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What’s Your Medium? by Elite Team Member Bodie Orman

  • April 18, 2011
  • Shane Hurlbut, ASC
What’s Your Medium? by Elite Team Member Bodie Orman

The World is Your Canvas

You are going to Dubai to shoot a motorcycle race that will require mobility and high speed. You are heading to D.C. for simple interviews that require only a single camera. You’ve been hired by the studios to shoot special effects plates for their summer blockbuster where quality is paramount with less regard for budget. Before the phone rang, did you already know what format you would be shooting? Did the producer even give you an option? What do you have at your disposal for each assignment? For any of the above scenarios there exists an infinite amount of possibilities: Size versus mobility, stylized versus cut and dry, and of course, digital versus film. For every job, every photograph, there exists a tool with its own strengths and weaknesses.

BTS photo from a Bandito Brothers production. A perfect example where film and HDSLR were used in perfect harmony to achieve some very amazing stunt photography.
BTS photo from a Bandito Brothers production. A perfect example where film and HDSLR were used in perfect harmony to achieve some very amazing stunt photography.

Over the last few years, it has been my good fortune to work with Shane Hurlbut. We have traveled the world pushing DSLR cameras to a new level, and making amazing imagery with progressive technology. Many who have followed the Hurlblog and have used this technology know that there are obstacles to overcome in order to make HDSLR technology suitable for cinema. This being said, as often as we break new ground with the DSLR, we shoot projects that use film as the recording medium.

Shooting a horror movie trailer with the Panavised Arri 353. A great camera for those of us with budget conscious producers. (From L-R: DP Tom Heigl, 1st AC Andrew Laboy, Horseman of Black Mountain.)
Shooting a horror movie trailer with the Panavised Arri 353. A great camera for those of us with budget conscious producers. (From L-R: DP Tom Heigl, 1st AC Andrew Laboy, Horseman of Black Mountain.*)
A script supervisor's worst nightmare.
A script supervisor’s worst nightmare.

Many filmmakers I encounter these days choose to shoot digital because of ‘ease’ and affordability, without exploring the option of shooting film… at all. To not explore other creative formats is to limit your own imagination. If you have never shot a project on film, or its been ‘a long time since film school’, I would recommend you rent a camera and go out and shoot something…anything. And if you’ve only shot film, go to Samy’s camera or BH photo and check out DSLR. If you grew up shooting video like I did, your mind will be blown out the back of your head with the amount of detail and color that can be molded within a film negative. These cameras were meant to be used, film or digital . Broaden your horizons and expand your skill set so that you’re creativity is not limited by technical knowledge. Photography is an art form, there are thousands of brushes and strokes to use in order to make your masterpiece. If Leonardo Da Vinci had only used one color, one brush and one stroke, the Mona Lisa would have been without dimension.

You are a film maker. Be a master.

So: what format do you use and why?

At the peak of Mammoth Mountain shooting for a car commercial. Many different formats were used during this two week production.
At the peak of Mammoth Mountain shooting for a car commercial. Many different formats were used during this two week production.

Written by Bodie Orman – Second Unit Director of Photography, Camera Operator, and 2nd Assistant Camera for Hurlbut Visuals, and Eric Wolfinger.

* Trailer for Horseman of Black Mountain:

  • Canon
  • Canon 5D
  • Cinematography
  • prep

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  • One phone conference with Shane First 100 people that sign up before March 11, 2019
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