The Future Of Digital Cinema Cameras & Why The Resolution Race Is Over (For Now At Least!)
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A lot has changed in the world of digital cinema in the past ten years, especially in view of the enormous increases in resolution that we have seen in recent years. It feels like yesterday when many of us took pictures with the Panasonic DVX100 or a Canon XL1 – completely satisfied and in many cases enthusiastic about the quality we received from these cameras, which of course only recorded 480p on MiniDV tapes . But then HD came. And we all wanted to replace our DVXs with HVXs or similar HD cameras, because the resolution jump from standard definition to high definition was simply too much. But after the hype about HD had subsided, it didn't take us long to find DPs, shooters and producers for the next best …


Enter the DSLR (or specifically the Canon 5D MKII), an affordable full HD camera with a large sensor and the ability to use interchangeable lenses. While the 5D (and any other video DSLR) always had its shortcomings, they were probably the best thing that ever happened to the lower budget cinema market because they reminded us that a film image isn't just about resolution. We focused more on lenses that allowed us to play more with the DOF, traditional lighting techniques and camera movements that deviated from the simple old tripod or handheld look. Yes, these cameras lacked many features like timecode, audio functionality and many other important functions, but the fact is that we were able to take pictures in a way that came much closer to conventional film / cinema cameras than we were ever used to camcorders like the DVX.

It didn't take long for the next big jump in resolution, of course, and this time in the form of 4K. RED was one of the first to deliver a 4K digital cinema camera, but as we all know, the technology ultimately affected prosumer and consumer formats. As of today, you can buy a camera like the GH4 for under $ 2,000 that takes beautiful 4K pictures. You can take 4K pictures on some phones, and more and more 4K cameras are appearing every month. 4K has a lot to offer, and it is undoubtedly the way of the future in terms of acquisition and delivery, but I think we are currently in a time that is pretty similar to the early HD days. before the boom in DSLRs. I say this because both manufacturers and consumers are currently paying such a high premium on resolution that 4K is in itself the main selling point that goes beyond other important features such as the high dynamic range.

So where is it going from here?

Well, it's really the year of 4K. Next week is NAB and I am sure that we will see more new 4K cameras than we know how to do – which is great as it paves the way for camera manufacturers to focus on other important components, not just resolution . Yes, there will be some companies (like RED, Sony, or Kinefinity) that continue to offer cameras with even higher resolutions (6K, 8K and beyond), but I really think that this will be the exception and not the rule. The reason for this is that 4K is literally more than enough for film projects – in many cases even too much.

Kinefinity-KineMAX-6K-3-Cams-2 "src =" .jpg "width =" 576 "height =" 324 "/></p><p>Part of achieving a cinematic image requires some softness or forgiveness of the footage. When shooting at 4K or higher, you often need to soften the image (either in the camera with filters or in the post) to get a more cinematic look. I'm all for camera companies developing 6K or 8K cameras, but the truth is that I wouldn't choose to shoot with a camera with a resolution that is so high for narrative work. If I were shooting a nature documentary or other project that should look hyper-realistic, I would get the idea of ​​using an 8K camera. But for narrative work where you want your talent to look really good in front of the camera and your viewer feels immersed in the world you create for him, 4K is enough.</p><p>I'm certainly not the only one who feels this way – in fact, I would say that the majority of narrative DPs believe that 4K resolution is already a challenge due to its extremely high resolution, which is part of the reason why I am think 4K will be here for a while. The resolution race can't last forever … In a way, it reminds me of the 90s when computer companies ran for the next fastest processor and processor speed doubled or tripled every year. In the end, that died down because they reached an upper limit, and the same goes for digital cinema. And not just because DPs want a more forgiving format for their narrative images, but also because it's just not practical to deliver 4K content (let alone anything higher) at the moment. <strong>To date, broadcasters are still having trouble providing HD – most of which are broadcast in 720p. Therefore, it is still a long way off at this point to think about broadcasting 4K or more, at least on a large scale.</strong> I would predict that online distributors like Netflix who are already getting into 4K game will continue to be the best way to deliver 4K content, but it will still take some time for most consumers to get 4K resolution display properly at home at all.</p><p>What I think will happen in the next few years is a shift in focus from both camera manufacturers and professionals – similar to the early days of video DSLR. This will be 4K's year, yes. But what about next year? Will the focus be somewhere else? Dynamic range maybe? Hopefully, with companies like Blackmagic Design and Arri focusing so strongly on the dynamic range (in some cases, especially on the resolution), others will follow, and before next year's NAB, more camera companies will be able to boast crazy dynamic range numbers . important features such as higher frame rates and better light sensitivity.</p><p>Am I against 4K after all this? Not at all. I love 4K and I am sure that every camera that I buy in the future will have a resolution of 4K (or who knows, maybe higher). <strong>However, I hope that this fascination for 4K shooting wears off sooner rather than later, so that we can focus on the other important elements that are required to create a great film, similar to the days of the Canon 5D or a better example – in the film Days. </strong></p><p>You can find more information on this in my previous article at <strong>Why dynamic range is more important than resolution to get a film look.</strong></p><p><img alt=

Noam Kroll is an award-winning filmmaker from Los Angeles and founder of the boutique production house Creative Rebellion. His work can be seen at international film festivals, on network television and in various publications around the world. Follow Noam on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook for more content like this!


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