You are going to Dubai to film a motorcycle race that will require mobility and high speed. You are heading to D.C. for simple interviews that require only a single camera. You’ve been hired by the studios to shoot special effects plates for their summer blockbuster where quality is paramount with less regard for budget.
Before the phone rang, did you already know what format you would be shooting? Did the producer even give you an option? What do you have at your disposal for each filmmaking assignment?
For any of the above filmmaking scenarios, there exists an infinite amount of possibilities:
- Size versus mobility
- Stylized versus cut and dry
- Digital versus film.
For every job, every photograph, there exists a tool with its own strengths and weaknesses.
The DSLR Revolution
Over the last few years, it has been my good fortune to work with Shane Hurlbut, ASC. We traveled the world pushing DSLR cameras to a new level and making amazing imagery with progressive technology.
Many who follow Filmmakers Academy (formerly the Hurlblog) and use this technology know that there are obstacles to overcome in order to make HDSLR technology suitable for cinema.
As often as we break new ground with the DSLR, we shoot projects that use film as the recording medium.
Learn Digital and Film Camera Formats
Many filmmakers I encounter these days choose to shoot digital because of ‘ease’ and affordability, without exploring the option of shooting film… at all. To not explore other creative formats is to limit your own imagination.
If you have never shot a project on film or it’s been a while since film school, I recommend you rent a camera. Go out and shoot something… anything. And if you’ve only shot film, go to Samy’s camera or B&H Photo and check out a DSLR.
If you grew up shooting video, like I did, your mind will be blown out of the back of your head with the amount of detail and color that can be molded within a film negative. These cameras were meant to be used, film or digital.
Broaden your horizons and expand your skill set so that your creativity is not limited by technical knowledge. Photography is an art form, there are thousands of brushes and strokes to use in order to make your masterpiece. If Leonardo Da Vinci had only used one color, one brush, and one stroke, the Mona Lisa would have been without dimension.
You are a filmmaker. Be a master.
What format do you use and why?
Written by Bodie Orman – Second Unit Director of Photography, Camera Operator, and 2nd Assistant Camera for Hurlbut Visuals, and Eric Wolfinger.
Looking for mentorship in the film industry? Schedule a 1-on-1 meeting with Shane Hurlbut, ASC today! This is where you can get expert advice from an industry professional on your career or a particular project.
About Filmmakers Academy Cinematographer Mentor Shane Hurlbut, ASC
Director of photography Shane Hurlbut, ASC works at the forefront of cinema. He’s a storyteller, innovator, and discerning collaborator, who brings more than three decades of experience to his art. He is a member of the American Society of Cinematographers, the International Cinematographers Guild/Local 600, and The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Hurlbut frequently joins forces with great directors: McG’s Netflix Rim of the World and The Babysitter, plus Warner Bros. We Are Marshall and Terminator: Salvation; Scott Waugh’s Need for Speed and Act of Valor; and Gabriele Muccino’s There Is No Place Like Home and Fathers and Daughters. His additional film credits include Semi-Pro; The Greatest Game Ever Played; Into the Blue; Mr 3000; Drumline; 11:14, which earned Hurlbut a DVDX nomination; and The Skulls. Notably, his television credits include the first season of AMC’s Into the Badlands.