Thursday, 6 November 2014

UK Rental House Rogue Element To Rent AXIOM Beta Cameras 

While the concept of “open source” may seem arcane to many, it is in fact a profound intellectual and moral breath of fresh air – and has very specific implications for digital filmmakers. In the world of cinematography and photography, its champions are Magic Lantern (software), Apertus (hardware) and now Rogue Element (commerce), all working together.

Frankly, I’m surprised by my own excitement over a press release, but there you have it: a UK rental house has just announced that it is embracing open source (in addition to its regular business model), and I want them to be successful.

You should, too.

If you’re a regular planet5D reader, you know that – like many of you – we’re big fans of Magic Lantern, the open source hack for Canon DSLRs (and even a mirrorless or two) which unlocks tremendous functionality such as RAW, wide dynamic range and much, much more.

Even Canon uses Magic Lantern.

More recently, you may have read our coverage of the open source AXIOM camera by Apertus and its crowd-funding campaign here, here and here,where we were delighted to learn that Magic Lantern and Apertus were joining forces with the same ethos of transparency, community and competence.

With Rogue Element’s announcement of its support for the AXIOM as well (they will be renting the beta cameras at a price of zero — you read that right), we now have the basis for an open source digital video ecosystem.

Why is this important and why should you care?

If you’ve ever been frustrated by manufacturers who cripple the functionality of their lower priced equipment in order to encourage customers to move to much more expensive gear, open source is perhaps the best antidote: competition based on that same transparency, community and competence — with concomitantly lower price points (although credit where credit is due: Panasonic’s GH4 and the broader mirror-less revolution have shaken up the DSLR giants).

Proprietary guys want to charge a lot of money for their gear? Totally fine, as long as you actually get what you pay for. One need look no further than Apple and Google in the ongoing phone wars to see a wonderful example of how “open” (Android) spurs the best effort from proprietary (Apple). No flame wars, please: both camps have their adherents, and to each his own.

But it’s when proprietary guys charge more by obfuscating what they’re actually doing that most of us get upset. It’s less about capitalism than rigging the game.

I’m not mentioning any names, but you know who they are.

On the other hand, too much innovation is simply exhausting and diverting, and more profits means more jobs for more people (unless it all flows to the top 1%, but that’s beyond the scope of this post). So we’re not against capitalism nor are we against proprietary gear.

But in the same way that journalism – when it functions well – works as the “fourth estate” and is a balance on the three branches of government here in the U.S. and elsewhere, open source can do the same in the world of things. It’s not for everyone, but it plays an invaluable role.

Oligopolies ultimately are most helpful to the oligarchs who run them, and in era of dramatically increasing inequality, gluttony and greed, that’s not OK.

To Apertus, Magic Lantern and now Rogue Element, we say: “good on ya.” We will be following your progress closely.

Rogue Element Embraces an Open Source Philosophy

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