Forget DSLRs. Forget RED. Forget Alexa. Forget IMAX. The perfect camera is finally coming: under $10k, 16 bit, 4:4:4, RAW, 18 stops of latitude, a larger than full frame sensor, light-field technology for perfect focus, and up to 1200 FPS of over-cranking. More perfect than film, in fact, it’s more perfect than the human EYE, the ultimate image capture and acquisition tool.
It’s revolutionary. It’s cinematic. It’s the great democratizer of an industry. And of course, it’s not yet real.
But it will be.
Link bait aside, it seems like everyday a new camera is announced and a bunch of people begin arguing online about how it is or isn’t perfect. That is all fine and great, I’m addicted to the whole process myself. I love seeing technology evolve. I love seeing film evolve. So what’s up with this bullshit post?
There’s no doubt that the day is coming when we will have image acquisition tools that really do capture everything perfectly. True “raw” in the sense that focus, resolution, color, and fidelity will be so finely captured, and with such complete flexibility that never again will we miss another scene because focus was off, never again will we have to use generators and miles of rigging to light a scene, never again will we make sacrifices in acquisition at the cost of the story.
Like it or not, it’s coming. Crews will get smaller and the technical barriers to capturing stunning imagery will disappear. And even well before that we’ll be at the point of good enough: the mp3 of filming will emerge and serve 99% of our needs (hell, you could even argue we’re already there in some respects).
And it’s not just in film that’s it’s going to happen, but in many many industries and sectors. The perfect photo realistic game engine. The home television or VR glasses that render at resolutions greater than the human eye can see, the car that drives itself and never needs maintenance. The industrial age is passing, and will continue to slowly taper off and ultimately change everything.
Art. The Economy. The Environment. No aspect of reality will be left untouched. The disappearance of manufacturing jobs in the last decades was only the beginning and it’s going to get much worse, and frankly, that’s scary. 30 years ago if you invented the ultimate toy and everyone wanted it, you had to DO more work to make more of that thing. No more. Next weekend I could crank out the next great game on the iphone and that 30 hours of work can be instantly and forever replicated without me putting in another second of my time, energy, or anything physical. I don’t have to build more factories, ship more stuff, or hire more people. 1’s and 0’s are easy to replicate. (an exaggeration but you get the point)
Yet, as with anything, it’ll be at a tradeoff. For decades cinema’s barrier to entry has been huge: massive crews, expensive gear, time consuming post production.
Boom. That’s all going away. It’s going to be easier than ever, in the technical sense, to make movies. And the second that external “things” cease to be the barrier to entry, INTERIOR “things” suddenly skyrocket in value. Creativity, Integrity, and more than ever the ability to tell compelling stories that reflect a diversity of values that folks connect with.
Seth Godin put all this a bit more succinctly in a post earlier today:
When everyone has access to the same tools
…then having a tool isn’t much of an advantage.
The industrial age, the age of scarcity, depended in part on the advantages that came with owning tools others didn’t own.
Time for a new advantage. It might be your network, the connections that trust you. And it might be your expertise. But most of all, I’m betting it’s your attitude.
This is obviously spot on for the film industry, and for any industry that involves technology or a scarcity of knowledge. Jobs that once existed because only a few people had access to certain physical means of production are going to just keep vanishing. Staples will begin printing 3d objects next year. Need a follow focus? Print it. It breaks? Go make another. There’s already a whole world of torrenting going on for 3d printing designs and plans.
The point is, gear, and the means of production for most art are going to be “good enough” and “cheap enough” that almost anyone will be able to create world class content VERY soon outside of the traditional structures and systems that have already been built up. Now obviously there will always be amateurs and pros, huge companies and underdogs, and billion dollar marketing budgets vs single youtube channels, but things are changing.
The Attention oriented network economy is upon us. In the perfect (and yes still unlikely in many ways) world outlined above, INTERIORS become infinitely more valuable than EXTERIORS. If me and every person with a bit of spare cash can suddenly have the means to create stunning audio or visual content, it ENTIRELY shifts the premium from the EXTERNAL STUFF, the gear and production tools, to the INTERNAL stuff: the values, creativity, and ability of a group to work together to make something beautiful.
The days of being an asshole that no one wants to work with just because you know how to use some super exclusive piece of gear, or own some ridiculously expensive piece of equipment are ending. Learning is getting easier. No matter what you know how to do, there’s going to be someone else out there that can probably do it better than you and for less money to boot. Being the type of healthy, integrated, and creative person that people WANT to work with: because you communicate well, work hard, and have values that people respond to and want more of is only going to become more and more important.
STORY becomes the complete and utter king again. And what is story other that the ability to share a meaningful expression of what it means to be human. How can your next action movie mesmerize me in a way that I’ve never been before? So far we’ve been relying visuals to show us things we’ve never seen before. But soon that won’t even be enough. It’s going to take more. A new perspective on the world, a completely authentic emotion, a layer of reality never before witnessed. Frankly, I’m excited. We’re getting really close to having figured out how to do the “form” part of my favorite arts (cinema and video games), and when that’s off the table the pivot to “content” is one I’m hoping I’m in the right time and place for.
I’ve personally struggled since moving to LA and trying to “break into” the film industry. Many times I’ve questioned my wisdom in not heading out here straight out of college and working my way up a production ladder. There’s a LOT of technical “stuff” I just don’t know how to do, and certainly not as well as others.
Lately, however, as I shift more into creation mode, I’m starting to appreciate the fact that I took my 20’s to go “figure myself out” and do work to grow up a bit as a human being. The more I step into writing and directing, the more I’m finding having even a modicum of understanding about how we as humans behave is a tremendously useful.
My podcast, blogging here, writing screenplays, shooting short scenes, building a self owned sustainable business: everything I’ve been doing this year has hopefully been helping to the lay the foundations for not having to worry about the forms or systems of creation, but simply getting to focus on creating content that audiences find compelling. Which is great because once I get that perfect camera I’ll finally have all the tools I need to tell an awesome story!