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How the camera is changing

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When the first camera was invented, it took over eight hours of light exposure to develop and only lasted a short while before fading away. Now, we hold up a smartphone and are able to take hundreds of images in minutes and view them instantaneously. DEON PRINSLOO, Mobile GM at LG takes us through the evolution of the camera starting with the first camera ever made – the Camera Obscura.

Picture yourself taking a selfie, holding up the camera, tapping through to the front-facing camera, trying to keep your hand steady, laughing and shaking but finally getting the shot. Now imagine you tried to do the same thing 100 years ago. It was a whole different story, involving drawn out poses and development time. It wasn’t so long ago that the digital camera completely replaced the film camera, but that doesn’t really give us a full appreciation of just how much photographic technology has changed in a few hundred years.

Of course, we don’t have many pictures lying around from way back when, but cameras themselves provide the perfect example of the way technology evolves over time.

The earliest version of what we’d loosely consider a camera existed around 1000AD, in the form of the Camera Obscura. This was the device used to take the first photograph centuries later in 1827, when Frenchman Joseph Nicephore Niepce produced the first “sun print”. Unfortunately, one successful image took eight hours of light exposure to produce, and only lasted a short while before fading away. It took over a decade for Louis Daguerre (another Frenchman) to reduce exposure time to 30 minutes, and to keep the image from vanishing.

Even with the added speed of development though, the process was still far from perfect. To take a single photograph, groups of people would huddle together and pose stiffly for what must have felt like ages. Any sudden movements could ruin an image, so although they were participating in the use of incredible new technology, it was hardly any different than the posing done by the subjects of paintings for generations before. The entire process was arduous and drawn out, a far cry from the user-friendly experience of snapping a selfie today.

Things got a little better in 1889, when George Eastman developed the first flexible roll-up film, which anyone born before the 1990s may actually remember using. It took another 50 years for Kodak to produce colour film in the late 1930s, but black and white photography still persisted through the next decade. It seemed that even when we had access to new technology, it still had to share some real estate with the ghost of the thing it would replace. The first digital camera fared similarly when it debuted in the 1980s, taking two full decades to effectively replace film cameras.

Through all these changes in technology, our reason for taking photographs has remained the same. We record images because we want to remember important moments in our lives, to revisit them and to tell stories about them. Over the years we worked to develop the camera, people found better ways to speed up each step of the process, but it was always in an effort to streamline the effort it takes to share our stories

This has never been more apparent than today, where photography has become the most powerful storytelling tool in the arsenal of every single user on the planet. Smartphones have provided users with the perfect crossroads between communication and education, existing alongside the ghosts of landline telephones, desktop computers and photographers packing pounds of DSLR gear in backpacks and hanging from every available limb. And just as older cameras have had to evolve with the times, so too have smartphone cameras, evolving from simple low-res devices to the focal point of many devices.

Including cameras in smartphone devices has actually grown users’ interest and understanding of photography as an art, and so users are looking for more from their devices. More control, versatility and higher quality images are all important to users, which is why we’ve made improving the camera a focus with each new device.

Smartphones are now equipped with cameras powerful enough to capture professional quality images. LG’s G4 even offers an 8MP front facing camera, transforming the selfie into a high quality portrait. That’s on top of the phone’s manual mode, which offers users increased control over the shots they’re taking, allowing them to toy with aperture sizes and other specs before taking a shot, and to edit their images before sharing them online.

Today we’re light years away from the eight-hour development times and long, stiff poses of the 1800s, but up until now, smartphone cameras seemed like they were at the absolute peak of what they could do. Turns out users had other plans, and even what seemed like the best thing we could do was just a stepping stone along the way through history. Now picture yourself taking a selfie a hundred years from today… what will the camera look like then?

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Load-shedding leads
local searches

South Africans are searching in the dark, according to the latest Google Search trends.

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With more 1 million search queries generated in the space of 76 hours, load-shedding was by far the top trending search on Google South Africa this week.

Valentine’s Day came a distant second.

After news emerged last Sunday of the impending stage 3 load shedding, South Africans had generated more than 1-million load-shedding search queries by the time Tuesday came around:

  • “Loadshedding schedule” – generated more than 100k searches on Sunday
  • “Load shedding schedule” – generated more than 100k searches on Sunday
  • “Eskom load shedding” – generated more than 100k searches on Sunday
  • “Load shedding Cape Town” – generated more than 50k searches on Sunday
  • “Load shedding schedule” – generated more than 400k on Monday
  • “Load shedding Johannesburg” – generated more than 20k searches on Monday
  • Load shedding schedule” generated more than 200k search queries on Tuesday

Leading up to Valentine’s Day, South Africans generated close to 300k search queries related to the romantic festival, including searches for quotes and gift ideas:

  • “Valentines Day” generated more than 100k search queries on Thursday
  • “Happy Valentines Day Images” and “Valentines Day Images” generated more than 10k search queries each on Thursday, with “Happy Valentines Day 2019” generating more than 20k search queries on Wednesday
  • “Valentines Day Specials 2019” generated more than 5k search queries on Thursday
  • “Love quotes” generated more than 5k search queries on Thursday
  • “Valentines Day quotes” generated more than 100k search queries and “Valentine messages” generated more than 50 000 search queries on Wednesday

Search trends information is gleaned from data collated by Google based on what South Africans have been searching for and asking Google. Google processes more than 40 000 search queries every second. This translates to more than a billion searches per day and 1.2 trillion searches per year worldwide. Live Google search trends data is available at https://www.google.co.za/trends/hottrends#pn=p40

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Showmax invites
student films

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Thanks to the growing popularity of video-on-demand services, there’s a new opportunity to help kickstart the careers of local filmmakers.

Numerous Hollywood blockbusters (District 9Tomb Raider 2018, and The Avengers: Age of Ultron to name a few) have featured substantial shoots in Johannesburg and Cape Town. While providing great opportunities for SA’s production talent, aspiring writers and directors don’t get the same benefit.

So where can local creatives showcase their work? Broadcast TV isn’t a natural home for unknown short films, and while self-publishing platforms are readily available hosting options, it’s tough to get noticed and get traffic when competing with videos from across the planet.

But with the emergence of video-on-demand services into the mainstream, there’s now a solution. The African film school AFDA has teamed up with the streaming service Showmax to give local talent a much larger platform than ever before. From 18 February, eighteen of the best recent short films made by AFDA students from their Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban and Port Elizabeth campuses will be live on Showmax. Drama, documentary, fantasy, and animation are all represented, in pieces running from under eight minutes to almost half-an-hour long. The full list of movies is included below.

Teresa Passchier, CEO of AFDA, said: “AFDA, Africa’s number-one school for the Creative Economy, is proud to kickstart this exciting and meaningful journey with Showmax and AFDA students, ensuring emerging young African filmmakers’ voices are heard and given a platform. It’s ground-breaking to share young, local, culturally relevant content on the same platform as Hollywood blockbusters. I am certain that this unique initiative will serve to boost and develop the African film industry and the careers of many young South African and African students alike.”

Included in the short films coming to Showmax are the award winners Junior and O-PunchaJunior, directed by Bert Dijkstra, picked up the Audience Award in the Made in South Africa Competition at the shnit Worldwide Shortfilmfestival Awards 2017. O-Puncha, directed by Adam Hansen, won two awards at the 5th annual Eldorado Film Festival: Best Student Made Short, and Best Editing – Alexander La Cock.

Another celebrated film is Sicela Amanzi directed by Mlu Godola, which talks to the subject of water shortage. The film’s heroine Zoleka is a mild-mannered young woman forced to go to extreme lengths when a small community’s only source of water unexpectedly collapses. The power of films like this is they shine a light on critical topical issues in new ways.

Speaking about working with the film school, Candice Fangueiro, Head of Content for Showmax, said: “There’s immense depth of filmmaking talent in Africa and it’s a privilege to be able to give that talent a home and a platform. Showmax is becoming part of the fabric of film and TV production in Africa, and importantly we’re doing this as a partner rather than just as a consumer. This is a key competitive advantage of being local and something we aim to continue to work on.”

AFDA is an Academy Award-winning institution, founded in 1994, and the first and only African film school to win an Oscar – for the Best Foreign Student film in 2006, the postgraduate film Elalini, directed by Tristan Holmes.

The full list of AFDA short films coming to Showmax is as follows:

Film titleDirectorGenre
Lullaby from the CryptKeenan Lott & Raven DavidsAnimation
Ko Ga CherenyaneSibonokuhle MyatazaDocumentary
IzilwaneKyllian RouxDrama
MallemeuleJaco Van BoschDrama
Canal StreetBrodie MuirheadDrama
On the FenceWarrick BewsDrama
The Righteous FewLindo LangaDrama
Hlogoma PeakLuke AhrensDrama
Frozen FlameCameron HeathmanAnimation
WolfBrett van DortFantasy
The Walk HomeSisanda DyantyiDrama
BearWesley RoodtDrama
JuniorBert DijkstraDrama
O-PunchaAdam HansenDrama
UmngenoSiphosethu NdungeDrama
DoreenLuvuyo Equiano NyawoseDrama
ForeverLindo LangaMusical
Sicela AmanziMlu GodolaDrama

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