Friday, November 20, 2009

When Vincent Laforet released Reverie last year, the digital revolution seemed poised to sweep across the world of moviemaking. Shot entirely on a prototype of Canon’s then yet-to-be-released EOS 5D Mark II, the short film revealed the camera’s extraordinary low-light sensitivity and HD video capabilities, all with the photographer’s choice of lenses. It appeared to be an all-in-one movie studio replacement.

The fact that HD video and cinematic quality was being offered at consumer rates thrilled the online video community. “Laforet’s, in particular, showed off the real upside of working with the 5DII’s light-sensitive sensor: When you can work with smaller lights, your production budget goes much farther,” said photographer and End User writer Ryan Brenizer in an e-mail.

It seemed that a few big Hollywood studios would no longer dominate our viewing agenda, that an indie revolution was imminent and that the dam on a reservoir of creativity had been destroyed. But that has not been the case. So why are we not awash in studio-quality, low-budget flicks? The answer is complex, and it zeros in on an ever more important relationship between the tools of production and the actual talent of filmmaking — the two of which people often confuse.

Canon’s announcement last month of their latest model, the EOS 1D Mark IV, was coupled with another release by Laforet, using a Mark IV prototype. Again shooting under tight time restrictions and using no additional lighting, the short, Nocturne, immediately became the subject of intense internet chatter.

Video enthusiasts were thrilled by news of the expanded ISO range and ability to shoot at 24, 25 and 30fps at full 1080p, but before many had the opportunity to see the movie, Canon requested it be pulled. No official explanation has been offered by either the company or Laforet himself, although it has been noted his use of Zeiss lenses during production may be the cause. The incident is just the latest in a series of missteps and blunders which has caused consternation amongst potential subscribers to the DSLR as movie camera.

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