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35mm infuriates the popular press


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#1 NathanCoombs

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Posted 28 June 2006 - 10:05 AM

They are on a mission to rid the world of film. Popular pundits need to see no evidence, no technical analysis - on this thread I will post the best examples as they arrive. Enjoy the tone of exasperation that film is still even being used!

UK film company set up to ride growing digital wave


Meg Carter
Wednesday June 28, 2006
The Guardian

A new British film company, Slingshot, opens for business this week with an ambitious pledge to produce 10 feature films over the next three years - a goal it hopes to achieve with a business model unique to this country: producing and distributing digital feature films.

Few deny that the future of the film industry is digital. However, the change-over from physical 35mm film and the production and distribution techniques associated with it has been slow.

Digital production techniques have taken hold fastest. The latest digital production equipment, such as hand-held cameras, and the falling cost of post-production digital effects have filtered down to lower budget movies allowing production teams to work more flexibly and cost-effectively.

Digital distribution is taking longer to establish, however, as it requires the replacement of cinema projectors.

Despite this, many in the industry believe digital distribution is inevitable because as well as offering improved picture quality...
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#2 John Pytlak RIP

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Posted 28 June 2006 - 11:19 AM

Again, film was proclaimed "DEAD" by Variety when Ampex introduced 2-inch video tape recording almost 60 years ago! Yet 2005 set records for Kodak motion-picture FILM use, while 2-inch videotape has been an obsolete format for decades.

Kodak is at the forefront of digital technology (over half of Kodak's revenue comes from digital imaging products and services):

http://www.kodak.com/go/dcinema

http://www.kodak.com...o/idhbx/imagers

http://www.kodak.com...requestid=23886

http://www.kodak.com...ighlights.shtml

Yet, Kodak and the labs still invest millions of dollars annually in motion-picture film technology, with well over 10 BILLION feet of motion-picture film used each year.

As Mark Twain once wrote: "Rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated". :lol:
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#3 Sam Wells

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Posted 28 June 2006 - 01:16 PM

There have been bunch of such companies in the US - InDigEnt, Next Wave (to an extent) and others whose names escape me..

I'm not sure they have done any better in the Indie marketplace overall than anyone else...

-Sam
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#4 Richard Boddington

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Posted 28 June 2006 - 03:56 PM

"Yet 2005 set records for Kodak motion-picture FILM use"

I'm glad to hear film sales are booming John. But for the feature I'm shooting in October I'm using Fuji stock. It is half the retail price of Kodak!! I've shot tests with their 8573, and I find it to be every bit as good as 5218 for half the money.

If Kodak keeps this up it won't be the digital crapola that people keep coming out with that kills Kodak, it will be Fuji.

Tell your bosses at Kodak John they are going to lose, or already have lost, the indie guys working with 35mm to Fuji based on price. Plus when you call your local Fuji office and say, "I've only ever shot Kodak." Suddenly they start dropping their price even more to get your business and keep you from going back to Kodak.

I love the Kodak stocks, but sheesh the price compared to Fuji is ridiculous!

FYI, I can get Fuji for .51 CDN a foot new in the can from Fuji Toronto. While the equivalent Kodak stock is just over a $1.00 CDN per foot.

Fix this.

R,
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#5 Matt Pacini

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Posted 28 June 2006 - 06:17 PM

Well, the fact that Kodak sells tons more film than Fuji, AND Kodak is posting record orders, is evidence that they're not exactly worried about their customer base drying up.
They're both great products, and sure, I wish they'd get in a bidding war so I can get stock dirt cheap, but I wouldn't really pelt John with silly statements like "you're losing to Fuji" or whatever.

MP
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#6 Richard Boddington

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Posted 28 June 2006 - 08:42 PM

Actually Matt it is hardly a silly statement at all. Obviously Kodak IS losing business to Fuji. If Fuji just "went away" then Kodak would get that business, and I'm sure they'd like that. Every time some one puts a nickel into Fuji stock it's a nickel less that Kodak gets.

Companies that use the philosophy you present of, "look at us we're selling so much product," will end up on the trash heap of history. I can give you a long list, let's start with a little company like GM for instance. The once mighty car company that can't shed employees fast enough because there are few buyers for their pathetic cars.

Kodak may be number one today, but Fuji is in the rear view mirror and charging up behind. Lets see where Kodak and Fuji are five years from now. When the Japanese first entered the US auto market they where considered to be a joke, look at them now, it's the big three that are the joke.

R,
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#7 Michael Collier

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Posted 28 June 2006 - 10:39 PM

I imagine when film is dead and gone, Kodak will still be around, helping in motion picture support in some capacity. I would imagine Color management? (with their experience making LUTs and quality control, they could easily make that a mainstay of their business. They would be like Dolby for HD. Not to mention a possible Digital Cinema camera perhaps?)
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#8 Richard Boddington

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Posted 28 June 2006 - 10:44 PM

"I imagine when film is dead and gone"

I presume this is a fanciful statement?

R,
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#9 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 28 June 2006 - 11:48 PM

While I'm sure that Fuji would love a bigger marketshare over Kodak, the truth is that Fuji once told me that they don't even have the manufacturing capacity to match Kodak's output, Kodak's total motion picture negative sales being so much more than Fuji's.

As corporations go, Fuji is actually a bigger company than Kodak in terms of revenue, but that obviously goes beyond film sales since Fuji has their fingers in so many pies.

I'm not sure why Kodak is so expensive there in Canada -- Fuji generally sells about 10 cents a foot cheaper here than Kodak (.45/ft versus .55/ft, let's say), but not 50% cheaper.

Anyway, I don't think the solution for the survival of film is for the two chief film manufacturers to think of each other as the enemy. As they say, that's like shuffling the deck chairs on the Titanic...
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#10 Rik Andino

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Posted 29 June 2006 - 01:34 AM

There have been bunch of such companies in the US - InDigEnt, Next Wave (to an extent)
And others whose names escape me..
I'm not sure they have done any better in the Indie marketplace overall than anyone else...


Actually when you consider it InDigEnt and Next Wave have been very sucessful
They've shot several high-profile indie films on MiniDV cameras
And they've gotten them distributed and screened in actual theaters

InDigEnt which has produced around 18 features
Most of their films features very high-profile talent
Which is an incredible feat for indie films to begin with
And then get distribution for all their films and actual theatrical screening...
I would consider this pretty sucessful for any production 35mm, or S16...

But to do this while shooting on consumer MiniDV cameras...
Yeah they've got a very good record of sucess...

I think Next Wave has like 5 films under their belt
Only three were shot on MiniDV but they still got theatrical distribution.

Anyways just my two&half cents.
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#11 Jim Murdoch

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Posted 29 June 2006 - 05:06 AM

Again, film was proclaimed "DEAD" by Variety when Ampex introduced 2-inch video tape recording almost 60 years ago! Yet 2005 set records for Kodak motion-picture FILM use, while 2-inch videotape has been an obsolete format for decades.

Wasn't it only 50 years ago? 1956?
Whatever, first it was Ampex's first refrigerator-sized contraptions, then it was practical off-line editing, then it was portable 1" reel to reel VTRs, then it was U-Matic cassettes, then it was Betacam, then it was CCD cameras and SP Betacam/MII,(running parallel with the first pathetic tube-based HDTV cameras), then it was Digital Betacam et al, then it was "non-linear-editing" and the current crop of CCD HDTV cameras.

Whatever, just about all cinema release movies and prime time US TV shows are still shot on film. I can tell the difference, so can you and so can the people who make the format decisions.

The bottom line is, film emulsion can take an outdoor scene whose individual pixels can easily vary in brightness over a million to one range (that's only 20 stops) and after suitable massaging through telecine and other post processes can yield an 8-bit analog broadcast signal (that's only 256 : 1 or 8 stops) that bears a quite a passable resemblance to the original scene! No video camera currently in existence can do that or anywhere near that.
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#12 Michael Nash

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Posted 29 June 2006 - 04:21 PM

Wasn't it only 50 years ago? 1956?
Whatever, first it was Ampex's first refrigerator-sized contraptions, then it was practical off-line editing, then it was portable 1" reel to reel VTRs, then it was U-Matic cassettes, then it was Betacam, then it was CCD cameras and SP Betacam/MII,(running parallel with the first pathetic tube-based HDTV cameras), then it was Digital Betacam et al, then it was "non-linear-editing" and the current crop of CCD HDTV cameras.


None of those earlier technologies were ever used to put multi-million dollar features up on the screen either (except for the editing part). HD has. It's the first serious competitor to film acquisition for theatrically released films.

I don't think anyone here is disputing the quality difference; everyone understands the extraordinary capacity of film and its proven track record.

Film is not dead, but digital is "alive," even if it's kind of like Frankenstein at the moment (disparate technologies cobbled together to make a new form). We've been dealing with this for several years now, and the most reasonable approach is to look at it clearly and objectively. Economics will certainly drive the growth of digital technologies for many reasons, so it's not going to go away now matter how we feel about the artistic issues. We need to struggle to uphold reasonable standards without being ignorant of the realities of the marketplace. Taking a stance on either side of the film/digital fence isn't going to do that.
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#13 Michael Collier

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Posted 29 June 2006 - 05:33 PM

I think yall are overthinking my statement. I said 'when' I dont think film is dead, or dying or in death throws. But I think at this point its clear that at some point, no feature film will be shot on actual film. Its a question of timetable, which I was smart to omit. It could be as soon as 10 years, it could be as long as 50 years or longer, but inevitably film will be a bygone era. I just hope they hold out until quality is on par.

And you quote all these great examples of old tech that was said to replace film....and it did on a limited basis. I shoot for news and I can tell you I have shot very little reversal for the 5pm show. The examples you quote has one common thread: each one was a huge quality jump (even if from crap to better crap) I wish people would just drop the whole debate on film vs video. Its gonna happen, its gonna take a while, but you already see a lot larger share of features shot digital. I think this is the very first generation of Digital Cinema, and film is quite mature. The best we can ask is that when we do make digital films, that they look remarkably good.
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#14 Jim Murdoch

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Posted 29 June 2006 - 08:00 PM

None of those earlier technologies were ever used to put multi-million dollar features up on the screen either (except for the editing part). HD has. It's the first serious competitor to film acquisition for theatrically released films.

I know they weren't, but that was not what you read in the trade press, over and over again!
I'm sorry, I know I'm an old curmudgeon, but my memory is still intact; how many times am I going to hear the same old regurgitated drivel, over and over again?
My point (and I presume John's) has always been that despite the incredible advances in the various video technologies, the B.S. level seems to have remained remarkably constant!

And HD acquistion isn't exactly new; Star Wars II was shot six years ago, and the technology didn't exactly set the industry on fire then, just as Sony's laughable Tube-camera-based efforts didn't, ten years before that!

I'm not saying HD cameras will never replace film, but I am saying that current generation are still nowhere near good enough to do that. It's the same ol' same ol': Virtually all of the current generation US prime-time shows are still shot on 35mm film, and that's just for showing on (mostly) smallish TV screens. How does it follow that HD cameras on the other hand are suddenly good enough for footage that's going to be displayed in cinemas? You'd think TV would be the first step.



I think this is the very first generation of Digital Cinema, and film is quite mature.

About the fifth generation, actually....
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#15 Michael Nash

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Posted 29 June 2006 - 09:05 PM

How does it follow that HD cameras on the other hand are suddenly good enough for footage that's going to be displayed in cinemas? You'd think TV would be the first step.


Well I think you're a little late with that argument. My point was that it already HAS infiltrated both TV and theatrical screens, and therefore needs to be taken seriously. Not just sitcoms, but 1-hour episodic dramas. Many may feel that the current generation of HD cameras are not good enough to match the extant film, but the fact of the matter is that it already IS up on the same screen!

Of course there's a lot of BS, and I'm a strong advocate for cutting through it with objectivity, not propaganda (not referencing anyone here). Again, I don't think anyone here disputes the quality comparison between film and the current state of digital. Some of the BS floating around in the press does misrepresent the situaution, asserting digital as a ready replacement for film. We know that's not true yet. But it already is an alternative for film, and it's growing in popularity for a lot of legitmate reasons.

I don't think we can afford to take the attitude that "we've heard all this before, the sky is not really falling, etc. etc." In this case, it's indisputable that digital is gaining ground and if we care about our art and craft at all we need to take this stuff seriously. Not as a "threat" necessarily, but as a force that's defintiely becoming more influential.

Personally I'm excited about the posibilities that digital image making offers, but I don't buy into the BS and hype.
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#16 Richard Boddington

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Posted 29 June 2006 - 10:22 PM

Well Michael Collier you are going to be shooting news for a very long time to come, if you think....

"but inevitably film will be a bygone era."

This displays a complete lack of understanding of the simple "mechanics" of film vs video. All of which have been outlined on this board a thousand times. So I won't bother repeating them.

I shot news at a US station for a few years in the early 90s. No I didn't use film. But the idea that because video replaced film in the newsroom and therefore video will replace film at the movie theatre is ridiculous.

News is about getting the "shlock" to air as fast as possible, a completely different process than making a decent motion picture. You probably shoot a story a day. You get on the road around 9-10am, shoot until 4pm, fly back to the station to cut the story, then it goes to air at 6pm. I know the drill.

Sure video is great for its speed, but that's about it.

Video is what the eye sees, film is what the mind sees. Most members of the public can not articulate the difference but they know the "film look" when they see it.

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#17 Michael Nash

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Posted 30 June 2006 - 12:19 AM

Sure video is great for its speed, but that's about it.

Video is what the eye sees, film is what the mind sees. Most members of the public can not articulate the difference but they know the "film look" when they see it.


I don't think it's as simple as that, unfortunately. Sure, video and film have different looks that the layman can often distinguish, but video/digital/electronic/whatever has already been used to create "what the mind sees" many times. And the comparison between TV news cameras and 35mm film isn't really valid here, since we're talking about cameras and formats that are much better than that, and that continue to improve. The Genesis, Dalsa, D-20, and Viper are much better than the typical news camera.

We've already witnessed feature films being shot with digital systems not for the speed, but specifically for the unique quality they offer. Michael Mann and Bryan Singer chose digital because those systems delivered what their minds saw, better than 35mm could in their opinion. They are valid alternatives to normal 35mm negative, just as 16mm, Super 8 and cross-processed reversal are. They are all tools that can be used creatively and inventively.

I wonder why isn't anyone getting upset about the rise in popularity and use of Super 16? I mean, if you're going to defend 35mm by spiltting hairs over the quality and the indescribable "look," why aren't people complaining about a format that has 1/4 the resolution, 4x the grain, and double the depth of field of "tried and true" 35mm? Certainly its look is discernable to the average public when projected on a big screen. Could it be because promoting the film format helps defend against digital, instead of fighting for superior image quality? If that's true, then talk about agendas!

This is some of the BS I'm talking about, and a good place to look for the objectivity vs. propaganda. Blanket statements about superiority or domain just don't apply here. If we're going to be objective and not add to the BS and propaganda, then we just can't do that. These are tools, and they are different from each other.
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#18 Michael Collier

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Posted 30 June 2006 - 03:12 AM

This displays a complete lack of understanding of the simple "mechanics" of film vs video. All of which have been outlined on this board a thousand times. So I won't bother repeating them.


I think you are taking my words wrong. I do not mean to say that video is the same as film, or that film will be replaced in any kind of predictable future. But what I am saying is that historically, technology is resisted for a while and then it becomes accepted. It has been the same in almost any industry, and there is no reason to think the film industry is any different.

Film doesnt record what the eye sees, it records what film sees. Video records what a chip sees. Right now video can't see what film does, but it has gotten much better. I think you would be hard pressed to say that in 25-50 years that a greater percent of theatrical pictures are shot on some form of electronic capture. When I saw toy story I thought it was good, but I never thought disney would shut down its cell animation department.

This is not to say that film can't work on the same feild as video for decades to come. Video will get better and film will get better, but one way or another centuries later its quite possible and I think likely that film will be laid to rest. That is all I meant by 'inevitably film will be a bygone era', no more than that.
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#19 Adam White

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Posted 30 June 2006 - 04:05 AM

These are tools, and they are different from each other.


Good point! The tools we have are always going to be subject to cost and percieved effectiveness. Yes, film will certainly loose more of the market to the HD set but its satisfying to know thats its always going to be around. I bet the press declared the death of painting when photography arrived.

thats my two cents
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#20 NathanCoombs

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Posted 30 June 2006 - 05:17 AM

Meanwhile super-8 and 16mm are undergoing something of a revival. If you are plugging for a film school or festival nowadays, the fact that you shot your last project on film really sets you apart and whips up interest.

The press does not see any vailidity in this and sees film as inherently undemocratic, expensive and completetly outmoded. This is why they keep banging the drum for films eradication.
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