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The use of traditional motion picture film cameras is likely on the way out as high quality digital video cameras become better and more affordable. A group of developers is capitalizing on this with Apertus, an open source software and open hardware cinematic HD camera for a professional production. While they’re far off from a camera that’s ready to shoot out of the box, the development is well under way. Hit play on the video above for more information about the project and check out these sample videos from the camera. And if you’re a developer that loves the tools of cinematography (like yours truly), take a look at how you can help the project.

Matt Richardson

Matt Richardson

Matt Richardson is a Brooklyn-based creative technologist, Contributing Editor at MAKE, and Resident Research Fellow at New York University’s Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP). He’s the co-author of Getting Started with Raspberry Pi and the author of Getting Started with BeagleBone.


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Comments

  1. pete says:

    this is an awesome project, and hope it does really well. however, traditional cameras aren’t on their way out quickly. quite a few movies AND tv shows still shoot film for quite a few reasons, including an unmatched character/feel, and archival. Quality digital has long been affordable for industry, so to see so many film cameras still in use makes me happy.

    As a side note, i’ll mention Panavision, for those who aren’t familiar manufactures some of the best film cameras, but you can’t buy one. They build, service, rent, consult all their equipment, which makes it even cheaper for a production to use one, as they get a perfect working camera, something breaks send it back you’ll have one ready in as long as it takes to drive to new york (although you always have a backup!). This kind of professional service helps to keep film affordable, and convenient

    1. Matt Richardson says:

      Motion picture film cameras are definitely still in use, but I think the writing’s on the wall for them, especially in television production. The film workflow is an expensive one (I know that well as a former accountant for a filmed TV production) and as the digital workflow gets smoothed out, as data transfer speeds get higher, and as the equipment gets cheaper, producers are going to have a hard time justifying the added expense of using film over digital. I think it’s true for movies as well, but I think the transition will be a slower one.

      1. rocketguy1701 says:

        Actually, given movie economics for most major productions, your point, while entirely true is mostly null and void for cinema (unlike TV). It’s not the expense that is driving rapid adoption in movie production (where the total budget is likely to swallow film without a ripple), it’s the creative freedom and rapid turn-around time for dailies (more like “instantlies”) that’s really pushing forward adoption with directors, their crews and talent. Workflows are generally just getting better and better (other than Apple’s current stupidity, which it’s supposedly working to correct).

        In the end both factors of course will come into play, depending on budget size and of course creative intent. Either way, I think film is in decline, and once somebody makes a decent digital filter that recreates a film feel, that decline will become rapid.

      2. Matt Richardson says:

        @rocketguy1701: Point taken in regard to creative freedom driving digital cinema adoption in feature films. The point about budgets we agree on; it’s why I said the writing is on the wall for TV production, where budgets are tighter.

        One of the reasons I thought that feature film adoption of digital cinema isn’t as fast coming is because of the workflow, from production to exhibition. This is based on a guess that in theaters, we’re still mostly screening 35mm prints that have been struck off of a negative-match (though I do know that a lot of prints come from digital too). As theaters start to do away with traditional projection systems and move to digital, it will make less sense to be working in film at any point in the workflow. It’s been a while since I’ve been on that side, however, so that’s all conjecture.

      3. pete says:

        fair enough : )

        i have seen a few times where they’ve shot on film, but also recorded the viewfinder out for dailies. maybe i’m just hoping hard film will survive….then again it would be awesome to see something open like Apertus used in industry in the future; maybe for lightweight aerial rigs

  2. It’s an extremely low budget movie.

    I would like to use a digital camera to record it because digital cameras are obviously cheaper and easier to use.

    Should I record a movie with a digital camera or would it look to cheap? If I can, what digital camera would you suggest? If you say no to the digital camera idea, what other camera should I use (that’s low-priced preferrably)?

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