Create it in post

For all my complaints about directors and producers decisions to “fix it in post” that phrase has been personally lucrative. Technology advances amaze even the most curmudgeonly of veterans. What can be done in post starts with what can be done with the camera. Replacing silver halide with digital bits has done more than streamline the recording to review process. It’s enabled more creativity in post.

An article in the current Economist Technology Quarterly considers current and future camera technology – specifically light field photography. These cameras use software to calculate each object’s position in 3D space. Current software allows the user to refocus the image in post. Depth of field can be modified as well. Today’s prototypes are still cameras, but as computational power grows, motion cameras won’t be far behind.

It doesn’t take a lot of imagination to envision the ability to completely re-light a scene or to create stereoscopic effects from a single image. Someday the director of photography may be a post position, and every 2D film will have a depth grader. Imagine how easy it will be to cut a precise matte around a subject.

There’s more information on the technology behind these cameras, and the ability to get in line to buy one from the startup Lytro. Several papers on computational photography can be found on Marc Levoy’s page at Stanford. Levoy is a member of Lytro’s advisory board.


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