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Jingtian Wang

What's the Next Industry Trend That Will Stay

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Hi all,

I recently had a conversation with a friend about industry trend, that’s when I noticed how many new trends we are experiencing now; large format, high resolution, rise of Indy productions etc.

My question is, what do you think will be the next big thing that sticks in the industry? Large format,high resolution, high frame rate, vfx (I know vfx is here to stay, what I mean here is if it will takeover traditional cinematography), smaller crew/production/budget films, virtual reality/360 video or any other thing I couldn’t think of. And why?

Keep it to existing technology please.

Jing

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the large format and anamorphic trend after the 3D is not a new thing at all, it has happened multiple times in the past. People are all into 3D for a short time and when it fails they will go to large format and anamorphic again. It is a cycle which seems to happen once per every generation I think. This is maybe the fourth time it is happening again...?

anyway, I think at least the VFX thing has come to stay... that is because the market is nowadays dominated with endless sequels and remakes and adaptations of existing material (for example the Disney remakes with talking CG animals, the Marvel adaptations and sequels with lots of vfx, all the book adaptations etc.) and there is relatively small amount of completely new fresh content. almost every film nowadays seems to be a remake or based on a bestseller or a comic book series. It is much safer to finance that kind of content than to try to invent something new which has never been seen before and which needs to be rebranded.... (compared to for example to those Disney remakes where they mostly seem to pretty much copy the original hand drawn characters 1:1 and replace them with talking CG animals. no need to even compose new music for the movie because you can just use the old songs and everything. you can recycle the whole script as well, just let the current big name actors to read the character lines again and you're done :P )  

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I think it will be FF sensors in video camera,s.. already alot of FF cine lenses out there.. is it needed ,probably not but it will be a way to sell camera,s.. they will probably have a s35mm crop mode too.. 

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What will the next technology trend be in the film industry? If anyone knew the answer, they would become filthy rich!

Hopefully I can strike it big!

  • Dual Native ISO's. Started by Panasonic, now embraced by Sony and Red. Will ARRI and Canon follow suit?
  • New standard lens mount. ARRI introduced the LPL which has a wider diameter (64mm) and shorter focal flange distance (44mm). However, I don't think this mount does enough. A focal flange of 20mm would be more ideal for the ability to mount focal reducers (Metabones for example) and will open up the ability to mount any lens from history. The L-Mount from Leica is being adopted by Panasonic and has that short focal flange (20mm), but it's diameter is 51.6mm. Judging by these two mounts, someone is going to make a mount that is a happy medium.
  • Sharp LED's. Right now, people gush about RGB LED's and units with larger and larger panels. But what happened to the single source light? Seldom do DP's light everything with soft light and there is a severe lack in quality Fresnel/Ellipsoidal/PAR LED's that match the versatility and color fidelity of Sky Panel/Quasar/DS/etc.
  • Punchy LED's. By punchy, I mean bright. An LED light that has the same output and size of a Joker 1600 with the same color fidelity as a Sky Panel? Ooooo boy, sign me up.
  • ACES. It's chugging along and people are adopting this wonderful way to standardize the color grade. The sooner DP's and colorists embrace this, the better the technology will grow and our industry will largely benefit from it.
  • Archival Replacement. Currently, the only sure fire way to guarantee archival of a movie for at least 100 years is printing it to 4 perf 35mm film. However, film prints take up a lot of space, are bad for the environment, and are still prone to being the only copy of something if god forbid the building burns down. (See Universal Studios fire destroying recordings). If anyone can figure out a way for digital archival that has continuous back-up and backwards compatibility with the numerous ways a film can be recorded all while making it viewable decades and centuries from now, then they'll be doing a service to humanity.
    • Side note: ACES is attempting to do this via color science. Its the physical storage that's tripping everyone up
  • HDR Camera. I dabbled with this in college, but couldn't get through the R&D phase. Anyone who can create an HDR process on production and in post will introduce the world to a camera with the quality of the human eye.
    • What do I mean? Take the 3D rigs we saw in the late 2000's and early 2010's. They mount two cameras and use a beam splitter to project the image onto two "eyes". One could utilize this method to record the same exact image onto two camera's, but one is over exposed by 5 stops and the other underexposed by 5. In post, you then use a program that combines the two images into an HDR image (the overlap in exposures combine together, filling in the gaps from the over/under exposure) and voila! You've got an image with 10 more stops of dynamic range.
    • The above process is crude, so if a camera company simplifies the process into the camera body, with only one lens, and minimal software, then they'll have THE most desirable camera.

What about other industry trends? Here I go!

  • Fewer Studio Films. Already taking place, but the studios are going to put out less and less movies and focus more on blockbuster budget films. Don't believe me? Compare the amount of movies released by all studios this year (2019) to ten years ago (2009).
    • AMC is already trying to combat this by introducing the AMC Artisan Films program to encourage lesser known movies.
  • Movie Theatre Subscription. Started by Movie Pass and carried on by AMC. Where MP failed, AMC succeeded and continues to run their program to this date. Now Regal is getting in on the action while Cinemark has already been doing it.
    • It's actually a viable option for theatres to introduce a subscription model. Those who do use the programs are MORE likely to watch a movie than before and are MORE likely to buy concessions. Holy poop, it worked!
  • Industry Wide Strike. The WGA is currently making the news, but the growing anger over the working conditions in the film industry will reach a tipping point. Soon? Not sure, but movements like WDMV (https://www.wedirectmusicvideos.com/) and the shouldn't-be-forgotten beef between Haskell Wexler and 600 should be indicators that something is on the horizon.
  • Gig Economy Rules. For those who work in the US, most early gigs and non-union jobs don't use a payroll company and instead pay via check and classify their cast/crew as contractors. We've gotten used to saving money from our checks for taxes later in the year, but a bill working through California to address Uber/Lyft drivers will actually directly affect non-union cast/crew. (https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2019/5/30/18642535/california-ab5-misclassify-employees-contractors)
    • But I don't live in California! You better keep an eye on this, because Uber/Lyft will fight this bill up to the Supreme Court and the decision WILL affect you
  • Vertical Video Will Live. Instagram TV and Snapchat are already releasing content shot in 9:16. Think it sucks? Cool, that means more work for others.

What do I think SHOULD be a trend?

  • Animation DP's should get recognition. Sharon Calahan, ASC is a great start, but there are so many more people who do amazing cinematography in animated films.
  • Stunts Oscar Category. WHAT A GREAT WAY TO IMPROVE RATINGS ON THE OSCARS BY HONORING STUNTS IN FILMS.

Just my thoughts! I'll check this post in 10 years to see if I got anything right. 🙂

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2 hours ago, AJ Young said:

Animation DP's should get recognition. Sharon Calahan, ASC is a great start, but there are so many more people who do amazing cinematography in animated films.

DoP for animation is an interesting test of one's creativity. I've done it maybe 6 times for 3D shorts and the concept of 1 light and 100 lights costing the same budget really opens the gates.

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The WGA / ATA mess surrounding packaging fees is a huge turning point.  This has nothing to do with technology and I don't mean to hijack the thread but AJ touched on it briefly above with WDMV.  Many in film behind the scenes are unaware of the development process and how it's been tightly controlled by a cartel of sorts among the talent agencies who have been in bed with all the major studios networks and platforms for decades. Cutting all kinds of deals with them packaging shows and films in exchange for keeping costs down for the very clients they are supposed to represent.  It affects everyone from writers to showrunners and producers. 

Many distributors now won't look at any pitches or packages that don't come from the top 5.  You often can't get meetings at HBO or Netflix without someone from the top 5 in your corner. Unless you're a name or known person in the business.  We think of "gatekeepers" as development execs but it would seem it's really the agencies who are creating the biggest barrier by keeping producers from being able to reach talent and walling off networks and studios from anyone trying to break in and create something without an agency getting the lions share of the profits.

This kind of systemic corruption has poisoned the industry for a while.  It's only recently become more widely known because of the WGA standing up publicly against it.  Where it's going, who knows but hopefully we'll see a system that is more equitable and fair to the actual creators.  Platforms and network earnings have gone through the roof while writer salaries have gone down.  Doesn't make any sense why this should be taking place other than pure greed.

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Yeah the whole packaging thing is a problem. Whats the point of an Agent if they make more money off the package? At that point they don't look out for your interests. I think the WGA action is overdue but they won't be able to force any change on their own. If the DGA and SAG et al joined the dispute, you'd get a bit more movement. I'm surprised they haven't already packaging potential limits the options of all film creatives not just writers.

Ooops sorry are we supposed to be talking about film technology?

Films in vertical/portrait ratios - they are starting to creep in already. Since we consume more and more media on small devices I think the instagram friendly ratios are going to be around for awhile. Also a portrait formatted cinema screen could have the cool looming over you effect you use to have when you entered a real IMAX theatre 

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I think situation around WGA/ATA is completely on topic for us because the outcomes will directly affect DP's. If this becomes a new normal for agencies, what's stopping the agents for DP's from doing the same?

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15 minutes ago, AJ Young said:

I think situation around WGA/ATA is completely on topic for us because the outcomes will directly affect DP's. If this becomes a new normal for agencies, what's stopping the agents for DP's from doing the same?

I fully agree with this, from what i read from the internet and this forum, the whole packaging deal and more and more production companies taking their DPs in house. It feels like we are heading to a studio hierarchy mkii. And if that's the case, what's to stop production companies slashing union rates by half and stop hiring union members to force them out of business.

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2 minutes ago, Jingtian Wang said:

And if that's the case, what's to stop production companies slashing union rates by half and stop hiring union members to force them out of business.

What will stop them will be the union. Haha

One thing that won't change with IATSE are union rates being slashed and union members being forced out of the business.

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