Last night the Academy Awards held their annual Oscar’s ceremony and if one thing sticks out in my mind more than anything else it’s that digital filmmaking has arrived. The Artist came away as the big winner taking Best Picture, Best Directing for Michel Hazanavicius, Best Actor for Jean Dujardin along with a few others. However, digital filmmaking made a significant impact and its presence was well known. Hugo walked away with Best Cinematography which was shot digitally on an Arri Alexa, the same camera setup that Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close was shot on, which also had several nominations including Best Picture. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo was shot on RED ONE MX and EPIC also had its name called in several categories last night. It received a nod for Best Cinematography and won Best Editing – no small feat considering the camera technology and resolution are nearly brand new. (To be fair, the same team won last year for The Social Network which was shot on RED ONE). These filmmakers are all breaking ground and setting the stage for the next 100 years of filmmaking. Digital cinematography is at a place where it’s not only acceptable for major studio productions, but also yields results good enough for the most prestigious voting academy in the world.
Another factor about digital cinematography is the numbers of camera manufacturers. In the days of film Panavision and Arri dominated the market. There were other manufactures but they were never really able to gained much ground, especially in the 35mm realm. In today’s market there are several manufacturers vying for market and competing with one another. This means that the filmmaker has several options to choose what suits his or her needs best, and because of the increased competition expect the technological advancements to increase and prices to drop. RED is one of the leading camera manufacturers and one of the most technologically advance and has only been in business for a number of years and selling cameras for less than 4 years. Canon and Nikon have brought their still technology to motion and are carving out their own niche, which has proved to be extremely popular among independent filmmakers. GoPro and Contour are revolutionizing small cameras and POV cinematography, allowing anyone to get incredible shots doing what they do everyday, and was even used in a Superbowl commercial this year. Vision Research is paving the way for high speed photography achieving 2,000 frames per second and incredibly clear imagery.
The trickle down effect is not something to overlook either. As camera and digital technology advances the barriers to entry are becoming scarce. Some pretty good short films are being shot on cell phones, edited on readily available computers or even mobile phones themselves. It’s easier for someone to become a filmmaker and have his or her film shine and gain attention online. If the shoe fits, it’s only a matter of time before someone notices and empowers this filmmaker to create something magical. It’s a promising world and industry, go make a film! -Tim