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Death of Film


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#1 Brian Pritchard

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Posted 19 February 2012 - 07:34 AM

With the rapid disappearance of film labs and the problems at Kodak I am interested to know what your thoughts are with regard to the possible disappearance of film. If film and labs were to completely disappear tomorrow what would be the consequences? Is there any process or type of film that would no longer be available for access? For example some very early films were shot on non-standard widths and with non-standard perforations. With small quantities of film it would not be economic to build a scanner to digitise such films; the most economic way is to photographically copy them onto 35mm film and then digitise. You could copy each frame with a digital camera but it would involve a lot of manipulation to end up with an acceptable result. So what would we lose if film died?
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#2 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 19 February 2012 - 09:18 AM

You should check out the Kinetta scanner. http://www.kinetta.c...dgmentalPr1.pdf
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#3 Brian Pritchard

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Posted 19 February 2012 - 09:32 AM

Thanks, I know about the Kinetta but it doesn't answer the question - are there any films or processes that a scanner couldn't handle? What would we never see again if there were no film/labs?
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#4 Dirk DeJonghe

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Posted 19 February 2012 - 09:48 AM

Brian,

the problem is much worse with some (not so old) videotape formats. I am trying to put together a dozen of good quality SVHS machines before it is too late. Sony nor Panasonic or JVC have any spare parts left for these machines. Same with Video/Hi8.
Copying existing films on any format would be possible with Kinetta-type scanners or similar, reading a Hi8 tape is only possible if you have functioning videoheads.

A recent job on early 1990ies Video8 tapes showed that about 30% would not run unattended and needed constant attention because of sticky tape.

Dirk
www.archivenow.eu
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#5 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 19 February 2012 - 11:06 AM

Computer data files could also have a problem, I gather the BBC had to put quite a bit of effort to open their 1980's Domesday project again.
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#6 James Compton

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Posted 20 February 2012 - 12:59 AM

A few days ago, a man that works at a well known camera rental house in New York mentioned that there has been a large increase of 35mm and 16mm camera rental. Film will be around for a while longer. :)

To Answer your question:

1) It would take an independently wealthy individual to buy a few processing machines from a lab that recently closed - to keep the remaining film being processed until it runs out. That may take a while because after Kodak and Fuji, there is Agfa and the Chinese and Gigabit film. The acetate and polyester base for the film will still be available. That same wealthy individual or some similar minded group would need to buy a film perforator.

2) What could be lost? Well controlled lab processes like Technicolor ENR or DELUXE ACE, CCE.

Edited by James Compton, 20 February 2012 - 01:01 AM.

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#7 Simon Wyss

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Posted 20 February 2012 - 03:13 AM

One might be not aware of the fact that a new generation of lab initiatives is taking over. There are at least 30 independent motion picture film laboratories active in Europe, from so-called artistic grounds over enjoyment to tough commercial labour. Old printing machines are being put back to service — I have a 1921 Debrie Matipo in perfect working order — fresh ideas come to life.

The Artist is an example for the viability of film, although not true black and white and not full frame, even of film without synchronous dialogue.
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#8 Brian Pritchard

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Posted 20 February 2012 - 04:51 AM

Thanks for the replies, I personally think that film will be around for quite a while yet. The problem is convincing people to continue to invest in film and labs. I am working with an organisation who are saying 'why do we need to keep film processing when we can do everything we want with scanners?' The replies here worry me in that nobody has yet made a point that we need to keep film otherwise we cannot....
James does make the point that we would lose process manipulation. So what else is there?

I think that the first process to eventually disappear will be colour print, there are less and less cinemas with film projectors so why will it be necessary to make prints? Well if like me you have seen a Royal Film Premiere at the Odeon Leicester Square with a brand new 70mm print from a 65mm negative you would see why we need film especially when compared to the DVD like quality at local cinemas. Unfortunately that is not a reason to convince the money men. I am sure there will be bespoke labs around for sometime yet even if they are only catering to 'artist' film makers.

Brian
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#9 Freya Black

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Posted 20 February 2012 - 11:20 AM

With the rapid disappearance of film labs and the problems at Kodak I am interested to know what your thoughts are with regard to the possible disappearance of film. If film and labs were to completely disappear tomorrow what would be the consequences? Is there any process or type of film that would no longer be available for access? For example some very early films were shot on non-standard widths and with non-standard perforations. With small quantities of film it would not be economic to build a scanner to digitise such films; the most economic way is to photographically copy them onto 35mm film and then digitise. You could copy each frame with a digital camera but it would involve a lot of manipulation to end up with an acceptable result. So what would we lose if film died?
Brian


The Flicker by Tony Conrad springs to mind. Perhaps it might be possible to create something that emulates the film somewhat but it's not straightforward.

Stan Brakhages films are traditionally quite difficult in this aspect too but you may get a good facsimile if you can store the film uncompressed.

The films of Edvard Munch are all on 9.5mm film, so are already basically unavailable AFAIK

If there was no film tho, some types of film would be impossible to make in the first place

love

Freya
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#10 Simon Wyss

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Posted 20 February 2012 - 01:13 PM

What would we lose if film died?

Weʼd lose vagueness, uncertain terms (of endearment ?), all that guessing and the estimation inherent in physical processes. Everything besides strict calculation, everything not undergoing rationalism.

George Eastman found himself in a cinch in 1893 when he learnt that his film deteriotated within a few months. Nobody could find anything to explain the problem. From a cloud of guessing emerged William Stuber with a solution. It is said that it remained his secret.

I think the making of films has to do with a stubborn cohesion with one big secret, from raw stock manufacture to projection: the human has room to play her and his role with her or his senses. Sense of proportion, the timing on body rhythms, heartbeat and breath and emotions. Everything beyond mental control.

That is why I hate chess. Stupid 64 squares, boring calculatio. Chess board or pixels, all the same.
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#11 Joel Sommazzi

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Posted 02 April 2012 - 08:39 AM

Interesting subject, I think a lot of the problem centres upon what we choose to keep - the resources simply don't exist to save everything. As such the archivist plays a much more important role than perhaps commonly thought. . .

http://www.amazon.co...3371576&sr=1-8:

"It is estimated that about one and a half billion hours of moving images were produced in 1999, twice as many as a decade before. If that rate of growth continues, one hundred billion hours of moving images will be made in the year 2025. In 1895 there was just above forty minutes of moving images to be seen, and most of them are now preserved. Today, for every film made, thousands of them disappear forever without leaving a trace. Meanwhile, public and private institutions are struggling to save the film heritage with largely insufficient resources and ever increasing pressures from the commercial world. Are they wasting their time? Is the much feared and much touted Death of Cinema already occurring before our eyes? Is digital technology the solution to the problem, or just another illusion promoted by the industry? In a provocative essay designed as a collection of aphorisms and letters, the author brings an impassioned scrutiny to bear on these issues with a critique of film preservation, an indictiment of the crimes perpetuated in its name, and a proposal to give a new analytical framework to a major cultural phenomenon of our time."

I think film will still be around for a while. One of the most prohibitive costs of film, for low budget folks at least - was in creating prints for exhibition. With the growth in digital projectors, one can shoot film, have it scanned, then output the project to HD Bluray, or encode to JPEG2000 and ingest into a projector - and of course you can screen in multiple theatres without paying for multiple prints.

You still have the original film if at some point you want a higher res scan. (35mm can easily yield 8k - Gone with the Wind and Wizard of Oz we're both scanned at 8K). If you were desperate, you could even develop B&W stock yourself and scan it in using a relatively cheap automated scanner.

With the cheap availability of second hand film equipment, the choice is perhaps more about practicalities and aesthetics - and about what a new generation of film-makers are used to using - than it is about economics.

Sorry if i've gone of track a bit there!
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#12 Indiefilmstock

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Posted 05 April 2012 - 05:27 PM

Shortly after Kodak's bankruptcy was announced, I had written a blog called "The Good News about The Bad News about Kodak" which can be read at www.comtelpm.com

Some of the highlights:

Kodak is still conducting research and developement on film stock. So, they are not expecting it to dissappear any time soon. Malcolm Spaull, chair of Rochester Institute Technology’s School of Film and Animation (http://bit.ly/yyVktp) noted that Kodak continues research and development in motion picture film and there is sustained demand. It will eventually suffer the same fate as still camera film, but not for another decade.

7 of the top 10 highest grossing indie movies from 2011 were shot on film.

According to the newest version of "The Digital Dilemma", a study from AMPAS, film is still best method or archiving movies. Digitally acquired movies may be in trouble when new technologies appear.

Also, we've been selling quite a bit of film. Just finished a series of Subaru commercials that used an enormous amount of 16mm film. We've got factory sealed cans of 35mm and 16mm as well as ends at up to 90% off the cost of new film.

Richard Kaufman
Comtel Pro Media
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richard@comtelpm.com
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#13 Dominic Case

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Posted 07 April 2012 - 08:01 AM

Well, it's been a long time since I posted here. Just passing and noticed this thread.

Brian (Hi Brian!) asked what we wouldn't be able to do if film disappeared. One very physical process that would be lost would be hand-painted or scratched film: frame-by-frame animation on the film itself. Of course this is a very "experimental film" process: a poetic form rather than the conventional narrative form. But apart from people like Norman Mclaren and Stan Brakhage, I'm sure there must be people on this forum who've tried this.

That's my thought for today!
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#14 Phil Thompson

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Posted 07 April 2012 - 06:30 PM

just shot this on 16mmm


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#15 Richard Tuohy

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Posted 07 April 2012 - 08:29 PM

Well, it's been a long time since I posted here. Just passing and noticed this thread.

Brian (Hi Brian!) asked what we wouldn't be able to do if film disappeared. One very physical process that would be lost would be hand-painted or scratched film: frame-by-frame animation on the film itself. Of course this is a very "experimental film" process: a poetic form rather than the conventional narrative form. But apart from people like Norman Mclaren and Stan Brakhage, I'm sure there must be people on this forum who've tried this.

That's my thought for today!

Actually, for us experimental film makers, film can't die, unless we want it to. If Industrial film stock manufacture goes, then we will most likely loose colour (though I assure you a DIY colour emulsion is being researched somewhere!) but the experimental film maker can easily make their own monochrome film emulsion. I've done it myself. The results can be quite remarkable. Film base is a separate problem, but there are oceans of film material out there for re-use. I don't think film base presents an insurmountable problem, given there are people and machines that can perforate film. We just have to find somewhere that is prepared to slit from whatever rolls of sheet material are being manufactured for other purposes.
So, film won't die for the experimental film maker, which includes so-called 'direct film' a la McLaren and Brakhage etc.. (smile emoticon)
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#16 Charles MacDonald

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Posted 07 April 2012 - 09:15 PM

If Industrial film stock manufacture goes, then we will most likely loose colour


Foma USED to make a colour stock based on the old Agfa Patents. Like the rest of the east Europe photo industry they staped as the product would not be competitive with Kodak and Fuji. I wonder if they still have the technology to put something like that back into production? I wonder if Agfa might license one of them to produce a film based on the last Agfa Movie stock. The follow behind ADOX.DE recently posted on another forum that they have equipment to make 16mm Film if it would help their plans to resurect or clone Agfa APX B&W film.

AGFA themselves apparently only have the ability to make Polyester film. One outft in germany is finishing some of the AGfa AviPhot Ariel Camera film for still cameras. The AviPhot Colour negative does not have a mask.
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#17 Trevor McClung

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Posted 07 June 2012 - 02:19 AM

Film looks like a separate dimension. It makes people feel like they're dreaming what's on screen. That is the right tool for the job and the right tool for the job is always gonna have a place in the tool box.
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#18 Freya Black

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Posted 07 June 2012 - 04:51 AM

? For example some very early films were shot on non-standard widths and with non-standard perforations. With small quantities of film it would not be economic to build a scanner to digitise such films;
Brian


Think that already happens a bit. Edvard Munch (I kid you not!) made films on the 9.5mm format. AFaIK it is impossible to see them. I've never been able to anyway. I'm sure if they were made on 16mm this would not be the case.

love

Freya
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#19 Freya Black

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Posted 07 June 2012 - 04:56 AM

Think that already happens a bit. Edvard Munch (I kid you not!) made films on the 9.5mm format. AFaIK it is impossible to see them. I've never been able to anyway. I'm sure if they were made on 16mm this would not be the case.

love

Freya


Wow there is another me that already replied to this thread in February! Worrying.
I wonder what else she has been up to! ;)

love

Freya
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#20 Simon Wyss

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Posted 07 June 2012 - 08:48 AM

The book did not dissappear. Check this out:



I will have my lab back one day, just you wait, ‘enry ‘iggins, just you wait!

Old steam engines are being put back to work.

I locate a heavy defect with film archivists, especially in Europe. I think ours is the worst. You are promised something by the director but that is never kept. There are quite some stories to be told.
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