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Andrew Reid

Kodak celluloid film saved by studios - oh and by the way - what's the point?

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Like it or not, this is the reality. This is a decision from professional people.

Did you read the article? This seems to be more a decision from "professional" buisiness people. Many small and for "different" more artistic films important cinemas cannot afford the knew technology for digital projection. If this coninues only the mainstream multiplex cinemas will survive. :(

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EOSHD Pro Color for Sony cameras EOSHD Pro LOG for Sony CamerasEOSHD C-LOG and Film Profiles for All Canon DSLRs

I found this video yesterday and it made me think of this thread. It's kind of related to this subject, especially on the matter of archival and how today's digital footage will hold up in time. And it actually is also wonderful and kinda magical.

Watch it, you're in for a very cool (digital ;) video about lost, and refound film...

 

 

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a very cool video about lost, and refound film.​

I think it's great.  Interesting how younger people romance film as something so incredibly exotic.  The step by step mundane nature of film development is treated as if it's some magical alchemy.  Funny.  I never thought I'd see a video wherein film processing is celebrated so much.  Nothing wrong with any of that, it's just amusing as an older guy to see that fresh perspective.

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I think it's great.  Interesting how younger people romance film as something so incredibly exotic.  The step by step mundane nature of film development is treated as if it's some magical alchemy.  Funny.  I never thought I'd see a video wherein film processing is celebrated so much.  Nothing wrong with any of that, it's just amusing as an older guy to see that fresh perspective.

​I guess there's a part of magic in film processing indeed. I do process my films at home too, and i remember the first ones, i was anxious but excited to see what would come out, if i missed something or screwed up anything. But more importantly in this video is the fact that not only is he processing film, he is actually rescuing artefacts from the past, and there is some real magic in there. Those films were lost, abandonned, they never went the full length of their purpose. It really is a little part of History he is processing, someone's bits of existence from a time that is no longer. The processing is of course celebrated, but the main celebration is the quasi resurection of those old films. I just find it wonderful.

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Sorry Andrew, I agree with a few people here with regards to your article. You are being the elitist. I came up shooting film and I am happy with the new digital technology, but your points are only valid in that you are trying to compare apples to oranges. Two completely different mediums, physical and electronic. To say film is dead is only justifying your elitism and maybe its because you were never able to shoot motion picture film to actually understand it. Beyond your inability to see past the legitimacy of film as a capture medium still, you also forgot a very important factor. Archiving. Film negative is STILL the best form of an archival medium. I shutter to think what will happen to all the digital files even 20 years from now. To have such a staunch stand against film as still a viable medium does not make you forward thinking, it makes you closed off to a wonderful tool for capturing images that in of itself has very beautiful aesthetic qualities. I have just recently shot a project on 35mm and I was very glad I was able to choose that path over digital capture for a host of reasons too far too go into here. Sadly, what I find with young Cinematographers who come from learning only digital is the majority become more tech or gear head obsessed than focusing on aesthetics of images. This is not true of all young Cinematographers, but a great vast majority I encounter now. It's great to know your tools, but you also have to learn to know them, take that knowledge and put it aside to focus on what is more important and that is the visual image. Back in the days of shooting film, all  the professional film cameras were built like tanks and able to withstand a great amount of extremes and wear and tear on productions, ironically, the things that would fail most on the film cameras were always the electronic elements which were gradually added over time to accommodate various new technologies, all the actual mechanical mechanisms in film cameras can last decades and have in may models. I wish the same could be said for digital cinema cameras, but it's not the case and never will be, the shelf life of an average affordable digital cinema camera started out to be 3 years before new models came along to replace them, now it's become more like a year and a half. I can now go rent or even buy a 30 year old motion picture film camera, laid it with film, put some nice glass on it and shoot with that and that camera will still function fantastically. Try the say the same about even a 10 year old digital video camera now, the formats keep changing and very few people shoot with the original digital formats from even 10 years ago. My point is film is a standard that has existed for a century and still retains pretty much those same standards with many improvements along the way. So, I guess what I am saying is stop film bashing and put your time into something more productive because it doesn't make you look very intelligent to post something like this and I like your site, but this article you wrote is really useless in the scheme of things.

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OK, I am a still photographer that has been in this game since the 60s.

I was raised in the darkroom and the magical realm that film. chemistry and paper created. I was in love with the whole process as long as I was a hobbyist.

When I became a commercial photographer and photo lab owner I longed for digital imaging. My brother ( a programmer and current head of engineering at a major photographic company) and I would dream of devices that would allow us to create repeatable images that could be printed electronically or transmitted to clients for them to use.

It was a business issue for us. We wanted more time  for making great images. Nor did we want to spend hours in the lab beating a negative into submission only to be asked to make 12 more prints exactly the same way.

When I converted my labs to digital processes in 1995 I was delighted by the quality that exceeded conventional chemical processes even then. Cameras were not there yet but scanners, software and printers were. I was able to dramatically grow my business because of quality that was head and shoulders above the performance of analog processes. So much so that even lay persons could easily see the difference.

Today, the digital process has so many advantages objectively over film production that I can scarcely justify the use of film except as an anachronistic exercise much like using wet plate process or gum bichromate. 

Film R&D stopped many years ago with only a couple of players in the market making any progress and that was to make their film stocks more compatible with scanners. Digital capture and the workflow solutions are being refined, advanced and pioneered by many companies and individuals around the world. The quality, already better will only extend its lead.

Yes film has a certain quality, it is called obsolescence. You can make digital look like film if you want but why? We are not making Kabuki here with calcified rules and traditions. We are making new imagery with a medium that now allows us higher quality and more flexibility. Many of you weren't alive when we were using film but we were always looking for better tools and techniques and not looking to go back to nitrate film and orthochromatic stock. 

Sorry, but the rationalizations I hear for film are all subjective "feel" arguments that seem to mask a fear of learning new tools.

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OK, I am a still photographer that has been in this game since the 60s.

I was raised in the darkroom and the magical realm that film. chemistry and paper created. I was in love with the whole process as long as I was a hobbyist.

When I became a commercial photographer and photo lab owner I longed for digital imaging. My brother ( a programmer and current head of engineering at a major photographic company) and I would dream of devices that would allow us to create repeatable images that could be printed electronically or transmitted to clients for them to use.

It was a business issue for us. We wanted more time  for making great images. Nor did we want to spend hours in the lab beating a negative into submission only to be asked to make 12 more prints exactly the same way.

When I converted my labs to digital processes in 1995 I was delighted by the quality that exceeded conventional chemical processes even then. Cameras were not there yet but scanners, software and printers were. I was able to dramatically grow my business because of quality that was head and shoulders above the performance of analog processes. So much so that even lay persons could easily see the difference.

Today, the digital process has so many advantages objectively over film production that I can scarcely justify the use of film except as an anachronistic exercise much like using wet plate process or gum bichromate. 

Film R&D stopped many years ago with only a couple of players in the market making any progress and that was to make their film stocks more compatible with scanners. Digital capture and the workflow solutions are being refined, advanced and pioneered by many companies and individuals around the world. The quality, already better will only extend its lead.

Yes film has a certain quality, it is called obsolescence. You can make digital look like film if you want but why? We are not making Kabuki here with calcified rules and traditions. We are making new imagery with a medium that now allows us higher quality and more flexibility. Many of you weren't alive when we were using film but we were always looking for better tools and techniques and not looking to go back to nitrate film and orthochromatic stock. 

Sorry, but the rationalizations I hear for film are all subjective "feel" arguments that seem to mask a fear of learning new tools.

What you say is all true. But does this mean that film should be stpoped altogether. Because that's kind of what the article is saying, and that's what some people here are disagreeing with. Digital is the reality today, no point denying that, but why taking ALL film off the shelf if someone likes it ? That what i don't get, wanting film to be gone for ever for everyone.

Plus, as you are a still photographer. Could you deny the quality there is to medium or large format film ? This doesn't apply to cinema of course, but large format photography is something else, even today with digital, it still can produce something digital cannot replicate. I understand it's very specific, but why would someone want that to be gone...

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I watched the Ben Stiller "Walter Mittty" last night, shot on kodak film. Whether it would look the same on digital, I truly don't know.... But i do know that the image was BEAUTIFUL. The scenes inside the Greenland karaoke bar have such a magical touch (as does most every shot).

I know it is easy to scoff, using terms that are scientifically immeasurable, like "magic", "organic" etc... But, well, there is a magic there that helps create a level of fantasy.

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I watched the Ben Stiller "Walter Mittty" last night, shot on kodak film. Whether it would look the same on digital, I truly don't know.... But i do know that the image was BEAUTIFUL. The scenes inside the Greenland karaoke bar have such a magical touch (as does most every shot).

I know it is easy to scoff, using terms that are scientifically immeasurable, like "magic", "organic" etc... But, well, there is a magic there that helps create a level of fantasy.

No Country For Old men and There Will Be blood were also shot on film, but I'd say the anamorphic had more to do with it.

Sure enough Mitty was anamorphic as well http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0359950/technical?ref_=tt_dt_spec

Anamorphic is the film look. You can do it on the Alexa Studio as per Skyfall and the look is just as organic.

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It can be part of the puzzle, for sure..... If there is a member here who wasn't completely enamoured with the look of Blade Runner, they should log off and have a good think about their life!

But there are 1000s of beautiful, beautiful films that don't use anamorphic that are perfect too. Fargo, The Shining, for instance.

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These films could have been really good if they were shot anamorphic: Citizen Kane, The Godfather, The Shawshank Redemption, Godffather 2, Schindlers Liste, Goodfellas,

a couple of Hitchcock films. Sad the lack 'the look' ;)

By the way Walter Mitty: Funny how they mix spherical and anamorphic and nobody cares about sometime very obvious round bokeh (same with Dark Knight). Me too, although

I always use anamorphics (everything else bores me) with video (except for film sometimes).

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I agree, anamorphic is the unbeatable film look!

 

But I think, regardless of anamorphic recording, the "look of film" is still the benchmark for what many of us love in receiving and making films. 

 

In my opinion, the aesthetic quality of film is still unmatched! 

There is still a difference regarding the aesthetic rendering of the "depth of the filmed space"! 

(sorry; english is not my native language:).

 

But, just to prevent any misunderstandings: For me as an Low Budget film enthusiast, the "digital revolution" is the best thing that could have happened to me!

I filmed with S-8, 16mm and 35mm, but nothing was as good as my present raw process with my magic lantern Canon 5D!

To achieve a good result, with film it was and is - a very expensive business!

 

But I like the idea, that Film still exists on a high Budget level, visible to all of us, as a beacon for what we love!:)

Regarding the principle "live and let live".

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the "look of film" is still the benchmark

​True, but I'd argue this is achieved more in production design than cameras...I mean, I could make film look like video with a few tricks.  Such an assertion seems to be a contrarian opinion.  Many of us want to believe that the elusive film-look is solved with the purchase of something new and better.  Perhaps to a certain extent, but I'm not convinced it's the beginning and end.

...and I'm a guy that LOVES actual film shooting.  Go figure.

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I've been a long time reader of your website and really love it, this is the first thing I've posted. I first saw the post about the whats the point in saving film when you first put it up, i disagreed with a lot of it and it left a bad taste in my mouth. Every time I've visited your website since I still get upset by this article. 

I learnt how to shoot on digital using 5D's and then Sony cameras, I'm currently a full time student studying film production and we shoot most of the digital productions on the Alexa, but occasionally we do still use film. Only 16mm I've never shot on 35mm but its an awesome experience every time, its been a huge learning curve and I don't even specialise with cinematography. My main department is production design, but there is something magical about how film works and how it looks. Theres a discipline there which isn't the same with digital. 

What I find shocking is that anyone could wish away a medium like film. It might not be the best format for everything but its still an amazing format to have available. The look of something is down to taste and opinion. In filmic medium you have some rather slim options which to capture your footage compared to say painting and how many different types of medium there are at the artists disposal (water colour, acrylic, oil, etc). I suppose what I'm getting at is do you sort of see how stupid people look when they say one is better than the other? Or why we don't 'need' one of them any more? 

Your argument is invalid, just because something is more accessible or nearly completely resembles the other thing, does not mean it replaces the medium.

Variety is the spice of life, long live film. 

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Ignoring all the Hollywood bullshit, I love the discipline that shooting on film provides. It's a breath of fresh air in my opinion. I own one digital camera and half a dozen film cameras.

If you had a high budget to shoot anything you want, then you would think differently. I have a BMPCC, because it's a budget, quality camera, but there is no way I would turn down an offer to work with an Arri Alexa. I own 35mm stills, Super 8mm cameras and a 16mm camera, each has their own distinct personality, like modern digital cameras, and again, they bring discipline.

but...

I can hold onto film negatives for the remainder of my life in protective storage for my future descendants. Digital cameras, I cannot. They are upgraded, thrown in landfill, and reliant on updated firmware. 

I can buy a 30 year old film camera which still functions the same way it did when brand new, off eBay.

There is no argument, bros, hard drives fail, why would I backup things multiple times when I can have a master roll of the film or photos? and don't talk about the 'it can be destroyed by fire bullshit'. Anything can be destroyed by fire. Your house catches on fire in your sleep, you will burn and possibly die. End. 

How many of your old computers are still functioning in your house? How many upgrades to the current cameras on the market will we have before you are all lying on your death bed in a hospital? An image cannot improve that much, you do not need that much clarity that digital brings in every project. 

Film has had a 100 year life so far and has been thoroughly tested through the ages. Digital has not proven itself yet, in the long run. 

Who know's? Maybe a new form of storage will come out, battle tested and impossible to be wiped or damaged or whatever, and companies can give a lifetime guarantee with it's purchase that all your precious memories will be maintained. 

but come on

That will NEVER happen, because companies would have NOTHING NEW to sell you guys....and this is a blog that wouldn't operate without new cameras to analyse and talk about. 

End rant.

"If digital is the future, then why am i so in love with FILM?"

Instagram.com/zacharielfilms

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I like film as much as the next guy, but the argument that's it's awesome because it's the only viable archive format is a bit odd. 

The assumption in the argument tends to be "hard drives fail!" 

Well, okay. But why talk about hard drives?  Solid state devices as storage is perfectly acceptable. 

Back up your project, stick it on the shelf, and in the year 2134 let your great great grandkids take a look at that awesome dynamic range test movie of SeaSide Heights shot on your A7s with a music soundtrack from Tulleycraft...

Line the SSD with lead and seal it in a vacuum if you really want it to endure.

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The problem is playback... Look at the floppy disc, or the CD rom. You'd be hard pressed to find, say, a laptop that could load such things. Will USB, Sata etc exist in 10 years? What about 100 years. 

The cloud is probably the best bet, digitally... They are backed up over various servers. Of course, the service could go bankrupt, get hacked etc... The codec could become unplayable. 

Film has a simple playback method that can be built without the headaches of constant technological changes.

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Will USB, Sata etc exist in ... 100 years. 

​Yes.  Moreover, I'm going to wager that legacy digital accessories are going to be a heck of a lot easier to acquire in the 22nd century than a 35mm projector.  I'm confident both will still exist, actually, just easier to get simple digital devices than a Westar.

And, for what it's worth, I still have floppy discs from my C64 right now (anyone want to play Space Taxi?)  I even have old data tapes from my 80's computers.

At any rate, if someone makes a major motion picture and they're willing to archive an actual film print, by all means do it!  But that's stuff I think only studios are going to consider.  I guess Indy people can too, but they better have some deep pockets. 

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The main thing that I miss about shooting film is the cameras...you know, cameras that look like cameras? Built like tanks and would not be obsolete after 3 months. My first ever camera was this Arri 2c - do I miss it? - yes....do I miss hearing £2+ per second being used in 35mm stock and transfer costs?...no.

 

Film is still the daddy for archival (how many hard drives do you know will store your digital negative for 100 years?) Analog LTO tape is still the only excepted medium to archive digital data at anything close to the reliability of what film can provide as a mastering/archival format. 

 

Film acquisition has unfortunately become against the 'norm', but there will always be exceptions with notable film-makers and DP's choosing film for productions. Film was never cheap, but it is a shame the decline in format has made stock/processing/transfer costs so out of reach for indie film-makers now, yet a film camera that shot The Shining or Gladiator can be bought for less than a 5DMK3.  

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