NEWSLETTER

DCS UPDATE

We are excited to be entering our 20th year running DCS, and are looking forward to marking the occasion with a celebration at NAB 2023 where we had our original launch party.  However, we have lots of activities coming up before we get to NAB.  Although catching up and scheduling our events has been tricky at this time of year with awards season, the film festivals, the HPA Tech Retreat, etc., a firm date and location has now been set for our annual DCS Cinema Lighting Expo. We will return once again to the wonderful venue at the Local 80 stage in Burbank on Saturday March 18th. It will be a day long event with a format much the same as years past. We also hope to announce our rescheduled Lens event, and our next Post Production Expo very soon.

We are currently preparing our 2023 DCS Member Survey to get an updated understanding of the needs, interests, preferences, and future technology plans of our diverse membership. We look forward to receiving input from all our members, a dynamic group that is not only interested in keeping abreast of industry trends, but also in creating them. You’ll want to keep an eye out for the survey since your participation will be encouraged by $500 in gift certificates courtesy of The Studio-B&H which will be raffled off among survey respondents.
There is lots of news to report this month including new cameras from LUMIX and lenses from SIGMA, new lighting control apps from both Cineo and Quasar Science, new lights from NANLITE, and the sad passing of two prominent members of the community, cinematographer Owen Roizman, ASC, and pioneering DIT Jay Nefcy. Quasar Science has also contributed new educational content to the DCS Illuminates library, a new episode of The Science in which Cinematographer and Color Expert Tim Kang discusses the Inverse Square Law, and how to correctly use it to estimate exposure levels on the set.

For his essay this month, James Mathers looks back at the amazing technological changes that have taken place during the two decade lifespan of the Digital Cinema Society.

 

Upcoming DCS Events

Although we were forced to postpone our annual DCS Cine Lens Event, and we’ve been challenged to find a suitable venue and date, we are happy to report that our 2023 Cinema Lighting Expo has been set to take place on Saturday, March 18th, returning to the Grip Local 80 stage in Burbank, CA.  More details on this, our rescheduled Lens event, and our next Post Production Expo will be coming soon.

INDUSTRY NEWS

Two New LUMIX Cameras Announced at CES: LUMIX S5 II and S5 IIX

Panasonic LUMIX has announced two new cameras – the LUMIX S5II and S5IIX. These hybrid full-frame mirrorless cameras are the latest additions to its LUMIX S Series camera line-up designed for stills and motion creators. Panasonic has developed a new 24.2MP full-frame sensor that complies with PDAF (Phase Detection Auto-Focus). The imaging engine has also been newly developed to achieve high resolution and approximately 2x higher-speed signal procession for high bit-rate video recording.

The LUMIX S5IIX is capable of RAW video output as well as All-Intra, ProRes recording on SSD. It also features wired/wireless IP streaming function and USB tethering. The auto-focus system, Phase Hybrid AF, has also advanced in the areas of detection and metering technologies in order to easily track and focus on target subjects even in poor lighting conditions. The image stabilization system has also further evolved with Active I.S. The LUMIX S5II is expected to ship by the end of January at an MSRP of $1,998US and the S5IIX model is expected to ship in the spring of 2023 at an MSRP of $2,198US.  For more details visit: https://lumixs5ii.com/

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Quasar Science’s Tim Kang Explains and Challenges the Concept of the Inverse Square Law

Quasar Science has contributed new educational content to the DCS Illuminates library. In this third episode of The Science, Cinematographer and Color Expert Tim Kang discusses Inverse Square Law, and how to correctly use it to estimate exposure levels on your set. Many gaffers and DPs have observed that the Inverse Square law does not work on large sources, but the discrepancy lies in a key element, touched on in this video. Whether it’s a conventional or virtual production, knowing how to predict your light’s output will always be one of the best tools to have in your back pocket. View it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oN7VyCNCrrc
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SIGMA Introduces 60-600mm F4.5-6.3 DG DN OS – First 10x Ultra-Telephoto Zoom for Mirrorless Cameras

Sigma has just announced a mirrorless version of their 60-600mm f/4.5-6.3 DG DN OS Zoom Lens compatible with full-frame E and L-Mount cameras. It is the first interchangeable lens to bring 10x magnification to the mirrorless form factor. Both stabilization and autofocus have been revamped for the 60-600mm. A new optical stabilization algorithm (OS2) provides 6–7 stops of stability, depending on the focal length, to allow sharp image capture even when handheld on the long end of the lens. A newly developed High-response Linear Actuator (HLA) motor delivers fast and quiet AF capable of keeping pace with quick-moving subjects. A focus limiter switch on the side of the lens barrel helps speed up subject recognition whether you’re using AF or manual focusing, and dual Action Zoom allows rotary and straight zooming actions. On-lens control also includes three customizable AFL buttons for AF/MF switch, zoom lock switch, and OS switch. The SIGMA 60-600mm F4.5-6.3 DG DN OS will be offered for an MSRP of $1,999US through authorized SIGMA America retailers, and will be available beginning mid-February, 2023.  To learn more visit:  https://www.sigmaphoto.com/60-600mm-f45-63-dg-dn-os-s

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Quasar Science Introduces starCTRL: a Free App to Control Rainbow Series Lights From an iPhone or iPad

Quasar Science has announced the release of a new lighting design app for its Double Rainbow and Rainbow 2 RGBX linear LED fixtures. starCTRL is a free iOS app that users can download from the Apple App Store. It allows users to control color and effects parameters of up to seven Rainbow series lights from an iPhone or iPad. starCTRL allows users to adjust the control parameters, presets, and lighting effects of Rainbow fixtures remotely with a quick to configure Bluetooth connection. With the Rainbow lights in starCTRL Mode, the app will quickly Auto-discover all lights and be ready to control in seconds.

Three tabs within the app control all features. The Control Tab allows users to control intensity, color temperature, plus/minus green, hue, saturation, and output. The Preset Tab contains several pre-configured color settings for quick selection, and the FX Tab allows users to control built-in lighting effects and parameters to tune the lights to their exact requirements. Other features in the starCTRL app include the ability to save and recall favorite colors and effects and a simple to use drag-and-drop function to create groups allowing control of multiple lights at the same time. Users of the app can also control the level and speed parameters for fades for smooth transitions.

Find out more about starCTRL in the introduction video: https://youtu.be/gJZI1ArJomw 

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DCS Mourns the Loss of Renowned Cinematographer Owen Roizman, ASC

Fivetime Oscar nominated Cinematographer Owen Roizman, ASC has passed away at the age of 86.  His amazing body of work includes such classics as The French Connection, The Exorcist, Network, Tootsie, and Three Days of the Condor among many others. Although nominated so many times for movies he shot, and never taking home the Academy Award for Best Cinematography, he was given an honorary Oscar for his career achievements in 2017.  He was also honored with several lifetime achievement awards including from the American Society of Cinematographers and the International Film Festival of the Art of Cinematography Camerimage. He served on the board of governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, representing the cinematographers’ branch and was Kodak Cinematographer in Residence at the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television in 2003.

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NANLITE Introduces Forza II Series

Adopting the same compact form of the original Forza, Nanlite has introduced the Forza II Bi-Color Series LED line. Featuring an adjustable color temperature of 2700-6500K with green-magenta shift by +/- 80, this spotlight is dimmable from 0 to 100% in 0.1% increments. Advances in color control allow matching of ambient light or other fixtures with onboard, Bluetooth, (with the free NANLINK app for iOS and Android,) and it also has wireless 2.4G control options and a locking metal DMX/RDM port for advanced control. Four fan modes now allow for speed adjustments to keep the unit as cool as the noise level allows. The redesigned control unit offers power options as the light can efficiently run via AC power or on optional V-mount batteries. The Forza 60 II retails for $289 USD, and the Forza 60B II is $319 USD.  For more details visit: https://nanliteus.com/shop-collections-forza-ii-60-60b/
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Canon Harnesses VR and Volumetric Capture Technology for Demos at CES

With the theme “Limitless is More”, Canon put many of their latest technology innovations to work to create live demos at CES 2023 including Free Viewpoint video system, MReal mixed reality headset, Kokomo VR software and remote collaboration tool AMLOS.
The Free Viewpoint system captures volumetric camera data with hundreds of cameras to create a 3D model that can be used to reproduce various viewing perspectives in near realtime. One application that was demonstrated allows the streaming sports viewer to choose and control their perspective as opposed to a traditional TV broadcast where the director is calling the shots. Such a system has already been installed at two NBA arenas for the Cavaliers in Cleveland and the Nets in Brooklyn, and we are told the latency is low enough to be streamed live, (although there must be some delay to feed all that camera data to the cloud, process the 3D volume, and stream back to viewers.)
Another demo in collaboration with M. Night Shyamalan uses Canon’s MReal Mixed Reality Headsets to show a short VR experience from four different character perspectives based on his upcoming feature release of Knock at the Cabin. Canon’s Kokomo technology enabled 3D video calls with VR headsets and Canon’s AMLOS was demoed for use as a collaboration tool in making these experiences as well as for various educational applications.

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Cineo Introduces StageLynx App for Local and Remote Control of all Cineo Fixtures

Cineo has introduced the StageLynx App with software designed to offer lighting professionals complete local and remote control of their fixtures including custom effects, linearization, color tuning, and log data with presets. The touchscreen interface on Cineo lighting fixtures and the Cineo StageLynx App provides a seamless user experience to control Cineo lights on set. The app automatically scans for Cineo fixtures when the “find” button is tapped and detects each instrument allowing the user the ability to configure all of the light settings, making it possible to network multiple Cineo Lights together easily and efficiently.  Available to download now on the Apple App store or Google Play.  For more details, please visit:  https://cineolighting.com/stagelynx
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DCS Mourns The Loss of Pioneering Digital Imaging Technician Jay Nefcy

Veteran Camera Operator and Founding Member of the Digital Cinema Society, Jay Nefcy passed away recently at the age of 74. Jay grew up in Detroit and after moving to Los Angeles built a solid career in the Camera department.  He served as Camera Operator for countless film and television productions before helping to pioneer the role of Digital Imaging Technician.  He was also instrumental in the “International Cinematographer’s Guild Heritage Series,” serving as Cinematographer and Interviewer on many of the 433 oral and visual history interviews of ICG Directors of Photography, Camera Operators and Assistants, Visual Effects Supervisors, Still Photographers, and Publicists.  Jay retired to Oregon a few years back with his wife of 39 years, Denise. He will be missed by his friends and the many organizations he served.
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2023 ASC Awards Nominees Announced Ahead of March 5th Awards Ceremony

 

The American Society of Cinematographers has announced their Outstanding Achievement Award nominees in the feature film, documentary and television categories. Winners will be announced during the 37th Annual ASC Awards ceremony on March 5, 2023, at The Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, California. The event will be live-streamed worldwide. We are always very proud of our DCS members whose work is recognized, which this year includes M. David Mullen, ASC for the “How Do You Get to Carnegie Hall?” episode of the series The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.  Below is a complete list of this year’s nominees:

THEATRICAL FEATURE FILM NOMINEES 
Roger Deakins, ASC, BSC for Empire of Light (Searchlight Pictures)
Greig Fraser, ASC, ACS for The Batman (Warner Bros.)
Darius Khondji, ASC, AFC for Bardo, False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths (Netflix)
Claudio Miranda, ASC for Top Gun: Maverick (Paramount Pictures)
Mandy Walker, ASC, ACS for Elvis (Warner Bros.)

SPOTLIGHT AWARD
Sturla Brandth Grøvlen, DFF for War Sailor (DCM Film)
Kate McCullough, ISC for The Quiet Girl (Super)
Andrew Wheeler for God’s Country (IFC Films)

EPISODE OF A ONE-HOUR NON-COMMERCIAL TELEVISION SERIES 
John Conroy, ASC, ISC for Westworld — “Années Folles” (HBO/HBO MAX)
Catherine Goldschmidt for House of the Dragon — “The Lord of the Tides” (HBO/HBO MAX)
Alejandro Martinez for House of the Dragon — “The Green Council” (HBO/HBO MAX)
M. David Mullen, ASC for The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel — “How Do You Get to Carnegie Hall?” (Prime Video)
Alex Nepomniaschy, ASC for The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel — “Everything is Bellmore” (Prime Video)
Nikolaus Summerer for 1899 — “The Calling” (Netflix)

PILOT, LIMITED SERIES, OR MOTION PICTURE MADE FOR TELEVISION
Todd Banhazl, ASC for Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty — “The Swan” (HBO/HBO Max)
Jeremy Benning, CSC for Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities — “The Outside” (Netflix)
Anastas Michos, ASC, GSC for Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities — “The Autopsy” (Netflix)
C. Kim Miles, ASC, CSC, MySC for Lost Ollie — “Bali Hai” (Netflix)
Sean Porter for The Old Man – “I” (FX)

EPISODE OF A HALF-HOUR SERIES 
Adam Bricker for Hacks — “The Click” (HBO/HBO MAX)
Carl Herse for Barry — “Starting Now” (HB0/HBO MAX)
Stephen Murphy BSC, ISC for Atlanta — “New Jazz” (FX)
Ula Pontikos, BSC for Russian Doll — “Matryoshka” (Netflix)
Christian Sprenger, ASC for Atlanta — “Andrew Wyeth. Alfred’s World.” (FX)

EPISODE OF A ONE-HOUR COMMERCIAL TELEVISION SERIES 
Marshall Adams, ASC for Better Call Saul — “Saul Gone” (AMC)
Jesse M. Feldman for Interview with the Vampire — “Is My Very Nature That of the Devil” (AMC)
Christian “Tico” Herrera, CCR for Snowfall — “Departures” (FX)
Jules O’Loughlin, ASC, ACS for The Old Man — “IV” (FX)
Jaime Reynoso, AMC for Snowpiercer — “Bound by One Track” (TNT)

DOCUMENTARY AWARD 
Ben Bernhard and Riju Das for All That Breathes (HBO/HBO Max)
Adam Bricker for Chef’s Table: Pizza — “Franco Pepe” (Netflix)
Wolfgang Held, ASC for This Stolen Country of Mine

ONE DP’s PERSPECTIVE

 

JM Headshot2014Med
by James Mathers
Cinematographer and Founder of the Digital Cinema Society

 

The Only Constant is Change — Celebrating 20 Years of DCS and the Technology Trends We Covered

The Digital Cinema Society remains dedicated to informing the entertainment industry in regard to the integration of new technology. As we get ready to celebrate our 20th Anniversary this year at NAB, perhaps it is time to reflect on where we started, where we are now, and identify our goals for the future.  It’s been an evolutionary couple of decades for the way motion pictures are captured, posted, and exhibited.  We began our journey covering the transition from celluloid toward the increasing use of digital technology.  We never sought to accelerate the process, but instead we have made it our mission to try to objectively track it along with the myriad of other motion picture technologies that have followed.  I could write a book, and some have suggested I should, but please allow me to just offer some highlights of the twenty years in the history of Entertainment Industry technology and the role DCS has played in covering it.

In a time before Facebook, iPhones, HDSLR or RED cameras, our group was formed in 2003, not long after the inception of digital motion picture production. It was an outgrowth of a documentary entitled Digital Cinema Solutions, which featured interviews and clips from Filmmakers who were testing the digital waters at that time, as well as Tech experts from Production, Post, Exhibition and Distribution.  Filmmakers included industry luminaries such as James Cameron, George Lucas, Stephen Soderbergh, Robert Rodriguez, and Allen Daviau, ASC.   At the turn of the 21st Century, George Lucas, with the cooperation of Sony and Panavision, had adapted a handheld ENG style HD television camera to shoot another installment of his Star Wars franchise; at that point, the most successful in the history of motion pictures.  Lucas then introduced Robert Rodriguez to the technology, which he used on his own franchise, Spy Kids.  Meanwhile, James Cameron had shot Titanic on 35mm film, but was using the same type of HD camera as his colleagues to shoot his documentaries, such as Ghost of the Abyss, even going so far as to then blow them up to IMAX film format for exhibition.

Exhibition was still almost entirely on film and the Digital Cinema Initiative, or “DCI,” was busy drafting standards for the widespread implementation of Digital Cinema.  Stephen Soderbergh was experimenting using a standard definition Canon DV camera intercut with 35mm for his feature, Full Frontal.  Notable ASC DPs were also starting to try DV; John Bailey, ASC shot the feature Celebration and my late friend Allen Daviau, ASC shot the beautiful short, Sweet, which we featured in our DCS documentary.  He demonstrated that quality results were possible even with a Prosumer video camera if the proper care and filmmaking sensibilities were applied to the project.  Our documentary also covered the very active Indie sector where these new methods were enabling an explosion of production. Although it was a rather small piece of the pie in the budget of a major motion picture, which may have included several million dollar paydays for the stars, the ability to avoid a large upfront investment in motion picture film stock, processing, and printing was very appealing to the Indie Producer.  Of course the tens of thousands of dollars they saved would be eclipsed by the cost to make film distribution prints, if they ever got a theatrical release, but most Indie Filmmakers were satisfied to cross that bridge when they fell off of it.  There was noble discussion of the democratization of movie making, but the truth is that the powers that be still controlled any significant means of distribution.  So, although a lot of Indie projects were getting made, (and not always at the best quality levels,) not too many were getting widely seen; so much for democracy.

Although it wouldn’t be commercially available for several years, and never really gained widespread industry acceptance, a Canadian company called DALSA showed a prototype for a 35mm single sensor camera, the Origin, capable of shooting in a 4K uncompressed RAW format.  It was sadly ahead of its time, and the ergonomics were never properly worked out before the plug got pulled on the project, but it was truly revolutionary.  I very clearly remember the DALSA NAB launch party with a standing room only crowd of every notable technology and business leader in the burgeoning Digital Cinematography field.  If some kind of disaster would have taken out the entire crowd, we would all still be shooting mostly on film today.

Meanwhile, Panavision was working on a high-end HD camera in an almost identical form factor of their Panaflex film camera.  To be called the Genesis, with Sony electronics hidden beneath its film camera facade, it had a removable HDcam SR tape recording system built into a casing that looked like a film magazine.  Their rationale was to create a unit that would physically fit into film camera architecture and support, but looking practically identical to a film camera, it also had the benefit of adding a certain comfort factor for the film professionals who were starting to contemplate shooting digitally.  Within a few years it would become extremely popular and even help score a Best Picture Oscar Nomination for Apocalypto, as well as a Best Achievement in Cinematography nomination from the American Society of Cinematographers for DP, Dean Semler, ASC.

Although most theatrical productions continued to shoot on film, a few professionals started to realize some of the potential advantages of shooting digital, and there were some notable pictures for digital to brag about, such as when in the same year two digitally acquired productions were up for Best Picture and Best Cinematography Oscars, Slumdog Millionaire and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, with “Slumdog” taking both prizes.  This whole transition was then greatly accelerated with the adoption of single 35mm size sensor cameras where Cinematographers could use the lenses they were accustomed to when shooting on film.  Some of these cameras also shot in a RAW format that more closely resembled a film workflow, (not baking-in the look on the set and having enough latitude to do the color correction in post.)

The influence of the RED Digital Cinema Camera was undeniable in speeding up the transition.  They came out with a camera that was inexpensive enough that burgeoning Filmmakers could afford to own their own camera, (even if they couldn’t always afford a very complete package of lenses and support gear.)  At the same time, they wooed major Filmmakers to try their tools, including Peter Jackson, Steven Soderbergh, David Fincher, Ridley Scott, and Baz Luhrmann.

Meanwhile, ARRI was making major headway in developing Digital Cameras; their D21, although still needing some ergonomic and workflow refinements, was creating beautiful results.  Their ALEXA came out a tad later, and their stellar reputation with filmmaking professionals, built up over many decades of making extremely dependable film cameras, helped them to quickly pick up a loyal following.  Filmmakers including Martin Scorsese, and the highly respected ASC Cinematographers, Robert Richardson and Roger Deakins were acquiring major features on digital.  In fact, it was a real turning point when, after experiencing the ALEXA, Deakins said in a trade magazine article, “I am seriously beginning to doubt that I will shoot film again.”  I was very proud to receive a personal handwritten note from Volker Bahnemann when he retired as the CEO and President of ARRI Inc. giving DCS credit for helping make the company aware of the quickly evolving transition to digital: “I always believed the change to digital would happen slowly at first, the way water freezes. First just a few crystals, then more, and once the critical mass has been reached, instant solid ice! James saw it coming and he helped us see it as well.”

Another impactful technology advancement was the ability to record video on a DSLR.  Although this was originally developed by Canon to give news photographers the ability to shoot TV coverage along with their stills, it was quickly adopted by Indie Filmmakers eager to get away from a “video look” and emulate the shallow depth of field they saw in theatrical productions.  For technical and business reasons, recording durations were limited to 11 minutes; (heat was one issue, but also longer duration recording would classify the units as video cameras, taxed at a higher rate in many countries than still cameras.)  The form factor of the cameras, originally designed to shoot stills, was cumbersome, and another early issue was 30fps recording, rather than the 24p filmmakers preferred.  However, with the help of third party accessories, and an evolution of the electronics, these cameras came to offer a viable means of production that spawned countless indie productions.  The trend toward shooting with larger than S35mm sensors and the desire for shallow depth of field is still impacting digital cinema production with many of the latest cameras offering “Full Frame” and beyond.

A major turning point came when there was a threatened Actors strike, and seemingly overnight, almost all television drama started acquiring digitally.  TV pilot Producers opted to shoot digital, which allowed them to sign with AFTRA, who had already settled on a contract, instead of SAG, who were still trying to negotiate, thus avoiding the threat of their actors walking out on strike.  The two unions later merged, nulling this tactic, but the die was cast, and there was no turning back from the digital transition.  The continuing improvement of Digital Cinema cameras and the blurring of the lines between television and theatrical production also caused more high-end features to acquire digitally.

And then there was 3D, which had a strong resurgence helped along by James Cameron’s incredibly successful first Avatar.  The production of a 3D motion picture is much more viable to shoot digitally, not just because most systems require two cameras, which would double the film stock consumption, but mostly because the ability to preview the 3D effect with high resolution monitoring saves time and costly errors.  Acquiring via digital also puts the project in the electronic realm from the get-go, making post production digital manipulation that much easier.  The original Avatar became the highest grossing motion picture of all time and it will surely be eclipsed by its sequel Avatar: The Way of Water, which has just surpassed $2 Billion in box office receipts.

The transition to Digital Exhibition was also aided by 3D; movie attendance had been declining and Exhibitors were concerned that theaters needed to have the ability to give consumers something extra that they couldn’t easily get in their living rooms.  3D also gave Theater Owners a rationale to charge a premium, and the Studios were not about to release 3D on film, since they were already eager to get away from the expense of producing and shipping film prints.  However, Theater Owners still needed prodding to scrap their trusty film projectors for more expensive digital units that were also more prone to obsolescence.  It was the Distributors who traditionally paid for the prints, so there wasn’t much incentive for Exhibitors to make the leap, except that if they wanted to milk the 3D cash cow, they would have to convert to digital projection, and this was a strong nudge in that direction.  A financial device known as a “Virtual Print Fee” was also created so the studios would pay their share of the upgrade costs by contributing the money they would have spent on making prints toward financing the new equipment.

Television drama is now almost completely shot digitally, and digital acquisition has also made significant inroads into the last bastion of film dominance, theatrical motion pictures.  Of the last five Oscar Winners for both Best Picture and Best Cinematography, none were shot on film.  Kodak has gone through bankruptcy and Fujifilm has stopped producing stock altogether while ARRI and Panavision have manufactured their last film cameras.  Although the tide has turned, there remain, like myself, many fans of celluloid acquisition including very prominent filmmakers such as Christopher Nolan, Wes Anderson, and Steven Spielberg, (his lastest, The Fabelmans, was shot on film mostly with the Panavision Millennium XL2, and has just been nominated for a Best Picture Oscar.)  Film still holds its own with respect to quality, is a viable choice for certain productions, and its archival capabilities cannot currently be matched.  So, no, film is not dead.

The next transition we witnessed was away from tape, and again external influences played a large part.  Prior to the Fukushima earthquake and tsunami, recording on Sony HDcam SR tape had been the go-to format, especially for digital post production.  However, the natural disaster wiped out the Sony plant that had been making all the tape, forcing the need to quickly find an alternative.  Although there were already file based disc cameras and recorders, this really accelerated the changeover and the industry was forced to face its fear of file based production and post.

Today, we continue the evolution of file based workflows, but have added cloud technology into the mix.  Our trade show coverage over the years is a good example of the technology timeline.  We started out shooting Betacam in our early interviews from NAB, then transitioned to MiniDV and HDV, bringing the tapes back home to L.A. with us and getting them posted and streaming within about a week.  We later started recording on cards, which we continued to do for many years, housing our Editor at a hotel across from the convention center and constantly running cards over to him to get the interviews up and streaming as soon as possible, usually within a day.  However, in 2022, with the help of Frame.io and Adobe, we started shooting all of our NAB and Cine Gear Expo interviews utilizing Camera-2-Cloud technology with our Editor at home in his edit suite, able to generally get the coverage cut and streaming within the hour.  This has been a game changer for us which we plan to continue this year and beyond.  For the industry at large the technological transformation represented by cameras recording directly to the cloud is undoubtedly one of the most important currently taking place.

Resolution is another area of growth witnessed during the lifespan of DCS.  In 2003, the industry was still getting used to HD, and that was an acceptable plateau for many years until 4K became commonplace, encouraged by streaming companies like Netflix who mandated it as a minimum.  Home theaters with internet connected large screen TVs capable of displaying 4K raised the bar substantially for necessary streaming picture quality.  Today, even higher resolutions are on the horizon, at least for acquisition, even though 8K broadcast and streaming are still pretty rare.  The ability to have a little extra resolution available to reframe, stabilize, and downsample can be desirable.  Shooting at the highest resolution you can muster can also help to future proof your digital negative since the trend toward ever higher K-counts doesn’t seem like it will end anytime soon.

 

Meanwhile, throughout this two decade period when digital cinema cameras have been advancing so rapidly, motion picture lighting technology has also significantly evolved, mostly due to the use of LEDs. Although the benefits in terms of reduced heat and low power consumption are undeniable, there were significant issues in the early days of LEDs with color fidelity in regard to gaps in the spectrum of light produced.  However the ability to mix and map LEDs with different spectral response into a single source has overcome most of these issues and also improved output.  The ability to match ambient light and other kinds of units has also solved a lot of problems and quickly made LED lighting the de facto standard for motion picture lighting, sometimes mixed with HMI in situations where the punch is needed.  Wireless and DMX control down to the individual pixel has only improved LED’s usefulness, especially when used in conjunction with Virtual Production volumes, (my next topic of review.)

The adoption of Virtual Production technology is perhaps as significant as the introduction of sound, color, or the transition from celluloid to digital capture.  Just as external forces such as union unrest helped to spur the digital acquisition, and a tsunami helped hasten the end of videotape, the worldwide pandemic greatly sped up the adoption of Virtual Production.  As the industry searched for new safe methods for returning to production, including techniques that allowed for social distancing on set and avoiding large crews on location, the technology for virtual production was advancing at a break neck pace.  Growing out of the gaming industry, which requires accelerated graphics processing to not only create, but to play games in real time, these tools were applied to motion picture production.

Graphics processing units, or GPUs and Artificial Intelligence (AI) have evolved to create new possibilities for real-time rendering to create virtual worlds for gamers or the “metaverse” for social interaction.  Virtual Production harnesses these technologies to create background “volumes” that are displayed on a series of stitched high resolution video monitors driven by the computer gaming engine.  Feeding the motion picture camera’s crucial real-time lens and geo-spacial metadata into the computer allows the backgrounds to interact with the taking camera so that the actors can seamlessly be integrated into the volume.

While the global pandemic helped open the door to Virtual Production, it has also had a hugely negative impact on theatrical exhibition.  At the same time that the technical and content quality of streaming offerings was improving, audiences were sometimes on lockdown, and later shy about going out and possibly being exposed to the virus.  Hyper competitive streaming services eager to attract new subscribers premiered theatrical grade content to the home and theater going audiences dwindled. The result was that many movie houses have shuttered, and sadly may never reopen.

While it has been an interesting couple of decades for motion picture technology, at the end of the day, it is all about telling good stories and the technology only serves to help us communicate those stories.  Yet, to do our jobs we need to keep up with this ever-increasing pace of innovation.  So, we at DCS have our work cut out for us.  Technological change is inevitable, and the Digital Cinema Society will continue to cover it.  Here’s to the next decade, because as Charles Darwin said: “It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the most responsive to change.”

SUPPORTING DCS

Although we have currently paused the collection of member dues while we transition to a new membership system, we still are in need of your contributions to continue our mission and maintain our services to members. So if you can afford it, please take a few minutes to send a donation.  DCS is a 501(c)3 nonprofit and donations  can likely be claimed as deduction on your US federal taxes.  You can follow the convenient PayPal link, (using any major credit card, and you don’t need to be signed up for PayPal,) or you can send payment to our offices at P.O. Box 1973 Studio City, CA 91614, USA.

Donate to DCS:  https://www.paypal.com/donate/?hosted_button_id=8GUYNUBCKR2HU

 

THANK YOU TO OUR SPONSORS

As always, we want to send out a big thanks to all “Friends of DCS,” whose support makes it possible for us to continue the DCS mission of educating the entertainment industry about the advancements in digital and cine technology:

AbelCine – Adobe – AJA – Anton/Bauer – ARRI – BB&S Lighting – Band Pro – Birns & Sawyer – Blackmagic Design – Brokeh – Canon – Cartoni – Cineo – Cinnafilm – Codex – Cooke Optics – CORE SWX – Dadco/SunRay – Dedolight California – Fiilex – FootageBank – Frame.io – Fujinon – Infinity Photo-Optical – K 5600 – Kino Flo – Lectrosonics – Leitz Cine Wetzlar – Lindsey Optics – LiteGear – Litepanels – Luminys – MACCAM – Manios Digital – Mole-Richardson – Nanlite – Nila – OConnor – OWC – Panasonic Lumix – Panavision – Quasar Science – Riedel – Rosco – Sachtler – SIGMA – SmallHD – SUMOLIGHT – Teradek – The Studio-B&H – TRP Worldwide – Tokina – Wooden Camera – ZEISS

 

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Follow DCS on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Don’t forget that the Digital Cinema Society has a Facebook fan page. Check in for the latest news, event details and general DCS hubbub at: http://www.facebook.com/DigitalCinemaSociety

On Twitter, you can follow us @DCSCharlene

On Instagram at: digitalcinemasociety

Our Home, The Digital Cinema Society:

www.digitalcinemasociety.org

“It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the most responsive to change.” Charles Darwin