Rogue Element has become one of the first digital cinematography companies in the UK to adopt an Open Source policy for its rental division by providing Open Source Digital Camera Solutions.
In a move designed to unleash and encourage creativity, the Soho-based company is ensuring that 4K cinema is fully open to everyone by making AXIOM Beta Open Digital Cinema Cameras available to its rental customers.
AXIOM Beta cameras are the first products to be developed by apertus°, an Open Source cinema organisation founded by film makers and financed through crowd funding. The people behind apertus° were galvanised into action when they became concerned with the expensive and limited tools they were forced to work with every day. Instead, they wanted access to affordable devices and technology that delivered the highest possible image quality and could be customised to exactly suit their needs.
Since its formation in 2007, the apertus° project has applied an Open Source philosophy to everything it has developed. As no patents have been filed, anyone can access the technology behind its cameras and people are actively encouraged to adapt, modify, repair and even replicate them. To date, reaction has been very positive. Not only has the company achieved – and exceeded – its initial crowd funding target but it also has the backing of some very important film makers and cinematographers.
ASC and AIC Cinematographer Roberto Schaefer, who was responsible for films such as Quantum of Solace, Finding Neverland and Stranger Than Fiction, says: "I believe than an Open Source camera will allow us to customize the digital camera to our personal liking. That should include ergonomics and hopefully give the ability to get rid of the shoebox, front heavy trend of current designs. I look forward to using custom elements to create the new Digital Aaton, even though they are no longer in business. The design possibilities that I've seen from the apertus° project are exciting, as are the image creation possibilities. Not being locked in to any one company’s idea of what the images should look like is a breath of fresh (film) air. Currently in order to switch film stocks we have to change camera systems. The AXIOM will hopefully change all of that and allow us to change stocks with a physical switch."
His views are shared by Emmy and Academy Award-winning DOP and Visual Effects Supervisor David Stump, who says: "The spirit of Open Source frees up the creative spirit to do something that no one else thought of," while IMAX cinematographer Lee Ford Parker adds: "Open Source cameras are a step back toward the dark room, in which making the tools is part of the joy of making the art."
The AXIOM Beta camera has just been released and is currently only available at cost to the community that backed the initial crowd funding campaign. Rogue Element was one of those backers and Managing Director Dan Mulligan says: "Open Source is a fantastic concept and we are delighted to be supporting apertus° by making this format available to the UK rental market. In taking on the Open Source philosophy, we hope to facilitate unfettered access to the technology and free up the creative spirit so that the cinema industry can engage in practices that encourage freedom of expression and is no longer limited by who can contribute."
Established by Mulligan in 2001 firstly with camera rentals, Rogue Element then pioneered tapeless and file-based digital workflows and onset correction with 3D LUTs, S.two & Codex data recorders and Filmlight colour timing suites until 2011.
Now starting an Open Source operation for 2014 onwards Rogue will offer new camera solutions and options for the Broadcast & Features markets.
Rogue Element can also provide dailies and workflows for Arriraw (Alexa 16:9/4:3 sensors) RED RAW (RED Epic & Dragon 6K),Sony S-Log3 (Sony F65), Canon RAW (Canon C100/300/500), Cinema DNG (Blackmagic), GoPro and many other of today's professional and niche camera systems. With this new operation for 2014 we want to pursue new avenues for the market.
Dan Mulligan, who has recently returned to Rogue Element after a three year stint at Technicolor, says: "The Arriraw format is now well established and there are a raft of high-end products catering for this market. We are still providing our customers with access to these workflows as they continue to develop, but thanks to our investment in the apertus° project we can now bring a very high quality Open Source 4K camera to the market at a much lower entry cost."
Mulligan adds that for many film makers, cost can be an ongoing issue and the price of using high end equipment does bar many talented people from entering the market.
"This is why it is good to see the appearance of an Open Source camera system that has a much lower entry point," he says. "The ability to create your own 4K camera and your own workflow is hugely beneficial for the film and broadcast industry because it will encourage content creation and allow people to get involved at much less cost."
Rogue Element is not initially consider charging for the rental of its AXIOM Beta cameras. Instead, it will make its income through consultancy and through supplying additional new sensors, lenses, tripods etc., and add on services such as storage and workflow.
"We want people to try them so we are making them as easily available as possible," Mulligan says. "With the Axiom Open Source we now have a camera solution coming from an opposing end of the release spectrum with a differing approach to its target audience. There should be more than enough room for both this and the higher end systems."
About Rogue Element:
Rogue Element provides digital cinematography filming services plus data and dailies, to the Film and Broadcast industries. A pioneer in tapeless and file-based digital workflows and on-set colour correction, the company's growing rental division also supplies and supports a wide range of professional Digital Cameras including RAW camera systems and workflows, apertus° AXIOM Beta Open Source cameras and new solutions for RAW workflows.