2012: What’s In Store for The Filmmaking 99 Percent

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When I watch a documentary these days, it’s usually on TV or on a DVD, and it’s rare that I can tell what kind of camera was used. That’s a good thing. Technology has become so accessible that the cost of your toys doesn’t necessarily matter, and have decidedly taken a back seat to storytelling acumen.

Independent filmmaking has been a struggle between a tiny percentage of well-funded filmmakers using all the wealth at their disposal and the filmmaking 99 percenters using all the credit lines at their disposal. They may have talent and ambition, but little money. They string together projects from thin funding, or self-funding, or they use their documentary work as a loss leader that serves as a calling card for corporate gigs or work in advertising.

Canon EOS 5D Mark II

The Canon EOS 5D Mark II can be
credited with bringing high quality video
to documentarians with a modest budget.

But, it seems, every time the masses find a way into the game, the game changes.

The most significant change to documentary filmmaking in the last decade was the rise of programs, such as Apple’s Final Cut, that brought editing work out of the rented post-production facility and onto one’s desktop, then laptop. But right up there were the development of HDV — the so-called “poor man’s HD” — and the sudden arrival of Canon’s EOS 5D Mark II, which put in the hands of people of modest means a camera they could use to make serious films.

Before those products arrived, most people were shooting on Mini-DV cameras like the Canon XL1 and the Panasonic DVX100. Any viewer could tell the difference.

But as we enter 2012, the gap is widening, with the manufacturers themselves ramping back up to more-costly offerings. In the past year, the long-awaited arrival of big-sensor camcorders that would overtake video-shooting DSLRs came at a disappointingly hefty price. The Canon C300 ($20,000), Sony’s PMW-F3 ($14,000), and the new RED Scarlet-X ($18,000) have not created the answer, but rather a carrot-and-stick conundrum: How far you can stretch your budget for definably better results? All of these camcorders deliver better quality, but in my opinion not so much that it’s readily apparent to most viewers. In the end, the HDSLR was not obsoleted in 2011, and so 2012 begins with rumors of what’s next.

The 2012 product season, highlighted by Photokina and NAB, thrills the equipment freaks but leaves many holding their breath. What’s next that will obsolete the equipment you own, and that you’re still paying off? For what it’s worth:

  • With the Canon EOS 1DX body announced already at $6,800 (and therefore implausible for most), the biggest talk is of a Canon EOS 5D Mark III, which rumors alternately say will and won’t have a huge leap in megapixels, and which will likely have far better audio capabilities and functions that are already in use by people who’ve downloaded the third-party Magic Lantern hack.
  • The anticipated update to Canon’s EOS 7D is for upgraded megapixels and improved features such as higher ISO. We’ll see.
  • A 3-D HDSLR? It seems that may be the way things go. And then add into that the new infatuation with using side-by-side cameras to create High Dynamic Range, and it seems those could work somehow.
  • Sony may announce a full-frame DSLR, according to some sources. Nikon seems, as always, to lag.
  • Magic Lantern is readying its “Unified Edition” for the Canon 5D, providing the features already in its 550D/T2i, 60D, 600D/T3i, 500D/T1i and 50D models. This free download vastly improves the ability of the camera, and the unified edition stretches it across all models except the apparently impenetrable 7D, which for that reason is falling out of favor with many DSLR filmmakers.

In short, the rumor mills are not looking at anything remarkably different for the lower-budget documentary filmmaker. And that’s good news in that everyone is not going to have to rush out to do an unwanted upgrade just to stay in the game. With HDSLR and even HDV documentaries having found their place in top festivals, broadcast and even Academy Award considerations, lower-budget filmmakers have not yet been priced out of the game.

“99 Percenter” Kurt Lancaster‘s take on that other 99 Percent, shot with a Canon 5D Mark II.

Edward J. Delaney
Edward J. Delaney
Edward J. Delaney is a journalist, author, filmmaker and editor of DocumentaryTech, an online project that explores documentary filmmaking techniques and technology.
  • Jesse

    Wait, so the Canon 7D is falling out of favor with filmmakers? Well, dang, I just bought one. Curses, I wish I had known, now I’m worried my stuff will look like crap.

  • Anonymous


    The 7D is a wonderful camera, and its video looks great.
    The reason it’s less favorable is because it won’t accept Magic Lantern,
    which helps with audio, with focus, and with fine-tuning of things like
    iso and bit rate. I have both a 7D and a T2i with ML. I find I use the
    latter more for run-and-gun because the peaking function is great for my
    tired eyes, and ML allows you to set audio input levels to work better
    with a mic like a Rode Videomic Pro. With the 7D I record audio
    separately with a Zoom h4n. But the 7D is, by all means, a very good


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  • Charlessanson

    I hate to admit my ignorance, what is ML….for the T2i

    • Anonymous

      Magic Lantern – sorry.

  • Sasebone

     Several idiots on my Facebook believe what they saw and the same nasty book this fella wrote.  I am surprised at educated people who swallow this and negative email forwards and never really do their homework before speaking or posting more of this crap on their Facebook.  Has America gone mad? 

    • Jo

      Yes America has gone mad.  Specifically–in November of 2008.  Thanks for asking.  

    • jay b

      What i dont understand is Obama has two young daughters who will probably get married and have children of thier own and they will have some too who will continue to live in this country under whatever it remains or becomes from this administration now why would mr Obama tear down a country that his girls will remain in living and working going to school in ect ?.now if Obama takes his family and moves out of the country to somewhere else i can see mabey all these fairy tales in this movie making sense,i just dont believe all the hype about this guy now if he turns out to be the anti -christ ill be the first to admit i was wrong about him! but this movie has been proven to have muddy facts that have been fact checked ,its amazing to me how seemingly smart people cant seen to engage in critical analisis and deductive reasoning and check this stuff out instead of going to some movie made by a 3rd paty and say OMG he said it so it MUST be true lol! well whoever wins nothings really going to change as long as presidental candidates are lawyers and millionares and have vested interest in companies that these policys affect and special interest and big oil and other compaies are in thier back pocket influencing thier vote on things NOTHING will ever change and the regular American peole will be the ones that suffer…….

      • Punjab

        You said, “well whoever wins nothings really going to change as long as presidental candidates are lawyers and millionares and have vested interest in companies that these policys affect and special interest and big oil and other compaies are in thier back pocket influencing thier vote on things NOTHING will ever change and the regular American peole will be the ones that suffer…….”

        With at least that much of your post, I agree completely. Don’t know about the rest either way. Both sides are experienced in the art of argumentative deception.

  • Pastorgwg


  • Arthur_wright

    Empty cans rattle the loudest… I guess that is why democrats always have so much to say!

  • Tinamariegrubb

    Anyone who is affraid because of this theoretic horse crap is the one that needs to see a doctor

  • pjhowell1954

    Saw the movie last night and left depressed, because I knew you left wing liberals would claim it’s untrue!  You need to watch Fox News to get the fair and balanced truth!!  They are so fair and balanced there really is no voice on TV that balances out the throngs of liberal “talking heads”!  I miss Glenn Beck on TV!!!  Find him at video.theblaze.com

  • Guest

    I saw 2016.  It supported what I had already learned about Obama when he was running for president.  Anyone paying attention with half a brain could pick up the things that are not right about this president.  It made perfect sense for D’Souza to leave the scene with Obama’s half brother in the film.  Obama’s half brother had a normal view of the world which showed the contrast between him and Obama.  He said, “Obama has his own family to take care of.  He also made the interesting observation that those countries who were under the rule of Britain the longest, fared better economically and socially than countries who rebelled earlier.  I’ve never heard that assessment anywhere else.  You watched the movie with such a strong liberal bias and expectation that every scene must be tailored to bash the president, that you missed the point of that clip entirely.  You even openly admit that you don’t understand why the scene was left in the film at all.  You expected D’Souza to do what liberals do.  If some piece of information comes along that can’t twisted to fit their agenda, they leave it out entirely.  My case in point:  watch how information is presented by the parade of idiots on MSNBC.  If that’s not enough, how about the lie being spread that Mitt Romney said, “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt”.  Romney never said that.  The New York Times slapped that headline on an op ed piece Romney provided when asked to comment on the failing auto industry in Detroit.  The libs are quoting the NY Times headline, not Romney.  If anyone has not seen the movie 2016, please see it and decide for yourself.  I found it very worthwile.

    • Punjab


  • Jon.C

    Actor Jon Voight is correct when he said that there is a  strong liberal bias in the American media. Case in point, read the above. It has become so transparent to anyone who pays attention. And that is why Obama will not win the next ellection. The medias influence has lost much of its power because of its blatantly obvious bias for all things Democrat.

  • Doc Soup Man

    Thanks for the comments folks, but could someone address the main premise of the movie, “2016: Obama’s America,” as well as my response to it: that Obama is an anti-colonialist and anti-American who is purposefully gutting our country and propping up others in an attempt to destroy the American Empire. Do you actually believe he is willfully (or subconsciously, to appease his deceased father) doing this? Do you actually believe that D’Souza believes this?

    • Singerburch

      Yes and yes. Obama’s words, Obama’s actions.

  • omelight

    Tom, what kind of ugly water did you drink?  You certainly brought out the vile Rubignican nut heads…

  • http://www.facebook.com/deborah.naert Deborah Naert

    Bo is a far left secular progressive… anyone that thinks this guy is interested in your welfare better get some brains quick… He is on a power trip and has no ambition to help anyone but himself… DON’T listen to what he says………… WATCH WHAT HE DOES!   

    • afkjna

      Bo the dog?! I can’t believe it?!

  • Rpdawg

    2016 explains and shares what the liberal media hides and distorts.  The writing’s on the wall. obama doesn’t believe in Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness (the American Dream).  Bogus Collectivism and Income Redistribution is his style.  What ever happened to Rugged Individualism, and Self Reliance?

  • Rpdawg

    By the way Eric Nelson…..”forword” is a well know marxist slogan.

  • Dumbass tom

    HAHAHA TOM ROSTON you fell out of the stupid tree you stupid f*ck…. I would love to run into you somewhere.

  • http://www.onchannel.net/ Amalia Dragutzza

    i remmeber i saw this movie on http://www.onchannel.net/58846-2016-obamas-america-2012.html

    to be honest i really liked the documentary and hope it can be watched by everyone, this way it all can be understood better.

  • Disappointed With Obama

    Correction – streaming on Hulu Plus.

  • Donaldrr18

    Explain again how this president s moving the U.S. forward. With a 16 TRILLION dollar debt your direction may be about 180 degrees off.

  • Punjab

    Muwhahahahaha! WOW! That must have hurt. Let’s see, the country is nearly split down the middle with opinions of differing standpoints. Yet, the media outlets are an almost one-sided, landslide in favor of the liberals. So, how is it, with only ONE, major, media outlet in this country, in favor of the conservatives, that we find ourselves in an ALMOST even deadlock? It doesn’t strike you as odd? Who REALLY needs to step back and take a look at what is going on. I favor no party in this country. Yet, I find it incredulous that people believe that our country is recovering. Though this response is not a timely one, it holds true. You actually had even less of a reason to be praising Obama when he was re-elected. He has accomplished almost nothing for our nation. He and his parties numbers suck in relation to the economy and well-being of our fellow citizens. Now that Obama’s Sequester is in place, what have you to say for yourself? He was the one who established it, and utilized it as a leverage tool. Then, he tried to denounce it and label it a creation of the opposition, so it would look like the conservatives were behind the dismantling of his favored social programs. Even that failed, as the sequester arrived. And, now what? Nothing. I laugh at you and all who are unable to look at our politicians and call them out for the lousy, perpetrators of douchebaggery that they are. You Eric Nelson, are one such citizen, who has been buffooned.

  • Punjab

    OMG? Does that stand for “Obama Must Go”? ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. If it does, you’re right. Unfortunately, this response, post-dates one of the saddest moments of our great nation’s history; his re-election.

  • Punjab

    The US does not have a fair and balanced media outlet, PERIOD.