The End of Film?

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    • #47835
      Avatarcomposite1
      Member

      For over 100 years film has been the dominant technology for making movies and news shows. It evolved from simple b&w celluloid based stock and hand-cranked cameras to digitally enhanced 70mm Imax 3D. Now with digital cinematography rivaling (and soon to surpass) film it is just a matter of time before film is cast into the pigeonhole of ‘art materials’ like painting, sculpture and so on.

      Discussing film’s likely future are the panelists representing the high-end of Motion Picture, Independent and Corporate filmmakers in the Zacuto web series “Film Fellas.” In addition to the looming end of film, they also discuss their preferences and dislikes with the rapidly changing digital technologies and how they’re adapting to them. Their discussion mirrors much of what I see you all ask about in the forums. As always, if you’re asking these questions, so are the pros! Let me know what you think.

      FilmFellas – webisode 28 from Zacuto USA on Vimeo.

    • #196797
      AvatarEarlC
      Member

      The more everything changes, the more it remains the same. Did I read that somewhere. Is it true? Can we still get 8mm/Super8 movie film, 16mm? Are there still photo films available in b&w, color and transparency?

      So long as some of that hardy film production equipment remains, and artists (even the self-professed) flourish, there will be film productions in both still photography and movies.

      None of us reading this will live long enough for film in its many permutations to cease to exist and be used.

      Yeah, my film photo camera collects dust, as do the several 8mm units I have somewhere around here, a few 8mm/Super8 projectors and even a couple of 16s. I am reluctant to get rid of them even though it has been a good while since any of them have been plugged in and turned on, but…

      …ya just never know, do you? πŸ˜‰

    • #196798
      AvatarKen
      Participant

      I don’t have anything constructive to add, but I always enjoy this series, thanks for posting composite!

    • #196799
      Avatarcomposite1
      Member

      Earl,

      It’s funny when I got started in all of this back in ’90, I was all about film. But six years later when I got my initial training in video production, I had no more love for film and in ’98 my team and I took the XL1 out for field testing, I knew that was the beginning of the end. Personally, if I never shoot another foot of film I can’t say I’ll be sorry. I do get nostalgic though particularly when I hear mention of the old Arriflex 16mm gathering dust on a shelf. But since then, I’ve watched Betacam-SP, the XL, DigiBeta and now tape itself all fall by the wayside with 3D looming on the horizon.

      Kenzo,

      Far as “not having anything constructive to add” I think that illustrates the point Phillip Bloom made about guys like yourself coming up in the biz who never shot a foot of film, probably never will and probably don’t want to. When I went to filmschool the ‘film snobbery’ was in full swing, until film fanboys got their hands on a Sony HDCam with a 35mm adapter on it!

      Another funny thing is the Canon XL series has always had a 35mm EOS lens adapter. It was interesting to use and you had to flip the footage and it was always kind of hassle to use and most people didn’t even know about it. Glad you like the series. The thing I dig most is that the panelists always cut across the spectrum of people out there working. So at any given time you can have Hollywood vets, Madison Avenue and Corporate heavyweights sitting across from Indie filmmakers and Wedding Film Specialists. Though many of VM’s readers have no aspirations of getting into video that deep, it’s good for ammy’s and pro’s to hear what’s going on out there. As Earl said, “Ya’ just never know….”

    • #196800
      AvatarGrinner Hester
      Participant

      what a crazy poll.

      Of course it will. Nobody debates that. We’ll stop burning oil day too. Evolution just takes time. We have to wait on the slackers.

    • #196801
      Avatarcomposite1
      Member

      “What a crazy poll.”

      Grinner,

      I would agree with you but for the multitude of ‘film purists’ out there. Actually, I think digital became a reliable replacement back when George Lucas started shooting “Phantom Menace” in HD and proved it could translate to the big screen with no problems. Now if you did this poll on one of the remaining film magazines you’d probably get a different vote count.

    • #196802
      AvatarGrinner Hester
      Participant

      There is a difference between an old school cinematographer advocating for his gig and actually not believing where the future is headed. It’s not that they think film will last forever, they simply don’t want to admit it’s fading away because that would mean making a new purchase and learning a few new buttons. I simplifying, of course. There is a lot of money in lighting, telecine, ect. that comes from clinging to an old medium. My boss and I argued this about 20 years ago. It was in the same argument in which he was defending his veeery expensive linear edit suite. πŸ˜‰

      He still uses some of those old decks to dub stuff, I think.

    • #196803
      AvatarKen
      Participant

      So I have a somewhat related question… I watched “Public Enemies” last night. I’m a big fan of Michael Mann’s work, but I was sorely disappointed in the look of Public Enemies. I know this is the biggest complaint people have about this movie, I didn’t expect it to bother me, but it really did. Everyone says it looks like that because it’s filmed “digital HD” instead of film. I think these people don’t know entirely what they’re talking about – as I’ve seen many other movies shot “digital HD” that don’t look as bad as Public Enemies did. “Book of Eli” for example – shot on RED, looks amazing. Even Mann’s own “Collateral” and the often panned “Miami Vice” at least LOOKS a hell of a lot better than Public Enemies did.

      So I guess my question, if any of you guys know, is the “video look” that permeates the movie a product of the frame rate? Or simply the medium itself?

    • #196804
      AvatarGrinner Hester
      Participant

      It looks great to me.

      The first movies shot on HD went through motion effect processes to make them look more like film. Sounds crazy but they decreased image quality in the process. This one look slike they just lit it great and kept everything as clean as it could stay. I like that.

      I give flat nappy old school beta SP footage film looks all day every day. That’s different. If going through the trouble and expense to get a pretine image, I say keep it great lookin’. Due to the time this storyline took place, they could have easily shot old black and white film or affected whatever it was shot on accordingly. They didn’t. They made a great video that’s a movie. It’d be wrong to call it a film. It’s simply not. It leaps and bounds better, imo.

    • #196805
      Avatarcomposite1
      Member

      “My boss and I argued this about 20 years ago. It was in the same
      argument in which he was defending his veeery expensive linear edit
      suite.”

      “It’s not that they think film will last forever, they simply don’t want
      to admit it’s fading away because that would mean making a new purchase
      and learning a few new buttons.”

      Grinner,

      I had the same argument with film still rigs vs digital when we were testing out the very first Nikon Digital cameras (those things were huge with a built in hard drive!) Your other point backs up what the older gentleman in the video was saying, “When the last of the big-time Film Cinematographers Die….”

      Kenzo,

      I saw “Public Enemies” and I dug it. Instead of traditional shallow DOF, Michael Mann wanted it deep. To my eye it had a much more documentary feel to it. Many people didn’t see it that way. Here’s a link to an article whereby Director of Photography Dante Spinotti talks about the how and why he shot the movie. Definitely read the comments below the article and you’ll see the ‘film snobs’ are far from dead!

      http://studiodaily.com/main/technique/tprojects/DP%EF%BF%BDDante-Spinotti-on-Public-Enemies_11045.html

    • #196806
      Avatarcomposite1
      Member

      Kenzo,

      Here’s the last discussion with the same panelists of DP’s called ‘Webisode 29: There will be Blood.’

      http://www.zacuto.com/filmfellas-cast-6

    • #196807
      AvatarD0n
      Participant

      They still make film?

    • #196808
      Avatarbirdcat
      Participant

      It is becoming harder and harder to find film but I think it will take a lot longer for all film to be replaced by digital. Technology has advanced quickly but still has far to go to replicate the quality possible – consider that a 4k image is using less actual pixels than many digital still cameras.

      I used to say this about still work – do the math! A good magazine is printing images at 2500 DPI (not continuous tone but a good print) – Imagine how many pixel equivalents an 8 X 10 film camera captures at the above size and resolution.

      In time it will happen but I think there will be hobbyists and purists using film for years to come.

    • #196809
      Avatarcomposite1
      Member

      Birdcat,

      I’ve still got my film photo rigs standing by and a bunch of film tucked away in the ‘fridge in case I get an idea to do something ‘funky’ with it to add into a video project. Like I mentioned earlier in the post, I worked with film for years until ’02 when I finally went digital with everything. I for one, do not miss all the chemicals, the smell and the tasks one must take to maintain the machinery necessary to develop film processors.

      I was a big fan of medium format film until I watched the making of video for the first “Punisher” movie and saw how they took a Hassleblad Digital Medium Format Back and used it with green screen to make animated graphic novels. Blew me away! Now, 70mm IMAX is still no joke but that’s in the realm of massive budget projects, distribution and display. However, in ’07 at NAB I saw a super widescreen screening of a 6k digital film and it rivaled IMAX. I swear, it looked like you could just walk into the scene and sit down!

      You also mentioned 8×10″ film which is awesome. I used to look at aerial film shot on 9×9″ and panoramic film. Depending on the filmstock you could get some ridiculous resolutions! But digital is rapidly getting to the point where you’ll be able to look at images like Harrison Ford did in “Blade Runner.”

    • #196810
      AvatarD0n
      Participant

      2500 dpi? I thought more like 200 – 250 dpi…. which is still lower than 300dpi for photo quality printers ( i print on Epsons) which is why I often chuckle when magazine editors demand 50mb files that the printers have to down size to the equilivent of 2 mb… cmyk seperations then gut 40-60% of the color gamut out of adobe rgb and while most people think magazines look good, they lose thier luster when you hold them side by side with a digital file (6mb or more) printed on photo paper, in adobe rgb mode.

      hdtv displays are still about 2 mb files to fill…

      the problem with large formats is you actually have lower resolving lenses (in terms of lines per milimeter) compared to pro 35mm glass, and the only real benefit over 35mm fils is less enlargement makes for slightly better image quality at enlargements over 20×30 inches… you have to do billboards, not the sizes most people would print at… but digital images in 35mm sized cameras have surppassed medium format and will match large format film to day any 14 -22 mp d-slr plus software and pro optics can do a billboard.

      any medium format camera won’t give you anything more than a bigger file because again, lens development in 35mm surpassed medium format lenses years ago, you can take a raw file form a dslr and upsample it in software and get similar results to a hassleblad with 40 mp digital back any day of the week.

      So the only real tangible benefit to going large format? Tilt and swing baby! camera movements for correcting converging lines and plane of focus. so 4×5 with digital back still makes more sense than 8×10 in film.

      Film is dead. there are still people out there coating 8×10 glass plates, and printing Dageurtypes but lets be honest, film just joined them as an obscure hobby, not an actual work tool.

    • #196811
      AvatarD0n
      Participant

      wouldn’t it be something to see video capture in a 4×5 digital view camera!

    • #196812
      Avatarcomposite1
      Member

      D0n,

      With that Hassleblad setup I mentioned, that’s pretty near what was done. The latest models shoot upwards of 50 megapixels! That blows anything RED, Canon, Nikon and many others out of the water. RED better pray Hassleblad doesn’t get it in their head to make a Digital motion picture camera capable of handling prime lenses for moderate prices. It would be ugly….

    • #196813
      AvatarD0n
      Participant

      Pentax is due to release a 30 mp 645 medium format camera next month. if it does video, it will be a contender against red for sure…

    • #196814
      Avatarbirdcat
      Participant

      Hi Don –

      My five year old, sub $100 Epson printer prints at 1440 X 720 DPI – I was printing photos at 600 DPI almost 20 years ago!

      I have never shot on 8 X 10 – I did shoot on 4 X 5 – had an older Crown Graphic which I regret selling to this day (traded it in for my second Canon 35mm SLR back in the mid 70’s).

      When I shoot film (stills) is still use my Canon F1 – Love the quality it gives me, but I always did want a Blad…

      A few yeas ago I saw a Blad with 26mpx digital back – Decent quality then – Wonder what the high end is up to nowadays.

    • #196815
      AvatarD0n
      Participant

      yep I used dpi instead of lpi and ppi. was tired and not paying attention…. yes your printer lays down dots at those resolutions but the human eye can only diferentiate about 300 PPI (pixels per inch on a computer display) Also your scanner was at 600 spi samples per inch….all confusing terms. the point i was trying to make is this: for a full page magazine page a 2mb s-rgb camera file is sufficient resolution.

      >2500 dpi? MAGAZINES PRINT FILES AT more like 200 – 250 lpi.… which is still lower than 300lpi for photo quality printers ( i print on Epsons) which is why I often chuckle when magazine editors demand 50mb files that the printers have to down size to the equilivent of 2 mb… cmyk seperations then gut 40-60% of the color gamut out of adobe rgb and while most people think magazines look good, they lose thier luster when you hold them side by side with a digital file (6mb or more) printed on photo paper, in adobe rgb mode.
      hdtv displays are still about 2 mb files to fill…
      the problem with large formats is you actually have lower resolving lenses (in terms of lines per milimeter) compared to pro 35mm glass, and the only real benefit over 35mm files is less enlargement makes for slightly better image quality at enlargements over 20×30 inches… you have to do billboards, not the sizes most people would print at… but digital images in 35mm sized cameras have surppassed medium format and will match large format film to day any 14 -22 mp d-slr plus software and pro optics can do a billboard.
      any medium format camera won’t give you anything more than a bigger file because again, lens development in 35mm surpassed medium format lenses years ago, you can take a raw file form a dslr and upsample it in software and get similar results to a hassleblad with 40 mp digital back any day of the week.
      So the only real tangible benefit to going large format? Tilt and swing baby! camera movements for correcting converging lines and plane of focus. so 4×5 with digital back still makes more sense than 8×10 in film.
      Film is dead. there are still people out there coating 8×10 glass plates, and printing Dageurtypes but lets be honest, film just joined them as an obscure hobby, not an actual work tool.

      Higher mb files only matter if your cropping severely or blowing up huge.

      I’ve got plenty of 16×20 prints shot with a six mp camera that couldn’t tell from the same sized prints shot on a 14 mp camera, unless you’re pixel peeping with a loupe…

    • #196816
      AvatarD0n
      Participant

      you could set a scanner at 600 spi and get a 5 mb file, and you could set the scanner at 2400 spi and get a 40 mb file, off the same document, and printing at all sizes will yield the same quality, so the bigger file size gains no quality, at all. You’re limited to the resolving power of the photo paper you scanned, and the detail in the print.

      no commercial printer is putting down 2500 dpi or lpi on paper…..

      usually 150-200 lpi at 200-300 dpi

      I find all the terminology confusing and just use photoshop or genuine fractals to set up the file to the editors specs and fuggetabout it!

    • #196817
      Avatarcomposite1
      Member

      “Film is dead.”

      D0n,

      I wouldn’t exactly say dead, but it’s ‘retirement ceremony’ is in eyeball distance. As a former phojo, I used to turn in all my images at minimum 300dpi. But I understand why the major mags like NatGeo and others want such high dpi images. It’s a similar setup during the film days when they wanted you to shoot using Ektachrome (slide film) instead of regular negative film. Well exposed and focused slide film was par none for a long time. When you go to print, you lose a great deal of detail so the higher the image, the better it will hold up with high-res printers. They’re still going off that same workflow with digital (higher-res = better prints at lower res.)

      And your right, only high-end industrial printers and professional inkjet photo printers are capable of doing justice to those high-res images. Even they can’t match the full output of today’s high-end digital cameras. Oh and Birdcat, the latest ‘Blad’ Digital Medium format cam’s and backs go high as 50 megapixels. Of course you’re gonna’ pay $30k+ for one!

      Talk about digital replacing film. I just watched the making of video for “The Corpse Bride” Tim Burton’s stop-motion fantasy and they shot the whole thing with an EOS-1mkIII!

    • #196818
      AvatarAnonymous
      Inactive

      I just saw a 70mm print of Laurence of Arabia over the weekend in Hollywood. Digital can’t do that.

    • #196819
      AvatarKen
      Participant

      sk00 – Not YET it can’t. Digital can do half that, for far less than half the price of that 70mm film. I think a lot of the purists hate on digital video because it’s taking away the exclusivity of movie-making. A format that is accessible to the everyman scares the crap out of the old guard. “Everyone can make movies now? Oh CRAP!”

    • #196820
      Avatarbirdcat
      Participant

      FYI – Linotronic printers have been printing at 2540 DPI for a very long time (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linotronic).

      I spent 13+ years working for an old financial printer (who sadly is now being purchased) and we dealt with these RIP’s all the time.

    • #196821
      Avatarbirdcat
      Participant

      Kenzo –

      Yes, anyone can put images on tape or film (just look at YouTube) but that doesn’t a true movie make.

      I’ve been filming (in 16mm and Super 8) since I was about 12 (1966) but a true filmmaker I am not.

      But you are correct in the fact that digital video has made “movie making” a lot more accessible to a lot more people. I personally wouldn’t attempt even a small fraction of what I do without an NLE and other tools. I’d slice my fingers off if I had to cut the old fashioned way πŸ˜‰

    • #196822
      Avatarmb300e
      Member

      When CDs first hit the street many years ago (it seems), everyone said vinyl was dead. Well guess what, it is making a comeback with “Hi Fi” freaks and others as CDs don’t quite cut it. I kept all my gear including tube amps with KT66s, and am I glad I did. Long live film, tubes and vinyl! The King is dead, long live the King. What is old is new again .Best regards to all. P.

    • #196823

      There are people out there who still listen to vinyl and claim it sounds better than CD’s. My wife clung to her 35mm camera and only replaced it this year with a digital one. The same will eventually happen to vinyl and film.

      Digital is easier to make, cheaper, lasts longer, easier to store and catalog, etc. It’s just the way it is.

      (Try to buy some Polaroid film on eBay and you’ll see what happens to older technology. You can buy the cameras for next to nothing but the film is scarce and high priced.)

    • #196824
      Avatarcomposite1
      Member

      “I’d slice my fingers off if I had to cut the old fashioned way….”

      ‘Cat,

      When I went to filmschool in ’02, they had the intro students workin’ the flatbeds for some ‘ancient school’ ‘cut & paste’. I would pass by those classes and say “Bless their hearts” as I headed off to my assigned NLE booth to download my rough cut from my laptop into an Avid.

      sk00/Kenzo,

      Hate to pop your bubbles but digital has already equaled IMAX and you’ve probably already seen it. Here’s an article about how 8k Digital was used to supplement the workflow on the 2008 film “The Dark Knight”.

      http://www.studiodaily.com/filmandvideo/currentissue/9703.html

    • #196825
      Avatarcomposite1
      Member

      “Digital is easier to make, cheaper, lasts longer, easier to store and catalog, etc. It’s just the way it is.”

      Pseudo,

      You’re correct on your points, but for long-term storage film is king. Once they figured out how to make both stable emulsions and backings that wouldn’t fade or break down like the old silent film stock did, you can pull out old negs from the Technicolor age and down and they transfer just as sharp as the day they were developed. Higher end film stocks from the middle 1960’s ’til now have been archived in pristine condition. Long as the neg or print is kept in normal conditions without being scratched or exposed to sunlight, they’re going to last a very long time.

      Digital has long-term storage issues if stored as magnetic media just by virtue of the Earth’s Magnetic Field will eventually breakdown the information and then there are issues with how long the material it’s recorded on will last. That goes double for hard drive storage and SSD drives the information is reported to decay faster than on traditional hard drives. Storing on DVD has problems apparently due to the potential breakdown of the polycarbonate adhesive that holds the layers together. For what is considered ‘Archival Grade’ DVD’s the estimates are between “20 to 200 years.” Apparently there is a ‘300-year’ Archival disc available but the jury’s still out on that. Blu-Ray is so new that there isn’t much hard and fast evidence yet as to how long it will really last.

      http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/askjack/2008/may/08/howlongshouldadvdlast

    • #196826

      composite1, you bring up a good point. it’s ironic that really, the best method for storing digital media is a tape drive, according to most of the techie folks out there, not a disc or hard drive. go figure.

    • #196827
      Avatarbirdcat
      Participant

      It may be digital but there are many CD’s that have been remastered from tapes – some very old.

      I actually have a CD of an older recording (Schubert’s 8th) that has print through from the old analog tapes!

      At least backup tape media is digital – but also subject to the effects of time and temperature.

    • #196828
      Avatarcomposite1
      Member

      My serious beef with everything digital is the ‘long term factor’. It would seem that the more complex our capabilities get, the least likely they will stand the test of time. Granted it goes without saying that sitting in the multiplex watching the latest flick in 3D IMAX beats reading a stone tablet. But 3,000 years from now if there’s anyone around I’m willing to bet my own cash with interest, the stone tablet will be around for those people to read. Will the IMAX film and all the things needed to make it viewable be around and accessable? I wouldn’t bet the farm on it.

      In our rush to go ‘paperless’, we seem to generate more paper and set ourselves up for real trouble when the power goes off. I had a first hand look at that scenario last year during the southern ice storm disaster. When there’s no electricity, no gas for cars or generators and the mice are too tired to run the treadmill, it’s 1850 without the horses. So unless we figure out how to make this stuff work without power, digital has a major ‘Achilles’ Heel’.

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