Most of you who read this issue know that, as Christmas time approaches, we love to let our readers know about some of the newest low-budget filmmaking gear to put under the tree (or at least request from Santa). As those of you who’ve read AJ Wedding’s article this month know, this year is one of transition.
On the one hand, we have some pretty revolutionary new video technology coming out from digital SLR camera companies like Nikon (the D90) and even more revolutionary technology coming out of the SLR division of Canon (the EOS 5D Mark II), whose separate video division is already well known. Meanwhile Panasonic is now in the process of releasing their AG-HMC150, a professional camera based on the DVX100B design that records HD via the AVCHD format that Panasonic helped create. Now that most editing packages will support AVCHD (finally), if you don’t mind essentially shooting in a highly compressed format (that has the same color space as HDV), you get Panasonic quality HD at less that $4K. (The D90 is already available, the EOS 5D Mark II has an expected release date this month, and you can currently pre-order the AG-HMC150.)
However, on the other hand, everything else is kind of up in the air.
RED, the camera company who has captivated the imaginations of microfilmmakers since maverick Oakley owner Jim Jannard founded it, has just shaken the industry with the announcement of multiple versions of their microfilmmaker-aimed Scarlet camera. Unfortunately, not all of the prices have been decided upon and, as we surmised when we saw the mockup at NAB, the delivery date has been delayed to mid- to late-2009 for all the different elements of this line to be shipped.
Dalsa came up with an amazing new camera system that offered truly uncompressed video (as opposed to the somewhat compressed footage found in RED and other RAW-format cameras), only to declare that they would be leaving the camera world and selling off their camera division. Who will buy them remains to be seen, although interest has clearly been shown by lighting/film megacompany, ARRI.
Besides filmmaking technology, things are up in the air with the computer and editing systems necessary for filmmakers to craft their vision.
After Adobe helped get lots of people to migrate from Mac to Windows with their all-in-one production packages in 2006, many folks are now balking at the idea of staying in the wilderness of the PC world. One of the largest reasons people seem to be having second thoughts is due to Microsoft’s uber-memory hog, Windows Vista. Most media people want to believe that Vista can perform up to the stellar multimedia capabilities Microsoft claims is encoded at the kernel level, however, with multiple gigs of RAM required to simply run the software properly, more and more people are looking to stay with the increasingly Linux-centric Macs, which are much more efficient with RAM. (In fact, the migration seems to be going the other way, as a number of PC editors are choosing to relocate to Mac because of the Vista issues as their current XP PCs become obsolete.) As a further incentive to return to Mac or permanently cross-over is the fact that Adobe’s CS4 Production Premium package now has complete Mac support (as opposed to the partial support that was available in CS3 or the complete lack of support in the CS2 release).
Now that Mac users are seriously looking at Adobe products because of their amazing integration, Adobe’s released a very clever way to start edging into Mac’s proprietary market share: direct importation of FCP timelines into Premiere Pro without any FCP-to-AE (via AutomaticDuck) workaround. The selling point is that FCP editors can do all their editing in FCP and then bring it into Premiere Pro where they can take advantage of all of Adobe’s Dynamic Link integration. Of course, it’s clear that Adobe anticipates that, once FCP editors are comfortable importing their EDLs straight into Premiere Pro, they’ll see how similar the programs are and simply start doing all their editing in Premiere Pro. (For those of you who are history buffs, this is a very similar strategy to Alexander the Great’s policy of Hellenization, by which widely disparate languages and individual cultures were replaced by a uniform language and culture.)
Adobe’s clearly aiming to make their products readily available to low-budget filmmakers, as their most recent product launches have had their video suites showing the greatest amount of price-lowering (vs. their print or design suites). Additionally, Adobe was the only one of the big 3 “AAA” video editing companies to be at NAB to actually answer questions from both press and consumers. (Both Avid and Apple were notably absent, stating that trade shows are no longer cost effective—which probably means that they will be focusing on larger accounts for the majority of their income).
To further add interest to the mix, Sony has been bulking up their Vegas video editing system to behave more like a traditional video editor and less like an audio editor that happens to do video. And, because Microsoft will try to have a product in every arena on the planet, they have been working hard on making a video editing system themselves.
So, why do we talk about half of these things for a 2008 Christmas issue? Because, almost all microfilmmakers make lists of what they want for Christmas a year out. (After all, we all know that those big-ticket items for making films are going to be ones we’ll have to buy for ourselves most of the time.) As such, most of the ideas in this issue are going to let you develop your list for Christmas 2009.
(As wth all things, let's remember to keep the important things the important things. As fun as it is to look at the new technology and to dream about it the way children dream of sugar plumb fairies, let’s try to remember that Christmas is about far more important things than gear and objects.)
Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and God