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Tech Talk

Tech levels filmmaker playing field

8/14/2013

In film fanatic circles, much is made of the “Golden Age” of cinema, i.e. the 1930s and 1970s. Films from these periods, such as “Gone With the Wind” and “The Godfather,” respectively, are considered the pinnacle of celluloid expression, and the entire movie industry seemed to be enraptured with artistic meaning and bravura storytelling. As wonderfully nostalgic as that sounds, being a cinephile myself, I personally find no era of film more exciting than the one we are living in right now. Why? Technology has leveled the playing field.

For roughly $1,000, the most rudimentary pieces of filmmaking can be had with non-linear video editing and prosumer cinematic cameras. Around the turn of the century, applications such as Media 100, Apple’s Final Cut Pro and Adobe’s Premiere Pro started to proliferate across the independent filmmaking community. These programs allowed amateurs to digitize their footage and manipulate it by dragging and dropping files on their home computers. While editing has been around practically as long as cameras, these programs were the first to hit the sweet spot of price, ease of use and functionality that amateur filmmaking was missing.

Of course the most important tool in filmmaking is the camera, and in the last five years, cinema-quality cameras have become exceptionally affordable. Popular digital HD cameras made by Canon and Nikon start around $1,000 and have been used on major motion pictures, including parts of “The Avengers” and “127 Hours.”

These innovations have allowed local filmmakers to practice their craft and receive notoriety. In fact, some of our state’s most coveted filmmaking honors will be handed out this week at the Des Moines 48 Hour Film Project’s “Best of City” Awards. Hundreds of Iowa filmmakers partake in this traveling film festival, hoping to share their craft on the silver screen. Fifteen years ago, this might have been possible but at a much higher price to the film producer.

While there is no comparison between the Hollywood’s hundred-million-dollar CGI epics and a small indie film, the hurdles to joining the cinematic landscape have never been lower. CV

Patrick Boberg is a central Iowa creative media specialist. For more tech insights, follow him on Twitter @ResponsiblyWild.                 

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