Why Digital is Killing Film

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    • #44512

      Check out this article to see the real reason why digital has seen off film for good in the movie business:

      The rise of digital in motion pictures Beyond the tipping point for film (part 1 of 2)

      It explains why the likes of Kodak, the iconic photography firm, went bankrupt and the one game-changing event in 2009 that changed everything!

      Do you agree?

    • #186381

      I disagree. I don’t think Avatar is the reason why everything is shifting to digital. If Avatar was never released, it would not have changed the fact that shooting digital is cheaper than film and digital images have reached the quality of film.

      Kodak going out of business is unfortunate, but they should have seen this coming. They should have put forth an effort to create high quality compression schemes for acquisition. Doing so would all them to license the compression schemes to camera manufactures and NLE software for seamless workflows. Apple beat them too it and now cameras like the Alexa record ProRes files, which play nice with a lot of NLEs.

    • #186382

      The answer to the Kodak question becomes clearer if you read the book Good to Great by Jim Collins. Kodak failed to capitalize on several business fronts, failed to realize change was needed and that change was coming whether Kodak liked it or not. When they did finally realize change was needed they moved entirely to slow. They had the wrong business brain trusts on the bus – those that believed Kodak was too big and powerful but failed to embrace the new and up and coming technologies. The story of Kodak will be studied in the business realms for years to come. The story is not yet finished on Kodak – it will depend on what they do now that will spell the complete end of Kodak or a new beginning. In business you produce the best product you can in order to be a good company. In order to be a great company you build your product better than anyone else can. Over the years Kodak had numerous occasions to embrace new technology and use it to do things better than anyone else. However, it seems they made a business decision to be just like everyone else instead of better than everyone else which was the first step towards the end for Kodak.

    • #186383

      Hi Rob, I guess that without Avatar, the digital shift would still have been inevitable, but the Box Office pull of James Cameron certainly did boost the confidence of cinemas to adopt 3D and thus digital screens at a faster rate than initially.

      There are certainly pros and cons to digital filming. It would be great if you could comment on the Quantel blog (which we researched) and provide balance from the perspective of a film maker!

    • #186384

      what is film?

      personally I’m glad to see heavy weights like cameron pushing for faster frame rates with digital!

      To be honest 24 frames per second was the slowest frame rate possible to save money on film!

      action movies will never be the same now that film is gone, and directors that see digitals true potential are moving forward.

    • #186385

      I actually don’t like the faster frame rates. I only use them for slo-mo. If you quickly wave your hand in front of your face, you’ll see motion blur. There is much less motion blur with 60p, making it looks unrealistic, in my opinion.

      Plus, there is a technical trade off. The faster the frame rate, the more bandwidth is needed. Now, if your media is highly compressed, that might not matter. But not everyone works with highly compressed media.

      To each his own, though.

    • #186386

      5k 24fps footage from the Red Epic runs over 10GB/Minute of video. Now imagine the 300fps it can shoot at 5k. Even if it is a bit more compressed, and used for special occasions, that is still a lot of storage space needed!

    • #186387

      Much as I’m sorry to see so historically significant a company like Kodak fall by the wayside, I’m not sorry to see film go. I’ve shot and processed film from 35mm to massive 9″x9″ for photography, motion picture, color, b&w, negative, reversal, slide and contact to roll paper for archive. If I never have to breathe or get splashed by the toxic mix of chemicals it took to do all that or strip down and rebuild another film processor again it would still be too soon!

      I’m also not sorry to see all the film purists who poo-pooed and naysaid from around ’96 until the late 2000’s that ‘digital will never surpass film’. In 2007, I saw a demo at NAB for a 6k projection on a massive screen and knew it had already happened. Yes, there are nuances film still captures better than digital, but even those are having gains rapidly made upon them. Just seeing how the new cameras can capture light in near darkness with a very good to great image is impressive alone. Let’s face it, no silver halide based product can compete with 12,000 – 120,000 ISO!

      Digital also makes the task of timelapse and stopmotion photography a joy to perform. With a few quick and simple tests on-site, you can get consistent results with only the time needed to setup, breakdown and the actual shoot to get the job done. No sweating whether you got the right exposure and no sweating how it’s going to turn out after being processed. Not to mention, the massive rolls of film and the cost of accessories to secure your undeveloped film are now gone.

      Now it’s not all rosy because with anything, there are drawbacks. up front as you guys mentioned storage is a serious issue. CD’s, DVD’s, and Blu-Ray Discs are too finite for storage of massive uncompressed libraries for ever larger digital formats. Traditional harddrives are ideal in the short term, but are problematic in that they have mechanical parts which will eventually fail. Solid-state drives are also an ideal option but are much more expensive and apparently are more volatile than traditional harddrives in the long run.

      Modern Filmstocks however, if kept cool and dry will last for hundreds of years. The major problem with film and digital is the tech itself. It’s great manufacturers are improving the tech by leaps and bounds. But, they are not only building in ‘obsolescence’ they are making it ever more difficult to archive what is created with their products. Hollywood and major news entities have massive servers archiving their stuff as they’ve been transitioning from tape and film libraries. But they have the same issue we have when archiving our footage, when the power goes off then what?

      So now the best course of action after you digitize from tape or download from flash media is to offload onto a backup/archival drive and put that sucker in a file cabinet or safe until needed again. Hopefully, it will occur to someone that a permanent method of digital storage that can transcend the constant fluctuations of manufacturers is needed and such a device will be created.

      In the meantime, film will still be around as an artist’s medium just as charcoal, paint and sculpture are still with us after thousands of years.

    • #186388

      the irony here is that online piracy means digital distribution to multiple users and sites means a film distributed online will last forever and be updated as new systems are developed meaning there is longevity in digital… the question remains on how to make it profitable and legal…. Personally I think online librarys of movies and tv shows is where the studios need to go in the future for the sake of archiving older films and keeping them preserved and in a place where people can find them…

      would have been better in the studios had bought into netfilx and others and profited off ads as opposed to trying to sue the hell out of everybody to preserve an archaic monopoly on thier products.

      I agree film is dead…in the mainstream industry… hope the big studios follow suit and filmmaking becomes democratic and open to all the little guys with big dreams…

    • #186389

      When I shot wedding Photography in the 90’s I equated each shot as $1.00 for processing, Add that up to about 150-200 shots per wedding before any sales take place. Today photographers shoot upwards of 2000 pics..disposable media is what put kodak out of business.

      at the risk of political correctness…Why was Kodak notbailed out like GM? Sachs? Wall Street, were they not too big to fail also? or were they just not in the political game?


    • #186390

      Digital killed film off because Celluloid was a ‘too many steps’ process. The whole reason Lucas and then Cameron went all digital is because (in both cases) it was the only way to go with CG driven products.

      But even for the small no-budget productions (which I was on just four days ago), you can’t beat digital with editing, color correcting, etc. What was posted in one week for this short, would have taken up to a month with each step. No comparison with either price or production.

      As to Kodak… Yes, it was (yet) another example of the “too big to fail” behemoth death march; companies whose corporate ego do not allow for change until it becomes painfully obvious. Like IBM before it (‘who’s going to want to own a desktop computer?’), those companies that are blind to technological trends will die from that blindness stepping into the dinosaur swamp of ‘We don’t need to innovate, we’re _______’ (fill in the blank).

      The only thing that saved Microsoft in my mind was that Gates foresaw the ‘if you give it away for free, you have them hooked’ model of business. Not a good model in my opinion either, but that’s how behemoths can stomp the landscape with eyes open.

    • #186391

      Film is dead – OK, I said it – Doesn’t mean I have to like it.

      But having said it, I am both sad and happy about it.

      I won’t miss the days of shooting a dozen rolls of 35mm slides in an afternoon and waiting for that film to come back from the lab (and paying all that money) to see how my shots came out.

      I will miss teaching the skills required to shoot film and what it did for me however. Much translates to the digital world but dodging and burning in, while easier in Photoshop, were invented in the darkroom, where I learned them.

      And learning the nuances of different films (like the difference between Ektachrome and Kodachrome, or why you certain needed filters with Ektachrome Infrared or 6 ASA Micrography) is now lost forever.

      Also, I scanned some of my old 35mm slides and at 3600 DPI they came out as 5584×3360 – a bit better than 18 MPx – But I could print those slides as an 11X14 print and examine it with a magnifying glass and see nothing but continuous tone – no pixels! How many megapixels would be required to do the same in the digital world? And what happens when technology demands a gigapixel image and all I have are some 640 X 480’s left from my first digital camera that I’d like to print?

      Digital provides some nice advantages to be sure – I just wish it didn’t exact such a sacrifice that was film.

    • #186392

      I found this today – interesting followup on Kodak:


    • #186393

      Interesting thread! I think we have seen this in many other Industries. Vinyls, Tapes and then CDs in music industry for example. An early example is the machanical calculators verses electronic ones. The Swedish company called Facit had 14000 employees in 140 countries in 1970. They were killed off by 1972-73 by cheaper, better Japaneese calculators. These jumps in technology will always happen. I think it is great…. otherwise there would be harder feeling nostalgic about “the good old days” I wonder what will be the next one in the sequence film—digital—???

    • #186394

      Good question Robert! I just started a new thread based on your question: what will be the next one in the sequence film—digital—???, which compliements the final part of the Quantel article on Digital in Cinema.

      I hope everyone continues to discuss their thoughts and memories of Kodak. I find that the CNN article that foreshadowed the events unfolding sums it up best:

      “You press the button, we do the rest.

      The Kodak button was on portable cameras; Google’s is the “Enter”
      button on hundreds of millions of computers that it does not
      manufacture, but that are the key to its success.”

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