Digital and the so called "film look"
Posted 23 November 2007 - 02:35 AM
My background and format choices (super8 and mini dv) have been limited greatly to what is affordable to me. Each has their pros and cons yet I have become been a bit curious and frankly perplexed by all the fuss surrounding the film vs digital talk. I have no interest in discussing a particular format's lifespan or another format's artistic validity, but I see a real paradox in the way many filmmakers and newcomers think about the tools they use.
Allow me to offer a question; when shooting in digital mediums, why search for an elusive aesthetic (read-"film look") while using a format that may offer it's own advantages artistically? It seems to me we have been blessed with an affordable and efficient tool that has yet to be (by my viewings at least) explored in narratives for it's qualities that Do Not resemble the familiar visual look and feel of film. When the guitar went electric, so did the playing, and we bore witness to a sonic revolution that altered song-writing and technique. Now before I am verbally lacerated by opinions dictated primarily by techno-speak, please recognize that I acknowledge my ignorance in the field and I hold only my ideas and will to learn.
Posted 23 November 2007 - 03:44 AM
Allow me to offer a question; when shooting in digital mediums, why search for an elusive aesthetic (read-"film look") while using a format that may offer it's own advantages artistically?
It's a great question.
I wonder if it's because of the way the digital cameras are marketed to us. I recall the sony rep telling me in the 90's when the first digi beta's came in that 16mm film production would be dead within a few years. He truly believed that the DigiBeta was better than shooting on 16mm.
Fast forward to a few years later. And Lo. The same line is trotted out with HDCAM. 35mm Is dead. Digital is arrived.
Now it's HDCAM SR. Film is dead (again) and SR is the future.
Canon XL1's. P+S adaptors. MAgic Bullet. These are ways that get us closer to shooting film. That's what they are sold to us as. Instead of making virtues of their inherent look, we try and make them look like something else !
It does get boring. The fact is that digital has been with us for many years. The vast majority of theatrically released films are still being shot on film for some reason. Why do you think that is ?
Plenty of films are being shot digitially, and now there's plenty that in face ARE taking advantages of digital's natural advantages. Russian Ark wouldn't have been as easily possible for example.
Dogme films have been made for some time now. You know, the funny thing is, that there is no reference AT ALL to digital shooting formats in the original dogme manifesto. In fact it specifies that the films must be finished on academy 35mm film !
Take a look for yourself
But if you ask most filmmakers and they associate dogme with digital, and what's more, MiniDV digital as opposed to the plethora of other digital formats out there.
One day I'm going to make a dogme film with an A-Minima.....
I've always felt that these cameras are tools. They are paint brushes and we can use different brushes to tell the story. The creativity is up to us.
Posted 23 November 2007 - 08:02 AM
His opinion was that anyone could run hours of tape and edit for performance, but it takes someone who knows what they want and how to get it to be a true filmmaker.
So far, I have made one digital feature and one 16mm feature -- so, I know both sides of the game.
In my opinion, the look/latitude of film is amazing. There is more warmth in this "analog" format. I see it much the same way as audio recording -- talk to an engineer about the warmth of magnetic tape. Back to 16mm, the original of "Tainted" looked great projected in a theatre. There was nothing like the colors, the difference between the deep blacks & the shadows and the overall richness of the color print film. On the other hand, the fast moving ability of digital -- the fact that it's cheap, easy to use, immediate -- makes it especially nice when you are shooting.
From a tech "look" stand point (in my opinion), film is still the best originating format -- much like magnetic tape is the best audio origination format. But digital projection -- like CDs for audio -- is reaching the level of quality which can bringing across the wide spectrum of the analog format upon playback.
Overall, I do agree that it's about the look you want, what you can afford and how you plan to use it. I see ways I can use both 16mm and dv in my future work -- sometimes, even at the same time.
Check out the latest from Know Saint Productions at www.knowsaint.com
Edited by Robert StMary, 23 November 2007 - 08:05 AM.