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#1 Hrishikesh Jha

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Posted 02 January 2017 - 10:24 AM

Just because you shot in film doesn't mean jack if you dump to digital. If you want the film look, it's colorspace and dynamic range, you need to stay in film, through post, right on to delivery. If you dump to digital, you're just shooting in digital. You're now dealing with the digital colorspace only available in digital reproduction, which is different than what you'd have with a complete film production flow.

Not that I think digital is bad, but it is different. Digital is actually superior to film today, but film zealots can't get out of the delusion of film being somehow magically better. But you're free to continue believing that it is.

I'm 60 years old dude. I've been around, and I got news for you. Film is dead. Get over it. The only people keeping it alive are the old boy Hollywood network. Once they're dead, you better have a good grasp on digital. Nobody in their right mind shoots film today other than old boy network directors and their ga-ga'd fanboys. It's utterly stupid to waste your precious limited production funds as an indie filmaker on the medium. You shoot on film and..........................digitize and do all the post in digital. Then it gets played back in theaters on digital projectors being fed highly compressed digital files.

Yep, film isn't dead...delusions need to be kept in check. I am a DOP and I know how things work.


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#2 Bruce Greene

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Posted 02 January 2017 - 12:47 PM

Who wrote this?  One of your professors?

 

Anyway, aside from the provocative tone... there is basically the point that once film is scanned and digitized, it's no different than digital capture.

 

Without commenting on which is better, I will say, from my experience as a DP, colorist, and still photographer ...  The color pallet of film capture does survive scanning to digital manipulation.  And of course, so does the grain pattern.  So, it's a unique look.  I continue to use film for still photography, not because it's better (it certainly is not) but because of the feel of the image.  And I scan all my still photography negatives.  No more darkroom for me :)


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#3 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 02 January 2017 - 12:52 PM

It's strongly expressed for effect.  It has some truths in there but exaggerated to the point where it becomes inaccurate.  For example, there is a look to film that survives being shown digitally, even if it's not the total experience of what film has to offer.  So it's not really accurate to say that if you do a digital post to something shot on film negative and scanned, it means you're actually shooting digitally.  If that were true, then anyone looking at an Ansel Adams landscape photograph online on their computer should be stating that Ansel Adams actually shot digitally, but obviously that is nonsensical.  We look at paintings online and in art books and yet we admit they are reproductions of something done as a painting. 

 

Film seems to be the equivalent of Schrodinger's cat right now, whether it is dead or alive depends on how you look at it... 

 

But the factual truth is that it is still currently alive and if an independent artist wants to spend the money to use it as a medium, that's their choice.  You look at the number of movies shot this year on film such as "Loving", "Jackie", "La La Land", etc. and few of them were directed by old Hollywood "network" directors.  However, it certainly is true that film is not the norm anymore and never will be again, that the vast majority of production is digital and that's something that any cinematographer has to acknowledge and come to terms with.


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#4 Michael Rodin

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Posted 02 January 2017 - 02:11 PM

It's bullshit.


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#5 Pavan Deep

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Posted 02 January 2017 - 08:44 PM

I find that such strongly expresssed comments are common, people have been saying such things in similar tones for over 40 years, but film is still here. I feel that such comments are embedded with some resentment which is why they are slightly bitter and hostile, nevertheless they offer a perspective and like with anything we hear and read we shouldn't simply agree or dismiss them. The only thing in the comment that is noteworthy is that in most cases people are now working with digital technology. I feel many of these want to work with film,  but feel they can't and the only way to accept their reality is to lash out like this by presenting jarred and biased views,  passing them off as facts, this makes them feel better.

Edited by Pavan Deep, 02 January 2017 - 08:45 PM.

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#6 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 02 January 2017 - 09:41 PM

Just because you shot in film doesn't mean jack if you dump to digital. If you want the film look, it's colorspace and dynamic range, you need to stay in film, through post, right on to delivery. If you dump to digital, you're just shooting in digital. You're now dealing with the digital colorspace only available in digital reproduction, which is different than what you'd have with a complete film production flow.


There is a lot of truth to this, yet the "look" of film is not necessarily related to the "technical" aspects mentioned here. There is an artistic look and more importantly, feel to film that just doesn't exist with digital. A film image is always in motion, even when the composition is not. There is a distinct "depth" to the color that doesn't exist with any digital system. Then, there is motion blur and how film looks very different with anything in motion. Finally, film grain is hard to reproduce because it's so random and variable. Even if you add it to a digital image, it still doesn't look anything like film. Things like latitude (dynamic range) and color space limitations of digital, are almost irrelevant because much of the great things about film still shine through, even on a piss poor standard definition telecine from the 90's.

Not that I think digital is bad, but it is different. Digital is actually superior to film today, but film zealots can't get out of the delusion of film being somehow magically better. But you're free to continue believing that it is.


Yes, digital is an entirely different look. Though I wouldn't consider it "superior" in any way shape or form. Maybe from the perspective of "ease of use" fine, digital is easier to use. Whoop T doo... my iphone is easy to use, but I don't go around taking important pictures with it.

With digital, everything looks the same. The images are flat, without the beautiful glass-like contrast of film. With digital, the colors are muted, they don't have the vibrance of film at all. Even if you boost the colors in post, they're still less pronounced then film. Analog formats like film deal with over and under exposure in a very pleasant way. Digital cameras and presentation systems have harsh cut off's in the highlights and blacks. So filmmakers must be more careful then ever to protect highlights and most importantly during the coloring phase, make sure they aren't anywhere near clipping. So we're reducing the total amount of latitude in every shot as a consequence. This is changing with HDR and REC2020 standards, but since MOST movies are still finished in REC709 color space thanks to them not wanting to do a whole different color pass for video release, for the time being the color space on screen is very limiting. Then you consider that most movies are finished in 2k, which is around the same resolution of a 4 perf 35mm release print... theater goer's today are basically seeing an image no different then what's available on their home TV.

Film isn't superior technically, it's just better looking, it just "feels" more natural and evokes a different emotion. Plus, something shot and presented on film, is a wholly different experience, one you can't get at home.

The only people keeping it alive are the old boy Hollywood network. Once they're dead, you better have a good grasp on digital.


I understand this comment very well, because the person who wrote it, probably got into digital filmmaking later in life. However, our youth are shooting on digital first, the have a pretty good grasp of it before they make anything on film.

Honestly, I feel he's wrong about who uses film. I'm seeing the old hollywood guys going to digital because it's easier and fun to experiment with new technology. I'm seeing the young guys using film because they may not get a chance later in life. If you really analyze the people shooting film, you see a very distinct trend of younger filmmakers and it's very exciting.

It's utterly stupid to waste your precious limited production funds as an indie filmaker on the medium.


It's called doing something unique, so there is a spotlight on your project vs everyone else. Every indy filmmaker wants to shoot with Alexa or Red and most of them do because rentals are cheap enough. Yet those productions look exactly like every other Alexa and Red show made, they don't stand out amongst their peers. Shoot something on film and you instantly stand out amongst the crowd, you are unique in that you cared enough about your project to commit it to celluloid.

Film is dead. Get over it.


That's what they said about tubes when solid state electronics and integrated circuits became the rage. Yet tube pre-amp's and amplifiers have come back in a huge way, you can buy a tube headphone preamp at Best Buy!

That's what they said about analog tape recording. Once everyone went pro tools, you'd think tape machines would disappear. Today, most of the top recording facilities use tape machines to record and then put into pro tools for mixing. This way you get the benefit of a tube based pre-amp stage and the fullness of the tape recording, plus the benefit of digital mixing. Heck, some folk artists still record 1/4" half track for their masters at 15ips.

That's what they said about records (LP's) 30 years ago, cassette tapes, CD's ipods, all of it was easier, yet in 2015 the #1 selling electronic device was record players.

People want the analog feel and they will pay for it. If you want your product to be stale and digital looking, then shoot digital. If you want your project to be full of life and have that beautiful analog feel, then shoot film.

In my world, the only reason to shoot digital is to save money. On a production with a decent budget, the cost to shoot film is negligible. With modern stocks ability to be pushed harder then ever before and audiences more accepting of something that looks more unique then the average ordinary reality TV fodder they're use to, film will stick around for quite a long time. It will be the kids, the young people who care about the analog technologies of the past, who will save it. Not the 60 somethings who've already been there and done that.
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#7 Hrishikesh Jha

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Posted 03 January 2017 - 02:01 AM

Who wrote this?  One of your professors?

 

Anyway, aside from the provocative tone... there is basically the point that once film is scanned and digitized, it's no different than digital capture.

 

Without commenting on which is better, I will say, from my experience as a DP, colorist, and still photographer ...  The color pallet of film capture does survive scanning to digital manipulation.  And of course, so does the grain pattern.  So, it's a unique look.  I continue to use film for still photography, not because it's better (it certainly is not) but because of the feel of the image.  And I scan all my still photography negatives.  No more darkroom for me :)

 

No. My would be DOP with whom I am having lengthy discussions. I want everything sorted in pre production. This was an email.....He is vehemently against shooting on 16mm and only wants the best for me. I am a first time director whereas he is a veteran. However I also feel he is controlling me already so i have to see where it goes. 

 

I know 16mm is very expensive but I want to shoot on 16mm.


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#8 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 03 January 2017 - 03:38 AM

Has he shot film? Even though he's older, it may be possible that he has never shot film because he as always shot video. I know some some older DPs who have this background..


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#9 Robin R Probyn

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Posted 03 January 2017 - 04:38 AM

But initially he is defending film.. and sounds like he has shot it.. his concern seems to be the small budget.. in which case he says its better to shoot digital for money concerns.. and maybe being with a first time director is better to have a monitor and instant playback.. and I would think he right.. as long as the digital camera is a high end one .. and he's just trying to do whats best for the production..

 

The tone is bit preachy and over bearing.."Im a DOP I know etc.." but of course without knowing the guy personally its impossible to tell that.. only the OP can tell if its the DOP,s attitude more than whats he's saying thats the real concern.. 


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#10 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 03 January 2017 - 05:07 AM

I don't find this sort of discussion very useful.

 

Many people would like to shoot film and can't because it is extremely expensive. Many of the people who can afford it are uncaring about that expense because they aren't personally responsible for it. Some of the people who talk film up the most are the people who have to pay for it the least, often people who are being paid huge fees to use it. The financial and artistic realities are not really in dispute.

 

My position has always been that at anything other than the highest of the high end, the money is better spent on production design.


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#11 Michael Rodin

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Posted 03 January 2017 - 05:33 AM

 

I am a first time director whereas he is a veteran.

Judging by what he's written, he's an amateur.

 

If you want the film look, it's colorspace and dynamic range, you need to stay in film, through post, right on to delivery. If you dump to digital, you're just shooting in digital. You're now dealing with the digital colorspace only available in digital reproduction, which is different than what you'd have with a complete film production flow.

See, this poor bastard doesn't have a slightest idea of what DI actually is.

Digital is actually superior to film today

I could say the same (and more) about digital "future is ours/films is dead" fans who believe in this kind of bullshit.
 


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#12 Jon O'Brien

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Posted 03 January 2017 - 05:36 AM

Film and digital - as Tyler says, the two are really so different. Some projects are obvious digital projects (for instance a lot of documentaries) and some projects would be great on film (if you can manage it). It's like acrylic vs oil paints. You can be very artistic with both, but artists (and buyers!) tend to have their preference.


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#13 Robert Lewis

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Posted 03 January 2017 - 05:39 AM

My reaction to the content of the original posting is "Of course one is entitled to one's opinion, but that is all it is! ". Beyond that, what was said is valueless.


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#14 Jon O'Brien

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Posted 03 January 2017 - 05:59 AM

I must admit I couldn't have cared less if Rogue One was shot on film or digital. As a movie, it worked.


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#15 Bruce Greene

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Posted 03 January 2017 - 08:08 AM

It's been my experience that, as a DP, one should always say that film is preferred. Even when you know it will never happen.
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#16 aapo lettinen

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Posted 03 January 2017 - 08:57 AM

 

No. My would be DOP with whom I am having lengthy discussions. I want everything sorted in pre production. This was an email.....He is vehemently against shooting on 16mm and only wants the best for me. I am a first time director whereas he is a veteran. However I also feel he is controlling me already so i have to see where it goes. 

 

I know 16mm is very expensive but I want to shoot on 16mm.

 

- Why he does not want to shoot on 16mm? 

- Why do you want to shoot on 16mm?

 

Maybe he thinks that you don't know exactly which kind of look you want because you are inexperienced and thus he needs to make the decision by himself based on what he thinks is best for the project. For a inexperienced director the digital route is normally the easiest and safest...

I don't know the project in question so can't comment on whether he is right or not. But you should discuss further why you are after the 16mm look and if you are absolutely sure that you want to go with that look. Part of the dp's job is to recommend the best tools for the project even if the producer or director has planned otherwise. that recommendation should be explained very clearly though, based on dp's experience and the aspects of the project. Just saying that "I'm more experienced, I know best" is not true in collaborative art.

 

I don't shoot much 16mm anymore, I have transferred to 35mm for occasional indie MOS work and second unit. Shooting film is only expensive if you shoot lots of takes, it is not a reason to give up the medium... the decision should be based more on other aspects like light sensitivity, weight, logistics, lens choices, the look you are after, etc. and after that determine if you can manage with X amount of takes and certain shooting ratio. 

 

Shooting digital is not cheap either, you don't necessarily have much more takes with a digital camera because the shooting days are limited. Digital is great for unplanned action and extra shots like documentaries etc. , working with animals and child actors, etc.


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#17 Hrishikesh Jha

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Posted 03 January 2017 - 12:21 PM

 

- Why he does not want to shoot on 16mm? 

- Why do you want to shoot on 16mm?

 

Maybe he thinks that you don't know exactly which kind of look you want because you are inexperienced and thus he needs to make the decision by himself based on what he thinks is best for the project. For a inexperienced director the digital route is normally the easiest and safest...

I don't know the project in question so can't comment on whether he is right or not. But you should discuss further why you are after the 16mm look and if you are absolutely sure that you want to go with that look. Part of the dp's job is to recommend the best tools for the project even if the producer or director has planned otherwise. that recommendation should be explained very clearly though, based on dp's experience and the aspects of the project. Just saying that "I'm more experienced, I know best" is not true in collaborative art.

 

I don't shoot much 16mm anymore, I have transferred to 35mm for occasional indie MOS work and second unit. Shooting film is only expensive if you shoot lots of takes, it is not a reason to give up the medium... the decision should be based more on other aspects like light sensitivity, weight, logistics, lens choices, the look you are after, etc. and after that determine if you can manage with X amount of takes and certain shooting ratio. 

 

Shooting digital is not cheap either, you don't necessarily have much more takes with a digital camera because the shooting days are limited. Digital is great for unplanned action and extra shots like documentaries etc. , working with animals and child actors, etc.

 

I have always wanted to shoot film. It is the look and feel which cannot be explained in technical terms, more of a  a feeling.

I have been lurking here for a year or so, posted questions and know a few people well enough. I am shooting my feature film here in India with my own money. About 3 months ago I went to the local film stock holders...... Bollywood films, like any other, were made on film till about the late 90s but since digital no one even touches film cameras. I was shocked to see so many 35mm and 16mm cameras that you could buy even, just lying about. 

Anyway I did the math and as it turns out I can actually buy and process the 16mm film and get it transferred cheaper than if I hire a medium to high end digital camera(the daily rental itself is absurd, like 1500 dollars a day). I can actually buy a 16mm camera(bolex) for 2,500 dollars but will be just renting. 

 

I want everything sorted in pre production and the DOP was the top priority so I got in touch with this guy through e-mail(He is American). I have a mansion on rent here in Mussorie which is a snowy north Indian hill stations, to me the "look" is very very important. So this is what we discuss on email; and now he simply refuses to shoot 16mm. The thing is he also rents or carries his own equipment and he tells me the RED is the one to go. I don't know if he simply wants to make money but he doesn't seem like that kind of guy, besides I feel cinematographers are artists and not people who'd take you for a ride.

 

My film is horror and inspirations are any horror film from the 60s-mid 80s especially The Woman in Black(1986, TV movie), The Changeling(1980), Exorcist. So I just feel my imagined image will look better on 16mm. I am happy I am sorting all this out much much before production as I am also producing. 

 

16mm seems perfect. 35mm seemed a bit daunting and more importantly it is much  much more expensive, I simply cannot afford it. 


Edited by Hrishikesh Jha, 03 January 2017 - 12:28 PM.

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#18 Hrishikesh Jha

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Posted 03 January 2017 - 12:40 PM

But initially he is defending film.. and sounds like he has shot it.. his concern seems to be the small budget.. in which case he says its better to shoot digital for money concerns.. and maybe being with a first time director is better to have a monitor and instant playback.. and I would think he right.. as long as the digital camera is a high end one .. and he's just trying to do whats best for the production..

 

The tone is bit preachy and over bearing.."Im a DOP I know etc.." but of course without knowing the guy personally its impossible to tell that.. only the OP can tell if its the DOP,s attitude more than whats he's saying thats the real concern.. 

 

He says he has shot film and has a showreel. But I feel he loves digital a lot. He has a few REDs he owns. 

I have only made 3 shorts in my life but I got into a certain rhythm. Try to get everything on location with few shots. Not storyboard exactly but a thorough examination of each scene and how it should be recorded. I worked on sets here on television and hated the amount of shots they took from every angle. I felt the actors were distracted and it just felt mechanical and like a chore to get the work done before sun sets. So each day I would divide the pages, the shots and make sure I only take what I want. Maybe it will work when I shoot on 16mm(I am taking a 7:1 ratio and a few cans I got for free in case I need more footage).

 

My dilemma is...what makes a cinematographer? If I know what angles and shots I could do it but... technically I am not sound. Lighting, Lenses...I'll leave it to pros. 


Edited by Hrishikesh Jha, 03 January 2017 - 12:43 PM.

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#19 Dan Hasson

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Posted 03 January 2017 - 01:04 PM

Wow that is extremely intense to read...

 

I think film and digital can exist alongside each other. Each film has different looks for their story. So something like the Walking Dead really fits with the grain of Super 16mm (from what producers have said). 

 

One of my favourite examples is Danny Boyle's, Steve Jobs. I think I read it in American Cinematographer (I might be wrong), but it was said that each act was filmed in a different format. So it starts on Super 16mm, then to 35mm (not sure if this was spherical, anamorphic....) and lastly in digital. This was done to enhance the story.

 

So this person saying all of this is just his opinion. Although it is very strongly worded. But it seems to be that the two will exist alongside each other for a while.

 

One last thing is that yes most film gets scanned, edited digitally, projected digitally etc.. However I think why directors/dp's and others continue to shoot on film is because of the workflow on set. Watching the documentary, Side by Side, gives a better understanding into this.


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#20 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 03 January 2017 - 02:19 PM

It's been my experience that, as a DP, one should always say that film is preferred. Even when you know it will never happen.


Which is my experience from the DP's I've worked with over the years. They all still consider film the highest quality/best medium to work with, but will work with digital to save money.
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