Why 35mm film still applied in the cinema?

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    • #39783

      Todays, we have HD, BD… but why 35mm still applied? Isnt it is outdated and why cinema still using 35mm film technology?

    • #171658

      A combination of tradition and that 35mm and HD don’t quite look identical.

    • #171659

      If I had a 35mm camera, I wouldn’t be in a hurry to buy a CineAlta and trash all my other equipment.

    • #171660

      Tradition is probably the strongest hold film has. Otherwise, it has a narrower depth of field because it has a larger "imager" (the 35mm film versus maybe 1 inch CCDs).
      Many argue that film is organic too, not just numbers. Also, film has more luma latitude; it can record very bright stuff and dark stuff at the same time better than video.

      There’s a few other things, but I think the majority is tradition.

    • #171661

      Oh, I’ll throw in my 2 cents. 😀

      Honestly, as great as the digital era is, it has a looooong way to go before it can truly duplicate the quality of film. In fact, I still roll some footage (just for fun – not for clients’ work) on a super 8 I picked up in a thrift store from time to time, and I’ve got to say that aside from the widest depth of field I’ve ever worked with in my life, I prefer the color quality over my DV gear.

      Ultimately, on our end of the market, video is the best way to go, because of several reasons:

      -Video is cheaper than film. A DV tape is four bucks (give or take), whereas a single 50′ reel of Super8 film will set you back around $50 or more. And that’s the smallest film size out there. processing a reel of 35mm film is expensive, so much so that there’s no way that, say, a wedding videographer, could afford to buy, let alone process the film.

      -Video is easier to use than film. When you run out of tape on a video cassette recorder, you hit the eject button, pop out the old tape, and pop in the new tape. Film is much less user-friendly. The big "Hollywood" cameras take quite a while to load up, and don’t get me started on the sin of exposing undeveloped film to light. Even the near-foolproof cartridge systems used by Super8 film cameras can be ruined without too much ill effort.

      -Video is just plain more convenient. You can’t plug a film camera into your computer to record "live." Everything has to be recorded, sent to the lab, developed, and a few weeks later, you’re ready to go with a roll of footage that you’ll still need to transfer onto your editing machine for effects and digital trimming.

      There’s no way to say it any plainer, for "every day" motion picture producers, video is the only reasonable solution. But just because it’s better for us doesn’t mean that it’s better period.

      Film still trumps video in many ways. Here are a few off the top of my head:

      -Film has far better color depth. Let me put it this way: When your 3CCD camera records an image, essentially, it’s only recording the values of red, green, and blue, and using those three colors to give you an approximation of the whole spectrum. While this works fairly well, it still means that not all colors are perfectly reproduced. On the other hand, if you expose film to a purple object, the film records the actual purple, and not just a red/blue combination, giving you truer colors.

      -Film has a vastly better luma range. In short, that means that there’s a lot more distance between being overexposed and underexposed. It also means you get better quality. Where your digital CCD chip would say "I give up!" and just drop out to black, film still has a long way to go before it’s truly at that point. Again, this leads to truer, crisper color than what you can do with video.

      -Film is more reliable than video. Let’s face it, even if you baby your camcorders, you’re going to get dropout from time to time. A picture will glitch up, or your tracking will falter. This isn’t surprising considering that the total width of your track on a DV tape is only about that of a human hair. Film doesn’t experience these problems, and as long as you know how to set up your gear, you’re almost guaranteed a perfect reel.

      -Film is impervious to magnetic fields. That’s my favorite one there. Back when I used CRT screens for editing video, I had to degauss them from time to time. Usually I was careful to get all of my tapes out of the room and far away, but one time I missed one tape by accident, and sure enough, even being about 10 feet away, that sucker wiped the tape clean.

      Honestly, there are pros and cons to both, but in my humble opinion, film will never truly become an outdated means of cinematography.

    • #171662

      Yes! Thank you for some real answers.

      Also: to the "why we might want to use video list"

      With film, what you see is not what you get. You have to use a light meter to set the exposure (not just looking through the viewfinder) and filters to "white-balance" the camera.

    • #171663

      Howdy Spencer,

      You’re definitely right about the need for filters and light meters. Film records exactly what’s out there, not what we see, and it’s actually quite impressive how well the human eye can correct for bad lighting. Personally, I think being able to aim my camcorder at a gray card and hit the white balance button is a lot easier than carrying around a bag full of filters and a light meter that cost more than I care to mention. 🙂

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