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Is 35mm film a dying medium?
  • Hollywood studios seem to be pushing for all-digital workflow. There are at least some Directors who want to keep shooting with film. Personally, I agree -- film is dead. I will never shoot with film again--and who needs to, since digital gives us everything we need?

    Keanu Reeves' documentary tackles this issue too.

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  • i hope not... nothing beats film ...

  • Yes the benefits of film are starting to get more limited, but there is at least 5 more years of film yet. I will always shoot film when I can. It's basically 4K+ RAW, 444 color, more latitude than digital, and a mechanical shutter. There is nothing digitally that matches that yet, soon, but not yet.

  • its not just a numbers... look and feel ... fight club vs girl with dragon tattoo ... same director and dp .... film vs red mx (epic)

  • I think the problem is not a technical or artistic choice over the merits of film. It's a simple economic question -- will the big studios keep distributing 35mm reels for projection? My guess is no... and therefore, the small theaters who are barely keeping their business going will not be able to bring in customers. So, nothing beats film -- but if there are no theaters to show film, then no one will want to produce them.

  • @vladnik Yes that too. There is just something organic about the look and feel of film, hence why companies like Regrain are making film grain plates that people are using on there digital projects.

  • @ahbleza ...don't know about that. It's still a fair argument what's better film vs digital, but when Revenge of the Sith came out, I saw it on film and digitally projected. Digital was noticeably better looking. Sharper, clearer, so now if it's a choice between Digital or Film...if the price is the same, I go digital.

    Only Imax Dark Knight footage was better looking than any Digital I've seen at the theater.

  • for projection digital.. for production film...

  • "old soldiers never die; they just fade away."

  • Most people who say digital is the same is because they never shot film. Even a well shot s16 film is better than the best digital camera. you can use your computer to paint... but i will always prefer oil paint. maybe you like pixar... i prefer caravaggio

  • There is always resistance to change..

  • The best films are shot on film. The cheap films are shot on digital. The quality trade-off creates more time that can be spent with actors because of a faster turn-around. Movies shot both formats have been released and projected on 2K & 4K digital projectors for some time and this will increse.

  • @Roberto It really is not that simple. Several of the most expensive upcoming blockbusters are being shot digital, as I found out when I looked up which productions were using the RED Epic.

    @Fulgencio I think that on the production side, the most important thing about a tool is rarely its overall technical quality but rather its resonance with the artist. I have seen traditional media artists that sometimes lost some of their spark in going to digital, and I have helped them find tools and workflow that helped recapture some of that spark. I have watched artists that struggled with traditional media come into their own when exposed to digital media.

    It is the resonance that matters, the one that connects most directly to the artist. And this cannot and will not be the same for everyone - it is contrary to our differing natures.

    I have been writing various essays and poems on the topic (one of my other lives) so it is fresh in my mind. :)

  • @thepalalias

    It is the resonance that matters, the one that connects most directly to the artist.

    We're talking about the same thing here. Our perception is associative. At present, the better known actors and cinematographers have agents who know better than to offer them a part in a movie shot on digital; it's still associated with a de-motion.

    On the other hand, most weddings, TV commercials and documentaries are being shot on digital. Viewers associate the digital look with non-movie genres.

    Digital is gaining entry movie-genre acceptance through its use when CGI sequences are shot. [Often, when a digital camera is listed as one of the acquisition formats on a movie shot on film, it's either an explosion sequence, a dream montage or the bit shown on the TV in the actors' motel room.]

    These respective associations have remained so far and film might remain as long as there's a box-office advantage. As I keep saying, what will eventually make us accept digital will be the hyper-real look that digital can do - and which we won't see while we're still trying to emulate film.

    We do live in exciting times, where a whole new breed of actors and film makers are using digital and creating freshness.

    At the same time, digital DP's confide to each other on what a pain-in-the-ass process it its trying to light the sets in an attempt to get the highlights to roll-off gracefully like film. Actors see their rushes and their agents demand re-shoots. The supposed time-savings evaporate.

    In a competition to look like film, film wins. Digital will eventually look better in its own way - and we'll accept it before it does, partly because the pool of film-trained professionals will start to dry up. Digital will almost certainly take over.

    But the fat lady hasn't sung yet.

  • @vladnik In shooting costs, processing time and workflow expense? Sure it 'beats' digital. In low light? No.

  • @roberto

    "At present, the better known actors and cinematographers have agents who know better than to offer them a part in a movie shot on digital; it's still associated with a de-motion."

    David Fincher (social network, dragon Tattoo), Michael Mann (collateral, public enemies), Steven Soderbergh (Contagion, Che)

    All shoot on digital and are all pretty famous and have actors like Tom Cruise, Johnny Depp, Christian Bale, Matt Damon, and on and on, work with them on Digital products. I think you have SOME valid points, but saying that the majority think of digital as a de-motion is a little far off. If anything... It's certain directors that are scared to move away from film, because they have worked with it forever and feel emotionally attached to it..... alot like FANBOYS who get attached to a certain digital brand of DSLR.... lol..

    Peter Jackson is shooting possibly the biggest movie of the year (THE HOBBIT) on 26 RED CAMS... while Christopher Nolan is shooting the other huge blockbuster on film.. Dark Knight Rises...

    I cite these two films as two ways to go about acheiving the same thing.

    It doesn't matter what you shoot on. Really. All it does is give the filmmakers a sense of comfort since theyve used a medium before.

    I love film... but I also love the fact that I can make a film without using film or having a film production plant in my house. digital is the equalizer and more and more people will come along for the ride as they are raised on digital filmmaking. Speilberg grew up with 8mm and 16mm film cameras and has an emotional attachment to its many idiosyncrasies. I and most others on all of these forums grew up on digital..

    Sure it would be cool to shoot on film.. A dream of mine is to shoot an epic on 65mm film much like Lawrence of Arabia or Ben-Hur... but it is just a choice and an expression of art, and digital will continue to push boundaries and gain followers..

  • More than 50% of Hollywood prductions originate on digital, tipping point was 2011.

  • I think the most interesting fact in this debate is how fragile digital is as an archival format compared to film. Film can last if treated well 100 s of years. Digital formats change so often and data storage is by it's nature prone to failure

  • @rsquires

    I was an AC on a project shot on RED that toured in a few national film festivals.. It was called Another Harvest Moon, with Earnest Borgnine, Cybill Shepard, and Richard Shiff, and a few others..

    After each week the DIT would put all of the weeks footage, onto DATA TAPE And back it up to that and store it in a vault.. Data Tape has a 15-30 year lifespan.. Film is pretty fragile as well if not maintained.. look at all of the restoration that goes into making blu rays out of films in the seventies even... They detoriate pretty quick (relatively speaking) if not perfectly maintained...

    I THINK DIGITAL has the potential for long lasting life.. if kept safe..

    I guess it comes down to in both formats... how it is stored and who is storing it...

  • @JPB1138 Which type of data tape did you use?

  • Normally it's DLT.

    Color film is fading pretty quick, black and white lasts more than 100 years. Shouldn't we go back? ;-)

  • I feel like the topic is always neglected. HDD's are about the worst medium every and everyone depends on it.

  • Just as colour films are being re-mastered before they fade and the DI kept on tape, those data tapes have to be re-copied onto newer digital media at intervals in keeping with best practice. I find it sad that even some archivists cling to the idea that film should be preserved on film itself.

  • My guess is it will happen like it did with audio. Film will disappear for 10 years and then everyone will want it again, after which they will make cameras that record both digital and film, and combine the two after some kind of hq telecine.

  • I really do not see problems on secure storage of raw digital film data.
    Just have 20 encrypted copies in different datacanters around the world and software that check consistency and make corrections in case of problems.