Thursday, October 23, 2014
A momentous event has managed to completely escape my notice; the open source cinema camera from Apertus, the Axiom, has achieved its crowdfunding goal. The overexcited geek in me wants to say that this is the beginning of a new age in filmmaking, but as with all things, a bit of perspective is necessary.
First, the crowdfunding goal itself was conservative. I think that their original goal was $500,000, but when the campaign went live, they had brought it down to only $100,000. And as you can see, they only sold 51 cameras. It's absolutely, undeniably a start, but we can't get too excited.
Second, while I think that open source is the future of camera equipment to a point, the market is almost overwhelmingly competitive right now. Open source cannot be a selling point. Capability and price must be the selling point with open source as icing on the cake. I don't think that the Axiom fully achieves this.
Because we already have some amazing cameras for cheap. The Sony A7s, the Panasonic GH4, and the Blackmagic cameras provide more than almost any filmmaker could ever need. The Blackmagic camera comes with a free copy of Davinci Resolve, which is a freaking awesome grading, correction, and editing program. The GH4 is, out of the box, ready to produce 4K video. And the Sony A7s comes very close to seeing in the dark. That is stiff competition.
I don't think they should have pulled the stunt of telling people that the retail version will be over twice as much as the early-adopter cost. It's pretty obvious that they aren't doing this, because a $6,000 open source camera would get creamed by the major camera companies. They said this to prod people into ponying up the money now instead of later. Early adopters did receive a discount, but only of about $600, which is fine. This game they played probably convinced a lot of people who didn't have the money now to be dissuaded and simply forget that the Axiom exists.
All that said, this is still an immensely exciting moment. This was intended as a seed and so it is. It will grow. The Axiom offers many things that its competition does not, and since it is open source, we don't even know what features it will have in the future. Anything we want, it can be done.
That is freedom. That is power. That is value.