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Single Chip Camera Evaluation At Produced By Conference

The 2011 Producers Guild of America’s Produced By Conference managed to continue its tradition begun three years ago by providing valuable sessions and content necessary for producers to remain competitive in the evolving world of film and television production.

In addition to standing room only sessions featuring conversations with A-level producers such as Harvey Weinstein and round table discussions focusing on the state of international production tax credits, this year’s conference included a session that highlighted the recent single chip camera evaluation.

Orchestrated by award-winning cinematographer Bob Primes, A.S.C., a small group of professional cinematographers and production staff, including production designers and make up artists, volunteered their time and services to discover how a range of commonly used single chip cameras performed in like conditions.

“Our goal was to understand the complexities, and also to help understand the hidden costs, that come when a particular camera is utilized in a particular set of circumstances,” said Primes.

When the first Red camera became the go-to resource for producers looking to save money on a shoot, the cinematographers were left finding ways to overcome the short-falls in the camera’s performance, often resulting in escalating back-end costs.  While advancements in the current Red camera make it a much more versatile tool, Primes warned the attendees about falling for the marketing material aimed directly at producers.  He encouraged the group instead to observe the evaluation and note the degrees of difference each camera had in a series of set ups that included focal range, light and shadows and color saturation, to name a few.

After a twenty-five minute film highlighting the performance of the 12-bit Sony F35, ArriRaw Alexa, Arri 435mm with Vision 3 film, RED One M-X, Weisscam HS-2, Phantom Flex high speed camera, Panasonic AF-100, Sony F3, Canon 5D Mark II, Canon 1D Mark IV, Canon 7D and Nikon D7000 DSLRs was shown, Primes received questions from the audience regarding the accessability of viewing the test.  While such tests can be uploaded into online platforms, Primes explained the quality of the online images suffer and the benefit of the test would get lost.  He and his ad-hoc group, the “Image Quality Geeks,” intend on distributing blu-rays of the test to organizations such as the ASC, the DGA, and the PGA in the very near future.  He stressed that, like all forms of technology, there will constantly be new cameras added to the fold and updates made to existing cameras that will cause the evaluation to soon be out-dated.   He informed the producers that the best way of finding the cameras necessary to use on a shoot was to trust the cinematographer.

“I encourage producers here today to have directors of photography that they can work with well, and who they can define the shots with,” said Primes.  “Talk to your dp, and see what camera that dp would be the most comfortable with in the various conditions.  Use that information as the guide for the cameras you’ll use on your shoot.”

To learn more about the 2011 Produced By Conference, please visit: