The present and future of post production business and technology | Philip Hodgetts

May/13

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Ubiquitous cameras are changing Documentary filmmaking.

Yesterday my friend Michael Kammes tweeted:

The *real* reason cameras need higher resolution at a lower price point is so “Caught on Camera” type shows have tolerable video.

However it made me think that the real reason we have so many high resolution cameras as cameras, or as cell phones, is that there will never again be a visual gap in a documentary!

Just recently another friend, Harrison Engle built a documentary around 30 minutes of “found footage”. Historic footage is extremely valuable because it is very rare.

About 13 years ago I was working on a documentary about a young performer. One pivotal occasion – in 1998 – was the night he was “discovered” at a school Master Class. Being 1998 there is not a single piece of video or even a still photograph to celebrate that night.

It’s unthinkable that would happen now. Likely, had this been done in the last couple of years, I’d have enough footage to be able to cut it multicam!

Ubiquitous, high resolution cameras, are an amazing boon to future documentary filmmakers.

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6 comments

  • Snow R. Shai · May 28, 2013 at 11:48 am

    It’s the continuation of the democratization of filmmaking.
    More affordable high end gear, more filmmakers, better films.
    It started with DV, then DSLRs… Next step is already here: Affordable cinema cameras.
    I bet it gets even better…

  • Alex Hay · May 28, 2013 at 4:14 pm

    Another interesting result of the increasing ubiquity of decent quality, affordable consumer cameras is ‘user generated’ content being used in broadcast shows.

    We’ve made a few shows now that have been purely production staff in contact with contributors who shoot all the footage themselves and send it over (digitally) for us to weave it into a narrative. Really affords a totally different, more intimate perspective than you’d achieve with even a skeleton camera crew and has only really been rendered technically possible in the past couple of years.

    E.g:

    Bullied (MTV)
    http://www.mtv.co.uk/shows/bullied

    We’re Having A Baby (BBC Three)
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00ttrqd

  • AndrewK · May 28, 2013 at 5:29 pm

    “Being 1998 there is not a single piece of video or even a still photograph to celebrate that night.”

    If only video cameras and/or still cameras had been invented by then. Such a dark time, the late ’90s. ;)

    • Author comment by Philip · May 29, 2013 at 9:09 am

      In the 1990′s video cameras were expensive and not ubiquitous, therefore mostly not used on “unimportant” events. I think you missed my point Andrew. :)

      • AndrewK · May 29, 2013 at 12:09 pm

        Nah, I got the point. I just laughed because you made 1998 sound like the dark ages. A time when people talked on devices permanently plugged into walls, looked up information in books and had no choice but to watch appointment TV!!! The horrors! :)

        Compared to today, where pretty much every cell phone can record video and snap decent pictures, I agree that in ’98 recording devices weren’t nearly as common but it’s not like they were obscure. A few hundred bucks could get you a video camera or a nice point & shoot film camera from Best Buy. I feel like it’s more a side effect of device convergence than price. Even if everyone was given a video camera and a stills camera for free they wouldn’t carry them around all the time like they do their phone.

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