The Week In Cameras

Latest News About the Tools We Use by Michael Murie

  • The ARRI AMIRA Here Comes the ARRI AMIRA

    ARRI has met with some success in digital filmmaking with their ALEXA camera. As just one indication of their dominance, the ALEXA was used on three-quarters of this year’s Best Picture nominees. It’s been praised for its image quality, ease of use and ruggedness. But it’s not cheap, and it’s not light. ARRI last year announced the AMIRA, and described it as a documentary camera. It’s smaller and lighter than the ALEXA, but if you were hoping for a significantly cheaper camera, you’ll be disappointed; the base AMIRA is $39,999. For those on a budget, renting the camera remains the…  Read more

    On May 14, 2014
    By on May 14, 2014Cinematography
  • NAB 2014: The Year of Unusual Cameras

    It was clear that this would be the year of 4K, but perhaps more surprising is who plans to ship 4K cameras this year. Sony, who actually bought out two new 4K cameras last year – the F5 and F55 – clearly decided they didn’t need to roll out new cameras this year. Instead, they announced ProRes and DNXHD recording options, and a new ENG-style base for these cameras. They also announced that the F5 will be upgradeable to the F55. Perhaps feeling they needed to show something new, Sony invited their consumer camera unit on stage to show off…  Read more

    On Apr 8, 2014
    By on Apr 8, 2014Cinematography
  • Five Questions for Twenty Feet from Stardom Cinematographer Nicola Marsh

    Nicola Marsh was one of two cinematographers for Twenty Feet from Stardom, this year’s Oscar winner for Best Documentary. She’s worked with director Morgan Neville on a number of projects, including Troubadours and The Night James Brown Saved Boston as well as other directors including Cameron Crowe on Pearl Jam Twenty and The Union. Marsh, who has just finished shooting a reality show in the Caribbean, spoke to us about shooting Twenty Feet from Stardom, the different cameras used on the project and the hidden strengths of older lenses.   Filmmaker: For Twenty Feet from Stardom you were shooting with…  Read more

    On Mar 26, 2014
  • Adding Motion to “Stills” with Cinemagraph Pro

    Cinemagraph Pro from Flixel adds motion to a still image. In essence you shoot a sequence of video, and then indicate the area of the image that you want to see in motion – perhaps just the hands of the subject of a portrait, or the water in the lake of a scenic picture. While the masked area remains in motion, the rest of the scene is totally still; the lack of motion draws the eye to the part of the image that is moving. It’s an interesting effect, and could be useful in video or film for dream sequences,…  Read more

    On Mar 13, 2014
    By on Mar 13, 2014Filmmaking
  • Panasonic Commits to 4K, Announces the VariCam 35

    For the past couple of years, Panasonic has taken a backseat to Sony and Canon in the cinematography and indie movie world. While Sony and Canon raced to produce new large-sensor cameras in different configurations and prices, Panasonic was content to stick with the low-end AG-AF100, which was released at the end of 2010 and has seen few updates. They have also had some success in ultra low-budget production with the GH2 and GH3, which produce good quality video but are primarily stills cameras. This year Panasonic seems intent on making its move. Or, as a product manager said at…  Read more

    On Mar 3, 2014
    By on Mar 3, 2014Cinematography
  • The Future of Compression: Google Attempts to Replace H.26X… Again

    For a second time, Google is attempting to pitch a compression format as the replacement for an H.26X compressor. They tried to do it three years ago for HD video when they pitched VP8 as a replacement for H.264 and had little success. Now they’re back with a new angle: VP9 is the format for 4K, and they are putting it up against H.265, the new 4K compressor that is also referred to as HEVC (High Efficiency Video Coding). Should you care? Compression codecs can be fascinating, frustrating and their naming confusing. For example, everyone’s heard of H.264 and AVCHD,…  Read more

    On Feb 26, 2014
    By on Feb 26, 2014Columns
  • The Year in Gear: Goodbye 2013, Here Comes 2014K

    It is perhaps indicative of how low-key this year was that when I first scribbled out a list of things that were “big” in 2013 I discovered that half of them were on last year’s list! In many respects 2013 proved to be a year of tentative advances and waiting, rather than one of incredible new tools to play with. Which is not to say that some interesting products weren’t announced and delivered. Sony shipped the F5 & F55, as well as the 4K upgrade for the NEX-FS700, and at the other end of the spectrum Blackmagic shipped its $1,000…  Read more

    On Dec 31, 2013
    By on Dec 31, 2013Cinematography
  • Director Ryan Lightbourn shoots Sleepwalkers with the RED Scarlet and a Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera

    Ryan Lightbourn grew up in the Bahamas, but went to business school in the U.S. Becoming interested in music, Lightbourn transferred to Full Sail University after graduating. He wanted to become a music producer, but after playing with Final Cut Pro he started making “goofy little short films and music videos with my friends.” Switching to the film program he quickly decided that he could learn more by going out and actually shooting things than by going to class, so he dropped out and bought some gear. He continued shooting music videos, but always wanted to make films, and in…  Read more

    On Dec 3, 2013
    By on Dec 3, 2013Cinematography
  • New Cameras and Upgrades: Fall, 2013 Edition

    Who says you have to wait until NAB for new cameras? In the past month alone there have been several new cameras, upgrades and other devices announced. Here’s a quick look at some of the most interesting ones:   Canon C100 Autofocus upgrade Early in the month Canon announced a paid upgrade to the C100, the Dual Pixel CMOS AF Upgrade. This upgrade adds a new autofocus technology that first appeared in the EOS 70D DSLR. The dual-pixel AF upgrade will provide faster and smoother autofocus that can be particularly useful for documentary, sports, event and wildlife shooting. Focusing speed…  Read more

    On Nov 30, 2013
    By on Nov 30, 2013Cinematography
  • The State of 4K

    Technology tipping points – when something goes from the unusual to the commonplace – can happen with unexpected rapidity. Has 4K reached a tipping point, and if so what aspect of 4K? Acquisition, production, distribution, or all three? If you’re shooting a film today, should you be shooting in 4K? The answer to these questions is complicated by cost, complexity and the long-term shelf-life of your project. Today, a convincing argument can be made for shooting in either 4K (future proof) or HD (cost effective and most people won’t see the difference). One thing seems for certain; we will be…  Read more

    On Nov 5, 2013
    By on Nov 5, 2013Cinematography
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