So is this, Goodbye steadicam?
April 6, 2013 5:15 AM   Subscribe

The "MōVI" demonstrates why most film vs digital debates are missing the point. An issue explored in recent documentary "Side By Side", that we are past the point of pixel peeping and can pursue fresh paradigms. posted by lawrencium (39 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
 
What does this have to do with film vas digital, or pixel peeping? The stabilization technology is camera agnostic. Hell, it is device agnostic, you could put binoculars on there if you wanted.
posted by Bovine Love at 5:33 AM on April 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


It does look like nifty stabilization tech, though.
posted by ook at 5:44 AM on April 6, 2013


Really cool tech, probably would not have been practical with a Mitchell. Couple it with a new Bolex, and some Parkour artists, and you just might have a new genre!
posted by sammyo at 6:00 AM on April 6, 2013


Nifty stabilization indeed. A better camera (god, the shadow noise!), or some decent post-processing would have allowed me to focus better on that.
posted by sutt at 6:02 AM on April 6, 2013


Bovine Love - sure you could attach a film camera to it, but i think you would be weeping after a couple of minutes. Even with a relatively modern one.
posted by lawrencium at 6:04 AM on April 6, 2013


Sure, size matters. But taking some extremely nice stabilization technology (which would scale up very well for large cameras on vehicles) and trying to turn it into a film vrs. digital issue, or an anti-film vrs digital issue, or bringing pixel peeping into it is pretty much exactly the sort of thing the drove me from photography forums. It is great camera technology that should open up new opportunities for lower-budget film makers and allow less experienced/rich people make great shots, plus allow some new shots. The film vrs. digital framing is completely awry and distracts from the point. If you don't want the discussion to be about fight club, then don't talk about fight club. It would be so much better to just celebrate the actual uses of it instead of trying to use it as a hammer on a completely different issue.
posted by Bovine Love at 6:24 AM on April 6, 2013 [10 favorites]


Also I would point out that such a system has uses for still photography as well, where keeping your camera on target and shutter speeds sane still matters.
posted by Bovine Love at 6:26 AM on April 6, 2013


Metafilter: we are past pixel peeping and can pursue fresh paradigms.
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 6:27 AM on April 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


lawrencium: "sure you could attach a film camera to it"

The page he links to sells digital cameras (made by a company famous for film cameras decades ago).
posted by idiopath at 6:54 AM on April 6, 2013


Bovine Love - You're correct of course. By implying this shouldn't be a discussion about film vs digital i have, essentially, turned this into a discussion about film vs digital. A debate that also drives me nuts. So let us draw a line under it:
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posted by lawrencium at 7:20 AM on April 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Between this and the RC copter camera, and all the new digital cameras and workflows, it's an interesting time to be a cinematographer. Now, only if my shooter friends could get paid. That seems to be the real problem right now. Everyone thinks it's too easy to pay a livable wage to a cameraperson any more.
posted by fungible at 7:43 AM on April 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


The fuck is pixel peeping?
posted by nathancaswell at 7:52 AM on April 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


"The fuck is pixel peeping?"

What I did in the response above. Obsessing about the visible details of the image, instead of the content.

I did it because 1) I'm a photographer so I notice these things by default, 2) the video is about technical aspects of the image (even if it's just stabilization. and seriously, the content is nonexistent), and 3) the image quality was so fucking egregiously BAD.
posted by sutt at 7:57 AM on April 6, 2013


Oh not this crap again. LaForet should be permanently required to lock down his camera since he doesn't understand the fundamental problem with a moving shot: strobing.

I remember having this problem before during a demo he did of a helicopter shot moving low over a landscape. It actually made me dizzy and so nauseated that it took me about 15 minutes to recover. I mentioned the problem with strobing on his blog and LaForet said "what's that?" What an amateur. I suggested he consult a professional cinematographer.

This video screams Amateur. It reminds me of Johnny LaRue begging for a crane shot. You give pro equipment to an amateur and all they can think to do is try some grand stunt. Just because you can make a film with no static camera positions doesn't mean it's a good idea.

Protip for LaForet: When you do an aerial shot, even a wide shot, you have to pick a spot and track it, otherwise your camera wanders and the shot becomes unstable, inducing nausea in the audience.
posted by charlie don't surf at 8:03 AM on April 6, 2013 [6 favorites]


Wow, that is really incredible and I could see this being a breakthrough, especially at the lower range of filmmaking. The quick video he shot of the ballet dancers running everywhere contains a lot of shots that would be tough to shoot conventionally. The whole sequence of running into a cab and running alongside a moving cab looks fluid and natural, the camera is really starting to float in space and move with the action in a way I haven't seen before.

Really impressive stuff, it'll be really interesting when the tech is so advanced you can get something working for less than $1,000.
posted by mathowie at 8:38 AM on April 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is basically the way I move the camera around in the games I play -- those that have independent camera control, that is -- and have done so for a long, long time. It's nice to finally see those moves in the real world, but it is super easy to overdo it too.
posted by seanmpuckett at 8:45 AM on April 6, 2013


Obsessing about the visible details of the image

shoot Alexa if you can afford it
shoot RED if you can't
shoot C5/300 if it's really low light
shoot 5D mk3 if you're broke and on location
shoot BMCC if you are broke and in a studio
posted by nathancaswell at 8:52 AM on April 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


...shoot BMCC if you are broke and in a studio

And if this video is any indication, there's the addendum:

never shoot with a EOS-1D C
posted by sutt at 9:08 AM on April 6, 2013


you have to pick a spot and track it, otherwise your camera wanders and the shot becomes unstable, inducing nausea in the audience.

How widespread is that nausea? I'm not a cinematographer, or even a tremendously picky movie watcher. I noticed that the frame wobbled a bit during the aerials and running around the studion and such, but it didn't bother me much. It made me think "this is handheld," but it wasn't as frustrating as an un-stabilized moving video, where I'm continually thinking "settle down!" and "raise the view a little, I can't see what I want to look at!"

I guess it's closer to what (I think) I see with my own eyes: if I focus on my "frame," I can tell that my head isn't perfectly stable, and I'm aware of it always, but that doesn't stop me from looking at things tracking them even when I'm moving.

Is it true that you'd have to set up all kinds of tracks and dollies and stuff to get shots like these with prior tech? And the difference would be slightly reduced wobble in the framing? I can see this "smooth but still obviously hand-held" getting tedious if you did a whole movie with it, but overall, it seems less offensive than doing a whole movie in 3D. (Maybe it'd even improve Blair Witch!)
posted by spacewrench at 9:12 AM on April 6, 2013


Obsessing about the visible details of the image

IMHO, true pixel peeping is when you're obsessing over details that won't even be visible in the final product.

shoot 5D mk3 if you're broke and on location

Or, if you're shooting Louie.

I would choose a GH2/GH3 setup over a 5D2/5D3 setup, unless there was a specific reason why I wanted the Vistavision-ish frame.
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:21 AM on April 6, 2013


I just finished extensive post with Alexa log c and that camera is certainly not immune to noise.
posted by bz at 9:36 AM on April 6, 2013


Is it true that you'd have to set up all kinds of tracks and dollies and stuff to get shots like these with prior tech?

Well, yeah, if you had a big budget, a lot of it could be done with tracks and a motion controlled camera on a dolly. But a lot of those shots are designed to emulate a Steadicam. I knew a couple of Steadicam operators, they were very experienced cameramen with big muscles like bodybuilders. Steadicam is a specialty, it takes a lot of training just to set it up and do the most basic moving shots. It takes a lot of practice to move the camera smoothly and slowly enough to avoid strobing.
posted by charlie don't surf at 9:41 AM on April 6, 2013


O.O
posted by BungaDunga at 9:48 AM on April 6, 2013 [6 favorites]


Now, only if my shooter friends could get paid.

maybe if they shot something worth watching? like louis ck sez!
Does it matter that what you've achieved, with your online special and your tour can't be replicated by other performers who don't have the visibility or fan base that you do?

Why do you think those people don't have the same resources that I have, the same visibility or relationship? What's different between me and them?

You have the platform. You have the level of recognition.

So why do I have the platform and the recognition?

At this point you've put in the time.

There you go. There's no way around that. There's people that say: "It's not fair. You have all that stuff." I wasn't born with it. It was a horrible process to get to this. It took me my whole life. If you're new at this — and by "new at it," I mean 15 years in, or even 20 — you're just starting to get traction. Young musicians believe they should be able to throw a band together and be famous, and anything that's in their way is unfair and evil. What are you, in your 20s, you picked up a guitar? Give it a minute.
btw saw this about "Gyro-Stabilized Systems' C520, a portable five-axis gyro-stabilized camera platform" on wired :P
posted by kliuless at 9:54 AM on April 6, 2013


No gyros, but this device from Supraflux caught my attention recently.
posted by cribcage at 9:58 AM on April 6, 2013


I was under the impression that Louis CK used his RED Epics for the show.
posted by Hypnotic Chick at 9:58 AM on April 6, 2013


I've read good things about the Luma iPhone app. Instead of stabilizing the camera with hardware, it uses the orientation sensors and software to smooth video movements.
posted by Pronoiac at 10:04 AM on April 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


spacewrench - you might want to avoid The Bourne Ultimatum, even in the close ups the camera is bouncing about all over the shop. I guess stylistically it fits the movie, and part of me wonders if it was done in post as surely you wouldn't actually shoot the raw footage that way?
posted by lawrencium at 12:13 PM on April 6, 2013


kliuless: "btw saw this vimeo about "Gyro-Stabilized Systems' C520, a portable five-axis gyro-stabilized camera platform" on wired :P"

Yeah, that's for use on helicopters, and gyros for that have been standard for years and years.

Regardless of what you think of Laforet, this could be pretty big. Maybe not revolutionary, but pretty big. It does what a Steadicam does, but easier and lighter, and possibly also better, given the actual gyro stabilization. Normal Steadicams are just damping, counterweights and a low-friction gimbal, although I think there have been some custom things done with adding gyroscopes.

This is small, can he handed from one person to another, through windows and tight spaces, etc., that's a big deal. The other big deal might be the price, which, according to some random forum, will be "less than 7500 dollars". That's much less than the Steadicam's 50k dollars and upwards (though they have smaller systems, they're also in the 10-20k dollar range).

And, yeah, while this isn't about film vs. digital, it's to a large extent something that's enabled by digital. Especially the very small newer cameras like the Red Epic and dSLRs (which I hate for video, but to each his own).
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 2:33 PM on April 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


From the article:

The danger of this device is that you’re going to want to shoot Scorsese’s famous Copacabana shot from Goodfellas every time you pick this unit up. You’ll do well to remember that short takes and editing are the key to a nice flow in almost any piece.

... so, it's hardly essential, unless you have a particularly compelling reason for those big deal, artful shots, full of curl and swerve. My experience is (and here I'm thinking of way too much post 1990 moviemaking) that this is mostly not the case. It's just a director and/or DP wanking, drawing attention to their craft as opposed to movie itself, the characters and their place in the drama-comedy-whatever. The Yngwie Malmsteen of moviemaking.
posted by philip-random at 5:04 PM on April 6, 2013


I'll gladly suffer through another two decades of masturbatory Copa knock off long take shots if they lead to another culminating moment of absolute mastery like Emmanuel Lubezki and Alfonso Cuaron pulled off in Children of Men.
posted by nathancaswell at 5:11 PM on April 6, 2013 [8 favorites]


I'm more impressed by the dude doing the human flag.
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 6:29 PM on April 6, 2013


philip-random: "The danger of this device is that you’re going to want to shoot Scorsese’s famous Copacabana shot from Goodfellas every time you pick this unit up. You’ll do well to remember that short takes and editing are the key to a nice flow in almost any piece."

Yeah, that's not really true, it might be largely true in American cinema, but even there the long take is fairly common, and a bunch of more artsy filmmakers use the long take almost exclusively, from Tarkovsky and Kubrick to Tarr and Reygadas.

I'm not such a huge fan of indiscriminate long takes myself, but it's a bit ignorant to say that short takes are key in almost any piece.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 7:12 PM on April 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm sorry, for long takes, you're not going to beat Russian Ark, given that the entire film is a single steadicam shot, culminating with a ballroom dance scene and a promenade of hundreds.

And, on top of it, the film is astounding.
posted by sutt at 7:51 PM on April 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


As far as strobing being a problem, there are charts and tables and y'know Math for that...of course that presupposes that you can move this thing at a known, constant speed...which, now that I think about it could prob be done via an app running on a phone taped to the thing...also, as frame rates continue to go up this becomes less of an issue...
posted by sexyrobot at 8:37 PM on April 6, 2013


Now, only if my shooter friends could get paid.

maybe if they shot something worth watching? like louis ck sez!


Uh, that has nothing to do with what I'm talking about. I'm talking about the job of the professional camera person disappearing, because people think all you have to do is press a button and you get a perfect shot. While in reality, you have to learn to do that sort of thing right or you have to pay people who know how to do it. I can guarantee you that Louis CK does.
posted by fungible at 10:42 PM on April 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


As far as strobing being a problem, there are charts and tables and y'know Math for that...

Yeah, and my point is that this is all well known to professional cinematographers, but unknown by amateurs like LaForet. I figured this would be considered important now in the digital era since scenes that strobe tend to compress poorly. The image changes so rapidly it requires high bitrates, and will show artifacts at higher compression.
posted by charlie don't surf at 8:22 AM on April 7, 2013


My father is a Stedicam operator. His comment when I showed this to him was "Cool. But you can't one hand a professional motion picture camera like the Arri Alexa. They weigh too much. It looks really good for small prosumer cameras."
posted by casconed at 9:57 AM on April 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


casconed: "My father is a Stedicam operator. His comment when I showed this to him was "Cool. But you can't one hand a professional motion picture camera like the Arri Alexa. They weigh too much. It looks really good for small prosumer cameras."

You can one hand a Red Epic, though, and that's a professional camera by any measure. One of my main complaints about the Alexa is exactly the size. Both the F65 and especially the Epic are much smaller.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 1:27 PM on April 7, 2013


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