Tech Report: Technologies That Are Changing the Film World

It’s amazing how technology has evolved over the years. Here at The Independent, we dug deep to find the most ground-breaking technical tools that are helping the artists behind films fine-tune their craft and deliver their message in the most compelling manner to date.

The Red One
Manufactured by the Red Digital Cinema Camera Company, the Red One was released in 2007 as the first camera to revolutionize the art of filmmaking. On the market for barely two years, this baby can record at resolutions up to 4,096 horizontal lines (in filmmaker jargon “4K”) by 2,304 vertical pixels that can be stored on flash or hard disk. Red’s single Super 35-sized CMOS sensor and industry-standard PL mount (which means you can use several different lenses on the same camera) gives Red the upper hand against other digital movie cameras. Any filmmaker has the best of both worlds, as the Red’s visual resolution is identical to recording on film. But there is no film needed here, and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out how to use the camera. It’s an analog-meets-high-resolution, all-in-one device – and that’s the beauty of it.

“I believe what makes the Red Camera of such great interest is the balance between its price, portability, ease of use, flexibility and the quality of the images it produces,” says Adam Belanoff, co-executive producer of the TNT’s hit series, The Closer. Belanoff hits it right on target as the price of the Red One is only $17,500 for the body, which is significantly cheaper for a camera with this type of astounding resolution. One must remember, however, that there are additional costs for lenses, batteries and other must-have accessories. Yet even with these extras, the cost is still drastically less than the camera’s HD competitors.

Outside of the Red’s competitive price and ability to create a crystal-clear picture, it also comes packed with some amazing characteristics. One of which includes controlling the depth of field, which blurs the foreground or background just like film, as opposed to typical HD digital cameras that force everything in focus due to the small sensors, giving frames a flat look. “The shallow depth of field is a huge part of it, but there are so many other cool features,” explains Mike Yonts, Film Director and President of Mike Yonts Films, Inc. “It’s great to have lots and lots of pixels. Also, the camera shoots in the raw format, like a DSLR, so that you have lots of control over color, brightness, and contrast when you get into post [production].” Yep Mike, we agree. This camera is cool and will put any filmmaker at the top of his or her game.

An Era of the Pod
Wikipedia defines a podcast as a series of digital media files (audio or video) that are released episodically and downloaded through web syndication. The mode of delivery, however, is what differentiates podcasts from other ways of accessing media files over the Internet, such as a simple download or streamed webcast. Consistent with the term broadcast, podcast covers two main activities: an ongoing series or episodes of a particular program.

Surprisingly, podcasts emerged on the scene around 2004, and have gained quite a bit of popularity recently. Podcasts are a savvy, inexpensive marketing tool and relatively “young” breed of technology as compared to Television (circa late 1930) and Radio (circa 1893). One industry that has hugely embraced the benefits of podcasts is independent film. Pete Chatmon, Writer/Director/Producer and President of Double 7 Film is living proof that podcasts can help promote both your business and reputation as a filmmaker. Chatmon created and co-hosts the Double Down Film Show which aired its first episode in January 2009 through BlogTalkRadio. “Podcasts allow filmmakers to stay connected to their fans, audience, and other supporters during the ‘downtime’ between making films,” Chatmon says. “But more importantly, [podcasts] provide access to information, motivation, and advice for filmmakers as they embark upon their own projects.”

Other than getting your message out to a vast number of listeners, podcasts are great for gaining a faithful audience, as podcasters can solicit subscriptions as well. Therefore, members don’t have to tune in “live” at a specified episode times. Every new episode that airs from that particular podcast is automatically fed to that subscriber’s computer and/or mobile gadget. “Any filmmaker not taking advantage of this technology is missing out on opportunities to broaden their network and increase their success,” Chatmon says.

The Aftermath
One can forget that the post-production stage of any project can often be the most significant. It’s the final stage where tweaking all the kinks out of a film before the public screens it and before it’s distributed. This is the area where a visual effects expert can make a character freeze in mid-air before drop kicking their opponent, or where an animator can fine tune the sharpness of a dragon’s teeth and thickness of his breath. All of this and more can be executed by a series or one of the complex but inventive computer programs such as Maya, Adobe After Effects and Cinema 4D. “Maya is a really comprehensive animation package, which can do everything for VFX [visual effects]…from modeling, lighting, animation, rendering, and dynamic effects such as smoke, fire, and fluids”, explains Charles Scott, Music Supervisor for FOX’s hit show, Fringe, who has an extensive background in the visual effects arena.

Each individual software, whether it’s Adobe After Effects, Maya or Cinema 4D, has its own special angle of functionality, it just depends on what goal you want to accomplish with your project in the post production stage. David Pacheco, President of Pro Found Studios describes Cinema 4D as a “modeling and animation software for visualizing anything from as small as a pebble to an entire world complete with simulated gravity and other real-world elements in 3D. [In comparison], Adobe After Effects is animation software used to animate anything from movie clips, pictures, text, lighting, and much more in a simulated 2D or 3D environment.” Don’t get confused however, and think that both suites are the same. As Pacheco summarizes it, “[Adobe After Effects and Cinema 4D] have many similarities when it comes time to animating elements in your scene,” he says. “They both work on the same premise that has been used since hand-drawn animations have come about.”

Although technology has come a long way, and continues to advance, which helps filmmakers, directors, producers, and animators execute films more efficiently, it’s really up to the artist (in any capacity, not just indie film) to ensure that the most compelling message grabs their audience. Yes, state-of-the-art devices, gadgets and software add to the audiences’ experience, but without creativity where would technology be today? Indie Filmmaker, Jamie Moffett of Media Design & Production, Inc. says it best: “As an artist, I’m interested in knowing what new paints, what new brushes are available to me, and what other artists are using. Artistry and storytelling are largely the same. For us, media is the medium…what’s your message?”

Share this Article:
Print this pageEmail this to someoneTweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on TumblrPin on PinterestShare on Google+Share on Reddit