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Who and what are the contributing factors behind the development in Camera Technology?

Digital Film Editting Cinema

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#1 Mathew DelorenziWaters

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Posted 21 December 2012 - 07:10 AM

Hi there
I am writing my Thesis on above topic and am conducting various research to try determine what the various contributing factors in camera technologies are. As shooting digitally is becoming more frequent and Digital Film cameras are becoming more advanced it I want to know why camera manufacturers are pushing to develop their cameras with greater resolution capabilities, frame rates, light sensitivity etc. However as there now seem to be more and more manufacturers entering the game (Alexa, F65, RED, Sony) what are they all trying to develop and who is pushing for these improvements?

Film has had a 100 years of development and research to develop its image and there is plenty of archive history there yes, however with Digital Film being a relatively new format that seems to be advancing at a faster and faster pace with no signs of stopping. What are the reasons for these advancements? Is cinematography and camera operation behind it? Editing? Production studios and cutting budgets?

Some insight from working professionals would be very helpful. I am in my Final year studying Film & Television production and this could help me gain some ground.

Thanks for your time

Sincerely
Mathew
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#2 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 21 December 2012 - 07:52 AM

I suspect the push is for something digital that has the advantages, but none of the disadvantages of film. There are a number of factors at play, some like RED seem mainly to go for the resolution, while other go for a mixture of requirements.

Cutting costs is a factor, although perhaps these are below the line costs rather than above the line costs. The compression used by broadcasters in their distribution chain has encouraged the use 35mm film, rather than Super16, however the latter has more grain and the argument by engineers is that this is an issue mean that the lower cost film format can't be used. This means that dramas that traditionally used 2/3" video or Super 16 cameras can now use Super 35mm sensors, so there is more of a feature film look.

Camera ergonomics has suffered and a number of the new cameras need third party manufacturers to make accessories to make them practical for say hand holding.
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#3 Mathew DelorenziWaters

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Posted 21 December 2012 - 09:04 AM

I suspect the push is for something digital that has the advantages, but none of the disadvantages of film. There are a number of factors at play, some like RED seem mainly to go for the resolution, while other go for a mixture of requirements.

Cutting costs is a factor, although perhaps these are below the line costs rather than above the line costs. The compression used by broadcasters in their distribution chain has encouraged the use 35mm film, rather than Super16, however the latter has more grain and the argument by engineers is that this is an issue mean that the lower cost film format can't be used. This means that dramas that traditionally used 2/3" video or Super 16 cameras can now use Super 35mm sensors, so there is more of a feature film look.

Camera ergonomics has suffered and a number of the new cameras need third party manufacturers to make accessories to make them practical for say hand holding.



Thank you for replying Brian

Within Television yes that understandable and I have managed to come to a conclusion so far that camera manufacturers develop their cameras to be able to adapt for a wider market (TV, FEATURE, DOCU, SPORTS etc) However I with so many competitors in the game, within selecting the capabilities for newer models, who requires that 8K resolution? It doesnt just seem to be RED going with pixel power, Sony are also driving for this and I imagine Arri are probably going to follow suit with their successor camera. Is just editors that benefit from having an uncompressed 8K RAW file to work with? Or does having an 8k Image cinematographers some other kinda of versatility?

Does piracy come into it at some point? With the whole 3D era recently I know one of the driving eras production companies were pushing to distribute as many of their films in 3D to minimize piracy.

From what I have seen there are a lot of professionals on here and I would like to get as many opinions as possible and learn as much as I can from this debate.

Again Brian, thanks again for being that first reply
Mat
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#4 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 21 December 2012 - 09:55 AM

I don't think editors as a group have a great need for 8k, It'll be other people driving that. I suspect 8k becomes an issue for them because of all the extra storage and processing required, rather than an advantage. I suspect it'll impact their cutting pace by slowing it down from the current levels.
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#5 Freya Black

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Posted 21 December 2012 - 10:27 AM

I don't think editors as a group have a great need for 8k, It'll be other people driving that. I suspect 8k becomes an issue for them because of all the extra storage and processing required, rather than an advantage. I suspect it'll impact their cutting pace by slowing it down from the current levels.


Colourists maybe? Tho probably more in terms of having more resolution in the colourspace...?
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#6 Gregory Irwin

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Posted 21 December 2012 - 10:38 AM

There is a great book titled "THE LIVELIEST ART" by former USC School of Cinema professor and film historian, Arthur Knight. It follows the sordid history of the motion picture camera's development. It is absolutely scandalous!

G
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#7 Freya Black

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Posted 21 December 2012 - 10:41 AM

I'm about half way through writing an article on a related subject but I think the obsession with resolution in particular dates back to the days when there was a concern about what kind of video could be considered "Broadcast Quality" and when people wrote about that at the time, they tended to talk about it in terms of the ability to resolve a certain number of lines. This started the obsession with resolution as the difference in "broadcast quality" and just cheap camcorder footage appeared to be all just about the amount of resolution it could resolve. This continued as video evolved and people always looked to the resolution as the important factor.

As far as frame rates and light sensitivity etc, these are both more practical attributes and I think what is driving these factors is more that technology is making them available. Modern video cameras are basically computers and attributes such as high frame rates and resolution etc get easier as the computers get faster, and obviously computers keep getting faster, so these are easy attributes to focus on in terms of video.

From what I can tell, the term "Digital Film" is just another name for video, created by people who have inadequacy issues surrounding their use of video BTW. It's kind of an oxymoron.

Freya

Edited by Freya Black, 21 December 2012 - 10:42 AM.

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#8 Gregory Irwin

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Posted 21 December 2012 - 11:23 AM

When a new technology erupts on the scene (no matter what it is), a multitude of developers and vendors leap into the market. We've seen this so many times whether it's in a professional industry or a consumer industry. I don't remember who all of the players were but ultimately Blu-Ray won out over everyone else. If you jumped in and bought the other system prematurely, sorry! You're done. I can remember when VHS became the standard while Beta simply fizzled out.

With regards to the digital movement of the current motion picture industry, nothing is different. Only now are the popular digital systems, whether we are talking about post production or cameras, beginning to shake out. Only till recently, we now have a work flow, meaning a system of labor, that we can count on. With the new technology came new jobs and skill sets. We honestly didn't know what to do with it all at first. I know that I was out of my comfort zone. Now we know who does what with what.

Think about it. Just a handful of years ago we had numerous digital camera systems that were completely different. Most are gone now. Viper - gone. Dalsa - gone. Panavision's Genesis - pretty much outdated and gone. Who survived and prospered? Arri, Red and Sony. Please let me know who I'm missing here. We went from cumbersome, over engineered and complicated systems to now much more streamline, manageable and user-friendly cameras, along with a work system to manage it all. I know that I went from anti-digi to now embracing the medium. Does history repeat itself? Yes it does. This was exactly the metamorphosis of the film, motion picture camera from the late 1800s through the 1950s. Instead of Sony and Red, there was Edison in the USA, Muybridge in the UK and the Lumiere brothers in Paris, France. This developed into The Mitchell Camera Corp. in the late 1920s, Arriflex during WWII and Panavision in the 1950s.

Good luck with your thesis!

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#9 Mathew DelorenziWaters

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Posted 21 December 2012 - 12:27 PM

Some of the information I am receiving from you guys is invaluable. I have many more areas I was previously unaware I now have to go away and research. Please keep any information coming, however it would be nice to hear a contrasting opinion because this has become far easier than I had anticipated. The answer cannot be that simple can it?
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#10 Matthew W. Phillips

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Posted 21 December 2012 - 05:36 PM

Adrian mentioned in the dupe thread about resolution and Moore's Law. The thing is that Moore's Law is a rule of thumb that processing power doubles every two years. The rate of increase of resolution of cameras like those put out by RED is at a faster rate than Moore's Law can keep up with.

The amazing thing about Moore's Law is that it isnt a law at all. It was merely a comment made off the cuff by an Intel co-founder. It has no scientific basis and some Intel folks disagree, such as Mr. House who says its 18 months instead of 2 years. Nonetheless, it has been somewhat of a self fulfilling prophecy as Intel is known to have technology available that is at least that far out in the future but their "trickle down" approach to releasing of thier products string it out for maximum profit. Many companies do this.

Back to RED, for example, their obsession with resolution is counter-productive to their business model. Largely because home systems cannot readily keep up with te amount of data needed to process. Perhaps they feel it opens up options to sell embedded systems that utilize 100% of computing power toward the task f processing RED data instead of a general use system, like a PC, that shares processng duty for other things.

Other camera companies now are having greater success (at least in reviews) than RED because they are focused more on achieving other, less cost prohibitive features such as dynamic range, color rendition, and traits that remind one of film.
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Visual Products

Aerial Filmworks

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Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

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Wooden Camera

Ritter Battery