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January 12th, 2016

Opinion: What CES 2016 Tells Us About the (Bright) Future of Photography

Ask any market analyst for their take on the digital camera business, and you’ll get pretty much the same story of an industry in decline.

According to Chris Chute, Research Director at IDC, camera makers shipped roughly 39 million units in 2015. In their heyday, digital camera sales exceeded 100 million. Arun Gill at the research firm Futuresource Consulting, charts a similarly sharp decline, with sales falling from 73.6 million units in 2013 to 38 million in 2015. Both analysts see more contraction on the horizon.

But broaden the frame, and photography is arguably as vibrant as ever. If there was a major theme to CES 2016, it was surely photography and filmmaking.

It just looked like this:

And this:

And also this:

Alongside the mainstay of traditional cameras announcements (which were innovative in their own right), there were dozens of cameras that could fly, record completely spherical images, create three dimensional virtual reality videos, or go just about anywhere and survive just about anything. 

Photographers and filmmakers have arguably never had so many novel tools at their disposal as they do today.

“I think we’re on the brink of a major change in how we think about photography,” says Pentax President Jim Malcolm. Whereas photography and filmmaking had always been about cropping out visual information to fit a given frame, the new wave of spherical cameras that will hit the market in force in 2016 are all about capturing everything in view.

“When you capture everything, you can create anything,” Malcolm says. In this environment, the composition–what a photographer chooses to frame–can occur after the fact, especially as the technology and resolution behind spherical cameras improve.

Whether spherical imaging and virtual reality represent a genuine sea-change remains to be seen (and we explore that subject in more depth here), but there was undoubtedly a lot of interest, new products and enthusiasm for it at CES.

And while storytelling technology evolves, let’s not forget what else happened at CES.

We enter 2016 with both an explosion in new forms of photography and filmmaking technology and a rejuvenated interest in analog. Truly, these are interesting times.

January 8th, 2016

Great Photography and Filmmaking Reads for Your Weekend

Rich Grundy | Flickr

Rich Grundy | Flickr

Oscar Wilde once noted that, “It is what you read when you don’t have to that determines what you will be when you can’t help it.” In that spirit, here are a few photography and filmmaking pieces we’ve picked out for your weekend reading pleasure.

How I Made This New Year’s Eve Photo Go ViralBBC

One of the Most Haunting and Seductive Photographers Died Too YoungHuffington Post (NSFW)

How Video Game Photography Got Me Into Real PhotographyGames Radar

Why You Should Be Paying Attention to Agricultural PhotographyCreators Project

Gender Parity in Documentary Filmmaking Is a FictionIndie Wire

How to Monetize a Social Media FollowingPDN

See past Weekend Reads here.

January 6th, 2016

Kodak Plans to Make a Super 8 Camera (For Real)

Artist rendering of Kodak's forthcoming Super 8 camera.

Artist rendering of Kodak’s forthcoming Super 8 camera.

For years, Kodak has served as exhibit A of a company caught flat-footed by changing technology. But a funny thing has happened since Kodak’s fortunes fell–Hollywood directors have rallied around the company’s motion picture film, to the extent that Kodak expects to be profitable next year on the basis of its film business.

Emboldened by that success, the company doubled down at CES 2016 with a plan to revive the Super 8 camera.

Calling it the “Super 8 Revival Initiative” Kodak said the camera would combine the “classic features of a Super 8 with digital functionality.”

Kodak says they’ve built a roadmap that includes a “range of cameras, film development services, post production tools and more.”

“It is an ecosystem for film” said Jeff Clarke, Eastman Kodak Chief Executive Officer, in a statement announcing the initiative. “Following the 50th anniversary of Super 8, Kodak is providing new opportunities to enjoy and appreciate film as a medium.”

The initiative has a string of high-profile endorsers, including director Christopher Nolan, Steven Spielberg and JJ Abrams. “For me, 8mm was the beginning of everything,” Spielberg said in a statement released by Kodak. “When I think of 8mm, I think of the movies.”

The camera is expected to cost between $400-$700 with film processing ranging from $50-$75. Developed film will be returned to consumers as a digital file and film strip. While the details are still being finalized, a Kodak spokesperson said users would be able to choose the type of video file they receive back from Kodak.

The camera will have a mic input on the top handle and audio will be recorded to SD cards. While Kodak will process the film, it will be up to the end-user to sync audio with the video. It will have a flip out digital display for a real time preview of what you’re recording as well as access to the menu.

Kodak is not the first company to take an interest in resurrecting Super 8 filmmaking. A father-and-son duo from Denmark launched an ambitious Super 8 camera last year dubbed the Logmar S8 aimed for pro shooters.

Follow PDN’s CES 2016 coverage here.

 

December 31st, 2015

Great Photo and Filmmaking Reads for Your First 2016 Weekend

Michael Beckwith | Flickr

Michael Beckwith | Flickr

 

As we look forward to the new year, we’ve gathered up several good reads from around the web that caught our eye this week. Happy New Year!

The Best Photojournalism of 2015: How the Images Were MadeThe Guardian

What the Revenant Producer Tells First Time FilmmakersIndieWire

The Future of Computational PhotographyLens

An Honest Look at Rejection for FilmmakersShoHawk

How Photography and Science Grow Hand-in-HandFinancial Times

The Tech That Will Shape How You Work in 2016Rangefinder

See past Weekend Reads here.

 

December 29th, 2015

The Bestselling Item in Amazon’s Camera Department During the Holidays Was Film

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That’s right.

Amazon has released its holiday sales recap, filled with fun facts like: “customers purchased enough women’s boots this holiday season that, if stacked on top of each other, they would be high enough to reach the orbit of the International Space Station” and “during Cyber Monday, Amazon.com customers purchased one Adele CD every three seconds.”

Just as dramatic, a pack of film took top honors in the camera department. Fujifilm’s INSTAX Mini Instant Film Twin Pack – White was the top seller, followed by the GoPro Hero4 Silver and a head strap for the GoPro.

It’s a fairly striking dichotomy and further proof, if it was needed, that film is not dead.

Read More:

Meet the FilmToaster, Like No Film Scanner You’ve Seen

Surprise: People Really Want Instant Film Cameras

Inside the Mind of a Film Shooter Today

 

December 28th, 2015

Vincent Laforet Talks AIR

If anyone attended the PhotoPlus Show this past October, they would have had a chance to catch photographer and filmmaker Vincent Laforet discuss his well-publicized AIR project, a series of high altitude photographs of cities around the world.

In this TedX talk, Laforet explores the origin, execution and the images of the AIR project. Interestingly, Laforet explains how these aerial images would not have looked the same even 10 years earlier not simply because of the inevitable urban construction, but advances in LED lighting, which have changed the wavelength of our light pollution.

 

Via Imaging Resource

Read More:

Step Into Photo History: Inside Kodak’s Tech Vault

The Hidden History of the Zoom Lens in Film & History

This Software Promises to Make Cheap Lenses Awesome

December 18th, 2015

Great Photography and Filmmaking Reads for Your Weekend

Daniel Go | Flickr

Daniel Go | Flickr

Here’s a selection of interesting reads curated by PDN‘s editorial staff for your weekend of leisure and contemplation:

How NFL Films Caught Up With the Digital AgeWired

Immersive Story Telling Beyond the Single ScreenPDN

I Am Gary Smith and This Is Why I Shoot FilmEmulsive

Serious Play: Using Instagram for Art – New York Times Magazine

The Tri-X Factor Intelligent Life

The Young Photojournalists Taking the News to the StreetsDazed

How Chase Jarvis and Jeremy Cowart Are Using Periscope – Rangefinder

 

December 14th, 2015

Vimeo Launches Wider 4K Streaming

vimeo-logo

The online video service Vimeo will broaden access to 4K videos hosted on its site. Vimeo originally launched 4K streaming and downloading for select users earlier this year, but according to Variety, the service will make 4K videos available to all its users by the first quarter of 2016.

Central to Vimeo’s 4K efforts is the use of a technology called adaptive bit rate streaming, which measures a user’s available bandwidth on a continuous basis and adjusts streaming video quality accordingly. If a user’s bandwidth is limited, Vimeo will automatically adjust and send a lower-quality stream (rather than buffer the video) and will dynamically increase the quality of the stream when bandwidth conditions improve.

Adaptive streaming is used by YouTube, Netflix and other streaming video services but Vimeo is a late adopter.

Vimeo is also evaluating whether to automatically send a viewer the highest quality video based on their bandwidth, whether or not they manually select that option.

Read More:

Here’s the First Footage from the RED Raven

Why Quentin Tarantino Shot the Widest Format Film There Is

Watch a Film Camera and Lens Become Art

 

December 4th, 2015

Why Quentin Tarantino Shot the Widest Format Film There Is

Photographers and filmmakers know the value of using wide angle lenses to soak up an impressive background.

But there’s wide and then there’s Panavision’s Ultra 70mm, the widest cinema format there is (aspect ratio: 2.76:1). It’s been used in only a handful of films, including some famous Hollywood epics like Ben Hur, and it’s been decades since anyone’s taken up the mantle of 70mm ultra-wide filmmaking

That will change this winter with the release of Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight, which is the first film since 1966 to be shot in Ultra Panavision 70.

In the video below, Tarantino, along with his director of photography Robert Richardson, describe the thought process behind how, and why, they decided to resurrect decades-old tech for the film (some of the lenses hadn’t seen light since the 1960s).

Tarantino has been a strong advocate for keeping the “film” in filmmaking. In 2014, he was part of a group of high profile directors that successfully lobbied Kodak to continue making 35mm motion picture film.

 

August 26th, 2015

(Instant) Film Is Not Dead: Fujifilm Sees Strong Sales of Instax Cameras

Just last month, we noted how Fujifilm was putting a number of films on the chopping block. But according to an investor presentation, the company is still doing a brisk business in instant cameras.

Screen Shot 2015-08-26 at 7.41.02 AM

What accounts for the rise in sales? According to Fuji, it’s thanks to young girls ages 10-20, who grew up in the digital age and see making instant prints as a “fresh experience.”

Whether they will continue to do so in the future remains to be seen, but those still using film appear to be having fun, so it’s bound to endure a bit longer.

(Via Imaging Resource)