ARRI Alexa Classic Plus 4:3 Released in 2012
You Don't Need An ARRI Or RED...Until You Do
Confusing right? Let me explain, for example I thought when I entered the industry it meant I was going to have to work on the biggest and baddest camera on the market in order to be deemed a bonafide filmmaker and to be taken seriously. I was very wrong and partly foolish, like most of us in the beginning. The truth is, eventually you will be working on the industry cameras so much that cameras will become an afterthought because the camera is not making the story any better but the filmmakers who are maximizing the tools that were designed for that level of expected quality are.
So where did this notion of "The Camera Matters" come from? Probably my generation of filmmakers and camera companies are to blame. The barrier of entry was lowered back in the early 2010s when cameras moved to digital thus bringing the digital race to filmmaking. DSLR's became available on the market and the indie filmmaker community began taking advantage of the resources as they became readily available unlike before. As cameras and resolution improved, so did the race to get the next latest and greatest gear. Before you think that I'm about to talk bad about this digital boom, I'm not. Again, I am a product of this era and have used these resources as well to further my filmmaker career.
My only concern years after this boom is now the capitalistic approach for the releases of new cameras which seem to feel like every other month. Each improvement becomes less innovative and more incremental than ever. Again, I love technology and I am happy for the updates and newer versions but it has caused a crutch in the mindset of new filmmakers who are entering the industry.
"Just Because You Camera Is Older Doesn't Make You And Your Work Inferior."
Now I hear more conversations involving resolution and raw recording more so than I hear lighting approaches, intentional composition design and other key components involved in cinematography. In truth, on high level productions the cinematographer is one of the few people that may touch the camera the least because the DOP is a department head and has a team of ACs to build, place and make adjustments to the technical aspects of the camera in most cases.
So it's important to start returning the focus back to the canvas instead of the brush because the canvas is where the art will live.
Carlos Bradley is an Atlanta based filmmaker, and the founder and President of the Society for Cinematographers of Color. His work can be seen on network digital platforms, and in various publications. Be sure to follow him on Twitter and Instagram and reach out — "I love meeting new filmmakers!"