Bolex Or Bollocks?

Tuesday morning the Internet film-geek community caught on fire due to a new Kickstarter campaign for a digital Bolex camera. Within about eight hours they had already exceeded their $100k goal and have since more than doubled it.

The original Bolex cameras, first introduced in the 1930s, were lightweight, spring-wound units that gave many aspiring filmmakers their first taste of moviemaking. I will admit that I’m a touch too young to have nostalgia for the original Bolex. My first experience with cameras was in the ’80s, with my father’s large, clunky VHS camcorder. However, I can understand the fondness for a tool that opened up a new world and started careers for many of the filmmakers I follow today.

During my initial viewing of their Kickstarter video, I was quite intrigued by the beginning spot about the dark ages of compressed video. Then I was fairly jarred by the quality of the video with the creators Joe Rubinstein and Elle Schneider explaining the project. I just couldn’t quite understand how someone creating a new 2k camera would use what appears to be webcam footage to try and garner support for their project. Nevertheless, they have shot far above their goal in less than 24 hours.

DSLR guru Philip Bloom was very immediate in doing a phone interview with the duo behind this digital Bolex. As Philip states in his post, he is very smitten with the prospect of a 2k raw camera at a $3,300 price point. Even the original Swiss company is lending its Bolex name to the product. The Digital Bolex spec sheet can be found here.

A slightly more skeptical take comes from visual effects master Stu Maschwitz’s blog Prolost.com. He gives a pretty thorough bullet list of his skepticisms. The main qualms from his list that jump out to me are the 320×240 viewfinder, SD only output (possible HD-SDI in a separate unit?) and simply the amount of data management needed for 2k raw footage.

I’ll leave it to the rest of the inter-webs to pick apart and debate what this project means to indie film over the summer. Though I will be quite eager to read all the reviews, watch all the unboxing and “first footage” videos that will abound should they make their product release goal next fall.


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