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Mike Kobal p1

READERSVOICE.COM aims to collect a few interesting reading tips. This issue features an interview with New Yorker Mike Kobal, who uses cameras like the Canon 5D and 7D to make excellent short movies about people and sights around New York. These cameras look like traditional snapshot cameras, but they now have movie-making capabilities. Also, the Supanova pop culture exhibition is coming up April 20-22 in Brisbane. I went along to the Brisbane Supanova and collected some good reading tips.

It’s fascinating watching people wandering the streets of Manhattan in Mike Kobal’s atmospheric short films on YouTube. He used a steadycam and walked around New York making movies of people passing by. And he has captured subway musicians like the Saw Lady and Wilder Lee, and people at a Lower East Side pizza place. Also he made a hypnotic movie of water birds drifting on an icy Central Park lake. He’s made a few fiction movies, too, like A Love Story.
And he said there would be no problem using DSLR’s (digital single-lens reflex cameras) like the Canon 7D or 5D to shoot a feature. Instead of focusing on individual performers and artists he is currently collecting clips for a larger project called My City.

READERSVOICE.COM: How did you start your photography career, and how did you get started in New York?

MIKE KOBAL: I studied photography in Austria and started working for local magazines and advertising agencies in Vienna. After winning the “Big Austrian Youth Prize” three times in a row, I purchased a Leica M4-2 and a ticket to NYC. Eventually I moved here and started shooting artists for Details magazine.

RV: Where did you grow up and what places have you lived at?

MK: I grew up in Austria, lived in Vienna, Munich and currently in NYC.

RV: When did you start making movies with cameras like the 5d or 7d?

MK: I picked up a Nikon D90 and accidentally pressed the movie button.

RV: If a movie made with a 7D or 5D was projected onto a traditional, big cinema screen, would the movie come out pixellated a bit? If so, how far off would a high quality picture this size be?

MK: Darren Aronofsky used the 7D to shoot some scenes for Black Swan,  Drake Doremus the 7D for Like Crazy, Monte Hellman 5D2’s for Road to Nowhere the list goes on and on. There are limitations one has to be aware of, but the quality of these DSLR’s rivals and often surpasses the quality of much more expensive cameras, especially in low light.

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-copyright Simon Sandall.