Film Production Phuket – The first digital SLR cameras that could shoot high definition video emerged in 2008. Within just two short years these cameras revolutionised independent film making with their ability to deliver stunning professional-looking video in a cheap and compact package. They are fast becoming the camera of choice for indie cinematographers around the world, even Robert Rodriguez has been spotted shooting with this new technology.
Due to limitations in technology and hefty price tags, most camcorders in the independent filmmaker’s price range would have built-in lenses that limited creative choices with regards to depth of field. If the filmmaker really wanted the softer focus afforded by shallow depth of field he or she would have to consider using a 35mm lens adapter at the expense of light, colour and the ability to auto focus.
The move from tape to solid state (memory card) recording combined with improved censors has allowed for video to be squeezed into the standard SLR camera body. This means that with the HD DSLR you can shoot your video directly through a selection 35 mm lenses. This allows the user to get that shallow depth of field you see in professional film cameras and high end HD cameras such as the RED ONE.
The latest range of DSLRs are starting to offer high definition video recording at a native 24 frames per second, this matches the frame rate of recording used in film cameras. You will get the same subtle motion blur that is characteristic of film, this combined with the shallow depth of field and a little bit of colour correction in post gives you that lush, soft film look.
The light sensors in camcorders have typically been tiny, smaller than a 1 penny coin in most cases. High end digital SLRs however are equipped with full frame 35mm sensors allowing more light for their still photographs. Using a sensor of this size to record HD video, you get stunning bright and vivid images that put the smaller sensors to shame. Most importantly, with these large sensors you can shoot in low light situations and still get great results.
Two years ago if you wanted to get DSLR quality video, you would probably have had to use a large camcorder and attach an equally large and clumsy lens adapter, then mount this monster upon a massive tripod. To move all this gear around you would probably also need a dedicated car or van. With a DSLR you can simply toss it in your backpack with a travel tripod and hit the road.
And this is surely why it is becoming the independent filmmaker’s tool of choice; even splashing out on the higher end digital SLRs works out significantly cheaper than getting a camcorder and a depth of field adapter. You can now get gorgeous video shot on a micro budget just by renting one of these mini marvels and this is why DSLR filmmaking is already revolutionising independent film. The video capabilities of digital SLRs are still in their infancy, but with more manufacturers getting on the wagon the technology is continually improving whilst price tags fall. It won’t be long before we start to see even entry level DSLRs that are able to shoot stunning HD video.