Film Shot With Canon 7D Bought For $4 Million At Sundance

from the change-is-in-the-air dept

Last summer, we wrote about a short film that was shot entirely with a DSLR camera, a Pentax K-7. Lately, we’ve been talking about when a feature film is going to be shot with a smartphone. In the interim, however, comes the news that not only was the indie flick Like Crazy shot entirely with a Canon 7D DSLR, but it’s been sold to Paramount for $4 million at Sundance. When we’ve talked in the past about how the tools of filmmaking are getting cheaper and more powerful every day, we always get some folks who brush it aside, and make some sort of elitist statement about how such “low end” cameras can “never” make a quality film that will show in theaters. It would appear that at least some folks in Hollywood disagree.

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Comments on “Film Shot With Canon 7D Bought For $4 Million At Sundance”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Cameras are merely tools to be used for many things, including creative endeavors. While I rather doubt the current iteration of consumer and pro-sumer cameras will anytime soon replace film industry cameras, eventually a digital camera will be developed that will relegate the current crop of film-based cameras to the dustin of history, just like vinyl replaced wax in Edison’s day.

Hephaestus (profile) says:

Yet another thing on my timeline ... 2 years early

I have a time line of future events for the Movie Studios based on the history of what the record labels have done over the past 30 years. One of them is locking up content to prevent new competition. A year and a half ago I put down “Studios begin purchasing movies shot on high end home cameras in an attempt to prevent competition”. The time choosen was 2 years from now. Now while I don’t know if this is a good film or not. I also don’t know if this was to prevent competition. It has happened so half of it has come true.

Anonymous Coward says:

DSLR cameras are quickly becoming a favorite tool in the indie film-making world.
You can shoot 1080p video, which is within 6% of the resolution of the digital projectors used in most theaters, including IMAX.
You have a large sensor roughly equivalent to Super 35mm film for APS-C cameras like the 7D (or Vistavision film on Full Frame cameras like the 5D mark ii). This lets you shoot in low light and get a shallow Depth of Field, which feels more filmic.
There is a wide selection of lenses to be had for relatively low cost, between $100 to a few thousand, thanks to the still photography market.
The Canon 5D mark ii was used to shoot entirety of the season 6 finale of House MD, which normally uses 35mm film.
I myself used the same model to shoot a short film in a single day using only what was already at hand. It was the best-looking film at the local festival.

Hephaestus (profile) says:


I understand physics, there are all sorts of tricks you can do with light. Here is what is currently being sold and the future …

Look at Sony’s Exmor R video camera for cell phones currently at 1080P and 16 MP resolution. The new ones in the works are smaller and at higher resolutions (24, 32, 48 MP).

In the futre you will see tech like this working its way into cameras …

Look at what they are doing with “IC chip manufacturer and liquid immersion for photomasks” where the wavelength can be shortened and compressed onto higher resolution CCD or CMOS style devices.

Or maybe they will use nano dots, like they are working on for solar cells, laid on top of the CCD it self.

The future is so bright, I have to wear shades, I’m on my camel … hand me that high res video of some straw.

Anonymous Coward says:


You have it right. It isn’t the tools, it’s the person using them. Someone who has a talent for making movies can make a great movie on just about anything, and a horrible film marker can make nothing but junk with millions of dollars of equipment.

The point I tend to make about the “cheaper to make a movie” is that more people do it that just don’t have the talent. You end up with more movies (massive leap in techdirt style innovation and creativity) but in reality you just end up with more junk.

So it isn’t the tools, it’s the person using them. Too bad that too many of them are just tools, like the things they use.

Hephaestus (profile) says:


If you are talking about the optics. Its the diameter of the lenses. That break down to a combination of the surface smoothness of the material, the clarity or purity, the index of refraction of the material, and the surface reflection. All that is gettting better all the time. Personally I will not mind a dime sized lens on the back of my cell phone to shoot better pictures and video than the Canon 7D DLSR.

Anonymous Coward says:


While you will end up with a larger amount of crap being made, there is a *lot* of excellent work being done by amateur filmmakers. These folks wouldn’t be able to afford to spend millions on their projects, and I’d much rather have good tools available to them than not. If you can make a great movie with a webcam, you should be even better with access to proper equipment. Remember, not all skilled artists are professionals inside the mainstream movie industry.

Not an electronic Rodent says:


You end up with more movies (massive leap in techdirt style innovation and creativity) but in reality you just end up with more junk.

Hmmmm *checks latest cinema film list* I’m not totally convinced that more film makers will affect the relative percentage of “junk” (rather than the absolute number of rubbish films). That pre-supposes that those (or a large percentage on those) made now are not junk and “junk” is a personal opinion.

I don’t think I could point to more than 1/2 a dozen films in cinemas in the last couple of years that I’d move outside that category, though to be fair some would come into the “entertaining junk” sub-category. Saying “more film makers means more trash” seems a little snobbish to me. I wouldn’t like to try and predict the effect, but I’d consider it equally likely that status quo is maintained and hold a hope that more competition for people’s attention might even force the mean-point of “worth-watchingness” a little higher.

(Disclaimer: There are probably more than 6 “good” films in the last 2 years but I don’t spend my life watching films – 6 represents maybe 10%-ish of films watched that were made in that time though lets face it some you know are trash without having to watch them. Also “good” is my opinion, not necessarily anyone elses.)

abc gum says:


You imply that big industry movies are still shot on film, I was unaware of this. Does anyone know what medium is used in present day movies?

Film as a medium occupies a much smaller percentage of the still photography market, but it remains useful and is not going away anytime soon.

There are those who claimed digital had replaced vinyl much like cars replaced horses … and yet vinyl still hangs around – go figure.

Anonymous Coward says:


This answer demonstrates your lack of knowladge on the new DSLR cameras. Not only do they match digital quality but optical performance from photographic lenses are more than matched.

In the hands of a talendted film maker a DSLR can be just as powerful as other cameras. Maybe even more powerful since now the director has more budget to blow on using real cars and real stuff for explosions and special effects instead of purchasing expensive and bulky cameras and film.

Anonymous Coward says:


When you have a higher bar to entry, not everyone tries to make a movie. The ones trying to make movies are much more dedicated to the idea, and are willing to take risks (financial and other) to get there.

When you remove the risk, everyone can make a movie. That means you need limited skills, no understanding of framing, shooting style, writing, plot development, or any of that stuff, because well, it’s “FREE!”. Doubly so if you pirated the editing software and borrowed the camera from Dad.

The end result? Lots of video shot, little of it useful. Much more noise, not much more signal.

As for “what is good”, it is all relative. The President’s Speech is a movie that can put me to sleep. However, it is a very high quality movie, great dialog, amazing filmography, great sets, great costumes, etc. It is an amazing period piece. It would put me to sleep within minutes. But I can appreciate that it isn’t junk. I might not like the signal above the noise, but I can tell the difference between what is and what is not.

Anonymous Coward says:


Panavision, the company behind the majority of cameras used for movie making by the major studios, is to my knowledge the camera of choice, and most of these cameras use 35mm and 65mm emulsion film by Kodak with, I believe, a max ISO of 320 balanced for tungsten light.

Panavision has begun to offer digital counterparts, but the transition from film to digital is not as yet complete, and it will be likely several years before film ceases to be the recording medium of choice.

Not an electronic Rodent says:


The end result? Lots of video shot, little of it useful. Much more noise, not much more signal.

which exactly goes to my point about snobbishness – or elitism if you prefer. It’s not like much of that isn’t already there in Youtube or similar. It’s already free to make films, the change is that cheap good equipment allows the quality of the good ones among them to rise above the rest to truly rival the “studio produced” content. I’ve seen some compelling amateur content that had it had more budget would have been easily of “quality prodution” enough to be shown in a cinema for example and it’s undeniable there’s a market for “entertaining trash”.

As for “what is good”, it is all relative. The President’s Speech is a movie that can put me to sleep.

Which is pretty much exactly what I said. But are you to claim that one example (that in this case might come into the “Well done but boring – there’s quite a few over the years I could put in this category) negates me saying that a reasonable percentage of “hollywood” film output released in cinemas shows no better production value entertaining or not?

Hephaestus (profile) says:


No they are afraid of the bell curve that says. the lower 16.5% of the movies will be total crap, the center 66% will be crap to average to good, the upper 16.5% will be good enough to view. In the upper 16.5% you will find a ton of jems.

Just like the 5 million bands on MySpace are competition to the record labels. The billions of people with Cameras in their cell phones scare them. The same bell curve applies.

nasch (profile) says:


However, the sensor size will always be a problem. I’m sure you’re aware of it, but just to point out, the smaller the sensor, the grainier the image you get (at least in anything other than bright sunlight). Even with the .4″ sensor typical in a point and shoot, there is quite a lot of noise when shooting indoors.

This is not a problem that can be surmounted by further miniaturization, because you can’t shrink the photons hitting the sensor. To get a better image/video without sacrificing either resolution or speed, you just flat need a bigger sensor. That’s why it’s going to be very very difficult, if possible at all, to get really high quality video from a smartphone in anything short of full daylight.

That assumes you can overcome the lens size issue, maybe with something like folded optics or other tricks. I think that problem is solvable in the medium to long term.

However, the question then becomes, how good is good enough? Even if the video is not as good as what you can get from a good DSLR, could it be good enough for a feature film? Maybe it can.

Zander says:

The Social Network was entirely shot on The RED. Somewhere around 50,000 dollar camera shoots on RAW video. (The highest quality) and can techinically see more light than the human eye.

They are also going to release The Scarlet, a much more affordable version of the RED which technology will still be unmatched in its price range by any other digital video product at 6,000 dollars or so.

Ahmed Jaf says:

Despite the fact that I agree that a camera is a tool, but these films cost a lot of money to be made in the first place.
Look at ?Like Crazy?s cast!
Of course 28 days later was made with an XL1 so? who was his cast? what was his budget?
Give many talented wanna be directors half that budget and they can do something similar with an even better camera,
It?s not just the camera is the money and the talent

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