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Format and Workflow Debates


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#1 Giray Izcan

Giray Izcan
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Posted 15 October 2012 - 10:08 PM

I have been reading forum postings on different formats, which one is "better", film is dying or not dying, film is really "expensive" in comparison to digital, etc. Oh my personal favorite, achieving film look with digital cameras or vice versa. The reason I am writing this is not to start up any arguments, but to articulate my take on this trend.
"Digital is just as good as film or better" In terms of what? What is "better"? Pin point sharpness that allows you to see every single dust particle? Would you really like to see every single detail of life, or would prefer to exclude some of those details of life from the form of art, film? I suppose, nowadays, good camera formats are measured by its extreme sharpness. In my opinion, a good format is the one that allows you to capture images in accordance with each project, not necessarily the sharpest. This statement goes to "I shoot 4k" people..
Another criterion is the cameras' "low light capabilities", i.e. achieving that "noiseless" picture while working on 6400 ASA. I have to ask why would you have to crank up your ASA that much? My camera does not have to capture breath taking images with only match light; I still believe in painting with light versus shooting on existing light conditions (excluding some circumstances) I mean that is why we have film lights.. In other words, cameras' performance on extreme ASAs doesn't impress me personally at all...
My favorite, "achieving film look" with digital cameras. If I want the film look, I would shoot on film and vice versa. Particularly DSLR shooters with their "shallow depth-of-field" producing toys. I suppose, if you want true cinematic quality, you have to blur out the background.. I mean, it doesn't even have to even serve a purpose in the story.. Also, again for DSLR shooters, make sure do not move the camera, just rack focus, because you don't need the fundemental tools of motion picture time to time, i.e. panning and tilting. I mean, watch some of the short "films" on Vimeo or Youtube, they are all the same - cinematic look - no depth-of field, static frames, desaturated colors and the list goes on. Pretty original at this point.. One more thing, you don't need to add or remove ND filters, add or reduce light levels to maintain constant aperture.. Just crank up and down that ASA setting on your camera to maintain a constant aperture.. Make sure add some grain to your footage in the sake of that magical film look, because it doesn't look fake at all. How about shooting on film if you desire that grain? Same thing with film shooters, make sure remove all the grain to make it look "crispier." How about shooting digital if you don't want any grain? Achieveing the film look with digital tools and vice versa, in my opinion, is like re-inventing the wheel...
Did anyone notice that shooting on negative is "costly.." Well, shooting film is costly, and requires an appropriate preparation. If you don't value your project to spend the necessary money on film stock, etc.; maybe, you should consider revising your script. Or better yet, establish what your goals are with your project. In productions, money usually goes to other expenses i.e. paying your crew, renting lights, etc; the film stock related expenses do not make up the majority of production expenses. I don't even need to begin writing about expenses associated with shooting digital (not DSLRs but Alexas and Red cameras)...
In sum, I think every tool has a purpose, and to me at least, it doesn't make any sense to emulate an already existing format on different formats. Instead of worrying about the resolving capabilities of cameras, people should worry about improving their own skills - not blame their inadequacies on a particular format that they are on. And stick with motion picture fundementals, not no light shoots or changing of ASA settings on the fly.. These are all just personal thoughts, I mean I am not even a pro. I am just trying to be a camera operator/ dp, separating from the Marine Corps. Anyways, peace..
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