good illustration of my point (even more than the examples wrote about earlier oin the OP) would be French New Wave; the ability to make a movie come into existence regardless of the limitations.  (often, those limits are really a huge blessings too)

But to each their own, y'know?  And also let me say that you're not crazy to want a new camera.  Having something new and shiny can be fun and productive.  

Anyway, my biz'ness shot a documentary at the end of the year with two little M43 cameras.  After it was finished there was a recognition that we accomplished just as much, if not more, with those cams than with our FS700.

So, for me, I began to re-analyze exactly what I was chasing in my film making process...and then went out and bought another camera for *some reason :-)

*because I covet new cameras.  hardly a rational reason, but the truth.

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I like new cameras.  I own way too many of them.  But, I also like to remind myself that the camera doesn't really matter all that much.  We can accomplish more by worrying about the storytelling craft rather than the technical craft.

​I often wonder what defines a filmmaker. I once planned to write a book 'filmmaking' without ever even mentioning any techniques. As a hobby psychologist, I try to monitor the way I form thoughts - or rather watch them unfold. Did you ever seriously try this yourself? It's like seeing, hearing a film - and simultaneously editing it, constantly changing it, repeating takes, alternatives for scenes, for off-screen dialogs (or monologs), 'the voices in your head'.

Stop stating the obvious and tell us something we DON'T know!​

​What if the obvious was this:

Seems like I'm always willingly getting into the tech talk.  I wonder if it's procrastination, fear of artistic failure, or just a general place where I feel comfortable? 

​Only true for the minority of course. The majority here just occasionally checks if there are any new technical developments they should be aware of and then return to their creative work ;-)

In the current situation it's definitely the ideas men who are king.​

... and people who are obsessed by or addicted to gear are the pawns. But as I said, these are rare on EOSHD.

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