How a Suddenly Ubiquitous Technology Has Changed Filmmaking: Smart Phones + Tablets = HD Motion Picture Cameras + Editing Systems?

A May 9th, 2012 post by Michael DeGusta (writing for Technology Review in Mashable) shows how quickly smart phones and tablets - and with them, the tools for digital motion picture production - are spreading.

"It took almost a century for landline phones to reach saturation—the point at which new demand falls off. Mobile phones, by contrast, achieved saturation in just 20 years. Smart phones are on track to halve that rate yet again, and tablets could move still faster, setting consecutive records for speed to market saturation in the United States...

[T]he tablet market sprang to life with the launch of Apple’s iPad in April 2010. Only 18 months later, tablet penetration among U.S. households had already hit 11 percent, according to a Google/Ipsos study. No other technology in this comparison has had such a fast start."

The rise of smart phones - with HD video recording capability - has already forced the experts to reconsider all their assumptions about motion pictures. Will beefier tablets (perhaps soon capable of editing HD video that is stored in the cloud?) accelerate the democratization of motion picture production?

Already, consumer grade motion picture cameras at the cheapest level (like the Flip camera) are being driven out of the market. Meanwhile digital motion picture cameras priced under $3,000 are fiercely adding functionality (like higher resolution and better codecs) to undercut "professional" cameras and to stay ahead of what phones offer. But history tells us that any digital functionality built into an expensive device will soon be available on a cheap chip for consumers. Does anyone doubt that the data capturing magic of the latest $3,000 HD camera will soon show up in a phone for one tenth of the price?

When everyone has the power to shoot, edit, upload and view an HD motion picture on their mobile device - will Hollywood continue to dominate motion picture production?

Or will amateurs - and the flood of new content that they produce - become the dominant motion picture producers of the 21st century?

Already online video traffic is huge (52 percent of all mobile internet traffic at the end of 2011).

Will the gatekeepers of the 20th century hold on - making hugely expensive "event films" and curating (picking and marketing) the best of the amateur work?

Or will the studios become much less important after 2012?

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