Why 2020 was not Only About Gear – Our Industry is Changing
Yearinreview2020 Featured.jpg

The past year has been an unforgettable year. Small things tend to have big effects, and this year again it became an uncomfortable but undoubtedly true truth. The film industry, our industry and the globalized world as a whole had to adapt in a certain way. Let me discuss how 2020 changed the world of filmmaking and the role new gear played in it.

Let's be honest, we're gearheads. CineD is a premier resource for indie and professional filmmakers around the world. We'll address your needs for new gear news and reviews. Cameras, lighting tools, audio accessories, tripods, gimbals, drones, NLEs, storage devices, whatever you call them. But what we must not forget is what comes after all those days on set, all the editing, mixing, finishing, polishing … where can you publish all these issues in times like these?

How 2020 changed the film and film technology industry

In the past few years it has become very clear that online platforms like YouTube, Vimeo and, to a lesser extent, maybe Instagram, TikTok and everyone else are the way to go. But I think it was 2020 that showed us that online is not just a good idea, it really is the only way to go.

With cinemas now closed and movie releases streamed from release day, this process seems twofold: a threat to the big corporations as well as indie cinemas, but also an opportunity for indie filmmakers. At this point in our history, it is also time for all 2020 transmission releases to take the stage. Why do you ask?

There's nothing to see here. Photo by Felix Mooneeram on Unsplash

Well, 2020 wasn't just the year when all major trade shows were either canceled entirely or held online. We even hosted our own virtual exhibition ourselves to bring you, our valued readers, all the news about upcoming devices and trends by having dozens of face-to-face meetings with manufacturers around the world and posting them as equipment news videos, " as if trade fairs were still taking place ”.

This (forced) move by the industry created a great deal of uncertainty for many filmmakers and videographers around the world. Not only trade fairs closed their doors, almost all live events, shows, concerts and other public events were canceled. And that shook the foundations of many filmmakers, whose entire business model depended on these events. How do you deal with that? You have to adapt, of course, but that is often easier said than done.

Fortunately, 2020 was also the year most manufacturers introduced streaming or live devices. And that is, to be honest, a very interesting development to be witnessed. Suddenly anyone can produce decent content from home (studio). Indie filmmakers now have a lot of very powerful, yet flexible, and most importantly, reasonably affordable equipment. This may not be a solution for everyone, but it may lead out of the uncertainty as most events are canceled.

Warner Bros. HBO maxWarner Bros will be streaming their films in 2021.

The only thing you can't buy, of course, is creativity. You have to come up with ideas, have an ear for the rails, so to speak. Find ways to produce quality content. But when you do, the limits to reaching your own audience are actually gone. No need for dealers, intermediaries, large companies. That may sound scary and it certainly is, but it also offers many possibilities.

Of course, I'm the last person who would like cinemas to go away. I am a big fan of going to the cinema and I really hope that I will soon be able to use my annual ticket for the Berlin cinemas again. Big budget movie productions won't stop anytime soon. The only question is what will happen to (smaller) theaters if other big studios decide to join the Warner Bros. streaming train as well. I'm not sure I like the idea that some major platforms like Netflix, Disney +, HBO, and others have full control over what is being watched. We are already seeing worrying trends as to where this total control could lead.

All new gear for the modern filmmaker

So if streaming is the way to go and online is the new offline, where to start in terms of gear? Well, 2020 have you covered!

With the introduction of the ATEM Mini Pro and ATEM Mini Pro ISO, Blackmagic Design is more than ever at the forefront of affordable, but quite powerful, live streaming mixers / consoles. These things used to be very expensive, but now you have your own live studio with very little money. If we're in the Blackmagic ecosystem, we'll find the popular DaVinci Resolve NLE / FX / Color / Audio suite, which is now available in version 17. Yes, most of it is free.

ATEM Mini Pro ISO & BMPCC. Image Credit: Blackmagic Design

Other manufacturers have enabled webcam features for their mirrorless cameras (i.e. Sony, FUJIFILM, Panasonic, SIGMA, Canon, and others), a trend that certainly no one expected. No more excuses for low quality video from your desk.

The lighting just got stronger. The value / cost quotient has really increased for us filmmakers. Affordable LED lighting, RGBW as the new “standard” without compromising on quality. Everything you need for a decent shoot can now be packed into a bag without compromise. A mini motion control slider, a decent mirrorless camera, a couple of LEDs, even a live mixer? Sure, why not take the whole studio with you? It is definitely possible.

More relevant equipment for 2020 can be found in Johnnie's Year in the overview article here.

Conclusion

With all of this development and improvement, there has to be a downside, right? And I think there are: There are no excuses. One can no longer say that this or that is impossible because it is simply no longer impossible. Most of the things you would have needed a crew to do a few years ago can now be done by yourself. I don't know if that's a good thing, but it's definitely possible.

Photokina 2020 canceled due to coronavirus. Image credit: cineD

Allow me one final thought on working on movie sets these days: with the ongoing pandemic forcing us all to keep our distance, working on a movie set seems like a scary place, doesn't it? But to be honest, I don't think a production company will allow its cast and crew to take these rules lightly as the authorities would simply stop production if the rules were repeatedly violated. So the members of the film crew are tested regularly, there are stations with disinfectants and the like everywhere, and everyone wears a face mask (and has to change them several times a day) – film sets really seem like a pretty safe place these days. With that in mind, you can perhaps understand why Tom Cruise got angry on the set of his latest film, Mission: Impossible.

2020 has been quite a year for all of us, and it's a year that not just us filmmakers, but everyone on this planet will remember. Let's take a deep breath, let's take a quick look over our shoulder and then: onwards and upwards, here is a brighter year 2021!

Photo credit for featured image: Marcos Paulo Prado via Unsplash

How do you see 2020? Share your thoughts (and hopes for 2021) in the comments below!

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