In recent weeks, I have found myself lost in articles showcasing the “best and newest” cinema technology releases at the NAB Show in Las Vegas, NV. As a film professional, this can be an exciting and equally exhausting time each year. Keeping up with the newest trends, technology, and brands is essential to being an effective cinematographer. Early on in my career, I asked my mentor how to analyze what technology is best to learn and his answer surprised me.
With a sharp response, he responded by saying focus on what my favourite cinematographer was using. I then, of-corse, thought of John L. Russel – he’s dead. However, that advice is very wise. In today’s society, we are flooded by media, and it can be hard to discern what makes good cinematography. The use of movement, exposure, focus, depth, lighting and colour are all elements that impact the storytelling experience. In this past year, I looked at these specific elements within films and professionals to guide my reading and learning.
RED Ditial Cinema is the clear winner in stereo camera systems. Films, such as: Guardians of the Galaxy were shot on this camera. Specifically speaking, I would recommend RED because of the colour science, and adaptability. When you’re buying into RED, you’re not just buying a camera but a workflow. RED’s r3d files give impeccable freedom in production and post, and with the new DSMC2 cameras, you can record RAW and ProRes to make dailies an easier task.
The Cooke S5i is the clear winning for optic quality (though optical qualities are more of an artistic perspective). With the Cooke S5i, you get an impeccable T1.4 and the famous “Cooke look.” Cooke is especially noted for their rounded lens element, creating more dimensional shots. Plus, the optic quality allows for minimal colour fringing; this is especially important when working with a digital workflow. Trumbo was one of the films shot with these lens’ in the past year.
Chapman and Leonard have been at the top of their game for years. The producer of telescoping cranes, dollies, fluid heads, camera vehicles, and remote camera systems is respected by the top filmmakers and is used on most major feature films – like Starwars, The Revenant, American Sniper, and Tomorrowland (shameless plug).
OConnor is the clear winning for tripods. With the OConnor 2575 or the OConnor 1030Ds, you’ll have dependable support for any size camera. These are also products that are used on most feature films, such as: Starwars, Sicaro, Carol and the Revinent.
Next week, in part 2, I will explore the best gambles and drones.