Digital technology material to Apteker's new film - TechCentral

Digital technology material to Apteker’s new film

Ronnie Apteker

Movie making has changed dramatically in the past decade, as Ronnie Apteker, the energetic founder of Internet Solutions and now a keen filmmaker, can attest.

Apteker is currently involved in shooting Material, a film that loosely documents the life of medical doctor turned comedian Riaad Moosa.

The production is using the latest digital technology. There’s even a “data wrangler” on set, in the form of one Chris Harvey, who ensures the smooth operation of the tech.

The set, located next to the Oriental Plaza in downtown Johannesburg, is an unlikely location for cutting-edge filmmaking technology. But Apteker, who is part financing the film and helping produce it, says the technology being employed by the crew is “world class”.

According to Harvey, Material is being shot on Arri Alexa digital movie cameras in a format called Log C, which gives the producers and editors the full dynamic range of the cameras’ sensors. Files are stored and lightly compressed in the 12-bit ProRes format.

The ever-falling cost of storage has made life easier — and a bit cheaper — to shoot using digital rather than film cameras. Harvey estimates that the editing team will have as much as 16TB of raw footage in high-definition with which to work. That excludes backups, which are done in triplicate.

Shoots can be transferred directly to the editing suite from five 32GB memory cards. Editing is done in Final Cut Studio, the advanced video-editing suite from Apple.

Apteker says digital technology has advanced to the point where it’s virtually impossible to tell the difference between movies shot digitally and those shot on film.

“There is perhaps more romanticism with film,” he says. “Digital may be a little more clinical, but it’s fast taking over. It allows you to shoot without thinking of the costs of shooting with film. And we can be editing material within seconds of shooting it.”

TechCentral interview with Apteker (via YouTube):

The shoot for Material is taking place over 24 days, and will be wrapped up on 10 April. A two- to four-month editing process will then follow.

Apteker, who is also an occasional stand-up comic, first had the idea to shoot a movie about Moosa in 2004. It’s the tenth film in which he’s been involved. He’s backing it financially, together with two other investors who want to remain private. The film’s budget is just US$1m. “It’s frugal,” he says, “but we are not short of anything technically.”  — Duncan McLeod, TechCentral

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