Ch. 8: The Camera

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Although the differences and similarities between analog and digital are not drastic but they can make all of the difference in the work a person is trying to achieve. Understanding your device and reading the instruction manual thoroughly is important because there might be features you are unfamiliar with or ways to make operations easier.

Today, being a camera operator means operating multiple cameras from a control room. Understanding how to multitask and look at several screens is an essential roll of making sure the production being filmed runs smoothly. A camera operator must also be familiar and comfortable with framing. Framing is the arrangement of actions and objects that take place within the camera frame. A camera operator must also be familiar with positioning. Positioning involves the camera-to-subject distance and angle. Positioning is different from movement in that movement relies on mounting devices. All of these aspects contribute to camera placement.

Not only is understanding camera functions and camera placement highly important, but paying close attention to color is also key. Color can be easily modified by surrounding colors. A color like lime green appears darker when paired with white, but it appears lighter when paired with a darker color like black or navy.

There are many different tools to help control the camera. Tripods, mounts, dollies, and more, are all tools that assist with camera movement or ensure stability of the device. There are also many different lenses that can be applied to create effects. Modern lenses use many concave and convex lenses to diminish the affects of aberrations. Aberrations occur when there is interference with the light transmission of the lens.

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When using digital camera, it is important to understand the different types. A basic DV camcorder is a small handheld semiprofessional camera that is priced between a few hundred to $1,000. They are designed for quick and low cost filming that is less focused on the quality of the picture. A HDV camcorder is compressed for high definition and relies on greater flexibility in operation. They also have higher signal output quality and the operator has a lot of freedom with how they want the camera to operate. This camera is used for low budget projects. A digital cinema camera (DC camera) is a versatile and can be used for many different purposes. Whether needed in a studio or out in the field, a DC camera produces a high quality signal to ensure that projects converted to motion film appear correctly on a large screen.

There are also many types of film camera. They are named depending on the type of film they use and can be separated based on sound recording capabilities. An 8mm camera can record sound and are commonly used for recording home movies. Other types of film cameras include  16mm, 35m, 65mm and more.

Taking care of your camera is very important as they often have many delicate parts, especially when dealing with film cameras. They require much more care and are highly sensitive to high temperatures and humid conditions. They can be very difficult and expensive to have fixed if exposed to these things.

Side by Side (2012) Reaction

Typically when watching a documentary about something you have no great interest in, you expect it to be mundane and lackluster. That was not the case when watching Side by Side. Seeing it got a 92% on rotten tomatoes was no surprise. The film offers an interesting view of how cinema has changed with the development of digital film making. Actor Keanu Reeves interviews the elite of the film making industry such as James Cameron, David Lynch, George Lucas, and many more.

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The film explores the pros and cons of recording on film verse digitally. Film has been around since the 1890’s and has been the most widely used method of filming. Although it is extremely expensive and time consuming, many of those interviewed said there is just something about the tangible nature of film that is so alluring. The texture is superior and the grain structure of the film creates a romantic feeling. The disadvantages include cost, the uncertainty, and the meticulous editing process. Film is absurdly expensive. After looking up costs, it can range from $100-$1,000+ per roll of film (about 11 minutes) and there is no way to see the work you have shot until processing the film. Once shooting is complete, the processing costs are also exorbitant. In Side by Side, shooting on film was described as “painting with the lights off” and that a true leap of faith must be taken. There is much more pressure on the actors and talent performing to hit their mark and say their lines perfectly, because each take costs a great deal. Although many producers, directors, etc. find film superior, they have learned to operate digitally for cost purposes alone. You must be much more decisive when editing film and can make no mistakes. Editing is a very nitpicky and time consuming process.

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Digital filming has been around since the 1970-80’s and has come a very long way. The highest praise digital filming receives is not just the ease of accessibility and low cost, but also the freedom of movement that a digital camera allows. When filming digitally, a producer or director is able to see the work instantaneously instead of wondering if they captured any good shots that day. Likewise, there is less pressure and more chance to build better relationships between the actors and the directors since the takes are limitless. A director has greater opportunity to get the exact shot they envision without worry of cost. Another pro that many described throughout Side by Side was the luxury of continuing to roll the camera. There is no chance they will run out of film and they have better chances of catching moments they may have never captured on film. If there is great chemistry or what many directors describe as “magic” they are not limited to the constraints of film.

It was a very interesting documentary that allowed both sides of the aisle to give their truest opinions and reasons for working with either film or digital and the benefits of each and the interested debate that each filmmaker had regarding the topic.

Ch. 2: The Production Process

Analog and Digital Technologies

The three major stages of production include preproduction, production, and postproduction. From the script and budgeting, to recording, to editing the material, the process must happen in a very meticulous order.

Preproduction is the very early stages where the work is created and a proposal is made. A proposal is an important marketing component that helps sell or promote the work. Along with the proposal comes the premise, or a quick statement that summarizes the story line. Once complete, the synopsis, or longer summary of the story line, is created. From there a more in-depth summary is created. These are called treatments and they are included with the pitch of the project. The component we are most familiar with is probably the script, as this is the entire written work with stage direction and notes that explain the way the work will be produced. With all of these comes a budget to determine spending and eventually a storyboard, or graphic visualization of the work.

Much rehearsing must take place before any material is actually shot. A producer will adjust camera angles, decide on actors, staging, location, and how many camera’s they will utilize. Audio must be tested and ensure that all aspects of production will run smoothly when recording as to not waste time. After the work is recorded, the art of postproduction takes place and the work is pieced together in a seamless manner. Manipulation of the work may take place, including visual or audio effects and integrating music into the production, as well as balancing various aspects of the recording.

Although these steps may occur separately, it is crucial for a producer to understand what goes into each one and how they will affect the final product. When directing the work, there must be an understanding of how it will appear in the final edit and how they must move the camera in order to achieve their vision.

New media technologies allow for advancement of older techniques. Analog audio and videotape recording, as well as editing, is basically a thing of the past and new digital forms have replaced it and made it more advantageous. Through digital recording, it is guaranteed that the quality of the work will not be compromised when copied and it also offers easier and more efficient ways of manipulating the material.

Other tools, such as word processor programs utilized for writing scripts, as well as budgeting and scheduling tools, make the preproduction process run smoothly and can be easily accessed and edited. It also provides convenient ways to find talent through performer databases online.

Although commonly referred to, there is more the production team than just the producer. The director, assistant director, scriptwriter are all part of what is called the Creative Staff. Along with the creative staff there is the production crew. The production crew consists of the director of photography, the lighting director, the camera operator, art director or scenic designer, technical director, editor and MORE! Although a producer may be able to write the script and direct, there are many more individuals needed to contribute to the production an overall production aesthetics.

Ch. 1: Producing

Exploiting New Opportunities and Markets in the Digital Age

Described as happening a number of decades ago, the digital revolution has drastically changed the way producers engage with their medium. As technology advances, the means to create becomes more accessible and affordable. A producer must not only decide on the medium they wish to use, but they must also decide on the audience and demographic they wish to target. Once deciding their target audience, they must consider the audience’s expectations, the means by which they will reach the audience (film, television, etc.), and discuss what a feasible budget might look like that will satisfy the needs of their demographic. The demographics of a producer’s audience can greatly affect the work they are creating. They must consider age, gender, income, education, religion, culture, and language. Market research may help when estimating audience size and preferences. A producer will give their work a dry run by using a test audience.

These questions show the amount of detail and consideration that must take place before their work can begin but they are each essential factors that will dictate the way a producer’s work is received by their desired audience:
Which distribution method will be used?
Which production format will be used?
Which electronic media will be used?
Which genre will tell the story best?

With the growth of digitized signals, it is possible to reach an audience through many different media distribution forms such as AM-FM, HD-Radio, Mobile, Satellite, Cable, Disk, Internet, Games, Motion Pictures, and more. Producers must consider the details of post production before they even begin to work. Once a producer creates work, their is an intermediary that facilitates the audience consumption of the content.

The type of consumption we are most familiar with today is on demand streaming through the internet. This form of media consumption makes for widely accessible content. Convergence allows for content to be at our fingertips constantly. Convergence is the merging of media platforms and distribution. Your cell phone is the perfect example of convergence. It is a telephone, computer, calculator, camera as well as much more. These are all factors that affect  the economics of distribution. A producer must understand the basic economics of distribution in order to reach their target audience.

In regards to independent films and small production companies that have trouble getting their work out their, it proves best for them to work with local cable station. Local stations are concerned will filling time and they are likely to show independent work during slow time slots. Local stations are able to sell commercials to advertisers for a high cost and they can generate some viewership before their main programming, such as the local news. A local station rarely pays for this type of programming and a producer’s best choice is to sell their work to a commercial TV station, but this is often difficult. With a huge boom in online streaming, internet distribution is a great way to reach younger audiences and to gain exposure.

Overall, there are many challenges faces with media production and many factors to consider, but there are also ways of making the process easier and more accessible for all to participate to the content we engage in everyday.