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Technologic: Better, Faster, Stronger...

Spence Nicholson on NAB camera announcements

Today we launch a new feature with director Spence Nicholson, who will explore the digital cinema landscape as it is today, its past and look forward to the future....

NAB is the yearly meet up for the National Association Of Broadcasters, but in recent years it has been hijacked by digital cinema "cine" nerds. Every year there is a big product reveal just prior to NAB, and this year was a new product called the MōVI

The MōVI is really nothing new. At its most simple explanation, it is a stabilized 3 axis gyro head on a gymbal, the type often used for Aerial Photography, adapted to work in a handheld configuration. Many open source initiatives have been developing this technology over the past several years, (mainly dji_innovations.com) but Freefly Systems, based in Seattle WA, patented the technology and brought in Vincent LaFloret (the dude Canon hired to pimp the 5D mk ii) to be its spokesperson, so naturally it has gotten a lot of buzz. This has unlimited potential, but don't expect to just purchase one and replace the need for steadicams, cranes, dolly's or Jibs. I feel it will be best used in conjunction with the afforementioned traditional film tools.

Just today Black Magic Design announced the follow-up to their BMD Cine Camera announced last year (and still not in the hands of many people who pre-ordered it): the Super 35mm 4k camera for under $4k (the quote, unquote "holy grail") and another camera, a 1080p "pocket cinema" camera using a Super 16mm sensor and M43 mount that will retail for less than $1k. The high school and film school version of me would likely be shitting his corduroys.

The "Pocket" Cine camera has great potential as a camera you always have with you, but not necessarily as something that will replace a RED or Alexa on a production. I see this being used on big productions in lieu of crash cams, car mounts, etc, maybe giving GoPro a run for their money (though the rumor is GoPro is set to announce a new system as well, so we shall see).

The really cool thing about the Super 35mm BMD Camera is that it has a global shutter, replacing the rolling shutter and thus eliminating things like "jello cam", skew, smear and partial exposures. Though cheap, the ergonomics of these cameras require a lot of accessories and add ons to make them production ready. Also, if last year is anything to go by, the next camera may be announced before you even get your hands on this one. 

Global shutter is the 2013 must have digital cinema feature. Arri announced their new Alexa modules last month and promised global shutter. RED today announced a new "motion" mount system that replaces the rolling shutter with a global one. 

In other news:

In our next post we will take a look back at the roads that have lead us here. We will also likely discuss some new gear announcements, as NAB has only really just begun. 

Director Spence Nicholson has always been a film and tech nerd. He began his career assisting Wayne Isham, which led to Second Unit work and a directing career of his own.

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