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comment by user-inactivated
user-inactivated  ·  221 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Steven Soderbergh's "High Flying Bird" and the Rise of iPhone Films

About five or so years ago, I read an article about how adding video capabilities and using larger storage cards to DSLR cameras was becoming a real boon to amateur and small budget film makers. They became cheaper to own than it would cost to rent more traditional movie making equipment and filmmakers still got a lot of the benefits such as higher resolution, swappable lens for various depths of field, and videos in a digital format that allowed for easier playback and editing. There were of course drawbacks, but reintroduce of equipment, they were real bargains and often a very smart choice.

As the cameras and the software on phones get more and more sophisticated, it makes a lot of sense that they're becoming a tool for filmmakers as well. I think it makes some sense that there tiers of equipment use will develop, from "real" film making equipment being on the high end, to DSLR being on the mid end, and phones being on the low end.

Naturally, as with anything in art and creativity, there will always be the discussion as to how the tools and equipment used will lead to better or worse final products and to how much that actually matters and why.

kleinbl00  ·  221 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    About five or so years ago, I read an article about how adding video capabilities and using larger storage cards to DSLR cameras was becoming a real boon to amateur and small budget film makers.

In order to shoot anything approaching real on a DSLR you have to hang about $10k worth of shit off of it. This video was shot on a 5D (I was there) and it had five video-assist technicians keeping it happy.

You'll note that the lighting looks like shit and the frame is rather swimmy.

Five months later I did sound for this on a C300.

The C300 was created to capture the rental market of the gakked-out 5D. The support package for a C300 is much smaller than for a 5D but it still looks kinda swimmy and bullshit. It also costs $18k.

There's this persistent narrative that pikers can make movies with bullshit they buy off of eBay that will be clearly 100% as good as anything Cecil b. Demille ever did because obviously everyone in Hollywood does all this expensive shit because they're fucking idiots. So they go to film school, go $80k in debt, GoFundMe some $10k "passion piece" short film that no one will ever watch and then try to pay off their student loans by undercutting everyone else in the market while living off of checks from their grandparents until they fail out and go back to Cleveland.

The net effect has been suppressing wages and providing Netflix with an endless stream of forgettable content. It's gotten so bad that Amazon is now silently pruning all the bullshit college indies off of Amazon Prime because there's so much garbage nobody can find what they want anymore.

user-inactivated  ·  221 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I never claimed that what was made was better or even on par to more professional equipment, just that it gave more people more access. In fact, my very last statement was . . .

    Naturally, as with anything in art and creativity, there will always be the discussion as to how the tools and equipment used will lead to better or worse final products and to how much that actually matters and why.

As a personal example, when I draw, I use cheap markers, pens, and pencils, because I don't want to spend the money on high quality stuff, even though I know they perform better, and I don't take drawing seriously. From moment one, when I started making books, I've spent countless hours researching techniques and materials, countless hours experimenting, coming across challenges, and figuring out how to over come them, and I buy good quality materials and pay close attention to how I use them and why because I actually care about making books in a way I'll probably never care about drawing.

There are arguments for using good equipment, proper techniques, and preserving the knowledge of art making. I understand them. There's also arguments as to why expenses can be problematic, for a lot of people unnecessary, and I understand them too.

There are also arguments for the making the means of creating and distributing art more accessible. Mostly, I agree with them and think they're good. I often like to point out that if it weren't for the printing press, we'd be living in a very different world today, from religion and philosophy, to science and knowledge, to economics and governance. The democratization of the written word because of the printing press literally helped to shape modern development.

I know where you're coming from. Wage suppression is bad. If consumers are going to spend good time and good money on a product, they deserve a good product. Not everyone is gonna be the next Spielberg and ego projects are often a fools errand. I think there's a lot in the details worth exploring there, but nothing really to argue.

As for working with phones, sometimes, knowing the limits of technology and working with them instead of against them can lead to really great art. For example, Nosferatu is an amazing horror film, because special effects were so limited at the time Murnau couldn't do out and out scary, so he had to make a film that had an emotionally haunting aura. Similarly, Metropolis has the feeling of the surreal bleeding out of it and really helping the film because of similar technological limitations.

Do I think that DSLR and Phone made films should be used for big cinema? No. Do I think they have limitations? Yes. Do I think if creators understood those limitations and worked both with them and within them they'd create better products? Yes. Do I think people who have a desire to create and experiment should be allowed to do so, even if the final product isn't top tier? Yes, for so many reasons. Do I think that they should necessarily think that it's gonna make them rich or famous or that they should expect people to love what they make? No.

I think what Soderbergh is doing is cool, because he's exploring new possibilities, and finding out the pros and cons of those possibilities will give us a lot to learn from. I haven't seen the film's, but I probably wouldn't like them visually much in the same way I didn't like seeing Public Enemies in theater because I found the high resolution, high frame rate, digital filming technique too harsh and jarring on the eyes. When a movie feels overly unnatural, or even worse uncomfortable to watch, it takes away from the viewing experience significantly.

kleinbl00  ·  221 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I don't know you. You don't know me. You don't know where I'm coming from and I say this kindly, and with compassion, and with an appreciation for where you are, where you think you are, what you know and what you think you know. So. With no animosity whatsoever, you have no idea what you're talking about.

It's fashionable to couch your matter-of-fact arguments in terms of "of course there's room for nuance" or "of course we can disagree about the details" but fundamentally, you're drawing parallels between markers and Panavision and because I don't know you, and because I bear you no ill will, I'm going to explain why you can't do that, why everyone who has ever told you you can can't do that, and why anyone ever making that argument also doesn't know what they're talking about.

I'm going to give FW Murnau an iPhone. Poof. Hand-crank limelight is a thing of the past, this dude's got ISO 3200 and sync sound in his pocket. It's definitely freeing - he's no longer loading 100ft mags of extremely finicky celluloid every time he wants 30 seconds of footage. He can see what he shot as he shot it and immediately after he can show the actors. But he can't get rid of the actors. And he can't get rid of the LD - we still need to make the light look cool. And he can't get rid of the grip - someone's gotta move the lights and arrange them between scenes and takes. And he can't get rid of makeup. And he can't get rid of wardrobe. And on any sort of semi-real production there are at least three or four other people filling in for the eight or nine jobs we aren't going to get into.

But let's say we're doing this Dogme95, cheap as we can, a nothing shoot as minimal as possible. It's FW and two actors. Are they all equally passionate? Are they all 100% on-board for love of the project? Who wrote the script? Do they all love it equally? If even one of them is doing this as a favor, that favor will have to be paid back at some point. If one of them is getting paid, the other one is getting paid or else that shit will go south about scene 3 of the day. Fundamentally, you can't make any sort of motion image with actors in it without collaboration.

Cinema/television is the greatest collaborative art the human race has ever come up with. Goofy-ass man-on-the-street shit requires a crew of three even if one of them holds the mic, one holds the camera and one chases after people to keep them out of frame or get releases off of them depending. Intervention required a crew of seven out in the field and that's just pointing cameras at dumbasses getting high. There are two actors in Cuaron's Gravity... and 42 people in the sound department alone. And the mistake amateurs and dreamers always make is assuming that somehow, the limiting factor is the gear.

Soderbergh runs a splinter crew. His productions are tiny. And because, for example, audio on an iPhone is pure shit, it took him a fifteen man crew to un-fuck the sound (not counting the four-man ADR casting department or the untold ADR actors). It took a seventeen man crew to do Soderbergh's Solaris. And tiny crew or no, they still wandered out with five PAs. Yeah you can do smaller movies. I've done smaller movies. But here's the thing:

Let's say you're making your passion piece. This is your dream. And you've rallied all your buddies; it's gonna be a think piece at a restaurant that requires nothing but a set and some conversation. You can do it with a smaller crew than Soderbergh used to shoot High Flying Bird. You can do it, get theatrical release, get a bunch of awards, and make your money back. And you can do it in fuckin' 1981 on 35mm.

Yeah. You can buy cheap markers or you can buy expensive markers. But if you're making movies you have a choice of making it worth it for everyone who believes in you, is counting on you, is your friend, puts up with you, is doing it for $125 a day, is doing it for their reel, is doing it because they have nothing better to do than play Smash Bros...

...or cheaping out on the one thing that might make it look good.

We cheaped out on our film back in 2003. But that meant we shot ends. We bought pieces of film that were less than a five hundred feet long and it still cost us a dollar a second before development and you know what? Crew was still hella more expensive. A thousand dollar a day camera package cost less than a $1500 a day lighting package or a $5k a day crew roster.

So are you all so disinterested that you're gonna shoot this thing on an iPhone? Okay, great. Go to. But if even one of you wants someone else to see this thing and like it, put some effort into it.

The project is worth it.

user-inactivated  ·  220 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Why do you keep assuming my position for me and assuming that I disagree with you? I have multiple positions, one of them is figuratively standing right there next to you.

Here's the spectrum.

We're both over here. ---> IPhones are not good equipment for big budget, serious projects.




I'm also over here, in the nuance, which does exist between both extremes, where people balance goals, budgets, and methods. Some people have more to work with, in terms of tools, finance, and talent, some people have less. Sometimes, concessions of various types are often made and it affects the final product, sometimes for the worse, sometimes in a charming way, for the better. That films vary so much in quality and in different ways readily illustrates this. If someone wants to use an iPhone, for better or worse that's their creative decision.




IPhones are a good for small projects and people who want to experiment with film making. If people want to make a film for a class assignment, to share on YouTube, or to get their feet wet with film making, they provide an affordable, convenient, and accessible option. <--- I'm right here as well, but you seem to be missing. Come stand on this side of the gap for a minute, the view is great.