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Replaced by a Camera


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#1 Brian Rose

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Posted 16 January 2011 - 12:23 AM

Kind of bummed this evening. Found out a director I've worked for had shoot tomorrow. I hadn't heard anything about it, and sent a "Good luck on your shoot, what's it about" kind of message, to learn more.

Turns out it was one of these commercials we had discussed me DPing for him. But he told me that rather than use me, they opted to rent a RED, and spend the remainder for an AC to handle it. Basically my duties are being spread between a director and an AC, and a camera which they presume will produce a slick image (though shooting Red for a low budget commercial seems like overkill...)

Maybe it's a one time thing, and I'm probably overthinking things, but it's this kind of thinking that has me worried. With cameras that produce increasingly high rez, slick images, and perform better and better with available light, in low light conditions. Is all this going to diminish the DP's role, as was done here by basically redistributing the money to better gear, and delegating a DPs duties to the director and an assistant?

Or am I just bummed by being replaced for the time being by a piece of equipment? :(

BR
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#2 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 16 January 2011 - 07:31 AM

Rather surprising, they seem to go for a DSLR over more specialised camera like a RED. It's not going to much use to them unless either the director or AC is also a DP and camera operator, those jobs still need to be done, the RED isn't an auto focus and auto iris camera.
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#3 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 16 January 2011 - 08:09 AM

I'd not worry. A DoP is too much about lighting (and even not lighting is a form of lighting...) to really be replaced by a camera. Not everything is going to work in terms of "look," with just available light.
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#4 Brian Rose

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Posted 16 January 2011 - 11:14 AM

Rather surprising, they seem to go for a DSLR over more specialised camera like a RED. It's not going to much use to them unless either the director or AC is also a DP and camera operator, those jobs still need to be done, the RED isn't an auto focus and auto iris camera.


It is a weird choice, and the wrong one, I think. He certainly didn't consult me on this, because I would've advised a DSLR or and EX1/3. He said he got a good deal, but I can't imagine he somehow got a Red for the weekend for less than the price of renting one of those other cameras. The RED is a bewitching camera...
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#5 Bill DiPietra

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Posted 16 January 2011 - 11:25 AM

Kind of bummed this evening. Found out a director I've worked for had shoot tomorrow. I hadn't heard anything about it, and sent a "Good luck on your shoot, what's it about" kind of message, to learn more.

Turns out it was one of these commercials we had discussed me DPing for him. But he told me that rather than use me, they opted to rent a RED, and spend the remainder for an AC to handle it. Basically my duties are being spread between a director and an AC, and a camera which they presume will produce a slick image (though shooting Red for a low budget commercial seems like overkill...)

Maybe it's a one time thing, and I'm probably overthinking things, but it's this kind of thinking that has me worried. With cameras that produce increasingly high rez, slick images, and perform better and better with available light, in low light conditions. Is all this going to diminish the DP's role, as was done here by basically redistributing the money to better gear, and delegating a DPs duties to the director and an assistant?

Or am I just bummed by being replaced for the time being by a piece of equipment? :(

BR



I've yet to see anyone produce a piece of film equipment that can make its own creative choices.
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#6 Ed Conley

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Posted 17 January 2011 - 11:50 AM

There's a guy here that will come with a Red for $600/day

He bought it when times were good and still had the payment when times went south in budget land.


I own a Rental Studio/Equipment house for Still photography and have seen this trend in the last 2 years- the Agencies want MORE for less :blink: so my clients have come to me wanting the same equipment for a lot less money. My Competition was giving away equipment and Studio time- we had to bend a little on the Rental costs but it certainly sucked.



I think you'll see this trend with your Director because if this Low Budget commercial goes "OK" you'll most likely not get called in the future since they have now figgered out that they can do it w/o you- it's business. May not be good business but the $ talks.

He may not be able to get the Shoot unless he can deliver a product at a lower cost.

One of my car shooter clients told me straight up that he had to go out and buy a lot of the equipment that he was renting from us so that he could bid the jobs minus the Rental costs that he normally budgeted in to the bid. He doesn't even bill for the equipment that he bought so he can compete on the bids.
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#7 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 17 January 2011 - 12:11 PM

One of my car shooter clients told me straight up that he had to go out and buy a lot of the equipment that he was renting from us so that he could bid the jobs minus the Rental costs that he normally budgeted in to the bid. He doesn't even bill for the equipment that he bought so he can compete on the bids.


So how does he make money? The gear costs (purchase, depreciation, maintenance, insurance) could be higher than his earnings from the DP fee.
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#8 Ed Conley

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Posted 17 January 2011 - 04:28 PM

So how does he make money? The gear costs (purchase, depreciation, maintenance, insurance) could be higher than his earnings from the DP fee.


Not sure how DP's get paid but a Still shooter will get a Shooting Fee based on the USEAGE of the images as he is part of Creative and owns the Images- unless they agree to a Buyout- he could make 20,30,50 grand on a campaign.

I don't talk to him too much about the purchase and he still uses us for bigger ticket items like HMI's,Xenon's, Tow Plant rental and such but the every day Grip sheite and some strobes he once rented from us on a regular basis is gone.

But yes he now has those Costs to deal with as well as storage-
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#9 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 17 January 2011 - 04:31 PM

Dps get paid X amount (day rate, project rate ect) and then transfer all rights and residuals of "their" work to the production. I say "their" work as they are not the sole authors of the image, despite what we'd like to think sometimes.
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#10 Michael Kubaszak

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Posted 17 January 2011 - 04:42 PM

I've seen the reverse with RED. Where there is no AC and the DP has to take over those duties. Sad times indeed.
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#11 Vincent Sweeney

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Posted 17 January 2011 - 04:52 PM

Just trust the known fact that you don't want to be a part of any shoot that thinks they don't need a DP, and move on from them to better things.

Replacing a DP with gear is kind of like trying to replace a chef prepared meal with a frozen dinner. The position of both people are as safe as ever.
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#12 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 17 January 2011 - 05:55 PM

He may not be able to get the Shoot unless he can deliver a product at a lower cost.




I remember the first time I was forced into this situation; I had the choice of either hiring someone I wanted and asking him to do it for a very low rate, or not employing him.


I don't think anyone actually wants to work on a show where big things are being cut; everyone wants to work on a big production where there's a warm body in every slot. The difference is whether you're cutting things to make it possible or cutting things to make it profitable. Obviously, the latter is more popular, and since we all like to eat food and sleep indoors, up to a point it's probably not unreasonable. It's a matter of degree.


P


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#13 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 18 January 2011 - 01:29 PM

It is a weird choice, and the wrong one, I think. He certainly didn't consult me on this, because I would've advised a DSLR or and EX1/3. He said he got a good deal, but I can't imagine he somehow got a Red for the weekend for less than the price of renting one of those other cameras. The RED is a bewitching camera...


Sounds like he was so adamant about renting a Red, he probably spent a lot of his budget on the rental and simply couldn't afford a DP. The footage will probably come out looking like crap, and he'll call you for the next one :)
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#14 Andrew Wilding

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Posted 18 January 2011 - 05:31 PM

I don't think at the red or any other camera will nor could the role of the DP.

That being said - filmmaking is turning away from being an art form or even a high brow or high budget entertainment, and increasingly becoming low budget, low ambition "content". In other words, most of us, aside from the lucky few, are making easily digestible and easily disposable material to fill the ever increasing hunger of the Internet and new forms of entertainment. Viral ads, funny or die, Behind the Scenes content, music videos, etc.The bar is set low in this arena. As long as the product looks merely adequate, most folks are satisfied. Many people even view this content on there phones. We've seen huge surge towards quantity over quality, I believe. This, more than any camera, has the capability to diminish the import of the DP. Hopefully this will serve as a sort of training ground for the genuinely talented filmmakers of the next generation, but my concern is that budgets will continue to drop and that the dream films of future Fellini's and Kubrick's won't be a financial possibility. I see a bigger divide splitting blockbusters from serious film, with blockbusters taking 90 percent of the studios Money ( and making the majority of profit) and forcing the smaller films to share table scraps. Thisnwould make a Barry Lyndon or Amarcord a difficult proposition. Ive gone on a completely unrelated rant. Apologies.

Edited by Andrew Wilding, 18 January 2011 - 05:31 PM.

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