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Film vs. Digital Speech


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#1 Nikita K Carpenter Jr

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Posted 12 May 2009 - 06:16 PM

Being the avid film student that I am, I'm doing a speech in my speech class on why you should support movies shot on film as opposed to digitally.

Now, my main points are that 1) moviegoers should be conscious of how they're content is create (jobs, commerce, etc.) , 2) the fact that the costs of processing and printing can be reduced if planned correctly, 3) you can still do cool in-camera effects on film and use film to create cool effects, and 4) film has more quality than images produce through digital acquisition.

Now, personally, I'm more of a digital kind of person, seeing as I grew up shooting Hi8, S-VHS, MiniDV, DVCPRO, etc., but after shooting on film, I enjoy both mediums equally.

I'd like to hear some feedback and see what you're opinions are.

Counterarguments would be sweet!

Thanks.
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#2 Dominic Case

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Posted 12 May 2009 - 06:48 PM

Not sure what "you should support movies shot on film as opposed to digitally" means. Who should support them? How? Should audiences find out how a film was made before they decide what to see? Why should they care?

1) moviegoers should be conscious of how they're content is create (jobs, commerce, etc.) ,

Well, certainly not when they go to see a film, they go to be entertained or educated about the subject of the film. Though it doesn't hurt for anyone to be aware of how the world works. I care if my egg comes from a battery hen or free-range, but you'd have to prove cruelty in the digital sweatshops (or the film darkrooms) before I should care about the film production methods.

BUT perhaps you could make an argument about which is more environmentally sustainable (as long as you get a bit deeper than the "all those processing chemicals" argument and think about the sustainability of digital equipment manufacturing (and disposal of obsolete equipment).

2) the fact that the costs of processing and printing can be reduced if planned correctly,

Again, you could go a bit deeper. Argue also about the extra edit time when the (digital) shooting ratio goes up to produce hours and hours of material that has to be sifted through for example.

3) you can still do cool in-camera effects on film and use film to create cool effects, and

Some actors argue that they hate the "ticking meter" effect every time the film camera is rolling, and it puts them on edge. Others like that edge, and say that the unlimited "just keep rolling till we get it perfect" digital approach makes them sloppy.

4) film has more quality than images produce through digital acquisition.

Only if all other things are equal. It's easy to make a film image that has less quality (whatever that is) than a digital image could have, people do it all the time.
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#3 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 12 May 2009 - 06:48 PM

Being the avid film student that I am, I'm doing a speech in my speech class on why you should support movies shot on film as opposed to digitally.

Now, my main points are that 1) moviegoers should be conscious of how they're content is create (jobs, commerce, etc.) , 2) the fact that the costs of processing and printing can be reduced if planned correctly, 3) you can still do cool in-camera effects on film and use film to create cool effects, and 4) film has more quality than images produce through digital acquisition.



Well, I'm not sure how one "supports" movies shot on film, especially how a moviegoer would do this, especially since most movies are still shot on film. It's not really a factor for most moviegoers, origination format -- and it's not really much of a factor for TV watchers either. So I would drop the word "support", which implies financial support.

I would stick to the thesis as to why students should still be trying to use film for some of their projects rather than abandon it completely, unless you want to argue why Hollywood studios should stick to using film for features.

Also, I don't know what you mean by "moviegoers should be conscious of how they're content is create" -- do you mean "moviegoers should be aware of how their content is created"? And why should they? Isn't the point of watching a movie to NOT think about anything other than the narrative experience, that technique is merely there to serve the story?

Now if you mean film students should be aware of how movie content is created, well of course.

I'd break down the arguments for film a little differently.

For one, I'd remind people that some of the arguments for digital are not unique to digital because film transferred to digital can use the same digital processes (digital color-correction, editing, compositing work, digital projection, etc.)

Yes, you can argue that costs of shooting film can be controlled through careful planning, and that some people aren't aware that they generate extra costs by shooting digitally in excess amounts because they create more footage to store, organize, watch and edit, etc. -- which takes time, and time is money in Hollywood. If an editor is only given a few weeks to turn in a cut of a movie, they don't want the director to be shooting a 60:1 ratio (not uncommon in digital) as opposed to a 20:1 ratio (more common for features).

But ultimately it's hard to argue that the difference in shooting costs can be equalized this way -- film still requires stock, processing and transfer costs which most digital projects don't have (though a RED RAW feature going through a post house, or a movie shooting on a LOG camera, may have dailies costs in converting RAW or LOG footage into a viewable and editable standard video gamma format.)

I'd say that the main argument for film is still primarily image quality, particularly in terms of dynamic range, but also color depth and richness.

The secondary argument is the known archival quality of film in long term storage. It has the benefit of being "analog", simple to look at, and "uncompressed." And again, it can also be stored in any number of digital formats if you want to cover your bets (and the truth is that some digital projects are spending the money to make film elements for long term archiving, so digital can use film archiving techniques.)

The third is that many film cameras are more mobile and flexible in terms of fast camera set-ups, though that difference has been diminishing. For one thing, you don't need the camera to be powered up when setting up a shot.
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#4 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 12 May 2009 - 07:27 PM

I just wanted to add that if this is some sort of "film vs. digital" debate in terms of an either/or argument, I think it's a mistake to put digital and film at odds against at each other because digital is here to stay and is a vital part of everyday production. I think you have to phrase your argument in terms of what advantages that film still provides and why it should not be abandoned too hastily, not until digital technologies advance far enough to provide all the same advantages. The rush to transition to digital is somewhat artificial, driven by some sort of mistaken notion of "advancement", i.e. the misguided argument that any technology that is newer is somehow superior to something older. If that were true, then the fountain pen would have completely replaced the pencil...
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#5 Jim Keller

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Posted 12 May 2009 - 08:52 PM

I think I concur that this shouldn't be a binary, either/or discussion. For every point you raise, there is a valid counter argument. Film vs. digital should be about choosing the right medium for your project, not wanting one to triumph over the other. Instead of presenting film as superior, I'd suggest clearly exploring the differences between the media, the relative strengths and weaknesses of each in different situations, and when one is the appropriate choice over the other. For example:

1) moviegoers should be conscious of how they're content is create (jobs, commerce, etc.)


For every lab technician put out of a job by digital cinema, there's a digital imaging expert not getting work because film hasn't died yet. The broader economy and ideals about which is "better" shouldn't drive the consumer. The quality of the finished product should. Make a good movie, and audiences will buy tickets.

2) the fact that the costs of processing and printing can be reduced if planned correctly


And the costs of a film-out can be reduced if planned and shot correctly, too. However, if you're working far from a city with quality film labs, working on digital becomes much cheaper very quickly, because you don't need to transport your exposed film to a city with labs, and then transport your dailies back. Again, it's about understanding what the costs are going to be ahead of time, and making a choice intelligently based on that.

3) you can still do cool in-camera effects on film and use film to create cool effects


And you can do some very cool digital effects that cannot be done in-camera, without generation loss if you choose to acquire digitally.

4) film has more quality than images produce through digital acquisition.


Depends on the film and the digital camera. I would argue that a high-speed 8mm negative cannot compete with a native 4k digital cinema camera in terms of resolution, and as digital resolution improves this argument loses validity with each subsequent generation. We're already capturing digital at a higher resolution than we used when generating digital visual effects to cut right back into our finished films just a decade ago.
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#6 Adam Garner

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Posted 12 May 2009 - 10:20 PM

the misguided argument that any technology that is newer is somehow superior to something older. If that were true, then the fountain pen would have completely replaced the pencil...


Very elegantly put.

Consider recent resurgence of vinyl.
http://www.time.com/...1702369,00.html
http://www.wired.com...teningpost_1029

It's dangerous to believe that "cheaper/easier/quicker" is better. Downloads have a place, but I prefer to listen to vinyl. It's a different experience. I pay more for physical media, but it means a hell of a lot more.
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#7 Nikita K Carpenter Jr

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Posted 13 May 2009 - 01:52 AM

Thanks for the responses.

I'm definitely scraping the first point. I'm still in the early stages of argument development so I wasn't sure if I should go for that point or not. Now, I know I'll just leave it alone. I was asking around if anyone really cared how there movies were made and most people said they didn't. As long as they saw a movie they thought was cool, they were good.

David, I wasn't looking to put the two head to head per say. I'm definitely leaning more towards the point that film is still most definitely a viable option in acquisition. I feel like my original proposals disappointed you. I hope that wasn't the case. They were definitely meant to be critiqued as so, and the criticism is great

As of now, I've broken my new arguments down to 1) on-set operations [using the suggestion about camera setups], 2) shooting ratios, and 3) image quality.

Once I develop a draft of the speech, I'm going to post it so I can get some more feedback as to how successfully appealing I am to audiences as to not overlooking film and continual potential.
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#8 Nikita K Carpenter Jr

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Posted 13 May 2009 - 01:57 AM

I'm also throwing the word "support" out of my argument :lol:
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#9 John Sprung

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Posted 13 May 2009 - 12:55 PM

Some actors argue that they hate the "ticking meter" effect every time the film camera is rolling, and it puts them on edge. Others like that edge, and say that the unlimited "just keep rolling till we get it perfect" digital approach makes them sloppy.


That's what I love about actors who have live theatrical experience. On the stage, they have to play every scene in the show in order in an hour and a half or two. They get exactly one take of each beat and each line. For actors who can do that, everything we need them to do is easy. The interruptions and discontinuity can be an irritant for them, though.




-- J.S.
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#10 Nikita K Carpenter Jr

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Posted 18 May 2009 - 09:22 AM

P.S.

Gave the speech today. I boiled the points down to content, cost, and quality.

It went well! I even brought in some of my short ends to drive the point home.

Thanks for the feedback, everyone!
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