A new breakthrough in digital cinematography?

Posted by David Konow


The advent of digital video certainly made a lot of film buffs nervous. First, it initially didn't look all that great, and second, it has the obvious potential of eventually replacing film.



Personally, I was quite skeptical at first about digital video, that is, until I saw 28 Days Later, and David Fincher's work with it, which is actually so good I forgot it wasn't shot on film.

A new breakthrough in digital cinematography?One of the greatest advantages of digital video is that while it's still not cheap to work with, the medium is a lot cheaper than shooting on 35mm. 



Ever since the 60's, filmmakers have felt when equipment gets lighter and cheaper, like it did with the 35mm Arriflex camera, that they could take the power away from the major studios and make their own movies.



Sure, this revolutionary dream still hasn't happened yet, but digital has indeed become another big step in the right direction for many young filmmakers.
 
Now Canon has released a new camera, the Cinema EOS, and it's the first time the company has manufactured a digital camera specifically for movie making. 

The camera is small and portable, much like a still camera, or the home video cameras of old, and as Variety notes, it can "capture a wide range of light levels, permitting natural-light shooting in conditions from full sunlight to moonless night." 


Martin Scorsese helped announce the camera at Paramount studios, "I believe these new tools from Canon allow a much closer relationship between filmmakers and the subjects they are filming than ever before," he said. 



Meanwhile, Bryce Dallas Howard has already directed a short film with the Cinema EOS titled "When You Find Me," while cinematographer Richard Crudo (American Pie) shot Max Is Back with the new device. Crudo told the Hollywood Reporter, "The end product was extremely filmic and almost effortless to achieve with tremendous consistency."
 
The list price for this camera is $20,000 without a lens, which isn't cheap. Still, you can make a feature with the EOS, and of course, it's way cheaper than buying the much bigger Red camera, which would be a closer equivalent to buying an actual 35mm movie camera to shoot with.
 
Digital filmmaking technology is certainly something I have mixed feelings about. I'm all for anything that makes it easier and cheaper for anyone to shoot a movie, and I feel someone will eventually make an incredible film on very cheap equipment that will prove you don't need to spend tons of money to tell a great story.
 
Then again, like any self respecting film buff, I love the texture, shades and artistry you can capture with film, and am not 100% convinced it can all be captured with digital. 



And again, on the other hand, one of the finest cinematographers in the business, Roger Deakins, (The Shawshank Redemption, True Grit) has recently become a digital believer, telling The Hollywood Reporter, "I think it has more range than film."
 
I like a lot of digital I've seen that was created with the right filmmakers, and hope there will continue to be the option of both film and digital in the future. Certainly as long as we have filmmakers like Spielberg and Scorsese making pictures, film should still be relatively safe from extinction.