All posts by Sam Muirhead

03 Okt

Lights, Camera, Axiom – a Conversation with Apertus Open Source Cinema

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A conversation with the Apertus Open Source Cinema team as they take on the might of the film industry.

Industries, as they go, don’t get much more closed than cinema:
Ultra-hierarchical teams working in the service of some of the world’s largest corporations, using expensive, closed equipment to capture proprietary formats, edited on more closed equipment using proprietary software and finally delivered in a locked-down format under a business model entirely based on maintaining a copyright monopoly.

So as an open-source-obsessed videographer with plenty of experience working in this very closed environment, it is a great relief and also hugely exciting to be joining what I hope will be somewhat of a revolution in the field. I’ve put my name (and my money) down to be one of the first to own an open source hardware professional cinema camera, the Apertus Axiom.
The project is hardly a get-rich-quick scheme for its founders, as they’re selling this first beta batch of cameras through a crowdfunding campaign at cost price (50% off retail).

The idea of going through the entire product development and running a stressful crowdfunding campaign without making a cent of profit might sound a bit backward, but I suppose allowing anyone to modify, improve and sell their design could be seen as crazy too.
But the strength of any open source project is its community – and while software projects are able to pick up users and developers at almost zero cost, growing a community where the barrier to entry includes buying a €6000 camera is a different matter.
In this context, it makes sense to focus the first batch entirely on getting a critical mass of users, testers and bug fixers around the project. This community can then be built upon in the coming years with new batches, new models, modules and improvements.

A few months ago I met Oscar Spierenberg, Herbert Poetzl, Sebastian Pichelhofer and their working prototype in Berlin to talk about the project, its development and their open source approach.

Photo: Apertus

 SM: Can you introduce yourselves and tell me a little about the Apertus project?
Sebastian: Oscar founded Apertus more than Read More