Looking for inspiration? Find a Mutoscope.

After three jam-packed weeks attending Photokina, the Glimpse Conference, Cloudforce, and PhotoPlus Expo, I have something to confess: the most interesting and inspiring gadget/technology/trend I saw was NOT Samsung’s innovative Galaxy CameraFuji’s slick X-E1Blackmagic’s Cinema Camera or a new powerful software application.

It was a Mutoscope I saw at Frankfurt’s Film Museum. “A what?” you may ask.

The Mutoscope, an early motion picture device, was patented by Herman Casler in 1894. Cheaper and simpler than Edison’s Kinetoscope, it did NOT project on a screen, and it provided viewing to only one person at a time. The system was marketed by the American Mutoscope Company and quickly dominated the coin-in-the-slot “peep-show” business.

I am in love with the simplicity of this device, the way the viewer interacts with the story by using a hand crank. And story is what really matters. In under 60 seconds (the “movie” starts below at 00:34) we get to see a “crazy wheel” running free through a small town, and the villagers trying to catch it. See, this is about storytelling, not technology. It’s not about sensor size, firmware updates, bigger-is-better, or faster-is-better. It is about the story, something I feel we have been loosing at an ever-increasing speed. If you are looking for some inspiration or motivation, look no further.

Events like hurricane Sandy make us revalue some of our priorities, the real significance of things we often take for granted, like running water, electricity, and true friends. In a similar way the Mutoscope hit a nerve. For some strange reason, the idea of producing something simply for fun or pleasure is becoming obsolete. We should, and we will, go back to the basics. Work harder on telling more engaging stories, developing new angles, communicating better ideas and asking deeper questions. Technology is great, but it is not the be-all and end-all that most photographers assume it to be. I’m sure some of you feel the same way. Want even more inspiration? Check this out.


NAB 2012 wrap-up.

Blackmagic announced a hard-to-believe camera featuring a 2.5K image sensor, 13 stops of dynamic range, built-in SSD recorder, popular open standard uncompressed RAW and compressed file formats, compatibility with quality EF and ZF mount lenses, and LCD touchscreen monitoring.

• Adobe Premiere Pro CS6 is out with and enhanced 64-bit playback engine that can handle 5K resolutions, and higher, new trimming options, compatibility with Mac touchpad gestures, a Warp Stabilizer that was previously confined to After Effects, and expanded multicam editing for more than four cameras. Taking a page from its sister app, “the audio oriented Audition, Premiere Pro CS6 offers a redesigned and more functional audio mixer. Adobe also introduced SpeedGrade, a film finishing and color grading app, and Prelude, for ingesting, logging, and transcoding.

• Autodesk announced Smoke 2013 for the Mac, a new version of what the company is now calling video editing software and at users of Apple’s Final Cut Pro or Avid Media Composer who want high-end editing and finishing tools in one app. The new price is “only” $3495, down from $14,995 for the 2012 version.

• Panasonic announced a bittersweet firmware update for the AG-AF100 that provides 1080 50p and 60p modes. That’s the sweet part. The bitter? They want users to pay $300 for the upgrade.

Panasonic AF0100

Canon announced the 1D C ($15,000), which has the same chassis and still shooting features of the EOS-1D X ($6,800), and captures 4096 x 2160 8-bit 4:2:2 video to a CF card at 24 fps. Unlike the X, the C swaps a headphone jack for the X’s PC sync.

• The higher-end Canon EOS C500 ($30,000) offers the same ISO range as the C300 (320-20,000) and requires a dedicated external recorder, but captures in two full-RAW flavors: 4096 x 2960 (for motion picture), and 3840 x 2160 (for 4K TV). Both of these modes offer 10-bit 4:4:4 at 60 frames-per-second. There are two additional RAW option, 4096 x 1080 or 3840 x 1080 resolutions, which are also 10-bit 4:4:4, but at 120 fps. The camera also offers