The Birth of Hand Held Camera and How It Revolutionized the Way We Film
It’s hard to imagine that until 1960, the only way to film and record sound simultaneously was with big bulky cameras on tripods and massive sound systems. “The Camera That Changed the World” tells the story of the two teams of filmmakers -one in America and one in France- who tried to find a way to film with less constrain, ultimately giving birth to the hand held camera system and opening a door that would radically change how we tell stories. (mentorless regular readers will recognize Richard Leacock as one of the filmmaker who helped changed the course of history.)
French ethnographer Jean Rouch, was the first to shoot a film with a hand held camera, Moi Un Noir, in 1958. Rouch, considered a pioneer, triggered this visual revolution by favoring a small amateur camera – a 16mm- against the big bulky professional camera in use at the time to shoot anything professional. That choice allowed him to be mobile and capture life the way he saw fit for his documentary. That thought process is quite similar to what led indie filmmakers few years ago to use photo cameras such as DSRL to shoot feature lengths films.
But just like with the DSLRs, the 16mm cameras were originally not thought and fabricated to support such ambitions. Rouch’s biggest limitations while shooting were that he could only shoot for 20 seconds at once (Twenty seconds! All of a sudden, the 12 minute limit sounds like heaven) and that the camera system was so noisy the sound couldn’t be used in post.
Watch this one hour fascinating documentary to discover how photo-journalist Bob Drew and filmmakers Ricky Leacock (that you might remember from this) and Don Pennebaker, among others, joined forces in America, while a group of engineers lead by André Coutant and Jean-Pierre Beauviala did the same in France at the same time to find out how to overcome obstacles and fabricated the first hand-held camera.
Enjoy The Camera That Changed the World, produced and directed by Mandy Chang:
Thanks to Patrick Inhofer
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