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Lucas' Digital Impact?


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#1 Macks Fiiod

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Posted 14 May 2016 - 06:00 AM

 

Bit of a (non)film history thing here..

 

Facets of digital filmmaking were around before George Lucas, and will mos def be after. I remember reading something that stated he was the first guy running a major picture with some digital cameras and eventually became the first to finish an entire major film with digital cameras. There was a Rodriguez movie that did it early too, but Lucas even had a hand in that.

 

Do we owe the Star Wars prequels a lot of credit for the clout digital holds today? Or at least speeding up the innovations?


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#2 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 14 May 2016 - 10:24 AM

I don't think the Lucas F900 has much to do with the development that came later. There were a few movies shot with the camera, but other cameras like the Viper, really made a bigger impact due to it's much higher quality image, better dynamic range and low light capabilities.

If I were to pick a camera that made the biggest difference, it would be the Canon 5DMKII. That was the first "cinema" camera, big imager, great look, that's what changed everything.

If I were to pick a director, I'd look at two guys; David Fincher and James Cameron. Fincher was the guy who showed everyone the potential of digital cinema. Cameron was the guy who pushed the industry away from film and towards digital.
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#3 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 14 May 2016 - 10:44 AM

The Sony F900 has a lot more significance in the history of Hollywood digital cinema than the Canon 5DMkII. A lot more features and TV shows used that camera than the Canon 5D.

 

And I'm sure Cameron and Fincher would acknowledge the significance of George Lucas in the transition to digital.

 

I'm sure what is to be gained by diminishing Lucas' contributions to that transition.

 

Yes, I think Lucas helped push the transition along by getting Sony to build a 24P camera in 1999 and then using it on a major studio production in 2000, taking that risk.  A lot of people followed his lead.  I'd also add Michael Mann into the list of important directors who embraced digital early on.  And you'd have to study what happened in the indie world in the late 1990's with the Dogma 95 movement and its use of consumer DV.

 

The list is fairly well-known in terms of the important cameras to the history of digital cinematography: the Sony F900 (and the prosumer Panasonic DVX100 around that time), the Panasonic Varicam, the Thomson Viper, and then first 35mm-sensor camera in 2005, the Panavision Genesis. The Canon 5D MkII didn't come out until the end of 2008 -- Hollywood was well on the way to embracing digital at that point.

 

There was a lot of buzz in the industry in 2000 when the Sony F900 demos, especially Panavision's demo reel, was going around town.  That was the first time you started hearing the "film is dead" mantra; one Hollywood director even felt compelled to make a website with that name (I recall getting into some online arguments with him.)


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#4 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 14 May 2016 - 11:08 AM

The Red would have more impact on Mainstream cinema than the Canon 5D, which tended towards lower budget indie films and was never of broadcast standard for HD TV, akthough it did get used for specialised shots and an episode of "House"..


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#5 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 14 May 2016 - 11:13 AM

I guess, but there has been other films shot digitally prior to George Lucas's involvement. I don't think anything George did was THAT pioneering.

In my eyes, the big game changer was getting the technology into the hands of random strangers. That's what changed everything. Had the 5DMKII never shot video, had Canon not pushed for that development, others would not have followed and we would be many years behind the curve today.

But I get your point, once a studio saw the potential for digital thanks to Lucas, it was all down hill. I just think, once the consumers had these cameras, once the manufacturers started building lots of them, THAT's what changed things the most.
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#6 Matthew W. Phillips

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Posted 14 May 2016 - 12:29 PM

This is just my opinion but I was not personally swayed to shoot digital or even consider it (due to price and look) until the BMCC came out. Black Magic doesnt get enough credit, IMHO, for upping the game in a huge way for indies. Not just the camera (and the pocket) but also the free inclusion of Davinci Resolve. They, IMO, were the serious gamechanger...of course, this is only speaking on the ultra low-budget indie end of the spectrum.


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#7 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 14 May 2016 - 12:51 PM

Bear in mind that the 5D video was intended for photo journalists to shoor news on video using their stills camera, ir wasn't part of a grand plan by Canon. Ir was the people who were using the 35mm adapters on DV cameras etc who took it up. Resolution wise the 5D wasn't anything to boost about, it had lower figures than the likes of the Sony Z1, but it had the shallow depth of field that these users wanted and I guess it was better than having a ground glass type screen softening the image on the 35mm adapters.


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#8 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 14 May 2016 - 01:29 PM

Right, but all of the previous technology was based on small ccd imagers. Even though the 5d wasn't designed for video, every cinema camera that was developed after it, has used very similar technology. It was the decision to go large imager cmos that was the big leap. Prior, all the cameras used decades old tech which was updated of course, but still not what we'd consider cinema today.

I personally don't see using the final generation of old technology a step towards new technology. I also don't see the old made for broadcast cameras of the past, being anything special. The people who experimented with those cameras, we're just playing with technology. They were trying to turn something that was never designed for that purpose, into something workable. It took the visionaries at canon, red, arri and blackmagic to make digital cinema truly happen. Sony may have been first, but it took them a while to join the cmos band wagon and really be a serious player. So I discount their involvement... It was the happy accident of the 5d which really set things in motion.
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#9 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 14 May 2016 - 02:06 PM

There were other cameras such as the Dalsa, which had larger sensors. These large sensors don't mean digital cinema (which is broader than sensor size), it was the shallow depth of field which was driving force at the time for them. RED, which was annouced before the 5D, was the driving force for the single large sensor camera recording RAW at a lower cost for productions that couldn't afford the Panavision Camera or the broadcast HD cameras. The SI 2K also came out at the same time offering RAW, but with roughly a Super 16 sensor. However, apart from Slumdog Millionaire, it's main impact was in 3D films, which uses a larger depth of field.

 

The 5D was a compromise camera for video, with artefacts caused by line skipping etc, but it came at a price that suited those who couldn't afford a RED  or later the Sony budget Super 35 video cameras, which also had better recording codecs.

 

There were a number of cinema films shot on small digital cameras, which was part of the fashion at the time of their production.


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#10 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 14 May 2016 - 02:44 PM

Right, but the 5DMII fundamentally changed the way everyone thought about what we do and how we do it. No doubt it was a completely flawed design, not designed at all for shooting movies. Yet again, without it, that market would have never been tested. The other cameras were all WAY more money, more like film camera money. The Canon was the cheapest option and it opened HUGE doors. 


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#11 Matthew W. Phillips

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Posted 14 May 2016 - 03:02 PM

RED, which was annouced before the 5D, was the driving force for the single large sensor camera recording RAW at a lower cost.

RED was hardly low cost. I recall the original Red One Preorders were 17,500 USD for just the camera body.


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#12 Landon D. Parks

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Posted 14 May 2016 - 03:16 PM

The big change in the industry, as far as Hollywood is concerned, with Arri entered the digital cinema market. The F900 was an okay camera, but was hardly used on a lot of major films. Star wars and some of the 2000's Rodriguez films. Michael Mann partially used it in Collateral (I believe that was the case, though my memory could be failing on that).... While I won't underplay the importance of RED, I will say that the RED's have never been big on Hollywood sets (at least in my research), and frankly I don't think they produce that great of image compared to Arri. I don't think they received much press at all at the super-professional level until Jackson used the Red line on a few of his films. Even now though, I still don't see them taking off outside commercials and low budget stuff. Maybe some television stuff.

 

DSLR's like the Mark II came about a little later than Red, and Red was really the first to consider the larger Super-35 sensor size. So I cannot say the DSLR like the 5D had a large impact, except on the low-budget arena - when it forced other DSLR's to copy Canon and start making video more affordable. 

 

Blackmagic Design came much later in the game, and really by the time they entered the market - digital was already established. Some in hollywood had switched over to Arri, and many low budget filmmakers had their HVX's and the like. BMD did, however, pave the way for more affordable 4k cameras - as well as firmly establish the low-budget RAW arena. And let's not forget Davinci Resolve software... 


Edited by Landon D. Parks, 14 May 2016 - 03:19 PM.

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#13 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 14 May 2016 - 03:39 PM

RED was hardly low cost. I recall the original Red One Preorders were 17,500 USD for just the camera body.

 

Lower cost in that case, everything is relative compared to costs at that time. It's use of compressed 4k RAW allowed this to be used by a wider range of productions compared to the uncompressed 4k RAW from the Dalsa, which was a major data handling issue at the time.


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#14 Matthew W. Phillips

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Posted 14 May 2016 - 03:42 PM

 

Lower cost in that case, everything is relative compared to costs at that time. It's use of compressed 4k RAW allowed this to be used by a wider range of productions compared to the uncompressed 4k RAW from the Dalsa, which was a major data handling issue at the time.

Not to beat a dead horse but I thought it was common knowledge at this point that RED One was not a true 4k camera?!


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#15 Stuart Brereton

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Posted 14 May 2016 - 03:55 PM

Not to beat a dead horse but I thought it was common knowledge at this point that RED One was not a true 4k camera?!

No 4k CMOS sensor is 'true 4k'.


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#16 Matthew W. Phillips

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Posted 14 May 2016 - 03:56 PM

No 4k CMOS sensor is 'true 4k'.

So just because others copy marketing puffery then we should too?


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#17 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 14 May 2016 - 03:57 PM

By that logic, neither is the Sony F55, the Panasonic 4K Varicam-35, the Dalsa... in fact, any camera with a single 4K Bayer CFA sensor isn't a "true" 4K camera.

I sort of gave up on that whole line of thinking, it doesn't matter to me. 35mm film, which started this whole 4K gold standard discussion when Kodak developed the Cineon system in the 1990's, would also fail the same resolution tests that a 4K single-sensor digital camera does -- there is no way, for example, that the red layer resolves 4K worth of detail even if you scan it at 8K.

Marketing is a fact of life, you can't blame a manufacturer for trying to sell you something. And if a sensor has 4K worth of photosites across, then technically it can be labeled a 4K sensor regardless of what the image measures in resolution after debayering, and the affects of a low-pass filter, not to mention any optical issues like the quality of the lens, the type of filter in front of the lens, etc.
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#18 Matthew W. Phillips

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Posted 14 May 2016 - 03:59 PM

By that logic, neither is the Sony F55, the Panasonic 4K Varicam-35, the Dalsa... in fact, any camera with a single 4K Bayer CFA sensor isn't a "true" 4K camera.

I sort of gave up on that whole line of thinking, it doesn't matter to me. 35mm film, which started this whole 4K gold standard discussion when Kodak developed the Cineon system in the 1990's, would also fail the same resolution tests that a 4K single-sensor digital camera does -- there is no way, for example, that the red layer resolves 4K worth of detail even if you scan it at 8K.

Of course you are correct, David. It is just irritating discussing these sorts of things when many of these terms do not mean much in the real world.


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#19 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 14 May 2016 - 04:07 PM

If we are going to resurrect a decade old discussion over what is true 4K, what's next, a film vs. video argument?

What matters is that 4K cameras like the Red One were the successors to cameras that could only record HD.

Recording 4K raw data, compressed or not, is clearly something the industry keeps moving towards, and Red is historically significant in that regard, coming out at a time when HD tape formats were the norm for high-end digital cinematography.
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#20 Matthew W. Phillips

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Posted 14 May 2016 - 04:21 PM

If we are going to resurrect a decade old discussion over what is true 4K, what's next, a film vs. video argument?

What matters is that 4K cameras like the Red One were the successors to cameras that could only record HD.

Recording 4K raw data, compressed or not, is clearly something the industry keeps moving towards, and Red is historically significant in that regard, coming out at a time when HD tape formats were the norm for high-end digital cinematography.

I suppose RED is significant..to you. But over in low-budget indie land, it might as well been Gold perf 35mm. This whole thread is pointless because he never specified in the OP whether this is indeed the Hollywood industry he is talking about or if he means filmmaking as a whole (which includes low-budget indie.)


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