The democratisation of media started a long time ago

We’ve seen so many revolutions in media.

The current HDSLR mania has allowed the great unwashed masses unfetted access to film making resources leading to an explosion in films being made.  Oh yeah.  another revolution.

I was watching the excellent BBC series, Genius of Photography.  In the second episode they document the truly revolutionary invention of George Eastman.   George literally created film.

Until film, photographs were taken using glass plates or highly polished metals like tin. By creating the simple roll of film, all of a sudden the photograph really took off.  So did George.  He started a company called Kodak.

Film meant multiple photographs could now be taken with a camera without the need to reload the camera after each shot.

Kodak’s famous phrase “you press the button and we’ll do the rest” was the arguably the first democrotisation of media.  Photography went from being the domain of an expert with specialist knowledge and expensive camera quipment to literally anyone being able to take a photograph.  And they did in their thousands.

All of a sudden the art went out of the photograph as the plebs were allowed to shoot and frame whatever the hell they wanted.  The prestige and career of professional photographers took a hit as the little kodak box brownie was put into the punters hands.  Not that it’s a bad thing mind. And really, did the art go out of the photograph, or did it just change ? Was it just claimed by the masses ?

This to me is no different to what is happening today in filmmaking.  Camera’s like the RED and the Canon 5D and it’s derivatives and enabled even more aceess for those that would have been restriced by the high entry cost of filmmaking processes.

The real question is, does it make for better films ?  Just because lots more people CAN make films, are they making films that anyone want’s to see ?

What about the other revolutions in cinema ? There was of course the RED camera.  Before that there was MiniDV, the first of the compact digital cameras.  Then there was the Dogme movement, which pretty much rode on the back of the MiniDV movement.  Before that there was French New Wave, which was also related to smaller more mobile film cameras coming onto the market….The first attempt at 3D…colour…sound !

All were revolutions brought about by an advance in the filmmaking technology.

I also think of parallels with blogging.  Everyone’s doing it, but is anyone reading all this content ?  If a blog is written does it still exist if no one actually reads it ?  I guess I better stop asking these kinds of questions given my own readership statistics !!

About johnbrawley

Director Of Photography striving to create compelling images
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2 Responses to The democratisation of media started a long time ago

  1. Ez says:

    Your blog exists. I read it.

  2. Paul says:

    These are great questions, and ones that I suspect you’ll keep coming back to… especially since I’m reading this in 2012 after you dropped a bombshell equivalent to the Kodak Brownie on everyone. 🙂 I’m happy that you were the guy that Blackmagic chose to do it.

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