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If I told Dr. Gregory House that his season finale will affect the world of photography and film making, he’d probably answer with some witty-yet-rude comment about my possible film maker wonnabe frustration, and go to annoy Dr. Wilson.
But strangely enough, House MD 6th season finale, aired tonight,  will be one of the most important events in the history of HDSLR filmmaking and affordable filmography as a whole. More to it, the debate that started due to the show’s  Director of Photography  decision will affect not only these markets, but could be also a game changer to the whole filmmaking and TV industry, as well for the innovative camera company RED.
The reason is simple. House MD’s season finale was not shot on film as usual, but on a $2,700 camera from Canon, 5D Mark II. And that’s pretty damn affordable, in comparison to the cost of high end cameras.
This is the story how simple cameras are changing the way stories are being told, how money is lost and gained, and how the filmmaking industry is changing forever.

The Beginning of a Revolution?

As I’ve laid out in a previous post, HDSLR, stills DSLR cameras with video capabilities, are slowly changing the world of video and film making.The ability to use a wide varity of lenses, the high quality image, portability of the cameras, and high quality sensors, sounds like an indy filmmaker dream.
Therefore it is not a huge surprise to see online forums full with enthusiasts, as well as Vimeo groups with stunning videos made on a budget. Vincent Lafouret, LA based filmmaker was one of the first people who advocated these cameras, in the best way possible: creating this stunning video:

Not too long after that Canon introduced its 7D model (which I proudly own), that introduced new key features (such as the most coveted frame rate of 24 frames per second – the same as film), in almost half the price of the 5D Mark II. And then the 550D, half the price of the 7D.

The ability to produce amazing looking videos was quickly advocated by the gear company Zacuto and Philip Bloom, a gifted video maker who contributed a lot to the community through his blog and videos explaining how to best utilize these cameras.
Even my filmmaking hero Robert Rodriguez, was caught using these cameras for some of his productions.

Money To Be Made?
Using an HDSLR camera for video requires more than just a camera. As these cameras are built for stills photography in mind, their ergonomics and features don’t answer some key needs of video makers. And where there is a void in the market, there is money to be made. A new market for support gear and rigs was born, with companies such as Zacuto and RedRock Micro leading the pack. These companies, originating mainly from the film and video industry, price their equipment accordingly. And while cameras cost less and less due to mass production, HDSLR video makers find themselves spending more money on rigs than on their camera. Still, price point of a fully equipped HDSLR camera provides amazing production value for fraction of the price of comparable equipment.

From Hobbyists to Mainstream
In the last months two important announcements changed the way HDSLR cameras are perceived:
George Lucas, the visionary filmmaker, announced that he will use 5D Mark II in his next film. We are talking about theatrical release. The real thing. With Lucas. The guy behind Star Wars.
AND Greg Yaitanes, Director of House MD, announced on Twitter that the season finale, airing tonight , was shot entirely on 5D Mark II.
These announcements have a huge impact on the HDSLR market, and filmmaking as a whole. HDSLR cameras are ready for prime time TV and feature films. And they cost a fraction of a professional HD video camera, not to mention film equipment.

Since the birth of YouTube, indy filmmakers and budget productions could easily distribute their content, but couldn’t afford to get the production value of high end films. Now they can do it.

It is all about talent now.

In the next post we’ll cover the reactions and backfire against the HDSLR movement.