“Life moves pretty fast” Ferris Bueller said that, but then we know from his escapades that he’s a serial liar – so instead how about two people who we know tell the truth: Simon and Garfunkel? “Slow down you move too fast” that’s the opening line/piece of guidance from The 59th Bridge Street Song (Feeling Groovy) and as with much of their work it’s sage advice (they also do parsley, rosemary and thyme advice) from a couple of guys who know a thing or two about living. The point they (other popular culture references are available) were making is that we could all do to slow down a bit – slowing down helps you see things differently, things that were familiar become new again and all with a certain clarity. It’s great advice for life – and for filmmaking too.
We’ve always enjoyed using slow motion in our films – where appropriate obviously, you can’t just throw it in in the middle of a set of talking heads, that would be peculiar. It’s great because slow-mo can make everyday movements appear balletic, the technique adds a grace and artistry to almost anything, no matter how ordinary. It’s something we’ve used to great effect in our recent work for a large professional services firm and previously for Samsung in films about the Galaxy S6. It helped make them look amazing.
The thing is though that you don’t have to go back very far to get to a point where true slow motion would have been way beyond our capabilities – the technology has been around for a long time but up until very recently was prohibitively expensive and only available to those with a very high budget. We could shoot at 60 frames per second, which certainly isn’t bad, but anything beyond that was just wishful thinking. Today though your average phone can shoot HD footage at 240 fps and affordable cameras are breaking the 1000 fps mark – that is extreme slow motion, and with it comes beautiful results that you can do a huge amount with. It adds an extra quality to our work and adds value for our clients. What’s not to love?
Our being able to offer this service is not unique, it’s all part of a wider democratization of filmmaking that’s been made possible by the incredible technological revolution we’re experiencing. Films that once would have cost hundreds of thousands of pounds or dollars can now be made on a virtual shoestring. HD cameras have dropped from tens of thousands to hundreds; an edit suite once required a specialist set up and a hefty budget but now it can be done on location on a shop bought laptop; getting aerial shots used to cost a fortune in helicopter hire but thanks to drones, kids are using them in their home movies. There’s no doubt that technology has changed the world of filmmaking forever. Literally anybody can now capture and edit high quality, high definition footage for an incredibly low budget.
Which is bad news for people who make their living doing it, right?
Well, what democratization brings with it is meritocracy. It used to be the case that only a handful of companies could handle and deliver epic, impressive shoots – now that there are hundreds, all with access to the same technology at the same budget, the marketplace is more competitive and only the very best practitioners will thrive. The differentiator is the people. The companies that have the most skilled, most visionary, most creative people will continue to land the best jobs and deliver the best results. We’ve always had those people, and now that we finally have the technological capability to match we’re going from strength to strength.
But slow. We’re taking it slow.