The documentary feature film project this website is based around – working title They Called Him Mr B – is now in development. The media production landscape in Australia has changed radically now and traditional funding and commissioning practices appear to be at a standstill with the viability of the public broadcasters and funding bodies under severe threat. They may never be viable again. Certainties have become quicksand.
The story of Mr B remains an important, crucial one to tell despite that, in fact even more so than ever. The younger members of my extended family, I am told, have little to no idea what my Uncle Brian accomplished on behalf of our family and the people of Papua New Guinea. All the lessons of his achievements are about to be lost forever. Nobody, it appears, in Australia knows who he is or what he did. And our family may well never know itself in the way that we deserve.
These are difficult times without guideposts of any kind. Mr B should have been one of them and the opportunity to tell these interwoven stories must not be let slip into the vacuum. Audio-visual storytelling must not become the sole province of those born with means and connections.
The world of digital cinema production never sleeps so you can expect some Tech Talk blog items as well as news ands views about the challenges facing female movie directors everywhere, until the pre-production phase of They Called Him Mr B kicks in by whatever means possible.
POV – the documentary films arm of US public broadcaster PBS – has published a very useful infographic that surveys current trends in the hardware (and software) used to produce documentaries.
The first, pre-ordered shipment of Digital Bolex D16 documentary video cameras goes out this week according to the development team. The camera attempts to combine the best of the old with the best of the new – a human-friendly shape and size that does not demand expensive, clunky rigging in order to be able to hand-hold it fused with high quality video sensor and amazing audio recording abilities.
The D16’s raw video files will likely demand plenty of processing power in the computers used to edit them but Apple is showing good timing by releasing its new Mac Pro computers sometime this month.
Meanwhile this Mac Book Pro is showing its age and is struggling with high res movie files and photographs for that matter. Time to add an SSD drive and more RAM to extend its usable life and consider a Retina Mac Book Pro too? Then there is the ever-present need for yet more storage space as well as archival-quality tape-based back-ups. Media files, especially raw files, consume massive amounts of storage and multiple redundancies are a must.
The Digital Bolex team is now taking pre-orders for the next 500 cameras in its production run.
As the Digital Bolex team points out on its Digital Cinema page:
Current digital cinema cameras on the market cost tens of thousands of dollars, priced to be inaccessible to most independent filmmakers working within lower budgets. The Digital Bolex is the first digital cinema camera designed with independent filmmakers in mind.
Producing an affordable, easily hand-held camera that records raw digital negatives instead of compressed video files is a remarkable achievement by the Digital Bolex team. Let’s hope the arrival of the D16 stimulates other camera makers to think different.
We actually have a Bolex camera by the way, a Paillard-Bolex B-8 8mm cine camera from 1953, the year before Mr B flew to PNG. Even this cheapest of Bolex cine cameras is well engineered and well made, setting a fine example for the Digital Bolex design and production people.