Filmmakers strike gold with Blackmagic Design camera

Film festival participants need to ensure their movies capture the attention of audience members.

Working as an independent filmmaker is rarely an easy task. Projects are usually labors of love that require years of dedication and support to get off the ground. Securing financing can be difficult under the best conditions, and finding a willing audience presents its own set of challenges. Those who work in the short film format face even greater obstacles to success. In addition to lacking major studio support and recognizable actors, independent short films are often given short shrift by movie-going public. The average audience member may roll the dice on an acclaimed long-form film, but he or she may be less receptive to viewing a movie with a seemingly truncated or simplistic storyline.

Despite these challenges, the short film remains a popular format for aspiring filmmakers as it offers the opportunity to show off one's chops to studios. Some of the biggest names in the entertainment industry, from Wes Anderson to South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, have gotten their start by creating a short film. Festivals present the best opening for up-and-coming directors to present their work to studio executives and hopefully get financed for larger commercial projects. Because of these circumstances, entrants are often faced with fierce competition. According to the Los Angeles Times, more than 8,100 filmmakers submitted a short film to the 2014 Sundance Film Festival alone. Those entrants competed for a mere 66 available slots, making it imperative for participants to distinguish themselves from the pack.

'Me+Her' filmmakers require dynamic video capture
With only so much time to make an impression, short-film directors must often create striking images to quickly draw in an audience as quickly as possible. This was certainly true of director Joseph Oxford and cinematographer Bradley Stonesifer's recent Sundance submission, "Me+Her." The live action, stop-motion movie depicts a world created almost entirely out of cardboard – including both sets and characters – to showcase an entirely unique vision.

As Beth Marchant noted in Studio Daily, while the team only needed 18 days of filming to finish the movie, the entire production process totaled approximately six years. With that much time and effort poured into the film, Oxford and Stonesifer had to be sure their movie popped off the screen. Capturing the painstaking detail they had placed into their creation would require equipment that could offer that same level of dedication to high-quality video. The filmmakers turned to a pair of Blackmagic Design cameras to shoot the film and obtain the most refined and clear video possible. While the Blackmagic Cinema Camera was able to cover most of their needs, Oxford and Stonesifer opted to complement it with a Pocket Cinema Camera for certain shots that required a tool with a smaller form factor. With these two cameras, the filmmakers were able to capture uncompressed RAW video, providing richer images in their movie.

"The Blackmagic Cinema Camera gave us an incredibly clean and smooth image that had a huge amount of information in it," Stonesifer said. "With that information, our colorist, Aaron Peak from Hollywood DI, could do a lot, which was necessary to really help bring the characters and sets to life. And the cameras and footage easily worked with our entire post production workflow, which let us be very efficient."

According to Stonesifer, Blackmagic Design products offered a wider range of high-performance features that set them apart from other options, making their choice of camera an easy one to make. These tools included color space, image quality, latitude and the ability to color correct RAW video feeds. With the support of these assets, the filmmakers could be sure that they captured every minute detail, from hood ornaments on trucks to treads on the soles of characters' shoes. Ultimately, the unparalleled performance of their cameras helped the team create a dynamic and engaging short film that was selected to appear in the Sundance Film Festival.

"At the end of everything, the Blackmagic cameras allowed a bunch of independent filmmakers to work with a 'DIY' attitude, proving that with a vision and hard work you can still have a high-quality film, regardless of the materials being used," Stonesifer stated. "There is nothing stopping your creativity, and these cameras helped to make it possible."

Supporting RAW video capture with high-quality SSD solutions
When using a Blackmagic Design camera, filmmakers should be aware that other components will be needed to ensure that they obtain the highest quality video possible. Specifically, directors, cinematographers and videographers will require a high-performance solid state drive to effectively capture RAW video without it being compressed. Many SSDs – even those that have been certified for Blackmagic use – are not up to this task. That is why it's so important that filmmakers look beyond off-the-shelf options and find an SSD drive that will guarantee high-quality video capture at all times. DIGISTOR's Professional Video Series SSD products have been specifically designed to work seamlessly with Blackmagic Design wares, allowing video media artists to record clear and dynamic uncompressed footage. Furthermore, DIGISTOR SSD solutions feature durable error correction technology to ensure that no data is lost and that filmmaker's storage devices continue operating for years to come.

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