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Film vs Digital


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#1 Christopher Arata

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Posted 15 April 2008 - 04:15 PM

I think this is all very funny. Granted I do not have as much experience or knowledge in the subject as many of you do, but, I do know a few things. First off comparing motion picture to still imagery and the affects that digital technology had there is not a sound argument. There are more hobbyist in the still photography world than there are in the motion picture world. Thus making more sense to why the DSLR revolution came about. Many people also forget that Kodak pretty much invented the first digital camera. So they brought that on them selves.

In 1986, Kodak scientists invented the world's first megapixel sensor. It was capable of recording 1.4 million pixels that could produce a 5x7-inch digital photo-quality print. In 1987, Kodak released seven products for recording, storing, manipulating, transmitting and printing electronic still video images. In 1990, Kodak developed the Photo CD system and proposed "the first worldwide standard for defining color in the digital environment of computers and computer peripherals." In 1991, Kodak released the first professional digital camera system (DCS), aimed at photojournalists. It was a Nikon F-3 camera equipped by Kodak with a 1.3 megapixel sensor.

Not to long ago I was able to spend a week with Chris Hart who has been the principal cinematographer for the Entertainment Imaging division at Kodak for the past 15 years. I asked him many question about Kodak and the digital world, his answer was simple. Kodak has the top scientist in this field working for them. Kodak has also supplied many of the top companies with digital technology and information. Now none of these companies will relatively admit to this but its true. Also Kodak has put millions of more dollars into its film research and development, because they believe in there product. I am not writing this to spur controversy or start arguments. I enjoy using both formats, and believe that both have there specific place. I just wanted to remind everyone that companies like Kodak thought about this and invested in this technology long ago and continue to do so. In the end I think we will see both products working together, neither one superseding the other. Just my opinion.

- Christopher Arata
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#2 Michael LaVoie

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Posted 15 April 2008 - 04:38 PM

I think there is a forseeable expiration date toward using film as an acquisition tool. Film is not exactly green technology. I think there are EPA regulations preventing any labs from opening up in NYC and if a lab closes, it's closed for good. At least in NY. It can't be moved down the block. This general principle that motion picture film is a toxic and wasteful technology is a sound argument toward making the move to electronic alternatives. I'm all for the aesthetic chaos of the medium of film but I also side with the argument that it's extremely polluting and that once we're able to mimic it's characteristics exactly and that day will come, there will be no reason to continue using it. Arguments can be made that cluttering our landfills with harddrives isn't good either but I think eventually we'll have a greener solution only I don't think photochemicals will be involved.
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#3 Jim Keller

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Posted 15 April 2008 - 04:41 PM

Never underestimate the ability of Kodak to shoot itself in the foot.
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#4 Paul Bruening

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Posted 15 April 2008 - 04:47 PM

Darn! Then, what of my plans to produce film stock with lead, cyanide and mercury halides as the emulsion?
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#5 Damien Bhatti

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Posted 15 April 2008 - 04:54 PM

I think there is a forseeable expiration date toward using film as an acquisition tool. Film is not exactly green technology. I think there are EPA regulations preventing any labs from opening up in NYC and if a lab closes, it's closed for good. At least in NY. It can't be moved down the block. This general principle that motion picture film is a toxic and wasteful technology is a sound argument toward making the move to electronic alternatives. I'm all for the aesthetic chaos of the medium of film but I also side with the argument that it's extremely polluting and that once we're able to mimic it's characteristics exactly and that day will come, there will be no reason to continue using it. Arguments can be made that cluttering our landfills with harddrives isn't good either but I think eventually we'll have a greener solution only I don't think photochemicals will be involved.


With regards to the green debate, I think there is far more pressing forms of polluters (ie the 10,000 coal powerstations dotted around the world ) that need to be addressed. I am not an expert in what amount of pollution is produced by film - but it seems like another way of distracting peoples thoughts from the more urgent, immediate problems, ie how to help the developing nations with greener infrastructure. if thats even possible.

maybe i am wrong.......?
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#6 K Borowski

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Posted 15 April 2008 - 04:55 PM

I think there is a forseeable expiration date toward using film as an acquisition tool. Film is not exactly green technology. I think there are EPA regulations preventing any labs from opening up in NYC and if a lab closes, it's closed for good. At least in NY. It can't be moved down the block. This general principle that motion picture film is a toxic and wasteful technology is a sound argument toward making the move to electronic alternatives. I'm all for the aesthetic chaos of the medium of film but I also side with the argument that it's extremely polluting and that once we're able to mimic it's characteristics exactly and that day will come, there will be no reason to continue using it. Arguments can be made that cluttering our landfills with harddrives isn't good either but I think eventually we'll have a greener solution only I don't think photochemicals will be involved.


And an industry that produces tens or hundreds of millions of boxes filled with lead, cadmium and mercury that get thrown into landfills is not polluting?

Wake up. Photographic chemistry is quite benign. The MANUFACTURE OF FILM BASE is toxic, and guess what, they used basically that same sort of material to make computer cases and other plastics. It is EVERYWHERE. I hate armchair chemists. . . You're probably one of those people that wants the pH in a Lake to be 0 :ph34r:
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#7 Tom Lowe

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Posted 15 April 2008 - 04:56 PM

Is this a discussion of film vs digital, or an exploration of the Kodak company?

If we are talking about Kodak, I am curious to know how they plan to make money as more and more movies begin shooting digitally. How do they profit from it?

Kodak does modest business right now in the consumer digital still camera business, but I haven't heard much about their plans for digital cinema.
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#8 Max Jacoby

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Posted 15 April 2008 - 05:04 PM

I think there are EPA regulations preventing any labs from opening up in NYC and if a lab closes, it's closed for good. At least in NY.

I seem to recall an ad in AC about one of the existing big labs opening a branch in New York recently.
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#9 Michael LaVoie

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Posted 15 April 2008 - 05:05 PM

I think it was meant to be someone's argument that both will coexist peacefully. I'm suggesting that one might be a little more polluting than the other and therefore might have it's days numbered. All things being equal, why spend money and shoot on film when you can reuse the same digital storage device? Again, all things being equal. I know they're not right now but again, my argument is that we'll probably see that day soon with the way things are advancing.

If you're talking about color lab, they only have offices in NY. The actual lab is in Maryland. The legislation I'm referring to may have been overturned. I first heard about it in film school. This was around the time that Guffanti closed. If the law is different now I stand corrected.

Edited by Michael LaVoie, 15 April 2008 - 05:08 PM.

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#10 Michael Nash

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Posted 15 April 2008 - 05:06 PM

I don't think they've made any secret about their market position. Kodak is now in the imaging business, not the film business.

This kind of business/industry change is very well precedented. If you make horse-drawn buggies and someone starts putting steam or gasoline engines into buggies, do you fold up shop? Try to stop progress? Ignore customer demand? Or do you you take your "core competency" (what you know how to do best), which is make wheeled transportation and market them to customers, and change your business strategy to include the new technologies? Maybe even partner or ally yourself with the makers of engines so you can stay in the game? You make a choice how to adapt your business, or become like the stonechipper in the other thread...
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#11 Danny Lachman

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Posted 15 April 2008 - 05:08 PM

I have a feeling that this hype about digital is sort of fad. I agree with the first statement about the formats working simultaneously in the industry. I think the mentality of a lot of people about how digital will obliterate film use off the crust of the earth is a fad.

While I can't fully back my argument, I just get this sense judging on what we've seen in history. For example when photography first came about and people first used it to recreate pictorialist style paintings, then steichen came along and shot photography as it's own medium. Sort of like how digital right now is trying to become cinematic but it's still deeply rooted in the culture as a reality medium for reality shows.
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#12 Christopher Arata

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Posted 15 April 2008 - 05:12 PM

Its neither. Maybe it was a bad title.

Like I said it is just my opinion, and there are many more knowledgeable in the subject than I. I didn't see this whole environment thing coming into play though. There many other bigger environment issues in the world than film so I wont touch that subject. Didn't Deluxe just open a full service lab in NY though?

As for Kodak making more money I don't know, and maybe they did shoot themselves in the foot in the begging when they made that first sensor. Who knows?
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#13 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 15 April 2008 - 06:38 PM

Kodak makes a great product... but that's not the problem, the problem is that more and more people want to shoot digitally, some for good reasons and some for not particularly good reasons. There isn't much Kodak can do about that except slow the tide of transition -- they can't stop it completely.

But the problem will be, for Kodak, dealing with going from Number One in film products to Number Five or Nine or whatever in digital imaging products, which is a much harder and more unstable place to be, and a lot more competitive. They will have to put some serious money into digital R&D to come up with some technologies that will once again dominate the industry, all the while supporting their film technology business as long as possible.
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#14 Richard Boddington

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Posted 15 April 2008 - 06:55 PM

Didn't Deluxe just open a full service lab in NY though?


Yes, a buddy of mine from Deluxe Toronto is running the show in NYC. Deluxe also bought out Rainmaker Post in Vancouver BC and it is now Deluxe Vancouver.

Deluxe Toronto is moving to the new Film Port and bigger facilities.

So Deluxe at least foresees film being around for a very long time. Plus, they are willing to make deals with poverty stricken indie directors like me. If they keep doing that one of us will make it and bring them much bigger projects one day in the future.

R,
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#15 K Borowski

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Posted 15 April 2008 - 07:23 PM

I think it was meant to be someone's argument that both will coexist peacefully. I'm suggesting that one might be a little more polluting than the other and therefore might have it's days numbered. All things being equal, why spend money and shoot on film when you can reuse the same digital storage device? Again, all things being equal.


With thinking like that, maybe your calling is still photography. They have the same mentality about not having to spend money to make money. . .

Maybe some of us choose to undertake this endeavour of ours not because it is easy but because it is hard.
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#16 Christopher Arata

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Posted 15 April 2008 - 07:24 PM

Kodak makes a great product... but that's not the problem, the problem is that more and more people want to shoot digitally, some for good reasons and some for not particularly good reasons. There isn't much Kodak can do about that except slow the tide of transition -- they can't stop it completely.

But the problem will be, for Kodak, dealing with going from Number One in film products to Number Five or Nine or whatever in digital imaging products, which is a much harder and more unstable place to be, and a lot more competitive. They will have to put some serious money into digital R&D to come up with some technologies that will once again dominate the industry, all the while supporting their film technology business as long as possible.


I was never suggesting that they are trying to stop it completely. Just saying that the company kinda invented the technology, which is funny when you think about it.

David, just curious, but do you know or just assume that they already have not done that, spend time in the R&D area?

Seem to me that that is not something they would necessarily publicize quickly. Kodak might have a lot more going on than any one knows about, unless every one in the top of the industry knows everything, and I doubt that.
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#17 Christopher Arata

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Posted 15 April 2008 - 07:27 PM

Yes, a buddy of mine from Deluxe Toronto is running the show in NYC. Deluxe also bought out Rainmaker Post in Vancouver BC and it is now Deluxe Vancouver.

Deluxe Toronto is moving to the new Film Port and bigger facilities.

So Deluxe at least foresees film being around for a very long time. Plus, they are willing to make deals with poverty stricken indie directors like me. If they keep doing that one of us will make it and bring them much bigger projects one day in the future.

R,


Thats what I thought. Thanks for the feedback.
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#18 Fran Kuhn

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Posted 15 April 2008 - 08:11 PM

With thinking like that, maybe your calling is still photography. They have the same mentality about not having to spend money to make money. . .


Hi Karl,

With the exception of a few still photographers who make their artistic statements (and livings) using $15 Holgas and Dianas, the majority of professional advertising still photographers I know have a huge investment in equipment. As far as I can tell it has never been a business where you can afford to not spend a lot of money on equipment, and digital has made the business even more capital-intensive. New computers are a must every two years; a two year-old DSLR is basically a paperweight these days as clients demand the latest equipment on their shoots whether they need it or not. And forget about renting--most big rental houses limit their stock of high-end digital cameras because they cannot recover the costs before they become obosolete. Try calling Samys Camera and renting a 1Ds MKIII and see what I mean: None are going to be available, so you'll have to buy two@$8K each for your next shoot! :lol:

I shoot a few motion jobs, too and in my limited experience still and motion are more similar than different in this regard.

-Fran
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#19 K Borowski

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Posted 15 April 2008 - 08:33 PM

Hi Karl,

With the exception of a few still photographers who make their artistic statements (and livings) using $15 Holgas and Dianas, the majority of professional advertising still photographers I know have a huge investment in equipment. As far as I can tell it has never been a business where you can afford to not spend a lot of money on equipment, and digital has made the business even more capital-intensive. New computers are a must every two years; a two year-old DSLR is basically a paperweight these days as clients demand the latest equipment on their shoots whether they need it or not. And forget about renting--most big rental houses limit their stock of high-end digital cameras because they cannot recover the costs before they become obosolete. Try calling Samys Camera and renting a 1Ds MKIII and see what I mean: None are going to be available, so you'll have to buy two@$8K each for your next shoot! :lol:

I shoot a few motion jobs, too and in my limited experience still and motion are more similar than different in this regard.

-Fran


Hey, I know all about it. I keep shooting with an RB though. But on the whole, maybe still photography is a more suitable field for someone that is so concerned about doing everything with the most ease.
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#20 Tom Lowe

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Posted 15 April 2008 - 08:33 PM

Kodak might hang on the way IBM did, as more of a business-to-business and "solutions" company, with patents and innovations sold to industry, and some products as well.

It's hard to see where they go from here - exactly.
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