The democratisation of (cinema-level) video production

In recent weeks, beta versions of RED’s 6K Komodo camera have been doing the rounds, appearing on YouTuber channels and being reviewed in the media.

It’s the long-held promise from RED — an affordable camera that brings its pro film capabilities into the hands of the many.

RED has dabbled in this realm before. The ill-fated Raven was going to be the 4K for $4K camera that would deliver on this promise but it was stuck in RED’s DSMC 2 ecosystem which meant that you still had to buy all of RED’s proprietary accessories to even make the thing work. Meanwhile, companies like Blackmagic Design’s poorly named Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K (BMPCC4K) and 6K (which I own) shot ahead of RED into this mid- to low-budget market. Blackmagic weren’t the only ones either — Canon, Sony, Panasonic et al as well as new players like Z Cam have blown this market wide open with digital cinema cameras at a low-cost point.

It’s forced RED to do something they have never done before — create a camera that will accept third-party accessories such as media cards. It means once you pick up just the core camera unit, you can get operational with a much cheaper outlay.

Hedony — Shot on RED Helium.

But it’s not just cameras, it’s gimbals, drones and lights too. It’s also software. The new technology is breeding a new generation of filmmakers used to keeping lean with small crews — but producing cinema-level quality.

Big budgets still equal big results for agencies looking to create marquee brand pieces for their clients — after all, you still have to spend money on what goes in front of the camera. But in the realm of digital where quantity is needed, brands can still create some incredibly high-quality pieces for a fraction of the cost of the old days.

Opera Queensland — Lakme Flower Duet — Shot on BMPCC6K

We’ve always kept it lean at LUCID. This is more a throwback to how I personally got started which was by being a one-man documentary crew shooting on a Canon 60D. At that stage, the old-school news guys were shooting on big ENG (electronic news-gathering) cameras. Their cameras were more functional and faster for daily news workflow but my little 60D produced a much better image and was better for short documentary-style pieces that didn’t have that quick turnaround.

Welcome to Country — Shot on a Mavic 2 Pro drone

It’s now a decade later and the quality of work that you see in the digital realm is quite incredible. The means of production and the means of distribution are now in the hands of the many. Companies have become their own content marketers and director/cinematographers can create the sort of content that only expensive crews with high-end rental gear could before.

The advent of the Komodo will only further this with a whole wave of smaller operators able to shoot with that beautiful RED colour science in 6K. As for the clients — it means more content at a higher standard. And the democratisation will continue.

Me — with my BMPCC6K on location on a tourism shoot in Weipa