Monday, December 12, 2011

A new idea for Ghostkeeper 2?

Edward Burns came into the film world by making a feature film called The Brothers McMullen, for $30,000. The film was successful and it led to several other features with real budgets and famous actors. In between he acted in some movies, including Saving Private Ryan.

Like many directors, he found that making his movies became harder and harder. So after making multi-million dollar movies, his newest movie was made for far less.

How about $9000.

He used the now common Canon 5D SLR. For those who don't know what this is; here's a little history.

Digital movies changed in a major way in the last few years. Where you had your "camcorder" you could also take video still photos as well. Not great. But then Canon came out with a brand new still camera series which included the 5D,  but with a remarkable twist.

The Single Lens Reflex camera has been around for at least 60 years, it's the one your parents had until digital cameras came along. What makes the Canon not just a picture-taking camera, it can also shoot video.

So what's the big deal? Your camera shoots video too. My point and shoot Nikon shoots video.

Well, the Canon 5D not only shoots video, it also shoots 4K. Yeah, another abbreviation to deal with.

But it's simple, 4K stands for the size of the chip in the camera. Whereas your regular HD cameras have chips 1/4 of the size or so, the Canon has a chip that is the identical size of a frame of 35mm film.

For camera guys, and remember I started as a news cameraman, this was ground-breaking. One of the weaknesses in digital was always depth-of-field, meaning that everything was always in focus.

Film, on the other hand, had a great advantage (and still has) by reducing depth of field when you needed it to. You know those shots in movies where the background is out of focus but the actor is clearly sharp. That's depth-of-field. Every movie uses this, everyone ever made. At least on film. It's a little more complex but it's enough for this purpose.

Now, HD is even closer to film and the best part is that you can buy a Canon D5 with lenses for under $10,000. Compare that with the price of a Panavision 35mm which costs around $120,000 (nobody really knows because they're only for rent). And even the Red camera being touted will cost around $40,000 with accessories.

The Canon 5D is now practically essential on all movies being made, even if it's just a secondary camera to grab shots that would take a big rig an hour to take. You just lift it up and shoot. It's used in tandom  with big 35mm & digital camera units, especially for action scenes where you can see as many as 10 of the Canons covering every aspect of the action.

But how does this deal with Ghostkeeper 2?

Well, besides being a fraction of the cost of a camera rental from a renting house, it's easy to use, light and portable and can give you an image equal to any movie shot today. And now Nikon's got into the act as well.

And it represents a new shot for Ghostkeeper 2 as I can cut the budget to less than a quarter of the original $2 million budget.

But it's not that easy, the camera deal is attractive, but there's more than that to deal with.

(Thurs: The politics of low budget filmmaking)