Remember when you were 5 years old? I do. I was living on the southeast side of Chicago around 99th street. Anything was possible. Big dreams. Big play. Big fun.
I was reminded of that time twice today. First when I heard the Chicago air-raid sirens go off this morning at 10am. We called them air-raid sirens back in 1969 and they went off all over the city at 10am on the first Tuesday of the month. And I noticed them again today with the windows open on this fine spring day.
And again tonight, sitting in a darkened theater full of film industry people as we gathered to review some of the most exciting new technology to come along in quite a while. We were all there together marveling over a new and groundbreaking way to tell our stories through cinema.
The advent of the Canon 5D Mark II and other similar HDDSLRs (High Definition Digital Single Lens Reflex cameras) has made us as filmmakers absolutely giddy like 5 years olds as we embark on what we tonight started to call a new wave of filmmaking.
I bought my 5D Mark II a little over a year ago and as I’ve written here before, I’ve spent the last year experimenting with this ground breaking camera, making beautiful still images, but more incredibly, making motion images that first the first time in my life, feel like my still photography that I have honed over the last two decades.
I think those of us, both photographers and established cinematographers, have been quietly wondering to ourselves is if what we are holding in our hands is really what we think it might be. The future of filmmaking and cinema.
And I think tonight we all agreed that it is. I looked at images shot with my camera, projected on a 60 foot screen with my own eyes and thought to myself, yes, yes this is something wonderful. Something we will look back on years from now and say, yes, this was the time when it all came together. Technology in a democratizing form that allowed us to start creating visually what we could only dream about only two years ago.
To have all of us together in that theater tonight, all agreeing that for once in our lives, too good could actually be true.
For the second time in as many evenings I listened to another acclaimed cinematographer, Shane Hurlburt (ASC) talk about how the new HDDSLRs have completely changed his excitement level when it comes to making films. It’s true. We’re all excited about film again. Like we were when we were all 5 years old. The same wonder at the possibilities out there.
Brilliant filmmaker Carlos Lascano had flown in from Madrid, Spain to show his new short film J’ai Pas le Temps tonight, which was a completely original mix of stop motion, live action and animation that combined into something like I have truly never seen before.
Do yourself a favor and stop reading this for a moment and click on J’ai Pas le Temps now. And while you’re watching it, feel free to be jealous that we got to see this beautifully crafted work projected on a 60 foot screen.
Carlos made it with the 5D Mark II’s little brother, the 7D. And it looked amazing big.
The entire night was part of Chicago’s own Zacuto and what will become the third installment of their Great Camera Shootout of 2010, where top cinematographers and other film professionals decided to put these new HDDSLR cameras to a series of difficult challenges against industry standard 35mm motion picture cameras and film stocks from Kodak and Fuji. And then take that footage and compare it on the big screen in a darkened theater tonight at the Century Landmark.
Film has always been the bar we all aspire to and frankly still is. Many of us will continue to work on film-based projects. But what all of us who have been shooting motion with these new DSLR cameras have been discovering, these are truly the first viable alternatives to the filmmaking process.
They shoot in a way that reminds us of film. The craft of telling a story and how we can now all do it in new and exciting ways.
The days of shooting HD video and being extremely disappointed with the compromise are over. This is not shooting video. This is shooting digital film. And it’s only going to get better as these cameras mature over the next few years.
It was a tremendous experience tonight to see old friends, cinematographers, editors, photographers that I hadn’t seen in years. All buzzing like it was our birthdays.
But here we are, listening to the sirens and looking up to the sky to see our future as cinematic storytellers. It’s an exciting time to be 5 years old all over again.