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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.