In August I spent a lot of time thinking about DSLRs and their unexpected revolutionizing of moviemaking technology. Most digital cinematographers, I think, expected this sort of price/performance disruption to come at the hands of ex-Oakley founder Jim Jannard’s camera startup, RED. And while RED may still overtake the hybrid still/video market in the years to come, the fact is: the revolution is here, now. And so I spent a bunch of time researching DSLRs and the variety of accoutrements it takes to turn a still camera into something resembling a movie camera. Too much time, in fact; I spent months on forums searching for answers, after which I finally moved out of my apartment, took the money I saved by doing so, and bought a camera package and put it to work. The result of my research and experiences is below, in a tiny font:
I hope it’s helpful for anyone interested in making beautiful movies for very little money.
This guide may transition to another format in the future, but for now I think having a “introduction to best practices” manual is more helpful than knowing every single option out there. We’re all better off if we can spend dozens of hours researching our camera kit and hundreds of hours in production, instead of vice versa. As for why I didn’t create it as a wiki, I wanted to make it readable like a manual as opposed to a crowdsourced entry; for example, if this were groupthinked there would be 38 opinions on which matte box is best, and I didn’t want that. That’s exactly what the forums are terrific for (and I expect anyone reading this to do their own additional research on those forums, which are listed in the guide).
Unlike a book, the guide is a living, breathing document, and it will be updated and expanded as time passes; right now it mainly focuses on purchasing and assembling a rig, but it’s possible in the future it will break out into separate pages and include more shooting how-to.
Thanks for reading and please leave comments on the guide!