The camera that changed the world

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Pqtrick
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Location: Warwickshire

The camera that changed the world

Post by Pqtrick »

It was interesting to see on BBC4 last night the repeated programme 'The cameras that changed the world'. For those who did not see it, the documentary told the story of the development of the hand held camera in the late fifties until one was adapted for use in 1960.

Remember, that at the time filming was done on heavy 16mm noisy and heavy film cameras which were unwieldy and had to be supported on a tripod. Film makers in both France and the States wanted to be free of the tripod. To tell their story they wanted be to follow and get into the midst of the action with light weight hand held camera.

The early developments were not without problems, notably with synchronous sound. These were overcome with the advance in technical developments. It proved to be the birth of television as we see it today, particularly in the documentary field. A documentary about John F Kennedy was made of his run to the Whitehouse. Being light it followed him everywhere on his campaign. It was not shown on US television, not because of the many 'wobbly' shots, but the ground breaking political content was too controversial.

A French pioneer of this technique was interviewed for the programme. He refused to sit on a chair against and contrived and carefully illuminated background to be interviewed. So he was filmed as he walked about his apartment with the camera having to follow him.

We appear to have come full circle as eyebrows are raised at a hint of that roving and wobbly camera, whether the content is relevant or not. Was all this pioneering work in vain or does someone have to break the mould again?
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TimStannard
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Re: The camera that changed the world

Post by TimStannard »

Pqtrick wrote: We appear to have come full circle as eyebrows are raised at a hint of that roving and wobbly camera, whether the content is relevant or not. Was all this pioneering work in vain or does someone have to break the mould again?
There's a certain amount of irony in that the wobbly hand-held look is now de-rigeur in dramas (and frequently overused in my opinion)

I do wonder what those pioneers would have been able to do with the technology now available. I suspect they would be looking at using stabilizers, fig-rigs whatever. The "wobbliness" isn't what they were after, it was the intimacy and immediacy.
Tim
Proud to be an amateur film maker - I do it for the love of it
John C
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Re: The camera that changed the world

Post by John C »

And I am still trying to learn how to use a Tripod!!!!!!!!
Lee Prescott
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Re: The camera that changed the world

Post by Lee Prescott »

:o
Don't worry John C:.......
Oh yeah, Tripods are anathema to cameramen on the run! Stabilisers i.e. Steadicam etc., make one look as if having been rigged for a Free Fall exercise from 40,000 feet. (sorry, 12,308 metres, give or take 3 feet)! Tripods are anathema to aeroplane overhead racks.

Todays tiddly cameras are too small for your average Tripod. Solution, get a grip and hug your elbows tight into the sides of your body!

Me, I'm still using the pro. shoulder mounted apparition....looks in place on a good quality Tripod and certainly draws (often unwanted) attention to the "scenario".......but not on aeroplanes

:x Keep smiling, the world's on (dead) line.

Lee.
Michael Slowe
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Re: The camera that changed the world

Post by Michael Slowe »

This is a very topical thread for me at the moment. I'm solely occupied in documentary film making and increasingly, I find that the classic set up with camera firmly on a tripod, is becoming less and less practical if I'm to capture the action. In my latest film which is doing the rounds I have to follow my main character going about his business and there is no way I could have used a tripod other than for the pre planned sequences of which there could be few. Hitherto in my early filming days (1960's to 1980's) there was no way I would have contemplated 'shooting' off tripod, today I have to.

Some of the posts above criticize the wobbly picture brigade, rightly in some cases, but there is no doubt that acceptance of this to some degree has helped to add immediacy to documentary films that would otherwise not be available. Old fashioned principles for film making are important but should be adapted when necessary as long as the producers understand what (and why) they are taking that line.
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TimStannard
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Re: The camera that changed the world

Post by TimStannard »

Michael Slowe wrote: Old fashioned principles for film making are important but should be adapted when necessary as long as the producers understand what (and why) they are taking that line.
Couldn't agree more.
You'll note my criticism was of overuse in drama. Two key words - overuse and drama. It was innovative and added realism in "NYPD Blue" which, I believe, popularised the technique in drama, but has been copied seemingly without thought in many films/programmes.
Tim
Proud to be an amateur film maker - I do it for the love of it
tom hardwick
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Re: The camera that changed the world

Post by tom hardwick »

Image stabilisation, both pre and post production are becoming better by the month. The Active steadyshot on my Sony and Panasonic add a level of steadiness unimagined a few years ago - and all apparently without side effects (there are some, but they're often hard to spot). Then the timeline processing by a program such as Mercali can really take out the last few bumps.

If you're shooting in hi-def and plan on DVD distribution, you can really go to town with Mercali as you have so many 'spare' pixels to play with.

I'm not quite so convinced by the need for image stabilisation in DSLR lenses. These days, with ISOs that give clean, noise-free results at 1200 and beyond you simply need to shorten the shutter speed. Of course if you use your SLR for movies then in-built stabilisation is a boon.

tom.
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