Sunday, September 5, 2010

SLR Killed the Video Star...

One of the major topics of discussion among filmmakers right now is the rising battle between using an SLR to shoot video or keeping with a video camera. SLR's have never really been known for their amazing video quality in times past, but the release of the T2i proved the existence of an SLR's capability for shooting video. Now all filmmakers are racing to the stores to replace their video cameras with T2i's, 5D's, and 7D's.
I, myself, have yet to jump on this bandwagon. The main argument in favor of SLR video shooting is because of the depth of field and option of interchangeable lenses; which I do believe to be a great advantage for video. I am just not a fan of trying to shoot a film with a photo camera. Sure, you can keep the camera on a tripod and that is just as effective as a video camera on a tripod, but what about hand-held shots. That would be a pain in the butt to try and shoot on a photo camera. Yes, I know you can buy shoulder mounts and all sorts of equipment to turn your SLR into a videoesque-type of camera, but then you end up spending twice as much money to do so. Also, the lack of an audio input option will make it a pain to try and link up the audio and video in post.
Video camera companies are already scrambling to replicate the option of interchangeable lenses and greater depth of field in their cameras; so it won't be long before we can once again buy video cameras that are just as good, if not better, as the current SLR's. Then all filmmakers are going to scramble to buy the video cameras and toss off their old SLR's. I'm just biding my time until that happens. True, the current cameras with SLR-video capability are very expensive, but that's just because they're in experimental phase. Soon enough the prices will equal out.
This brings up an issue that I think most people are ignoring: Talent over equipment. I have heard so many people talking about how if they only had the right equipment, they could make an awesome film. The ability to make an awesome film never rested on the equipment, but instead on the user. No matter what type of equipment you have, if you are creative and passionate about making a good film, you will do so without needing high-end equipment. I know of a few people who spent thousands of dollars on high-end equipment and still turned out movies that were painfully horrible. All that equipment was a waste because they lacked the ability to make a good film in the first place. Roger Merrill, a theatre director and school teacher, once said, "Talent is something you're born with. Ability is something you learn." You can have all the talent in the world, but it is useless unless you know how to utilize it.
This leads into another topic of argument: The idea that education is not helpful in the filmmaking world. This is also very wrong. It is true that some people have in-born talent to make a good film, but the more you know about the craft and the equipment that can be used, the more creative and innovative you can be with your films. In my opinion, I think that most filmmakers who skip out on getting some sort of education in the video production field will turn out great products, but not amazing products. We're seeing a lot of mediocrity in film today because people are just jumping in to video production because they own a T2i and watch a lot of movies. It's like trying to build a work of art without a basic foundation: you'll be able to build to a point, but you'll hit a point where if you try to build any further, everything will come crashing down. Therefore, your progression ends.
I attended a school where the only video production classes were a few broadcast classes here and there. I did this because, in all honesty, it was cheaper. But I still learned a great deal about video production through those classes, a student-produced news program, and a number of theatre classes. I learned all sorts of techniques because I applied what I learned to film despite them not being taught in that form. If you look for something, you will always find it. I realize that I knew nothing about video production despite owning a camera and watching a lot of movies. I am still learning a great deal and I plan on learning as much as I can.  Even the Dalai Lama recommends that you "Know the rules well, so you can break them effectively."
But once again, I've stepped onto my soapbox and will now proceed to jump off of it.


  1. Hey everyone. Let me tell you my experience. I recently purchased a Canon 7D DSLR to use for both still images and video for business and personal use. I've only had it in my hands for about a month now, so I'm still learning it's ins and outs. So far, here are the pros and cons in my opinion.
    Pros: The video quality is fantastic. It shoots in full 1080p, in both 30 and 24 fps. You can also shoot in 60p in 720p mode which allows for some great smooth slow motion action. Like I said the quality of the video is really top notch. What makes it even better is the ability to use different lenses. With this option you can achieve a greater range of look and depth that you really can't get with the standard video camera. I've shot some video with a 50mm lens at 1.4 f/stop opening in low light that just blows me away every time. It also has a bigger frame size than any other video camera out there (besides the Red) which allows for amazing detail and depth. Also, transferring from camera to computer is quite simple since there is no tape involved.
    Cons: Shooting without a tripod or Steadicam is too difficult. I love the bulkiness of a big video camera. The DSLR is just too small to hand hold shoot all the time. When you are the least bit shaky, it really shows up, and when you are shooting for long increments you just can't hold it still for more than a couple of minutes. I can't, anyway.
    The LCD screen is stuck on the back of the DLSR and it can't move. Therefore, you are limited in your range of movement, because you are limited in what you can see yourself doing, unlike many video cameras that have a pop out and moveable LCD screen, not to mention and a handle on the top of the camera itself.
    Last I would say is the audio. You may as well record audio separately if you are doing any sort of professional work. But hey. That's what a lot of people do anyway.
    Overall, I think a good DSLR with video can be well worth your money. It can be a powerful tool in the hands of the right person.

  2. So basically I'm confirming everything Derek said. Amen brother.