Saturday, 25 July, 2009

DI is Digital film shooting, Digital Cinematography, Digital movies

Many debate that digital movie shooting has still not reached that point where it approaches or betters film. Digital movie cameras have been around for a few years now. But the acceptance of digital as means of shooting movies in a big way is still waiting to happen. 

This debate will go on, just like the debate happened with still photography some years ago. Eventually that debate receded and is now as good put to rest. Film for stills is almost past tense. 

A new argument in favour of movie shooting with digital cameras, just occurred to me. 

People shoot movies on film because it is 'filmic' - film captures reality with unmatched latitude, has predictable characteristics, truer colours, is easy to use, and is a known process. All valid considerations. 

But, while most films are still shot on film, not too many are finished on film. They go the Digital Intermediate (DI) way. Even in India, finishing digital for features is prevalent. Few films have their negatives cut. 

In DI, what happens is the the film is first scanned. Meaning, a light is shone through it and a CCD creates an image of the film. This CCD is just like the kind used in digital cameras - Phantom, Arri D-21, Viper, Genesis. So, in effect, the film is 'shot with a CCD'. And less people debate whether this CCD is filmic, has the latitude to capture the range of film, has accurate colours. 

So, if the CCDs in film scanners can be trusted to represent film in all its glory, and the film itself is a good representation of reality. Then, if such CCDs are fitted with a lens, then won't we have a movie camera that's digital, and as good as film? Examples of such CCDs are those used in still cameras. 

These same digital still cameras are accepted in place of film cameras for stills. So, I thought, can't one accept movies shot with digital still cameras to be as good as, and eventually better than those shot with film-based movie cameras? That's my argument. 

If you want to make a movie that looks as good as if shot on film, and want to shoot 'natural' with a minimum of (even none) lights, then consider DSLRs. Those that shoot HD video. I've listed and briefly described some models earlier. 

After shooting, editing will be as usual - digital. Don't worry, movie editing has been digital for over a decade, thank you. Mail me for a viable post solution. Links to earlier posts on DSLRs doing HD video.

Canon EOS 5D MkII

More still cameras shoot HD video