Among all the new (and old) equipment displayed at the 2013 National Association of Broadcasters conference in Las Vegas, some 96,000 attendees had a chance to ‘play’ with the latest technologies. No question, these creative tools in the right hands could bring magic to any size screen.
From my early days as a filmmaker, I thought technology was great them, but what camera gear can do today is really remarkable! In the early days, everything was more mechanical with several working parts designed to function in total synchronization of each component, allowing each piece of gear to do what it was intended. For example, a camera took to pictures on film, then you’d process it at a lab, then literally cut or splice your edits, creating dissolves, hard cuts or mat in effects.
However, current technology allows a full spectrum enhancing workflow and flexibility to achieve the end result. Codex and Metadata work hand-in-hand with the editing process. Once a scene is shot, all the information about that scene is translated onto a storage card, making the editing process far more intuitive than ever before. Plus with these newer cameras you have a choice of various formats RAW, Mpeg, Jpeg. I’m a big advocate of shooting in a format labeled “RAW”. In layman’s terms; camera settings allow a larger concentration of light to hit the digital chip giving you maximum data. Once you get into editing, this data can give you several ways to approach the editing and colorization process. Trust me…it’s a good thing!
The newest format broadcasters and filmmakers are shooting on is called “4K”. This new format “4K” (4.4.4) refers to the horizontal pixel width of the image, closer to a true film format, which in digital terms is 4096 X 3840. Most manufactures boast an extended frame rate up to an average 120fps (frames per second). OK, what does all this mean to the viewer? Pretty pictures, great resolution and when you and the family watch your home screen, you’re getting an enhanced entertainment viewing experience. Sound has also made great headway to augment the picture and keep an audience mesmerized. It totally up’s the game!
Of course, as soon as they truly rollout 4K we’ll be reporting another change with these new cameras equipped to accommodate UltraHD pixel widths up to 8K in the next few years. 4K is truly a stunning look, the image can be manipulated to handle any theme a filmmaker is attempting to achieve.
Quantel and NHK demonstrated the future format 8K. 8K (almost) gives the illusion you’re looking out a window. 8K deliver’s a gorgeous picture, so good it may replace last years hot format 3D. Most filmmakers I know (including myself) wants to shoot 3D or stereoscopic, but its format is very difficult in the production process, increasing your setup and shoot times immensely. 3D won’t go away, but the future formats like 8K (I predict) will be the production norm.
Lighting fixtures have come (literally) light years forward. When I built my first studio, lighting guys would be wearing heavy fireproof gloves to teak the beam on a light fixture, the heat factor was so brutal air-cooling systems ran up your cost and often impacted a good budget. With the introduction of LED and other types of lighting units, today’s lights are cool in output temperature, lightweight and remote controlled to give a ‘look’ the filmmaker wants to convey.
The downside to these new formats is that many current TV sets or screens aren’t equipped or not available to the consumer yet. Cinema screens have just gone through a major conversion to handle these future formats. The cost for enhance entertainment viewing is going to be expensive. While we’re seeing some 4K TV sets on the market now, the vast majority of sets won’t hit the stores until fall 2013. Hopefully, these new sets will be priced where we can afford then.
The plus for all of us, is that entertainment in our homes, on the big screen and our mobile devices will be fun to watch and a real experience. Now, its up to us, the filmmakers to deliver some great stories to you, or should I say, we need to find the money and investors to support the great stories waiting to be told. In any case, the future looks bright for those wanting great entertainment, we have to the tools and creativity to bring it to you…and THAT’S THE REEL STORY!