An Inspiring Tribute to the Past, Present, & Future of the Motion Picture Camera

Every so often, in my aimless meandering through the interwebs, I come across something that warrants immediate sharing on this site. More often than not, it's news of an emerging piece of technology or a cinematographer talking about their craft. However, sometimes I come across something that has a far more profound effect. I found one such thing today in the form of a video that played at the 2014 Lifetime Achievement Awards for the Society of Camera Operators. It's a tribute to the past, present, and future of the motion picture camera, and it compresses and contextualizes the entirety of the history of motion pictures into the span of 4 minutes. I have a feeling that you will enjoy as much as I did.

Here's the video, which comes from Vimeo user Jery October, and was beautifully cut together by Bob Joyce:

There really isn't much that I can say about this video that it doesn't say better on its own. It makes it very clear that we, the filmmakers of tomorrow, are going to be writing the next chapter in the epic story that is the history of film. The exciting part of this is that the ever-evolving landscape of camera technology has legitimately democratized filmmaking to the point where even those of us who are completely broke are only limited by our imaginations. Exciting times to be sure, No Film Schoolers. Exciting times indeed.

Let's hear your thoughts about this video down in the comments!

Link: Jery October -- Vimeo

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Your Comment


Thanks for this reminder of why I love the craft, the tools and the people who make motion pictures.

March 15, 2014 at 6:25AM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM


The video is great. I think your definition of "completely broke" differs somewhat from mine. If I had a camera, it would be because I stole it, to trade for food or shelter. My imagination would be a bit preoccupied with preventing me from dying.

March 15, 2014 at 9:42AM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM


I am truly happy for the next generation of filmmakers. As a 10-12-yr old kid, I desperately wanted sync sound to go with my Super 8 film. Cutting it was a mess, audio impossible. The other day, a 6-yr old came up to me at a family get-together and asked if I wanted to see the movie he made...on his phone.

On the other hand, having started in 1972 with the 16mm film process, together with large expensive cameras (you ain't lived until you've shot something with a Mitchell 16 on a Worrall gear head or an Eclair NPR or Arri S or SR, with double system sound captured on a 1/4" Nagra, then resolved to 16mm fullcoat mag, all run on an interlock sync system in the audio mixing room), then 1" video machines, 3/4" video, then Betacam, then Panasonic SD digital, then Sony DVCAM, then Sony Z1U HD, then Panasonic 900 HD digital and now Nikon D800 and Canon 5D MKII and GoPros and who knows what next, it's kind of cool to have lived through all that.

My only regret is that a production system that once cost $300,000-$1,000,000 (cameras, lenses, camera supports, edit bays, distribution systems including film prints and projectors) is now available -- with better quality -- to anyone with a few dollars and a computer...and I'm at the closing end of my career.

Good luck to all of you who follow with all the wonderful, affordable, high quality toys you'll have to play with!

My 1962 10-yr old self salutes you!

March 15, 2014 at 10:17AM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM

Dan K

That's awesome.

March 15, 2014 at 1:57PM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM


Early sixties? C'mon, you got plenty of time before you "close-up shop", not to mention the wealth and breadth of experience you bring to the table. Keep on trucking' brother!

March 15, 2014 at 3:53PM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM


Thanks. Not planning to quit, but my company is definitely trying to push out us "old" guys. Actually, I'm looking forward to making my own stuff and not just material for a large corporation.

My point is that earlier in my career there simply was no way to finance and produce and no means of distribution. And at best it was 16mm. Now absolutely terrific quality and professional editing are available to those who want it bad enough.

But believe me, the energy of youth is fleeting. Don't waste it. It won't be there for you forever.

And that GH4 is looking very good to me.

March 16, 2014 at 7:31AM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM


Digital tools enabled aspiring filmmakers to experiment, to make small movies with friends without the expenses of film stock. Doesn't mean you don't have to read books, learn and master your craft. Technology made the impossible - possible, but what to do with all of it is up to you.

March 15, 2014 at 11:37AM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM


Nice work, but a little bit unfair: are there only American people who have worked on cameras for this last half century? The French Nouvelle Vague brought Aaton shoulder cameras, Germany first developped Moviecam before being bought by Arri, and Sony or Canon are not unconcerned by the last improvements in digital cameras, are they?

March 17, 2014 at 5:53AM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM


You say the Moviecam was a German camera "before being bought by Arri" - but Arri is a German company, too!

Their original, full name was "Arnold & Richter" (Ar-Ri) and they are based in Munich, Germany. Believe it or not, the Alexa is a German camera, too! :)

March 24, 2014 at 2:20AM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM


I always thought Moviecam was American, because of the SuperAmerica camera. Learn something new everyday.

April 4, 2014 at 3:22PM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM

You voted '-1'.
Daniel Mimura

A splendid homage to motion pictures - thank you

March 21, 2014 at 4:50PM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM