Friday, December 31, 2010

The Importance of DSLR (“Idiot with a Tripod”)

“Idiot with a Tripod” by Jamie Stuart shows us the importance of DSLR video.  With so many people screaming about how “film” (video) shot with digital SLR’s is becoming the downfall of motion pictures, this simple 3 and a half minute montage shows us that 7D’s and the lot are giving us tools that make beauty more accessible… that DSLR’s are bringing us a revolution in the world of motion pictures.

“Idiot with a Tripod” by Jamie Stuart


Roger Ebert calls the clip “Oscar worthy,” stating:

This film deserves to win the Academy Award for best live-action short subject. (1) Because of its wonderful quality. (2) Because of its role as homage. It is directly inspired by Dziga Vertov's 1929 silent classic "Man With a Movie Camera." (3) Because it represents an almost unbelievable technical proficiency. It was filmed during the New York blizzard of Dec. 26, and Jamie Stuart e-mailed it to me with this time stamp: December 27, 2010 4:18:18 PM CST.

So many cinematography and film message boards and forums are filled with veterans whining about the fact that now "any schmuck can grab a camera and shoot a 'film.'" While I agree that the field will be littered with more garbage, the accessibility of motion picture equipment puts tools into the hands of people who previously were not able to share their skills and talent.

For a while I lamented the same thing in the music field: now any fool with a computer can record their awful ballads to their girlfriend, and we have to sift through all the schlock trying to find decent tunes.  However… it also means there is more good music out there (because it’s not only the elite with access to major recording studios who can put out quality recordings).  The same is becoming true with film.

Just because the tools are becoming accessible to everyone, doesn’t mean everybody has talent.  Ebert reflects this sentiment as he goes on: 

You can tell from the cinematography he knew exactly what he was doing and how to do it. He held the Vertov film in memory. Stuart must already been thinking of how he would do the edit and sound. Any professional will tell you the talent exhibited here is extraordinary.

In no way am I saying big-budget productions are dead.  I of course still want to see my Lord of the Rings and Broke Back Mountain shot on glorious film.  I NEED my giant sci-fi movies to have an $80 million-plus budget.  But DSLR is an important part of an equation that can keep cinema in the theater from going the way of the dodo.  There is a time and place for everything, and DSLR is definitely coming into its own.

While studios continue to spend ridiculous amounts of money on overblown situation comedies (Little Fockers, $100 million :: Sex and the City 2, $100 Million :: How Do You Know, $120 Million), tools like DSLR are making it possible for creative leaders and revolutionaries to create wonderful motion pictures at a fraction (and I mean super-fraction) of the cost of these hilariously budgeted films.

While Hollywood scrambles to make sense of the VOD and motion picture iPod revolution, thankfully there are talented individuals leading the way, making beautiful, enjoyable films without being shackled to the bloated and tired old ways of studios trying to adhere to the “rules” that died quite a while ago.

There is still a long way to go before the dust clears, but I am certain that the benefits that DSLR lend to “filmmaking” (cost, portability, size, etc.) are going to be a very important part of how films are made in the coming years.

Ebert quotes from:

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