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Bokeh Porn*

I was just reading the Prolost Blog when I came across this article. I've been feeling this for a long time now and it is time to vent.

So you have your new Canon EOS 5D Mk2, or even more recently a lovely Canon EOS 7D. All of a sudden a whole new world is open to you. You can now take gorgeous stills photos, even in really difficult light with hardly any noise at high ISO. You now have the tools to take your stills photography to another level.

Unfortunately you won't. And the reason that you won't is because you'll be too busy switching the camera into movie mode and be tempted to make a "test video" to upload to Vimeo or Exposure Room. Once you've made one test video you'll then make another, and another... and another. You'll cover such important subjects as 'a person eating a lollipop in a park' and 'old man gazes into the lens while sitting motionless on a park bench'. You'll put copyrighted music over the top that you downloaded from iTunes and somehow get away with it. Yes you too can join the ranks of people who look really rather silly with their DSLR's on a Zacuto rig that costs more than the camera itself.

What makes everyone coo at your amazing 'test videos'? Well, the fact that everything except for the tips of peoples noses is out of focus of course! Wow! Now Steven Speilberg will come knocking on your door!

Let me ask you something. When was the last freakin' time you watched a film at the cinema when every shot, and I mean EVERY SHOT had extremely shallow depth of field? Never, that's when. In fact many 35mm filmmakers aim for DEEP depth of field.

The trouble at the moment is that an entire industry appears to have built up around 'test films' on Vimeo. No narrative, nothing useful to say, just camera tests with shallow depth of field. Take away the shallow depth of field and the Magic Bullet filter preset and more often than not you are left with a dull, lifeless composition that wouldn't pass muster at the local after school camera club.

But you see the trouble is that making something with a true narrative takes a number of things.

  • Money
  • Time
  • Narrative skill
  • Editing skill
  • A proper crew. Which costs money.

So instead we get test films. Over and over again. Want to make that film you've always dreamed of? You know, the one about picking your nasal hair from your nose? Well now you have a valid outlet. Get yourself a Canon 5D and everyone can now enjoy your crusty snot covered shallow depth of field nasal hair being pulled from its roots in glorious high definition to the sound of Pink Floyd's "Brick In The Wall".

In fact a whole new career is waiting for you, and you can then go on to teach others how to make their own 'test films' and become a shallow depth of field God.

Never mind that these cameras are a total pig to use in video mode. Never mind that once you have bought a Zacuto rig your once 'cheap 35mm capable' video camera now costs the same as an EX3. Never mind that the picture is full to the rafters with aliasing artifacts that makes any detail finer than a drain pipe look like razzle dazzle dust. Nope, all of that is irrelevant because you can make your films with shallow depth of field.

I do of course realise that I will now be accused of being old fashioned. How I should now 'get with the program' because the new revolution is coming. And how there have been many high quality narrative films shot with the 5D. With regard to the latter, please do show me a really good narrative film shot ENTIRELY on the 5D that uses depth of field as a tool, not a crutch. Even if there is such a movie, a quick tot up of the statistics shows that the number of 'test films' far, far outweighs the number of useful narratives shot with such cameras.

Look, lets just end this whole cycle of useless montage movies. The internet has precious little bandwidth left, and filling it up with that crud just doesn't help anyone.

*Thanks to Stu Maschwitz of the Pro Lost blog for that term!

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