July 10, 2018

How to Capture Great Footage No Matter What Camera You Shoot With

Cameras don't make movies. Filmmakers do.

We've all experienced gear envy, haven't we? We look at all of those sexy images of the latest and greatest cameras, lenses, and stabilizers and think, "Man, if I just had some nice gear like that, I could start making great films." 

Straight up poppycock, you guys.

Though a lot of professional gear earns its high price tag by offering features that make images higher quality and easier to capture in difficult situations, they do not make images more "cinematic." Lots of new filmmakers either 1.) buy expensive gear believing it'll automatically translate into great filmmaking, or 2.) give up or put off filmmaking because they can't afford the "necessary" gear. However, Jordy Vandeput and the team over at Cinecom have made a video to show you how to make films regardless of what camera you're using, whether it's a 10-year-old SD SLR or your smartphone— or a Kidizoom Duo, a pink digital camera for kids.

Stradivarius—by far the most famous and expensive string instruments in the known universe. Crafted (largely) by Italian luthier Antonio Stradivari in the 17th and 18th century, these instruments are considered by many the absolute best in terms of quality and sound, with some of the most renowned violinists using them to perform the most beautiful pieces of music ever composed. 

But hand me one of those babies and all you're going to get is the sound of a dying cat.

What do Strads have to do with filmmaking? Well, I've been thinking about learning how to play the violin lately and never once did I think, "If I'm gonna sound any good, I really need a Strad, bruh." If I don't have that mentality with playing music, why do I have it with filmmaking? I know I'm not alone in this—plenty of us have believed or do believe that a good camera, one with high dynamic range, high resolution, and a bunch of bells and whistles, plays a much bigger role in making our footage look cinematic than it actually does. 

In reality, lighting, composition, wardrobe, set design, sound design, and editing are the real champions of the craft, and storytelling is most definitely the MVP. If those elements aren't on point, it won't matter if you're shooting on an ARRI Alexa, your film isn't going to amount to much on a visual or narrative level. 

So, if you're feeling nervous about shooting on your hand-me-down Canon Rebel T3i because it only shoots HD, don't. Feel nervous about plot holes, one-dimensional characters, and poor lighting instead.       

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2 Comments

I always appreciate the thoughts and intentions of "people tell stories, not cameras" pieces, but they've become incredibly trite; Of course it's true! But that's not why ANYONE gets gear envy.

The truth is, while I COULD tell a good story with nothing but the camera on my phone, I simply do not have the control over the image I see in my head using my phone as I would with a DSLR or a pro-level camera, and that's just as much part of the storytelling as anything else.

I can hack away at a t2i to get the kind of DOF I want in an image by getting long lenses and a focal reducer, but I simply won't get the richness of color that I wanted or the frame rate I wanted, or the format I wanted by using the t2i. Nothing wrong with it and it shouldn't keep you from making movies or telling stories, but this line about gear not mattering is simply untrue.

July 11, 2018 at 3:24PM

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You are absolutely right - you can deliver better work with adequate tools.

It's like saying you could build a wooden house with just a hammer, and a simple screwdriver. Sure yes, you could. But why not get some modern power tools that will make you work faster and better.
But no matter what tools you are using, it's kind of implied that you know how to build a house.
Same thing with movies. You have to know what you are doing or the best tools are worth nothing. But when you know what you're doing, your talent might be wasted if you are using horrible tools.

July 20, 2018 at 5:49AM, Edited July 20, 5:52AM

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