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What's the current Film to Digital ratio for origination of Cinrma Release Features

Say $80 million +...

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#1 Keith Walters

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Posted 10 May 2015 - 09:55 PM

Over 8 years ago a certain person who shall remain nameless (mainly because I can't remember his name :rolleyes: ) rather severely lost a bet that the ratio would pass 50% by the end of 2010 (or thereabouts). Even Jim Jannard got involved, talking about million dollar bets, and then suddenly pulled out.

 

Is there some place that has this sort of information, or do you have to laboriously go through IMDB tech specs.


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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 10 May 2015 - 09:58 PM

Considering that there is only one lab left in Los Angeles to process 35mm MP color negative, I'd say that we passed the 50% mark a few years ago...

 

I'm shooting a feature right now in 35mm but it's the first time in five years and probably my last time.


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#3 Keith Walters

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Posted 11 May 2015 - 01:05 AM

Considering that there is only one lab left in Los Angeles to process 35mm MP color negative, I'd say that we passed the 50% mark a few years ago...

 

I'm shooting a feature right now in 35mm but it's the first time in five years and probably my last time.

Certainly for TV work and smaller budget features, you are correct, but the bet  was concerned with general cinema release productions, where the acquisition cost generally  wasn't an issue. Nine-digit budgets might have hired a lot of people, but film labs would never have survived of that market alone.

 

It also makes me wonder whether mainstream filmmakers are ever going to move past 2K Alexa resolution. 4K TVs appear to be as dead in the water as 3-D TVs were a few years ago, and most "HD" transmissions routinely under-utilize the capabilities of the transmission system. 4K cinema projectors are still pretty thin on the ground; most cinema owners are struggling to pay for 2K projectors.

 

This is not without precedent; the DVD format has essentially  the same resolution as the Wartime NTSC monochrome TV standard, and Blu-ray is still struggling to compete with that. I don't know what it's like in other countries, but here, only a small amount of rental library space (in the dwindling number of rental libraries left)  is taken up with Blu-ray. The vast majority of Blu-ray players simply get used for playing DVDs. The way the prices are dropping, I suspect that in a few years there will certainly only be Blu-ray players available, but again, they will be used for playing DVDs.

And it's interesting to speculate how many infrared laser diodes have been fitted to DVD and Blu-ray players over the years, that have now wound up in landfill, never played a single CD :rolleyes:

Most people simply don't know that all DVD and Blu-ray players can play CDs (both standard and MP3)


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#4 Albion Hockney

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Posted 11 May 2015 - 10:32 AM

Considering that there is only one lab left in Los Angeles to process 35mm MP color negative, I'd say that we passed the 50% mark a few years ago...

 

I'm shooting a feature right now in 35mm but it's the first time in five years and probably my last time.

Exciting! can you say anymore?

 

what led to the choice of 35mm


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#5 Shawn Martin

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Posted 11 May 2015 - 06:10 PM

Kodak MP film sales dropped 96% between 2006 and 2014. No way is it close to 50% even for just features.
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#6 Keith Walters

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Posted 12 May 2015 - 06:24 PM

Kodak MP film sales dropped 96% between 2006 and 2014. No way is it close to 50% even for just features.

That wasn't the question though.

 

In the case of say, nine-digit-budget features that are intended to and and are likely to be exhibited in cinemas, (not just shown on TV or Direct-to-DVD/Blu-ray/Download), where origination cost or convenience is not likely to be an issue, what percentage are still shot on film? We are talking about probably less than 100 projects a year here.

 

The very fact that David is working on a feature that is being shot on 35mm film means that there still must be a reasonable amount of film still being shot, as it would take quite a lot of such work to keep even one film lab operating in LA.

Remember also that the main reason TV production switched almost exclusively to video origination in recent years was political, more to do with avoiding Screen Actors Guild contracts than origination cost. The Alexa also came along at just the right time as well of course.

 

But the final nail in the coffin was the killing off of releasing features as film prints, which was where most of the money was.  Processing camera negative has always been pretty much a sideline.


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#7 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 12 May 2015 - 11:40 PM

Excluding documentaries and revivals, these are the movies I saw last year in a theater:

 

The Wolf of Wall Street (film)           

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (film)

Ida (digital)

The Monuments Men (digital)           

The Grand Budapest Hotel (film)

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (digital)

Transcendence (film)

X-Men: Days of Future Past (digital)

Edge of Tomorrow (film)

Transformers: Age of Extinction (film & digital)

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (digital)           

Boyhood (film)

Godzilla (digital)

Guardians of the Galaxy (digital)           

Hercules (digital)

Need for Speed (digital)

The Trip to Italy (digital)

Frank (digital)

Gone Girl (digital)

The Judge (film)

Birdman (digital)

Fury (film)

Interstellar (film)

The Theory of Everything (digital)

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Pt.1 (digital)

The Imitation Game (film)

Flamenco, Flamenco (digital)           

The Pyramid (digital)

Exodus: Gods and Kings (digital)

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (digital)

Inherent Vice (film)

Mr. Turner (digital)

Big Eyes (digital)

Into The Woods (digital)

Selma (digital)

Unbroken (digital)

 

I may be wrong about one or two on the list in terms of origination format, but out of 36 titles, 12 were shot on film -- so 33%...  But that's ignoring, for no particularly good reason, the larger production market as if all of those indie features and TV series that used to shoot film somehow don't count.

 

But I don't think you can say this is still a "reasonable amount" considering all the labs that closed down and the fact that Fuji got out of the motion picture business and Kodak has killed a number of their stocks (and I think Kodak now just has one sales rep working out of house since Kodak closed their offices in Los Angeles -- the "capital" of the movie industry!)  There are now whole regions of the world, let alone the U.S., where it is hard to get movie film processed.  There's no way to put a positive spin on this, film is in serious decline.  

 

I'm shooting film right now because the director insisted on it and she doesn't have to justify that decision to anyone, she got her own funding.  That's really the only way film is being shot on features, by directors who insist on it and have some control over the budgeting process.


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#8 Keith Walters

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Posted 13 May 2015 - 05:28 AM

It's just that about 7 years ago I predicted that this wouldn't  happen until  2015:

http://www.cinematog...990#entry248470


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#9 Bill DiPietra

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Posted 13 May 2015 - 06:36 AM

This is all just really sad...
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#10 cole t parzenn

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Posted 13 May 2015 - 10:32 AM

I may be wrong about one or two on the list in terms of origination format, but out of 36 titles, 12 were shot on film -- so 33%...  But that's ignoring, for no particularly good reason, the larger production market as if all of those indie features and TV series that used to shoot film somehow don't count.

 

But I don't think you can say this is still a "reasonable amount" considering all the labs that closed down and the fact that Fuji got out of the motion picture business and Kodak has killed a number of their stocks (and I think Kodak now just has one sales rep working out of house since Kodak closed their offices in Los Angeles -- the "capital" of the movie industry!)  There are now whole regions of the world, let alone the U.S., where it is hard to get movie film processed.  There's no way to put a positive spin on this, film is in serious decline.  

 

I'm shooting film right now because the director insisted on it and she doesn't have to justify that decision to anyone, she got her own funding.  That's really the only way film is being shot on features, by directors who insist on it and have some control over the budgeting process.

 

"Wolf" and "Monuments were hybrid productions, as I recall.

 

It seems to me that "serious decline" is, at best, euphemistic.

 

Re: budgeting, does video really scale up better than film?


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#11 Keith Walters

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Posted 13 May 2015 - 09:30 PM

I've no particular opinion one way or the other whether you originate on film or video. But that's NOW, when there are digital cameras actually up to the task. But 15 years ago when we were being told that 1440 x 800 HD cam was indistinguishable from film, I mean give me a break....

 

Just in case anybody wonders (or cares,) I got the year 2015 at a meeting I attended in 2008. There were people from Deluxe USA there (when they'd just taken over the local processing House Atlab) plus a guy from Arri, and the discussion got round to why on earth anyone would want to buy a film processing outfit, when film projection at least was clearly on the way out.

The details are a bit hazy now, but they brought up the notion of what is now called a "Virtual Print Fee" (they didn't call it that though). The notion was that for the foreseeable future film origination would still be a major player, but that the loss of revenue from print sales would be made up some sort of licensing arrangement on the Digital release files. 

They were still clinging to some variant of the old notion of directly beaming the movies directly into a hard drive built into the projector. So basically they would expect to get 2 grand or so for just pressing a button, instead of laboriously  printing and developing 4-5 heavy rolls of film!

 

Apart from the usual muttered questions about what they'd been smoking and where could we get some, when somebody asked when digital origination seemed set to overtake film (and only on big projects were origination cost was not an issue) the answer was "The middle of the next decade", which appears to have been pretty accurate.


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#12 Keith Walters

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Posted 13 May 2015 - 09:40 PM

R

 


 

Re: budgeting, does video really scale up better than film?

 

Surely that depends on the size of the budget.

In the past, when most digitally originated projects had to be released on film, the necessary video-to-neg transfer ate up most of the savings in stock costs, and you still had the same old problem: You were basically starting a 4-stage duplication chain with a master negative that only had about the same resolution as you would expect to come out of such a chain, but starting with original 35mm neg.

 

Now, at least theoretically, you could show movies recorded on Blu-ray in cinemas and I don't think too many people would notice the difference, but as I understand it, the "Virtual Print Fee" Digital projector subsidization process prohibits that.


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#13 cole t parzenn

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Posted 13 May 2015 - 10:14 PM

What about renting professional video cameras and moving around all the data (including the DIT's fee), versus renting professional film cameras and buying and processing film?


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