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I’m doing something I’ve never done before – I’m reblogging another blogger’s posting, an article by Andrew Reid.

The blogger in question is Andrew Reid, and his articles can be found at:  www.digitalrev.com

I came across this article while browsing my many sites that I tend to browse – always searching to learn, teach myself, keep up with technology, keep up with statistics, keep up with the times.

I also tend to watch a lot of video on the Internet.  I surf other video production company websites to see what they’re up to, to see what’s happening in the world of corporate video production, to see what new developments and trends are happening in the worlds of my clientele.

I also just like to look at videos.

So this article, reprinted below, is a great read.  And it’s a great read partly because it’s espousing the use of DSLRs in modern film production – because the image quality rivals that of some of the most expensive film cameras in the world.  And this is something that we at Molly Media Studios caught onto a long time ago.

That’s why we transfered over all our production processes last year to accommodate working with DSLR footage exclusively in our own production work.  Yes, we retired the great quality, HD Canon XH-A1 Camcorder for the excellent quality, HD Nikon D7000 DSLR Camera – with interchangeable lenses and a sensor that senses, well, almost everything.

The Nikon D7000 - A Camer for Molly Media Studios

This is the HD DSLR camera that we changed over to from our Canon HD XH-A1. We never looked back.

So that’s why we’re reprinting the article below.  Because we believe in it.  Have a great read!

NOTE:  The original article may be found at:  http://www.digitalrev.com/article/the-dslr-video-revolution/NTgyNA_A_A


The DSLR video revolution
by Andrew Reid

As sparks of genius go, this was a good one – In 1892 Thomas Edison invented motion picture film in the same breath as the light bulb. 35mm film went on to give light to the classics of cinema right up to the present day. Even now the majority of films coming soon to a cinema near you are shot on 35mm film.

For over a century the technology has been without rival and great names like Eastman Kodak and Fujifilm have had a duopoly on Hollywood filmmaking. Until now!

It may have taken a while – but just as 35mm stills cameras have been eclipsed by digital technology – so the digital revolution has now reached Hollywood.

What’s amazing though is that the cameras shuffling film along to it’s grave are mere DSLRs with a built-in HD video mode.

Just this year we have an episode of the top US prime time TV show ‘House’ starring Huge Laurie, shot entirely with three 5D Mark II cameras. Strange as this may sound, it wasn’t a one off in the industry. A humble Canon DSLR been used to make a music video by Sin City director Robert Rodriguez and a World War II era hollywood film (Red Tails) scripted by Star Wars director George Lucas.

The next generation of digital filmmaking technology arrived in DSLRs before anything else and quite by accident. Their large CMOS sensors have been speeding up and advancing over the past 5 years and this – combined with the excitement over all things HD from TVs to compact cameras, has seen HD video modes sneak their way into DSLRs.

But why did Star Wars producer Rick McCallum feel the need to intercut footage from the Canon 5D Mark II with that from the half-a-million dollar Sony F35 – one of the best digital motion picture cameras in the world?

Well – firstly these small cameras (by Hollywood standards!) fit into tight corners to deliver an angle a bulkier camera would be incapable of. Terminator Salvation’s director of photography Shane Hurlbut is shooting a Hollywood film right now about the Navy SEALS using 5D Mark II DSLRs attached to various ingenious support systems – like a soldier’s helmet – to give an intimate first person perspective impossible with a bigger and heavier camera.

But the small size alone is not the killer feature of the 5D Mark II – even seasoned Hollywood shooters recognise that it’s image quality is right up there with film and Hollywood production cameras like the Sony F35 which cost hundreds of thousands of dollars more. When it comes to the film cameras used on, say the Lord Of The Rings trilogy, some DSLRs even surpass this level of camera ability for sheer outright performance. The Nikon D3S for example, is capable of resolving more detail than the human eye can see in extremely dark places (due to it’s ultra high ISO sensitivity) and the full HD resolution of the 5D Mark II holds up well even on huge cinema screens.

But many people do not yet realise that there is a Hollywood film camera included for free with their DSLR. Quite reasonably, most customers buy DSLRs to do still photography. After all, the whole camera is designed to be used to take photos and not make movies! It’s video mode lacks even the most basic of the convenient and time saving features of a camcorder, like continuous auto-focus. So it’s maybe not the best video camera for filming family occasions or pets. But manual focus is perfect for films and story telling. It is always used by film crews, so that they have more control over the camera.

More importantly, the image quality of video capable DSLRs in video mode is as large a step forwards over camcorders as a high-spec DSLR is over a basic point-and-shoot compact, and that’s before we even get started with interchangeable lenses – something camcorders have never had!

So what does it mean for budding filmmakers or photographers wanting to try something new? Big news.

For the first time in the history of cinema, the wall of technology and money between Hollywood and amateur filmmakers has had a huge hole blown in the side, through which many talented young filmmakers are sure to creep through.

Sure – big sets, professional actors and special effects still cost huge amounts of money. But now there is no limitation which requires an amateur movie to look amateur. Slumdog Millionaire or No County For Old Men could have been shot on the 5D Mark II and nobody in the audience would have noticed!

A talented director and photographer with a DSLR, a good group of actors and a great story is now a recipe for success that will even make Steven Spielberg envious!

Canon and Sony are currently planning to introduce larger and more expensive video cameras (not DSLRs) which take advantage of the technology introduced by DSLRs like the 5D Mark II. But due to their low cost and small size, DSLRs will continue to be used as movie cameras right the way from film-schools to Hollywood.

For photographers who have never got much satisfaction out of camcorders, maybe now is the time to try your hand at video once again, or for the first time. Just as your Flickr album can enable wide recognition of your photographic talent, so a short film is a showcase to the world of what you can do. You don’t need actors or a set. It’s almost become a genre of cinema in itself – ‘the DSLR film’ – which resembles a beautiful moving photograph.

Longshan’s People – Taiwan – Panasonic GH1 from Andrew Reid on Vimeo.

Enthusiasts and professionals alike have been taking to the streets to demonstrate what’s possible with DSLRs like the Canon 5D Mark II and shooting real-life scenes. These are short but perfectly formed atmospheric ‘mood-pieces’ and viewable online on video sharing sites like Vimeo. Just like a great photo, they look stunning and have an emotional impact on whoever’s watching.

Often the bright red record button on your shiny new DSLR may just look like an add-on which doesn’t offer much to your enjoyment of photography. But take the time to explore the possibilities and view the image quality on a large 50 inch plasma TV via HDMI, and you will be blown away, delighted and hopefully inspired to create your first masterpiece!

As Avatar director James Cameron once said –
“Pick up a camera. Shoot something. No matter how small, no matter how cheesy, no matter whether your friends and your sister star in it. Put your name on it as director. Now you’re a director. Everything after that you’re just negotiating your budget and your fee.”

Thanks to DSLR technology, this has never been more true.