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is Film dying?


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#1 Lars Zemskih

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Posted 25 September 2007 - 09:11 AM

I am about to go to a filmschool that insists and make it their philosophy that pretty much everything is shot on Film. Most of the time it is 35mm shoots and only two shoots or something on digital.

So I would like to know your opinion. How much longer do you think film will last? Is it even worth to study the format anymore. I mean looking at the camera like Red One (who some say looks even better than film and has really low noise ratio in raw form) it is pretty uncertain. This camera makes me nervous, it is so cheap that it won't that long till my neighbor can shoot 35mm 4k footage for his sons' birthday =)

I've shot a lot of stuff digitally though, so it would be good for me to study on film, but I'm just not sure if I'll be studying something that is slowly dying.

What do you think? Do you think film is here for another 10 years or so? Longer? Film Forever?

Thank you
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#2 Michael Lehnert

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Posted 25 September 2007 - 09:36 AM

Oh no, not again...

I think you will find with a simple search through the archives here that generations of fresh film students have put this question forward in all possible sub-forums, from "Super 8" to "David Mullen ASC answers you all".

Actually, I recently read a beautiful post by David Mullen on his subject regarding how he thinks RED vs cine-film will develop over the next decades in light of D-Cinema etc. Search for it.

In the meantime, as a student, learning as much as possible on everything that comes your way should be regarded as an opportunity and privilege and gain in experience, not an "obsolence waste of time activity". What happened to the time when curiosity and not future job descriptions defined choosing a university curriculum? I learned more about cinematography by reading Ansel Adams' "The Camera" than shooting video when I was a teenager.

Are you enrolling at FEMIS?
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#3 Lars Zemskih

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Posted 25 September 2007 - 10:06 AM

I understand it is an endless discussion and the one that has been over all possible filmmaking forums.

But my question I guess should have been more precise. I want to know what people think about studying it. I guess you learn the principles of lenses, color, lights and everything on film.

The problem is that Digital is just different, it needs special care in lighting it and it just has all these different attributes appose to film.

But an even more specific question would be about the industry itself: Do you think Film will still be commercially used for a long time? Talking about feature films and commercials. Or after Red becomes more available just in the budget interests film will be ditched?


Maybe I can make the school buy a Red camera.
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#4 Lars Zemskih

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Posted 25 September 2007 - 10:09 AM

By the way, how easy is it to rent Red at the moment in UK?
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#5 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 25 September 2007 - 10:17 AM

By the time you graduate in three or four years, film will still be used -- so are you planning on sitting out of any job opportunities that involve film because you skipped learning about it?

Besides, where is the love of learning about the subject you are apparently dedicating your life to? You're already deciding that there are major chunks of your chosen artform that you aren't interested in? That doesn't bode well, that you are trying to decide what NOT to learn.

I've studied three-strip Technicolor, early Eastmancolor, Cinerama, and all sorts of other obsolete and rare formats and processes over the years to make me a better cinematographer. And film isn't even close to being obsolete!
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#6 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 25 September 2007 - 10:21 AM

"Emile R", you have to edit your Display Name (go to My Controls) to a real first and LAST name as per the forum rules. Thanks.
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#7 Stephen Williams

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Posted 25 September 2007 - 10:28 AM

By the way, how easy is it to rent Red at the moment in UK?


Hi,

Not easy at all, the first UK based one has not shipped yet.

Stephen
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#8 Scott Fritzshall

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Posted 25 September 2007 - 10:30 AM

I think it's absolutely worth it to learn film. The particulars you need to know about shooting digitally can be picked up very easily once you know how to shoot film. I'm really happy that my cinematography education consisted 90% of shooting on film. Everyone entering film school is used to picking up a miniDV camera and shooting endless takes of whatever. It was a really great learning experience for me to be given a single roll of B&W 16mm reversal film and a Bolex and be told, "ok, go make a coherent movie." It taught me a lot about planning and organization that has really benefitted me down the road. Everything I do now is digital (I'm a visual effects artist), and I certainly don't feel like I was harmed by learning film. Even if they're only teaching you old-school stuff, you can still learn the high-tech stuff on your own.

Hell, I spent a month this summer next to a VistaVision camera. I would have been significantly less competant at my job had I not known how film works.

Edited by Scott Fritzshall, 25 September 2007 - 10:32 AM.

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#9 Lars Zemskih

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Posted 25 September 2007 - 10:37 AM

Well, that answers my question then, that film is nowhere near being obsolete. Coolio.

However, the other problem is the school insisting so much on educating on film rather than digital. To my opinion it has to be more and more balanced nowadays and school need to have special classes like: lighting for digital and stuff.
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#10 Scott Fritzshall

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Posted 25 September 2007 - 10:41 AM

Well, that answers my question then, that film is nowhere near being obsolete. Coolio.

However, the other problem is the school insisting so much on educating on film rather than digital. To my opinion it has to be more and more balanced nowadays and school need to have special classes like: lighting for digital and stuff.

I agree that schools should teach you about digital stuff as well, but most of that you can pick up on your own. The film education and experience isn't something that you can really learn on the internet.
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#11 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 25 September 2007 - 10:47 AM

That's another one of my pet peeves, that there's such a thing as "digital lighting"... There's just LIGHTING, period. You make small adjustments for the sensitivity and contrast characteristics of the particular medium or process, whether it is color negative, color reversal, b&w neg, b&w reversal, skip-bleach neg, or the myriad of digital cameras and post-processes available -- but the general concepts of what lighting is, how to light a set, how to light a face, transcend the particular recording format.

If you want your video to look like "The Godfather", you study "The Godfather". If you want it to look like a Caravaggio or Vermeer or Rembrandt, you study those painters. You need to learn about soft light techniques, hard light techniques, using color, power consumption, color temperature, etc. and all of that has little to do with whether you are using a film camera or a video camera.
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#12 Gary McClurg

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Posted 25 September 2007 - 10:50 AM

When I first went to film school went to a Junior College... then later to USC

But at the JC you had to take two still photography classes before you could get into the film program.. once there you had to shoot film, edit on a flat bed, and release on film..

Not until NLE... that I really statred to love editing... I'd never cut film again...

I think a nice program... the first two years... use ditigal... so that you can really learn blocking, editing, etc.. and then the last two years move over to the film... I'd would have loved to learn on ditigal... cheaper than shooting film... which by the way is still the best...

But I have no problem having a dp shoot HD for a film...

The funny thing is.. back then... in the dark ages... film was going to die in so many years (won't say how many :lol: ) and its still here alive and kicking,....

Edited by Gary McClurg, 25 September 2007 - 10:52 AM.

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#13 Lars Zemskih

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Posted 25 September 2007 - 11:02 AM

I think it's absolutely worth it to learn film. The particulars you need to know about shooting digitally can be picked up very easily once you know how to shoot film. I'm really happy that my cinematography education consisted 90% of shooting on film. Everyone entering film school is used to picking up a miniDV camera and shooting endless takes of whatever. It was a really great learning experience for me to be given a single roll of B&W 16mm reversal film and a Bolex and be told, "ok, go make a coherent movie." It taught me a lot about planning and organization that has really benefitted me down the road. Everything I do now is digital (I'm a visual effects artist), and I certainly don't feel like I was harmed by learning film. Even if they're only teaching you old-school stuff, you can still learn the high-tech stuff on your own.


I agree with you, however it is Red that threw everything out of balance for me and make me confused. I think if it is going to widespread (i especially imagine in the commercials shoots because of its somewhat cartoonish looks), the won't wait for someone to be learning on it while doing a project for them, I'm sure a lot of production companies will look for someone who knows how to make digital look the best.

High- tech stuff sure, could be learned, but with these kind of Super HD cameras, there is a lot to learn, starting form setting it up to post-production workflow that I think needs to be taught.

I guess the problem is that right now I am one of the biggest transitions in film industry, no matter what people say.
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#14 Michael Lehnert

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Posted 25 September 2007 - 11:13 AM

That's another one of my pet peeves, that there's such a thing as "digital lighting"... There's just LIGHTING, period.


Thanks for making an explicit point about that, as the sheer number of self-defined 'videographers' insisting on that point made me think twice about engaging in debates on that subject matter.

Emile, I will be eternally grateful to the Super 8 format as it allowed me (out of any possibility to attend film school) to learn about cinematography on a pocket money budget, from cadration, movement, lightning; to think about 'light' and 'time', material and aesthetics.

I can see why RED is a breakthrough and people lust over it, but having recently seen a pillarboxed HD telecine of S8 7217 makes me think of my Super 8 cameras in a different way. Maybe you should buy a Beaulieu, Leitz, Bauer or Nizo instead of enquiring about RED rentals ;)
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#15 Stephen Williams

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Posted 25 September 2007 - 11:14 AM

I agree with you, however it is Red that threw everything out of balance for me and make me confused. I think if it is going to widespread (i especially imagine in the commercials shoots because of its somewhat cartoonish looks), the won't wait for someone to be learning on it while doing a project for them, I'm sure a lot of production companies will look for someone who knows how to make digital look the best.

High- tech stuff sure, could be learned, but with these kind of Super HD cameras, there is a lot to learn, starting form setting it up to post-production workflow that I think needs to be taught.

I guess the problem is that right now I am one of the biggest transitions in film industry, no matter what people say.


Hi,

To be honest it makes very little what difference what camera you use, knowing how to light & to use ones eyes is what matters and that takes time.

Stephen
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#16 Scott Fritzshall

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Posted 25 September 2007 - 11:15 AM

I agree with you, however it is Red that threw everything out of balance for me and make me confused. I think if it is going to widespread (i especially imagine in the commercials shoots because of its somewhat cartoonish looks), the won't wait for someone to be learning on it while doing a project for them, I'm sure a lot of production companies will look for someone who knows how to make digital look the best.

High- tech stuff sure, could be learned, but with these kind of Super HD cameras, there is a lot to learn, starting form setting it up to post-production workflow that I think needs to be taught.

I guess the problem is that right now I am one of the biggest transitions in film industry, no matter what people say.

Everyone is learning how to use the Red camera right now. But really, what you need to know for it is mostly just a bunch of specifics about which buttons to press. You seem to have this idea that shooting digitally is somehow totally different from shooting on film. It's not. If you know how to light for film, and use filters and printing lights to get the look you want, you'll be able to figure out how to get the look you want with digital. The stuff you'll learn if you go to seminars or whatever about Red makes more sense if you already know about film.

Besides, if you're just going into film school now, what exactly are the odds that someone is going to hire you to shoot their big expensive commercial anyway? You're just getting started, and acting like time is just about to run out. Relax.
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#17 Michael Lehnert

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Posted 25 September 2007 - 11:27 AM

It threw everything out of balance for me and make me confused. I guess the problem is that right now I am one of the biggest transitions in film industry, no matter what people say.


Hmm.. you are refering to the 6K Digi-Mag for the Aaton Penelope that will make obsolescence obsolete, aren't you?

Ah, young people nowadays are soo susceptible to marketing campaigns from those paleolithic cine-camera builders...
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#18 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 25 September 2007 - 11:33 AM

Emile, is your goal to be a cinematographer or a director? If the first, you need to learn both digital and film thoroughly, and if the second, you don't need to know the level of detail about either that you're talking about, just the principles.

You just don't talk like someone who is passionate about learning about cinematography, past, present, and future -- you sound more like someone wanting to jump on a trend.

If you love a subject, then nothing is going to stop you from trying to learn everything there is about it, so this notion of what you should and shouldn't learn is irrelevent, you're going to learn it all and you aren't going to wait for a teacher to teach it to you anyway, so it doesn't matter if the school mostly teaches film or mostly teaches with a video camera, whatever, because you'll be augmenting that with your own research in the school library, on the internet, etc., out of passion and love for the field of cinematography, not because you have to in order to get a job.

This "transition" you are talking about has been going on for over a decade and will be going on for another decade; it's not like the quick transition from silent to talkies in the late 1920's. Besides, more than half the specific technical stuff they teach you about digital in film school will be obsolete within a few years of graduating, whereas the basic principles of cinematography, which include film, will be around a lot longer.
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#19 Lars Zemskih

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Posted 25 September 2007 - 11:53 AM

Emile, is your goal to be a cinematographer or a director? If the first, you need to learn both digital and film thoroughly, and if the second, you don't need to know the level of detail about either that you're talking about, just the principles.

You just don't talk like someone who is passionate about learning about cinematography, past, present, and future -- you sound more like someone wanting to jump on a trend.


I am actually signed at the moment to a small production company as a director. I've directed several moderately budgeted commercials. However, we are HVX200 based company, that is why I've said previously that I've shot on digital extensively and think that film will be of course a good thing to learn for me. There is of course always a cinematographer and gaffer.

I am extremely passionate about cinematography, that is why I am taking a break from my job to study, it is a filmmaking program, not specific to a field. And please don't get me wrong about loving cameras and film. I would love to know everything there is about a film camera or any camera, when I see a 35mm camera I just can't stop looking at it and all I want to do is be close to it and move my hands through it's lens (ok, this is getting creepy).

It is merely a question of choosing a film school, as it is a pretty important choice, plus a pretty expensive one, so the questions are only in that context there.

I agree with most of you now and very certain that it would be a good school and the right choice, no need to assume my level of passion or how trendy I try to be.

The thing that I actually happened is that I was on the set of Wanted sometime ago and I saw they were shooting on Red, and I was like, wait a minute. So I am just a by product of this general Red camera confusion.

Thank you for making these things clear to me.
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#20 Andy_Alderslade

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Posted 25 September 2007 - 12:44 PM

It is merely a question of choosing a film school, as it is a pretty important choice, plus a pretty expensive one, so the questions are only in that context there.

I agree with most of you now and very certain that it would be a good school and the right choice, no need to assume my level of passion or how trendy I try to be.

The thing that I actually happened is that I was on the set of Wanted sometime ago and I saw they were shooting on Red, and I was like, wait a minute. So I am just a by product of this general Red camera confusion.

Thank you for making these things clear to me.


Emile, you could look at it from the point of view - that 35mm is the industry standard, and that with all other formats you are trying to get as close to that standard, Red too. And that learning that standard will help you achieve and appreciate it when using different tools and systems.

Red hasn't got film's excellent colour saturation or latitude. Yes it may look sharper and have less noise, but when you go the cinema do you stare into the noise or do you look at the actor's faces?

Yes Red is a considerable jump and at an excellent price, but the industry is still built on the infrastructure of 35mm film, including crash cameras, arial and underwater camera housing and not to mention several million 35mm cinema projectors worldwide - its going to be a long time before all that is adapted.

Even 'Wanted' appears to have used some Kodak Vision 2 500T for some reason, maybe it was used in a situation where using the Red system is presently impractical.


With regards to you film course - read into the tutors background and see how experienced they are, try to speak to them to ensure they are enthusiastic and motivated, check-out what equipment and prospects are available and most importantly follow your gut instinct, it will tell you wether you think a course is worth the money or not.

Best of luck,
Andy
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