I have been staying away from camera reviews and the like because there are plenty of resources on the Internet for that kind of thing. If I go to NAB in 2013, maybe that will change.
If you know me, I have been struggling with the new technology for more than 2 years, and have been waiting to upgrade from HDSLR video to a proper film camera. I waited patiently through 2011 until November 3rd when Canon had their big announcement, the C300. The very same day Red announced their Scarlet, a 4K camera. The announcements priced the Canon at $20,000, and the Red at $9,995. In reality, to have functioning cameras both are actually street priced the same at about $15k. Make no mistake about it, both of these cameras are revolutionary.
In November Philip Bloom gave me some quality time with the Red Epic, the $50,000 version of the Red lineup. That is the camera Peter Jackson is using to shoot the Hobbit. In my commentary on the Red last November I pointed out the problems a 4k workflow presents for projects destined for 2k distribution. Incidentally the 2K film coming out of the Epic is poor, so you always have to shoot and process 4k footage. After seeing Shane Hurlbut’s Act of Valor shot on the 5D Mark II in HD, I am in no hurry to move to 4k. The HD footage was amazing on the big screen. If you haven’t seen Act of Valor you should. They used real Navy Seals and their wives as actors, and used live fire in the making of the film.
Then the C300 was announced. I had some excellent C300 hands-on time last weekend courtesy of Randy Noland. The image coming off the camera is in a class by itself. Very, very pleasing. The latitude is fantastic. Now I won’t make any further judgments or comments here, except to say it is too expensive for most regular guys. The Canon 1DC and C500 announced at the NAB show last month aren’t really much of a help. The problem is that the camera technology is moving so fast that it accelerates the depreciation schedule to the point of making depreciation meaningless. What you buy today will be outmoded tomorrow. $15k for a camera seems to be a waste unless you can make LOTS of money with it real quick. As a replacement for the Arri Alexa the C300 makes financial sense, but not as a replacement for a 5DM2.
I want you to see my favorite films shot on the C300. Canon paid some great filmmakers to make films on the C300 that were shown at the November 3rd launch. This was a great strategy. These films do more to create interest in their camera more than any talking head or spec sheet. Two of these films remain my favorites.
The first is Vincent LaForet’s Mobius. I met Vincent in Austin just a few days after the C300 was announced. It was great learning about the production of the film, then working with him in a workshop just a few days later. My other favorite film was Sam Nicholson’s XXIT. To this day I keep looking for new films on the C300, but these two released at the introduction still remain my favorites. This is the future of filmmaking.