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'Be a Filmmaker, Not a Video Maker': Kodak's President On Why Film is King

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#1 Shawn Sagady

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Posted 10 June 2016 - 03:51 PM

http://goo.gl/R5ZPn0

 

Interesting read, but I think it got a little heavy handed against digital.  Particularly that his argument about an audiences reaction to pixels vs film seems pretty moot when everything is scanned and presented on digital projectors these days.  Would be interested to hear other peoples thoughts.  


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#2 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 10 June 2016 - 04:36 PM

Honestly, I agree with Steve.

A complete photochemical process, does look entirely different then a "flat" digital image. The problem today is that very few people are willing to risk not doing a digital intermediate. Plus, most movies shot on film aren't being scanned and presented in a resolution comparable to the original film format. If you watch "Interstellar" on 5/70 or 15/70, scanned at 12k, it looks like film. But if you watch "Rogue Nation", which was scanned and finished in 2k, it looks like crap.

Hateful Eight, Interstellar and Batman V Superman, made more money per screen in 70mm then the digital screenings at the same venue's. If that's not proof people want to see something unusual, unique and they appreciate something made on film and distributed the old fashion way.

I love digital technology, it's fast, it's efficient and it works great for low/no budget productions and products not going to theaters. I was one of the early adopters of the digital age, mostly because almost everything I shot was going to DVD or for broadcast. However, the theatrical experience SHOULD be special and a good photochemical finish is just that. It's something you can't see at home, like theatre, like a rock concert, more like a "live" event because it's always changing. In a perfect world, more movies would be printed to 70mm and use the Weinstein projectors and expand the use of theatrical 70mm releases.
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#3 Shawn Sagady

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Posted 10 June 2016 - 05:10 PM

I'm all for more 70mm theatrical releases, and I agree the analog nature of film is really appealing visually, but even with all the 70mm projectors we have available now due to the special releases of Hateful 8 and other films, we don't have enough to make it more than a gimmick.  The vast majority of audiences are still seeing a DI projected at 2-4k.  I just felt the article, while accurate on the pluses of film, kinda falters when it tries to make the selling point of film being its better to watch film projected than digital projected, when that (at least right now) is not really a reality in the industry.

 

If I as a film maker make my next short on Super 16mm I am never going to see it actually projected at 16mm unless I print back to film... but then are I not just printing pixels to film since it has been made digital?


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#4 Heikki Repo

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Posted 10 June 2016 - 05:20 PM

AFAIK, there are still people who know the (unfortunately disappearing) art of cutting negative. You scan your film, edit it and deliver the final cut with an EDL to the negative cutter. Print is then struck from the negative. Google "negative cutting" and you'll find at least two people offering the service on the very first page.


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#5 Shawn Sagady

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Posted 10 June 2016 - 05:26 PM

AFAIK, there are still people who know the (unfortunately disappearing) art of cutting negative. You scan your film, edit it and deliver the final cut with an EDL to the negative cutter. Print is then struck from the negative. Google "negative cutting" and you'll find at least two people offering the service on the very first page.

Certainly but this also removes Grading and any kind of special effects or cleanup from the process.  Yes you would have a truly analogue film, but do you think any directors in this day and age even indie would throw out all the modern tools to say 100% analog? Also I imagine there is a very real cost to the negative cutting and laying sound down etc that could prove even more prohibitive for an indie film.  One of the big arguments right now is that is cost effective to shoot Film vs Digital, but I think that relies on the assumptions of a scan and finishing in digital.  Probably not a lot of optical labs left that will do chroma keying and compositing the old way at a price that would be reasonable in order to keep everything analog.


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#6 Heikki Repo

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Posted 10 June 2016 - 05:41 PM

Certainly but this also removes Grading and any kind of special effects or cleanup from the process.  Yes you would have a truly analogue film, but do you think any directors in this day and age even indie would throw out all the modern tools to say 100% analog? Also I imagine there is a very real cost to the negative cutting and laying sound down etc that could prove even more prohibitive for an indie film.  One of the big arguments right now is that is cost effective to shoot Film vs Digital, but I think that relies on the assumptions of a scan and finishing in digital.  Probably not a lot of optical labs left that will do chroma keying and compositing the old way at a price that would be reasonable in order to keep everything analog.

 

No disagreement there. Anyway, I really have to recommend trying the process of shooting some negative film and then having a print struck from it. I shoot my home movies on Vision3 super-8 negative film and have had prints made from it. Beautiful! I haven't tried it for 16mm yet, but watching some Agfa 200D projected was truly magical.


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#7 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 10 June 2016 - 06:15 PM

It costs around $500 a day to cut negative, so maybe $3k or so to cut a feature film with one person.

The audio printing is around .80/ft
The IP is around $1.25/ft

So if your 90 minute feature is 10,000ft, you're looking at

$8k for audio
$12,500 for IP with audio attached
$1800 for an answer print

So you're looking at around $25k for all of the finishing on 35mm. That's not a lot of money in the grand scheme of things. Sure, if you've gotta do a lot of color work, you will need to make some answer prints during the color phase. However, if what you shot looks good and you can do a scene to scene color during the IP process, it's not so bad. You would normally then strike an IN off the IP, which is what you'd use to make theatrical prints. However, for festivals and stuff, you can strike prints right off the IP. You can get around 20 prints off an IP before you should stop.

With 16mm, you'd have to do a blow up to 35mm, which is around $2.50/ft to create a 35mm IP off S16 WITH a color balance. So you're looking at another $5k - $8k or so.

I like to strike print dailies for specific reels when shooting on film. Most of my 35mm commercial work, we printed select reels. All of my 16mm work is printed.

On my 35mm budgets, I have $50k reserved for the 35mm finishing process, which there are several labs in the US that can do it. On S16 budgets, I budget for a 4k finish.
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#8 Stuart Brereton

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Posted 11 June 2016 - 12:09 AM

Steve Bellamy's commentary here is a partisan, and rather fanciful take on the wonder of Film. He talks about the difference between watching video and watching film, but in the same sentence, admits he has never seen a study that supports his claims.

 

Once, and for all, it's not about being a film-maker, or a video-maker (which is a spurious delineation anyway), it's about being story-teller.


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#9 Richard Boddington

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Posted 11 June 2016 - 12:26 AM

I did something quite silly....I shot an entire first low budget feature film on 35mm, FOUR perf to boot!!

 

R,


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#10 Jan Tore Soerensen

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Posted 11 June 2016 - 12:27 AM

And 99% of the people who watch the movie won't care, or see the difference for that matter.


Edited by Jan Tore Soerensen, 11 June 2016 - 12:28 AM.

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#11 Gregg MacPherson

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Posted 11 June 2016 - 12:28 AM

Quoting Shawn .."Certainly but this also removes Grading and any kind of special effects or cleanup from the process".

 

This shows how unfamiliar people are now with the working process of film.

Removes grading?  False.  But it is more limited than current digital.

No special effects?  Watch Bladerunner,  old Star Wars,  wierd little films by Svankmajor and legions of others.....


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#12 Peter Bitic

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Posted 11 June 2016 - 12:31 AM

 

Once, and for all, it's not about being a film-maker, or a video-maker (which is a spurious delineation anyway), it's about being story-teller.

If that were true, then surely people wouldn't obsess about topics like that. The fact that people do, tells you that there is something about film/digital that maybe you don't recognize or don't care about. So to proclaim, "once and for all" that it's not about being a film-maker or a video-maker is not really describing a reality, it's just saying that you don't care too much about whether films are shot digitally or on film.


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#13 Gregg MacPherson

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Posted 11 June 2016 - 01:29 AM

@ Staurt,
Your major contribution to all these conversations is that we should not be having them, that they are all the same conversation....

None of that is viable, realistic, true. If people keep returning to conversations about the difference between film and digital, it it precisely because there are some unanswered issues. Personally, I don't think the discusion has delved very deeply at all.

The working DPs have had to accept digital to survive. On one level I respect that. But this does not qualify them, or you, to shut down a conversation like this, pretending that it has already played itself out. When, I think, it has barely scratched the surface.
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#14 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 11 June 2016 - 01:52 AM

Motion picture film is cheaper to work with today, then it has been in decades.

Film cameras are cheaper then digital cameras of like resolution.
Kodak offers killer deals to low-budget movies.
Lab's offer excellent processing/transfer/sync deals for post production.
Modern printers are cleaner and faster, making the printing process even better then it's ever been.
Lab's are also more accurate, leaving less room for huge errors seen in the not to distant past.

The only reason people switched to digital as rapidly as they have, is simply because anyone who wishes to get work in the industry, must know the current equipment to get jobs. Heck, I will book jobs just to get some tactile interface time with equipment that I can't afford to own. I also book post production jobs for very low rates, if it's a codec/camera I haven't edited/colored with before, so I can learn what to do.

I run into lots of cinematographers on a weekly basis and I always casually ask the question, if they had their druthers, what would they shoot on. The majority say film and some even are more specific with stocks, lenses, cameras and even post processing. Even though film technology has been almost completely stagnant over the last 6 - 8 years, people still want it. They still consider it the "gold" standard, for everything else is measured against it. Those people who tread into unseen territories with digital technology, have faced criticism and borderline failure. Film is the standard and digital for better or worse, is still a toy.
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#15 Shawn Sagady

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Posted 11 June 2016 - 02:42 AM

Quoting Shawn .."Certainly but this also removes Grading and any kind of special effects or cleanup from the process".
 
This shows how unfamiliar people are now with the working process of film.
Removes grading?  False.  But it is more limited than current digital.
No special effects?  Watch Bladerunner,  old Star Wars,  wierd little films by Svankmajor and legions of others.....

I understand color timing etc and yes when I referred to grading I meant in the modern sense using things like Resolve which allow incredible Control. As for the VFX I also qualified that saying all the optical effect labs and equipment are gone at this point. Never said people didn't do amazing stuff just talking about trying to do a purely analogue process today.
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#16 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 11 June 2016 - 02:52 AM

I have a design for a film optical printer which has the same amount of control as DaVinci. The problem is, who would want to develop it?

Really, it has nothing to do with technology, it has everything to do with digital tools having instant results.
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#17 Alexandros Angelopoulos Apostolos

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Posted 11 June 2016 - 03:25 AM

Tyler, do you think that in the future, and perhaps not a too distant one, they will develop a 20K camera that will have such processing as to make its imagery as good as or perhaps better than today’s film?


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#18 Jay Young

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Posted 11 June 2016 - 06:53 AM

I'm not the biggest fan of 'No Film School', but I did enjoy the article. My question would not be why 'digital vs. film', but rather why Bellamy is promoting Pro-8mm.  Is that the only Super8 lab he knows? Is it because Kodak partnered with them?  There are far cheaper ways to get things done than go to that particular lab. 

 

Anyhow, at the end, I agree with the article.


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#19 Richard Boddington

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Posted 11 June 2016 - 10:35 AM

And 99% of the people who watch the movie won't care, or see the difference for that matter.

 

They do notice on one level...that was 10 years ago and digital technology isn't where it is now.  HD movies still had a "cheap video look" 10 years ago.  The Alexa certainly closed the gap.  The RED?  Well it's still producing the "cheap video look."

 

I was told by every single industry person, "you can't shoot a feature on 35mm at that budget level."  Well....you can, and I did.

 

R,


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#20 Stuart Brereton

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Posted 11 June 2016 - 10:36 AM

@ Staurt,
Your major contribution to all these conversations is that we should not be having them, that they are all the same conversation....

None of that is viable, realistic, true. If people keep returning to conversations about the difference between film and digital, it it precisely because there are some unanswered issues. Personally, I don't think the discusion has delved very deeply at all.

The working DPs have had to accept digital to survive. On one level I respect that. But this does not qualify them, or you, to shut down a conversation like this, pretending that it has already played itself out. When, I think, it has barely scratched the surface.

I'm not against the discussion, per se, I'm just tired of hearing this same conversation ad nauseam since 2008. Those 'unanswered issues' never get resolved because no-one ever brings anything new to the discussion, it's just the same tired arguments for and against. Personally, I don't understand this desire to declare that one format is better than another. I find the whole thing just another example of gear fetishism.

 

You could go into the archives and pull out any number of discussions that are virtually identical to the one you're having now, and which ended up drawing no conclusions. I'm not trying to 'shut down a conversation', merely pointing out that another 'Film vs Digital' discussion is not going to be that productive.

 

As a DP, I shoot mostly digital, but when I shoot stills, I choose film. One of the projects I'm working on is a medium format project, shot at night. I carry around a large and heavy Mamiya 6x7. I have to shoot long exposures, because the film speed and the need for a deep stop cause reciprocity failure. The film is expensive, and so is processing. I could shoot the same material on my Canon 6D, and have a lighter camera, with newer, faster glass, a huge range of ISO, no reciprocity failure, and instant images, but I don't, because film is 'better' in one important way. Highlights. Film holds onto detail in streetlights etc much better than digital can, so despite all the disadvantages, I choose film in this instance.

 

Every advantage film has over digital is offset by a disadvantage in some way, so choosing a format is a matter of weighing up the pros and cons to decide which works best for your project. I don't think it's possible to say which is 'Best' generally; there are too many variables to compare like for like. Ultimately, it comes down to a matter of opinion. Some people see a difference, some people don't. Some people care, some don't. Some people have a vested interest. It's all just opinion, and therefore unlikely to answer your unanswered issues.


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