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Film Fading to Black

COW Library : Cinematography : Debra Kaufman : Film Fading to Black
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CreativeCOW presents Film Fading to Black -- Cinematography Editorial


Santa Monica California USA

©2011 CreativeCOW.net. All rights reserved.


ARRI, Panavision and Aaton have all quietly ceased production of their film cameras to focus exclusively on the design and manufacture of digital cameras. Film? Fade to black.



While the debate has raged over whether or not film is dead, ARRI, Panavision and Aaton have quietly ceased production of film cameras within the last year to focus exclusively on design and manufacture of digital cameras. That's right: someone, somewhere in the world is now holding the last film camera ever to roll off the line.

Bill Russell, ARRI's VP of Camera Products.
Bill Russell, ARRI's VP of Camera Products.
"The demand for film cameras on a global basis has all but disappeared," says ARRI VP of Cameras, Bill Russell, who notes that the company has only built film cameras on demand since 2009. "There are still some markets--not in the U.S.--where film cameras are still sold, but those numbers are far fewer than they used to be. If you talk to the people in camera rentals, the amount of film camera utilization in the overall schedule is probably between 30 to 40 percent."

At New York City rental house AbelCine, Director of Business Development/Strategic Relationships Moe Shore says the company rents mostly digital cameras at this point. "Film isn't dead, but it's becoming less of a choice," he says. "It's a number of factors all moving in one direction, an inexorable march of digital progress that may be driven more by cell phones and consumer cameras than the motion picture industry."

Aaton founder Jean-Pierre Beauviala notes why. "Almost nobody is buying new film cameras. Why buy a new one when there are so many used cameras around the world?" he says. "We wouldn't survive in the film industry if we were not designing a digital camera."



Aaton founder Jean-Pierre Beauviala


Beauviala believes that that stereoscopic 3D has "accelerated the demise of film." He says, "It's a nightmare to synchronize two film cameras." Three years ago, Aaton introduced a new 35mm film camera, Penelope, but sold only 50 to 60 of them. As a result, Beauviala turned to creating a digital Penelope, which will be on the market by NAB 2012. "It's a 4K camera and very, very quiet," he tells us. "We tried to give a digital camera the same ease of handling as the film camera."

Panavision is also hard at work on a new digital camera, says Phil Radin, Executive VP, Worldwide Marketing, who notes that Panavision built its last 35mm Millennium XL camera in the winter of 2009, although the company continues an "active program of upgrading and retrofitting of our 35mm camera fleet on a ongoing basis."

"I would have to say that the pulse [of film] was weakened and it's an appropriate time," Radin remarks. "We are not making film cameras." He notes that the creative industry is reveling in the choices available. "I believe people in the industry love the idea of having all these various formats available to them," he says. "We have shows shooting with RED Epics, ARRI Alexas, Panavision Genesis and even the older Sony F-900 cameras. We also have shows shooting 35mm and a combination of 35mm and 65mm. It's a potpourri of imaging tools now available that have never existed before, and an exciting time for cinematographers who like the idea of having a lot of tools at their disposal to create different tools and looks."

Do camera manufacturers believe film will disappear? "Eventually it will," says ARRI's Russell. "In two or three years, it could be 85 percent digital and 15 percent film. But the date of the complete disappearance of film? No one knows."

From Radin's point of view, the question of when film will die, "Can only be answered by Kodak and Fuji. Film will be around as long as Kodak and Fuji believe they can make money at it," he says.


FILM PRINTS GO UP IN SMOKE
Neither Kodak nor Fuji have made noises about the end of film stock manufacture, but there are plenty of signs that making film stock has become ever less profitable. The need for film release prints has plummeted in the last year and, in an unprecedented move, Deluxe Entertainment Services Group and Technicolor--both of which have been in the film business for nearly 100 years--essentially divvied up the dwindling business of film printing and distribution.

Couched in legalese of mutual "subcontracting" deals, the bottom line is that Deluxe will now handle all of Technicolor's 35mm bulk release print distribution business in North America. Technicolor, meanwhile, will handle Deluxe's 35mm print distribution business in the U.S. and Deluxe's 35mm/16mm color negative processing business in London, as well as film printing in Thailand. In the wake of these agreements, Technicolor shut its North Hollywood and Montreal film labs and moved its 65mm/70mm print business to its Glendale, California, facility; and Deluxe ended its 35mm/16mm negative processing service at two facilities in the U.K.


"It's a stunning development," says International Cinematographer Guild President Steven Poster, ASC. "We've been waiting for it as far back as 2001. I think we've reached a kind of tipping point on the acquisition side and, now, there's a tipping point on the exhibition side."

"From the lab side, obviously film as a distribution medium is changing from the physical print world to file-based delivery and Digital Cinema," says Deluxe Digital Media Executive VP/General Manager Gray Ainsworth. "The big factories are absolutely in decline. Part of the planning for this has been significant investments and acquisitions to bolster the non-photochemical lab part of our business. We're developing ourselves to be content stewards, from the beginning with on-set solutions all the way downstream to distribution and archiving." Deluxe did exactly that with the 2010 purchase of the Ascent Media post production conglomerate.

Technicolor has also been busy expanding into other areas of the motion picture/TV business, with the purchase of Hollywood post house LaserPacific and a franchise licensing agreement with PostWorks New York. Technicolor also acquired Cinedigm Digital Cinema Corp., expanding their North America footprint in Digital Cinema connectivity to 90 percent. "We have been planning our transition from film to digital, which is why you see our increased investments and clear growth in visual effects and animation, and 2D-to-3D conversion," says Technicolor's Ouri. "We know one day film won't be around. We continue to invest meaningfully in digital and R&D."


Laurence J. Thorpe, Canon Senior Director Imaging Technologies & Communications Group Professional Engineering & Solutions Division I
Laurence J. Thorpe, Canon Senior Director Imaging Technologies & Communications Group Professional Engineering & Solutions Division I
DIGITAL: AN "OVERNIGHT SUCCESS"
Although recent events--the end of film camera manufacturing and the swan dive of the film distribution business--makes it appear that digital is an overnight success, nothing could be further from the truth. Digital first arrived with the advent of computer-based editing systems more than 20 years ago, and industry people immediately began talking about the death of film. "The first time I heard film was dead was in 1972 at a TV station with videotape," says Poster, ASC. "He said, give it a year or two."

Videotape did overtake film in the TV station, but, in the early 1990s, with the first stirrings of High Definition video, the "film is dead" mantra arose again. Laurence Thorpe, who was involved in the early days of HD cameras at Sony, recalls the drumbeat. "In the 1990s, there were a lot of folks saying that digital has come a long way and seems to be unstoppable," he says.

The portion of the film ecosystem that has managed the most complete transition to digital is post-production. According to Technicolor Chief Marketing Officer
Technicolor Chief Marketing Officer Ahmad Ouri
Technicolor Chief Marketing Officer Ahmad Ouri
Ouri, over 90 percent of films are finished with digital intermediates.

But the path to digital domination has also taken place in a world of Hollywood politics and economics. A near-strike by Screen Actors Guild actors, the Japanese tsunami and dramatic changes in the business of theater exhibition have all contributed to the ebbing fortunes of film. Under pressure, any weakness or break in the disciplines that form the art and science of film--from film schools to film laboratories--could spell the final demise of a medium that has endured and thrived for over 100 years.


THREE STRIKES AND YOU'RE OUT?

Until 2008, the bulk of TV productions and all feature films took place under SAG jurisdiction, which covers actors in filmed productions. In the months leading up to the Screen Actor Guild's 2008 contract negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, SAG leadership balked on several elements, including the new media provisions of the proposed contract. Negotiations stalemated. Not so with AFTRA, the union that covers actors in videotaped (including HD) productions, which inked its own separate agreement with AMPTP.

"When producers realized they could go with AFTRA contracts, but they now had to record digitally, they switched almost overnight," recalls Poster. Whereas, in previous seasons, 90 percent of the TV pilots were filmed, and under SAG jurisdiction, in one fell swoop the 2009 pilot season went digital video, capturing 90 percent of the pilots. In a single season, the use of film in primetime TV nearly completely vanished, never to return.

The Japanese tsunami on March 11, 2011, further pushed TV production into the digital realm. Up until then, TV productions were largely mastered to Sony's high-resolution HD SR tape, but the sole plant that made the tape, located in the northern city of Sendai, was heavily damaged and ceased operation for several months. With only two weeks worth of tape still available, TV producers scrambled to come up with a workaround, leading at least some of them to switch to a tapeless delivery, another step into the future of an all-digital ecosystem.


Panavision Panaflex (Millennium XL) on the set of Indiana Jones and The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Paramount Pictures and Lucasfilm, Ltd.
Panavision Panaflex (Millennium XL) on the set of Indiana Jones and The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Paramount Pictures and Lucasfilm, Ltd.


The third, and perhaps most devastating blow to film, comes from the increased penetration of Digital Cinema. According to Patrick Corcoran, National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) Director of Media & Research/California Operations Chief, at the end of July 2011, "We passed the 50 percent mark in terms of digital screens in the U.S. We've been adding screens at a fast clip this year, 700 to 750 a month," he says.

He notes that the turning point was the creation of the virtual print fee, which allows NATO members to recoup the investment they have to make to upgrade to digital cinema. (Studios, meanwhile, save $1 billion a year for the costs of making and shipping release prints.)

To take advantage of the virtual print fee, theater owners will have to transition screens to digital by the beginning of 2013. "Sometime, in 2013, all the screens will be digital," says Corcoran. "As the number of digital screens increase, it won't make economic sense for the studios to make and ship film prints. It'll be absolutely necessary to switch to Digital Cinema to survive."




Two icons of film technology, the Technicolor facilities in Hollywood, and below, the Kodak Tower in Rochester, New York.




The Kodak Tower was built in 1914, Rochester, New York.


REINVENTING THE FILM LAB

Eastman Kodak — Chris Johnson, Director of New Business Development, Entertainment Imaging
Eastman Kodak - Chris Johnson,
Director of New Business Development,
Entertainment Imaging
Can the continued production of film stock survive the twin disappearance of film acquisition and distribution? Veteran industry executive Rob Hummel, currently president of Group 47, recalls when, as head of production operations, he was negotiating the Kodak deal for DreamWorks Studios. "At the time, the Kodak representative told me that motion pictures was 6 percent of their worldwide capacity and 7 percent of their revenues," he recalls. "The rest was snapshots. In 2008 motion pictures was 92 percent of their business and the actual volume hasn't grown. The other business has just disappeared."

Eastman Kodak, Chris Johnson, Director of New Business Development, Entertainment Imaging, counters that "I don't see a time when Kodak stops making film stock," noting the year-on-year growth in 65mm film and popularity of Super 8mm. "We still make billions of linear feet of film," he says. "Over the horizon as far as we can see, we'll be making billions of feet of film."

Yet, as Johnson's title indicates, Kodak is hedging its bets by looking for new areas of growth. One focus is on digital asset management via leveraging its Pro-Tek Vaults for digital, says Johnson, and another is investigating "asset protection film," a less expensive film medium that provides a 50 to 100 year longevity at a lower price point that B&W separation film.

Kodak has also developed a laser-based 3D digital cinema projector. "Our system will give much brighter 3D images because we're using lasers for the light source," says Johnson. "And the costs of long-term ownership is much less expensive because the lasers last longer than the light sources for other projectors."


STORING FOR THE FUTURE
Gray Ainsworth, Executive Vice President and General Manager of Deluxe's Digital Media Services in Los Angeles
Gray Ainsworth, Executive Vice President and General Manager of Deluxe's Digital Media Services in Los Angeles
As more than 1 million feet of un-transferred nitrate film worldwide demonstrates, archiving doesn't get top billing in Hollywood. Although the value of archived material is unarguable, positioned at the end of the life cycle of a production, archivists have unfortunately had a relatively weak voice in the discussion over transitioning from film to digital.

Since the "film is dead" debate began, archivists fought to keep elements on film, the only medium that has proven to last well over 100 years. "Most responsible archivists in the industry still believe today that, if you can at all do it, you should still stick it on celluloid and put it in a cold, dry place, because the last 100 years has been the story of nitrate and celluloid," says Deluxe's Ainsworth.

He jokes that if the world's best physicists brought a gizmo to an archivist that they said would hold film for 100 years, the archivist would say, "Fine, come back in 99 years." "With the plethora of digital files, formats and technologies--some of which still exist and some of which don't--we're running into problems with digital files made only five years ago," he adds.

By The Enigma Factory (Egon Stephan Jr.) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.
Alex Ferrari. By The Enigma Factory
(Egon Stephan Jr.) [Public domain],
via Wikimedia Commons.
At Sony Pictures Entertainment, Grover Crisp, Executive VP of Asset Management, Film Restoration and Digital Mastering, notes that "Although it's a new environment and everyone is feeling their way through, what's important is to not throw out the traditional sensibilities of what preservation is and means.

"We still make B&W separations on our productions, now directly from the data," he says. "That's been going on for decades and has not stopped. Eventually it will be all digital, somewhere down the road, but following a strict conservation approach certainly makes sense."

Crisp pushes for a dual, hybrid approach. "You need to make sure you're preserving your data as data and your film as film," he says. "And since there's a crossover, you need to do both." LTO tape, currently the digital storage medium of choice, is backwards compatible only two generations, which means that careful migration is a fact of life--for now at least--in a digital age. "The danger of losing media is especially high for documentaries and indie productions," says Crisp.

Mary Pickford on the beach with camera. Circa 1916.
Mary Pickford on the beach about 1916
with film movie camera.
Hummel and his partners at Group 47, meanwhile, believe they have the solution. His company bought the patents for a digital archival medium developed by Kodak: Digital Optical Tape System (DOTS). "It's a metal alloy system that requires no more storage than a book on a shelf," says Hummel, who reports that Carnegie Mellon University did accelerated life testing to 97 years.


THE DEATH OF FILM REDUX
"Though reports of its imminent death have been exaggerated, more industry observers than before accept the end of film. "In 100 years, yes," says AbelCine's Shore. "In ten years, I think we'll still have film cameras. So somewhere between 10 and 100 years."

Film camera manufacturers have walked a tightrope, ceasing unprofitable manufacture of film cameras at the same time that they continue to serve the film market by making cameras on demand and upgrading existing ones. But they--as well as film labs and film stock manufacturers--clearly see the future as digital and are acting accordingly.

Will film die? Seen in one way, it never will: our cinematic history exists on celluloid and as long as there are viable film cameras and film, someone will be shooting it. Seen another way, film is already dead...what we see today is the after-life of a medium that has become increasingly marginalized in production and distribution of films and TV. Just as the last film camera was sold without headlines or fireworks, the end of film as a significant production and distribution medium will, one day soon, arrive, without fanfare.









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Re: Film Fading to Black
by Douglas Bowker
Well, with the Dark Knight Rises, it's nice to see one film maker and cinematographer team go against the tides in a huge (no pun intended) way. All the movie was shot on film, and over half in full Imax format. I just saw the Imax version last night and My God it was gorgeous! Those guys really know how to make a movie! So much detail, texture and depth. It's like going from VHS to Blu-ray: you can't even imagine there could be so much more "there" in the movie.

Doug Bowker

3D Animation for the Medical and Technical World
http://www.dbowker3d.com
@Trevor McClung
by Debra Kaufman
Hi Trevor - One of the problems is that the entire infrastructure of film is collapsing -- every small town used to have a film lab to develop film for consumers and the local TV station. Consumer technology going digital was a death knell to hundreds of labs. When all movie theatres all go digital in 2013, that will put even more pressure on labs to close, since no one will be making release prints. It's an entire ecosystem that is migrating to digital, not just cameras. Best, Debra
Re: Film Fading to Black
by Trevor McCLung
Great article but what's the point? Film isn't going anywhere. Any number of independently wealthy people would love to purchase a film production plant. That's exactly what happened with the polaroid project. So many rich people love film. Stop letting digital idiots scare people.
@Trevor McCLung
by Ronald Lindeboom
Is your head in some dark hole, Trevor? It is NOT some scare tactic. Did you miss Kodak's bankruptcy and demise? Did you even BOTHER to read the article or like many who state your case, did you just knee-jerk react to the title???

There are people who still love to play and who treasure Ragtime but that doesn't make it anything more than an interesting aside.

The world is changing and you either get with the program or you get left behind -- like Kodak.

There will always be SOME who use film. But that group grows smaller all the time and is going to become more a hobby than a business. Will it end? I doubt it. And just like Ragtime, people will see the art in it and go for it because they like it. And like Franco on the old Saturday Night Live news with Chevy Chase, it will be "This news just in: Generalissimo Franco is still dead." Just like Kodak.

Best regards,

Ronald Lindeboom
CEO, Creative COW LLC
Publisher, Creative COW Magazine
A 2011 FOLIO: 40 honoree as one of the 40 most influential publishers in America
http://www.creativecow.net


Creativity is a process wherein the student and the teacher are located in the same individual.

"Incompetence has never prevented me from plunging in with enthusiasm."
- Woody Allen

"Be who you are and say what you feel because those that matter, don't mind -- and those that mind, don't matter." - Dr. Seuss
@Ronald Lindeboom
by Jiggy Gaton Jiggy Gaton
From Roland (The Gunslinger) in Stephen King's Dark Tower, "I am from a world now gone by."

Phoenix Studios Nepal: A small A/V Production House in Kathmandu.
Re: Film Fading to Black
by Steve fournier
I started off as a projectionist in 1974 and ran projectors for every theater in my home town at one point or another. From Christie Autowinds to Century changovers. I inspected the prints, got to edit in the trailers, did cement and tape splicing, threaded the gate, dim the lights, and put on a show. It was the distributor's print but it was , in the end, my show. At that time I never believed I would outlive the medium. I never wanted to.

There is something about film I cannot describe. I still shoot my little shorts on 16mm. And I still like the smell of opening 400 feet of 50ISO and using the changing bag. I've made a bunch of little films and none will ever make a dime, but it doesn't matter.

For me, telling a story in moving pictures should be done on film. And I'll keep shooting on it, as long as they keep making it. I know for the big Hollywood business things must change. But I use it because I love it.
Kodak bankruptcy
by Debra Kaufman
On Bloomberg Business News 9 minutes ago: Kodak Said in Talks With Citigroup on Bankruptcy Financing
This bankruptcy has been a loooong time in the making. It will be no surprise to those who have carefully followed Kodak's (mis)fortunes. Thanks, David, for bringing this up.
Kodak going "banko" can't help matters
by David Roth Weiss
Rumors of Kodak filing for bankruptcy were rampant today as the stock fell 23%. The article below states: "Shares are down 15 cents, or 23 percent, to 52 cents in afternoon trading. They touched a record low of 36 cents Jan. 5.". That's not exactly encouraging news for those of you who thought Debra was sounding the alarm too early.

http://abcnews.go.com/Business/wireStory/bankruptcy-fears-hit-kodaks-stock-...

David Roth Weiss
Director/Editor/Colorist
David Weiss Productions, Inc.
Los Angeles
http://www.drwfilms.com

Don't miss my new Creative Cow Podcast: Bringing "The Whale" to the Big Screen:
http://library.creativecow.net/weiss_roth_david/Podcast-Series-2-MikeParfit...

POST-PRODUCTION WITHOUT THE USUAL INSANITY ™


Creative COW contributing editor and a forum host of the Business & Marketing and Apple Final Cut Pro forums.
+1
Re: Film Fading to Black
by David Roth Weiss
James Casey: "The main problem is the limited resources of shooting on film required discipline that a small minority who use digital actually demonstrate. With digital, people shoot hours and hours of totally unnecessary extra footage because it costs nothing. And the end result is a lack of artistic and creative focus on a majority of projects."

I'd agree, that's certainly a problem James, and I wrote about it here several years ago in an article I wrote in Creative Cow Magazine. But, it's not by any means "the main problem" affecting the demise of film, which Debra has written about so eloquently in her article.

David Roth Weiss
Director/Editor/Colorist
David Weiss Productions, Inc.
Los Angeles
http://www.drwfilms.com

Don't miss my new Creative Cow Podcast: Bringing "The Whale" to the Big Screen:
http://library.creativecow.net/weiss_roth_david/Podcast-Series-2-MikeParfit...

POST-PRODUCTION WITHOUT THE USUAL INSANITY ™


Creative COW contributing editor and a forum host of the Business & Marketing and Apple Final Cut Pro forums.
Lamenting the Lack of Discipline
by James Casey
The main problem is the limited resources of shooting on film required discipline that a small minority who use digital actually demonstrate. With digital, people shoot hours and hours of totally unnecessary extra footage because it costs nothing. And the end result is a lack of artistic and creative focus on a majority of projects. The argument is the same for CG in the early 90s compared to CG of today. Many think early CG (Jurassic Park) looks so much better and it's for the same reason. The cost at the time required extremely specific and carefully-thought out sequences. Now, you can model infinitely in 3D, and therefore the end result is a lack of artistic and creative focus. Only a few REALLY good filmmakers use digital well.

As far as archiving goes, the funny thing is that I have external harddrives (Western Digital) that are less than 5 years old and they are no longer supported by computers today. Literally, the driver support ended two years ago so they are completely unusable, unless I want to backtrack my OS by several years.

AND a few of these drives are completely broken now, because they have non-mechanical components. While in the meantime I have Hi-8 tapes from almost 30 years ago that are still functioning flawlessly.

In the end, filmmaking and photography has always been about discipline. Like any craft, anyone fool can do it, but only the disciplined few can actually do it well.
#Uwe Engel
by Debra Kaufman
Hello Uwe - you are right that audio got left out of the article...not intentionally. It's just that the focus was really on the medium of film. But audio is of equal importance and you do bring up a good point that we need to look at its evolution in the digital age. Best, Debra
Re: Film Fading to Black
by Uwe Engel
Thanks for the nice discussion. I really would like to see the same discussion in 20 years time. Btw - no single word of the Audio "portion" in any film. Sadly there is no 3 D in audio just "Dolby Surround". But this is not a core competence like 3D Video is now...For us audio people this is a bit sad.
More infos here:
Mixwerk

Uwe Engel
http://www.mixwerk.com/
#Douglas Bowker
by Debra Kaufman
Hello Doug - Thanks for your very thoughtful response. I also saw Hugo and really enjoyed its creative use to 3D to further the storytelling...but, as you said, very few "masters" are able to achieve this kind of storytelling. As it always was and will be! Best, Debra
Re: Film Fading to Black
by Douglas Bowker
After thinking about it over time, and seeing all the various comments I think I can better speak to one of the big pitfalls in this process that many of us are concerned about. First off, I definitely think that at some point, maybe in some cases now, digital can work as well as film. But let's take the case of using stereoscopic 3D in movies. I just saw Hugo in 3D last night and it claried the whole issue for me. I was thinking how great it all looked (obviousluy all filmed in digital) and how well the 3D worked- and I mean really worked for the story! The technique of 3D was lovingly applied from frame 1, and was inetgral to how the story was told and it looked organic and fantastic.

As I was leaving the theater I was thinking, "Well, that 3D was great! That was the best use of it in live action since Avatar!" But then I thought, "What? It needs to be two years in between where (almost) all we see is garbage post-production versions of 3D instead of the real thing?" So it can be a great technology for certain stories but it requires extra work, care, planning and money. Or it can be done on the cheap as a fad or from a lazy producer's push because it's the "in" thing.

This is where digital features are right now. No one is going to argue that Roger Deakins is settling for less if wants to shoot digital. But a master could get good images with almost anything they used, if it came right down to it. But below that you have "good but not Master" level film makers and studios pushing them to save money regardless of what might get lost in a new and less mature medium.

It's like all the early digital audio recordings: might be some great music on the album, but the sound quality sucks. Thin, brittle, compressed, low bit rates. But when they came out, having a DDD slapped onto a CD was considered a great thing! Over time, bit rates went up, equipment improved and the technology caught up. History sort of has a habit of adopting the "next great thing" before it's actually ready, simply due to the romance of the new. If it's new and cheaper you can multiply that even more. I think in the end that's mostly why so many have a concern that not using film is some kind of automatic sign of progress. Progress is just that: slow and not without a lot of work to actually be real progress.

Doug Bowker

3D Animation for the Medical and Technical World
http://www.dbowker3d.com
@Douglas Bowker
by Ronald Lindeboom
Hugo was both a marvelous story and a great use of 3D. Like you, Douglas, I felt that the 3D advanced the story and anyone who watches it in 2D because they "don't like 3D movies," is doing themselves a disservice. I still think that people are being overly conservative with 3D because they are afraid to cross the line of gimmickry, and Martin Scorsese did better than most. But in order of my 3D favorites that advanced the technology, I would have to say that Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'hoole and How to Train Your Dragon are one and two and Hugo comes into 3rd place for me, Avatar and everything else comes in after that. But the ARRI Alexa looked great on the big screen and proves to me that just like James Cameron shooting on 1080, you do not have to have 5K to make a great looking movie.

Best regards,

Ronald Lindeboom
CEO, Creative COW LLC
Publisher, Creative COW Magazine
A 2011 FOLIO: 40 honoree as one of the 40 most influential publishers in America
http://www.creativecow.net


Creativity is a process wherein the student and the teacher are located in the same individual.

"Incompetence has never prevented me from plunging in with enthusiasm."
- Woody Allen
Re: Film Fading to Black
by Mike Prosser
Who cares if actual film is used?

As long as the end result has the soul of the emulsion process (and they are getting closer with digital filters... still a ways to go... but they are closer) and the frame rate is the same. The general public will never know the difference. Sure some film snobs might, until the process improves a little more.

It's the quality of the story that's more important anyway. I don't see people as bothered by the fact that a ton of crap gets made regardless of film or video formats.

- Mike Prosser
Richard Kaufman
by Debra Kaufman
Hello Richard: Yep, they're still making film! And shooting it too! The scale has dramatically declined and will continue to do so however as the push to digital becomes inevitable. Another factor in the equation is how the number of labs has declined and will continue to decline....Debra
@Film Fading to Black
by Richard Kaufman
Well, if you are one of the lucky ones that have that last film camera, please know that we still have film stock to load the camera!

We buy back film stock from production so someone must be shooting it. We've got ends and factory sealed film stock.

The good news regarding film is that it is now less expensive that it has ever been. You can get short ends (and possibly longer ends depeding on the stock) for as little as .08 cents per foot. You can read about it at
http://www.comtelpm.com/

Richard Kaufman
Comtel Pro Media
tel: 818-450-1122
email: richard@comtelpm.com
Re: Film Fading to Black
by Robert Houllahan
Ha!!!

35mm movie camera's still being made right now!!! For only $79.00 you can own the LomoKino!!!!

Film will never die!!!!

Ha!!

http://microsites.lomography.com/lomokino/

Robert Houllahan
Director / Colorist
Cinelab Inc.
http://www.cinelab.com

MAHC-PRO 6-Core 3X GTX285 20Tb SAS Wave Panel Panny 11UK SDI Plasma.
@Guydell
by Debra Kaufman
Unfortunately most "film" schools no longer teach with film -- many of them cannot afford and/or believe they need to prepare their students for working in a digital age. Some schools do continue to teach film but not many...
@Debra Kaufman
by Robert Houllahan
We develop film for about fifty schools , from NYU and Harvard, Emerson to small community colleges. Film is very much alive in the world of academia.

-Rob-

Robert Houllahan
Director / Colorist
Cinelab Inc.
http://www.cinelab.com

MAHC-PRO 6-Core 3X GTX285 20Tb SAS Wave Panel Panny 11UK SDI Plasma.
Re: Film Fading to Black
by Guydell Maxfield II
No matter how far forward we go their will always be a place for film. new students will learn to develop their craft by first using the tools of the masters like Painters and artist of our past. they will learn the nature of how light acts like a liquid on surfaces and how it acts with glass lenses and filters. The Alchemical process of exposing film to light and developing that film for differing effects to add impact and emotion to a project the digital process can mimic and perhaps in the future mimic this process better ( In The Post Production segment of production ). with a lot of tweaking of sliders and dials, all in all they are both tools that can help the creative tell a good story. What I'm trying to say is their are no bad or good tools once you know your craft and master it. you are still a master of your craft. your knowledge base is still valid. Peace.

Prof.
Re: Film Fading to Black
by Robert Shanebrook
Excellent article. I have documented the current technology used by Kodak to make motion picture film. The book received a favorable review in ASC Magazine, April 2011.


see: makingKODAKfilm.com
Re: Article: Film Fading to Black
by Mike Cohen
This article has been quoted in Salon.com and retweeted by hundreds of people. Congrats. The HBO goes digital story is a nice followup.
Film is dead. Long live the COW!
Mike Cohen
Re: Film Fading to Black
by Franz Wieser
While Debra Kaufman’s evaluation of the market is correct, it is important to point out that film cameras have been dependable for generations. ARRI still continues to sell and service its complete line of analog cameras and provides full support to their analog customers.
Re: Film Fading to Black
by Steven Romano
The bottom line for me is the sad digital compromise in quality for my favorite medium. I saw my first IMAX movie as a teenager. I had to pick my eyeballs up from the floor after they popped at the visual clarity of the 70mm image. Last year, before the mass projectionist firings, I had to operate an IMAX Theater at the AMC Empire in NYC. What did I find? A phony IMAX set up that has been replicated throughout the country.
Two Christie Digital projectors shoved side by side, overlapping the images on the screen, each with a 6000w bulb. This increased illumination gives the phony ILLUSION that the digital picture resolution is indeed IMAX. But the usual IMAX ticket prices are no illusion, nor is the surcharge for the 3-D glasses. Sure the screen is larger, but the resolution is the SAME as any other movie.
We will live to see many of the multiplexes in this country shut down and become malls. And deservedly so.
@Steven Romano
by Jiggy Gaton
So true. Where I am, you can really see the difference between old school projection and digital halls. I go the old film house down the street to see a bollywood when I'm bored. This place makes cinema paridiso look like the film house in inglorious bastards. It will burn down just as those did I suspect, but the projection is grand. I just watched Laagan and Chakde! back to back. Then the next day I saw Tron in 3D at our new movie hall in Kathmandu. What crap. The digital film was 3 times the price to watch than the hindi movies, and 3 times more sucky. But if they stop building film cameras, sooner or later all this will be history. Cheers!

Phoenix Studios Nepal: A small A/V Production House in Kathmandu.
@Jiggy Gaton
by Mike Garrick
@ Jiggy

I am amazed there's a Digital theatre in Katmandu! Truly if a digital projection can be found there it's penetration is universal.

P.S. Still wrestling with FCPx ;)
Re: Film Fading to Black
by Douglas Bowker
I really can't agree with the conclusions this article seems to draw. It makes for a dramatic headline, but it's not at all accurate. Even your "facts" are not proof at all of the demise of film. How about go and pick up the last 12 issues of American Cinematographer. Count up the number of movies shot digital and then the ones on film: the film-based features far outways the digital, even including huge effects features.

For Pete sake, even Michael Bay shoots on film, and you could argue his last few border of straight up animation. Inception, the Batman/Dark Night series, Tree of Life, Super 8, Harry Potter,LOTR series, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Moneyball, Ides of March, even Cowboys and Aliens: all film. The movies featured that are digital stand out because they are actually so few. Not cranking out more film-based camera's as evidence of the death of the medium is not the same at all as saying no more film stock is going to be made. But that's how the article's arguemnt goes.

Even many of the bigger TV shows are still shot of film too: Mad Men, Glee, The Mentalist, Lost, Treme, True Blood, 24, Entourage, Grey's Anatomy, among others.

I'm not saying digital doesn't have it's place, and can't be a valid medium, but let's be honest here: The best looking and most finely crafted work that makes it into the theater is still by and large coming from film stock. I'm a 3D animator, so I'm well-versed in digital movie making, but I'd never kid myself that it's the same thing. Maybe it will be at some point- but it's not today that's for sure. I thought Drive looked great overall but it's the exception IMO because it actually did look like real film (though I did notice some noise in several of the very dark night scenes).

My final point is this: why say a medium is as good as the existing state of the art, when it's really not? Push digital to get there and maybe it will. Say it's just as good now and that's where we stay. Who could seriously think an MP3 is as good as a lossless hi-res digital file, or in fact a well recorded analogue recording? Or that NTSC DVD was good enough, when compared to Blu-Ray? Are we just going to lower standards just because it's convenient and cheaper? Personally I'm hoping my favorite film makers don't either.

Doug Bowker

3D Animation for the Medical and Technical World
http://www.dbowker3d.com
@Douglas Bowker
by Ronald Lindeboom
Where on Earth did we say that film is DEAD? What we said is that ARRI, Panavision and Aaton have all ceased production of film cameras.

We said that Kodak is finding their stock plummeting and that it is due to the fact that they didn't leverage the inventions they pioneered, instead selling most of them to competitors that have used them against Kodak.

Where on Earth did we say that digital can do everything that film can? We didn't, just that digital is the medium that IS (not maybe) hurting film as a medium.

But Douglas, you are free to jump to conclusions and put words in our mouths but they are your words, not ours.

Bottom line in all this is that film will survive just as paintbrushes still survive even though digital does most of the heavy lifting when it comes to design today.

Lastly, we didn't say that digital is always cheaper than film, in fact we ran an article in the same issue as this article in which we showed someone using film instead of digital because it was cheaper to use film in their production.

Boy do some of you guys even bother to read what you respond to???

Best regards,

Ronald Lindeboom
CEO, Creative COW LLC
Publisher, Creative COW Magazine
A 2011 FOLIO: 40 honoree as one of the 40 most influential publishers in America
http://www.creativecow.net


Creativity is a process wherein the student and the teacher are located in the same individual.

"Incompetence has never prevented me from plunging in with enthusiasm."
- Woody Allen
@Ronald Lindeboom
by Douglas Bowker
Well, I'm a little surprised you are getting so defensive about my post, and yes, I read it over almost twice. I'll grant that if you read each detail and look at it entirely dispassionately, maybe you are in fact being neutral about it. But that's not the tone of the article at all.

You titled it "Film Fades to Black." What part of that sounds like an objective assessment, or positive outlook to you? Is not the expression, aside from it's technical description, not a metaphor for death?

So to say the article appears to capitalize on a headline proclaiming the Death of Film is not just me making stuff up. Maybe you can't read it with fresh eyes, knowing the writer's intentions better than someone coming to it cold. It's not my fault I don't have a background with her or your opinions. Maybe everything I said does not apply to how you or anyone at the Cow feels, but that's not how the article reads.

If you are going to defend the story fine. But to pretend it's a huge disservice on my part to question it's tone and/or conclusions is basically saying: Dissenters in our editorial discussions need not apply.

Doug Bowker

3D Animation for the Medical and Technical World
http://www.dbowker3d.com
+1
Mike Garrick/film labs
by Debra Kaufman
Hi Mike: you are right on the money, and the pun here is intended. Your point is indeed one of the issues I was addressing in the article: it's a synergy of factors that are making the economics of film untenable. It has absolutely nothing to do with aesthetics. There are no doubt thousands of cameras out in the world that will last for years to come. But when film stock becomes more niche and labs are harder to find....the next generation probably won't bother. They've grown up with computer images anyway. I'm not making a value judgment on any of this - just reporting what I see. Debra
+2
@Film Fading to Black
by Mike Garrick
Whilst this article talked about cessation of film camera manufacture and everyone seems to be focusing on it (pardon the pun), I believe this a distraction from the real issue, because these cameras were always a niche product sold to very few.

I believe the real issue for film is the increasing utilisation of digital theatres & digital delivery (also addressed in the article). Surely this was a huge money spinner for Labs & filmstock manufacturers, allowing the maintenance & upkeep of sophisticated infrastructure which is film manufacture & processing. With less & less distribution prints being made it must be only a matter of time before this infrastructure starts eroding.

On another forum, someone said they would keep shooting film as long his European country's one lab continues to operate.... for how long? In Australia we are tiny nation in terms of population with a few functioning labs. How long before this processing infrastructure migrates to say Malaysia. How long before labs in the US already undergoing rationalisation reduce even further to accommodate the new digital delivery method. Once processing infrastructure starts shrinking to meet the new realities this has serious flow on implications for film production. And therein lies the real problem for film, its infrastructure is shrinking not growing like its 21st century equivalent. I don't like it, but that is the reality & no amount of claiming otherwise can change it.
+1
@Film Fading to Black
by Michael Brassert
I think movie theaters may be on there way out as well. Last night I screened Avatar in 3D on a friends 80" Mitsubishi with a JM Labs sound system and it was far and above the experience I had in a state of the art movie theater (also 3D). Granted I was experiencing this digital film on a $50,000 or more system but how long before those prices come down. Don't get me wrong, as a New Yorker going to the theater is a ritual and I hope it doesn't disappear, but I fear its time has passed.

quoting Aaton, ARRI, etc.
by Debra Kaufman
Hello Karl: I quote Jean Pierre Beauviala, who is the founder of Aaton. I quote ARRI's vp of cameras. I quote a high level executive at Panavision. So, yes, I do quote the manufacturers of all the cameras I mention in the article's opening sentence. Did you miss this? Who else would you like to hear from? Best, Debra
+1
Re: Film Fading to Black
by Karl Lohninger
If the author would be able to quote somebody from Arri or Aaton actually stating that they stopped manufacturing film cameras, well then there would be some value to this journalistic piece. But she can't because, it's not so.
All she quotes is 'there's more digital business out there', 'film usage is less than it was', etc.
So she comes up with this sharks headline catching eyeballs. One would expect a bit more truthiness from a publication like creative cow though. What's the point here?

Arri as well as Aaton are to this day manufacturing and selling film cameras. Jeeeez!
-3
@Karl Lohninger
by Ronald Lindeboom
Karl Lohninger: the article QUOTES people from Arri, Panavision and Aaton. All three of whom clearly say that they are NOT building film cameras EXCEPT to special order. The quotes come from presidents, vice presidents and other senior level executives at the three major film camera manufacturers. To whom did you speak? Names please, since you want to call us liars.

One of those three (who did not want to be quoted on this particular point) when asked when the last special order came in, laughed and wouldn't answer. When pressed they admitted it was 2009.

Karl Lohninger, if you think we should have been more careful, we think it would have been best if you had bothered to read the whole article. Clearly you missed the brunt of what was said and if this article was incorrect, then please explain why no camera manufacturer has called us and asked for corrections, etc., ???

Lest I forget your rancor and displeasure that this article came from Creative COW of whom you expected more, I would retort that you have little to fairly demand here as it is clear life is best played when using the same yardstick on others that we use on ourselves. Calling Debra a liar was unconscionable.

Best regards,

Ronald Lindeboom
CEO, Creative COW LLC
Publisher, Creative COW Magazine
A 2011 FOLIO: 40 honoree as one of the 40 most influential publishers in America
http://www.creativecow.net


Creativity is a process wherein the student and the teacher are located in the same individual.

"Incompetence has never prevented me from plunging in with enthusiasm."
- Woody Allen
+1
@Karl Lohninger
by David Roth Weiss
Did you actually read the article Karl?

I don't understand where the controversy lies. Debra has not written a piece calling for the end of film to come any faster, she's simply reporting that it is happening faster than most of us have realized.

David Roth Weiss
Director/Editor/Colorist
David Weiss Productions, Inc.
Los Angeles
http://www.drwfilms.com

Don't miss my new Creative Cow Podcast: Bringing "The Whale" to the Big Screen:
http://library.creativecow.net/weiss_roth_david/Podcast-Series-2-MikeParfit...

POST-PRODUCTION WITHOUT THE USUAL INSANITY ™


Creative COW contributing editor and a forum host of the Business & Marketing and Apple Final Cut Pro forums.
+1
Re: Film Fading to Black
by Charles O. Slavens
That's easy, you'd want to go digital if you couldn't perform any preliminary tests. At least you could see the results questionalble lighting setups immediately and make corrections..... on the fly!

Charles O. Slavens
The apparent is never the real.
Re: Film Fading to Black
by carlos egberto silveira
Here is an interesting question I´ll ask to all cinematographers worldwide: If you are hired to photograph a feature film, a documentary, a commercial or whatever, and you are given two options: shoot with a 60 year old Mitchell BNC with Baltar optics (not even Super Baltars) with the film stock of your choice, or you will use a brand new digital camera, the ultimate piece of digital technique, but that you have never used before, and in both cases there´s no time to perform any kind of tests previous to the shooting, what will your choice be ?
Re: Film Fading to Black
by Robert Houllahan
I find the point of view that digital is the "green' medium to be very shortsighted. Film is organic chemistry which can be managed, furthermore the product can sit on the shelf without consuming any energy for a century or more. Contrast this with the relentless cycle of digital tools becoming obsolete every three to five years and the fact that every digital appliance contains a wide range of exotic materials many of which are persistent carcinogens that alone makes digital very dirty. Furthermore the product of digital acquisition, the digital information, cannot be stored without using resources either in the form of new containers (drives, tapes, etc.) every few years or large quantities of electricity for server farms.

-Rob-

Robert Houllahan
Director / Colorist
Cinelab Inc.
http://www.cinelab.com

MAHC-PRO 6-Core 3X GTX285 20Tb SAS Wave Panel Panny 11UK SDI Plasma.
+1
@Robert Houllahan
by Ronald Lindeboom
While I agree with you on most all of the points you raise Robert, the part of "green" I was talking about are the pollutants that get into the water system due to the chemical process. Nearly every person I have ever seen who processed their own film in a darkroom just poured all the chemicals down the drain. I cannot recall ever seeing anyone I have known collect it for recycling, etc. I don't doubt the big film houses are more careful but in this very article, we read: "... Deluxe's 35mm/16mm color negative processing business in London, as well as film printing in Thailand."

Somehow, I doubt that they are using Thailand because of its stringent environmental laws.

But again, I agree with all you say about digital. I just threw out the point about green considerations to open a dialogue.

Ronald Lindeboom
@Ronald Lindeboom
by Robert Houllahan
I part own a Motion Picture lab in Massachusetts which makes me somewhat of an expert on the disposal of motion picture chemistry. While it might be true that some amateurs dump exhausted chemistry down the drain any professional lab that did that would be crucified. Film labs operate in California, New York, London, Massachusetts and other places across the globe with strict environmental laws. We have to follow very strict guidelines for waste removal. However that is just the tip of the iceberg as to what innovation can be practiced by the lab in terms of recycling and rejuvenating photo chemistry. The single worst element or potential hazard in photochemistry is heavy metal contamination, fortunately the particular heavy metal in question is Silver and there is a very strong financial incentive to recover all of the potential silver in the process. The second largest concern is water usage and we have been working with a MIT chemist to reduce our use of water by more than 90%. The last small amount of waste is left over developer, fix and bleach all of which can be PH neutralized and disposed of in such a way where they pose little or no persistent carcinogenic danger to the environment. Contrast the extremely small amounts of waste generated in modern photo-chemical processes with the vast amounts of highly dangerous and volatile carcinogens used in the making of digital appliances and their insatiable appetite for power and I think there is a very good set of reasons to maintain the film infrastructure for the long term.

-Rob-

Robert Houllahan
Director / Colorist
Cinelab Inc.
http://www.cinelab.com

MAHC-PRO 6-Core 3X GTX285 20Tb SAS Wave Panel Panny 11UK SDI Plasma.
+1
@Robert Houllahan
by Ronald Lindeboom
Robert,

While it is good to hear that labs are finally taking the issue of pollution seriously, I am turning 61 in a month so my experience has been a lifetime of watching chemicals poured down sinks. Anyone that has been around this industry for decades knows that story all too well. Film is over 100 years old and it has only been the last couple of decades or so that people have cared.

But I am truly glad to hear that you are more conscientious than your predecessors. I commend you, Robert. Thank you for taking the time to outline your own disposal methods, it was one of the reasons that I brought up the point, to hear from people like you regarding their disposal methods. I appreciate you taking the time.

Sadly, while you may argue that computers are dirty and should go away, somehow I do not think that is ever going to happen -- at least not in the foreseeable future.

Film (at least as the dominant part of the movie industry) appears to be destined in the days ahead to be the domain of archivists and shown at art film houses.

And no, I am NOT cheering for that, merely stating what is happening in the market today. We can all wish it was otherwise but "wishing in one hand and spitting in the other -- and I'll guarantee you which hand fills up first," as dear old Dad would say.

Ronald Lindeboom
@Ronald Lindeboom
by Robert Houllahan
I am certainly no Luddite and know the digital revolution and know it is not going back into the box. I am a few decades younger and grew up with computers from an early age. I am just making a devil's advocate argument about the "green" credentials of the digital revolution which I feel are much like a certain emperor's new set of clothes.

When the computerized office arose in the late 70's through the 80's one of the big selling points was that it would eliminate the need or use of paper and thus it would be more ecological, this turned out to be not only untrue but the opposite and offices now use more paper than ever.

I use film, love film and want to see it still be part of the motion picture artist's palliate. Because film is an old technology I think there will be entrepreneurs and enthusiasts who will keep it not only alive but continue to improve it. There are already enthusiasts who have build their own machines for making emulsion and coating it onto backing.

Fifty years ago if you told someone that they could have a machine which would quickly build prototype plastic parts generated from a 3D CAD system in a computer they would have thought you were nuts, I know several people who have stereo-lithography machines in their garages or workshops.

Absent a total societal collapse film will be going on into the future and like all things it will continue to evolve.

-Rob-

Robert Houllahan
Director / Colorist
Cinelab Inc.
http://www.cinelab.com

MAHC-PRO 6-Core 3X GTX285 20Tb SAS Wave Panel Panny 11UK SDI Plasma.
+3
@Robert Houllahan
by Ronald Lindeboom
Great points, Robert. Thank you for the depth and scope of the points you have made.

Like you, I believe film will be around forever -- in a much more limited form. I like that you have pointed out the entrepreneurial factor because I would agree that when markets dissipate and no longer support huge corporate infrastructures, it will be those who love the art that will step in and keep it alive.

But before it gets to that, film will enjoy a period as an unrivaled archival medium, plus the stock sold to directors and others who want to shoot on film.

We were not saying that film is dead, just that a significant milestone has happened and we wanted to look into some of the factors that led to it being reached. Film as we have known it in the past, is dieing -- at least many parts of it are turning digital. The more those parts expand and proliferate, the less film will be sold.

As Aaton founder Jean-Pierre Beauviala said above, "Almost nobody is buying new film cameras. Why buy a new one when there are so many used cameras around the world?" he says. "We wouldn't survive in the film industry if we were not designing a digital camera."

The world is changing, that is one thing that never changes.

Thank you for the discourse, Robert. Good points.

Best regards,

Ronald Lindeboom
CEO, Creative COW LLC
Publisher, Creative COW Magazine
A 2011 FOLIO: 40 honoree as one of the 40 most influential publishers in America
http://www.creativecow.net


Creativity is a process wherein the student and the teacher are located in the same individual.

"Incompetence has never prevented me from plunging in with enthusiasm."
- Woody Allen
@Robert Houllahan
by Flavio Filho
Hey.

I not only agree and praise all your points Robert, but still would like to add...

Film was made not only of Silver, but mostly of passion throughout its history. At this moment of cinematography history, "film look" is maybe been used even more than was before the invention of the digital tape camera.

I've started to acquire my film cameras and lenses arsenal this year and wanted to do that for almost a decade... And never could. I now own two Bolexes, one Ultra, and 2 Arri 16s, and looking forward to start using them.

Of course Digital is always a mean to produce "cheap" films, but more than that, being able to use both formats is what makes me feel a real cinematographer.

I was expecting something like you mentioned to start some years later... people producing film rolls in their garages, using cad/cam. Coming with the loving and silvered film rolls. That really makes my eyes full of joy. I was expecting this for the next years, but really glad to know it already started. Thanks for this info.

Talking of which, your lab is the one I'll send my first rolls of my first films, hopefully not far from now, as here in Europe there's no lab that process ULTRA 16 stock. Unfortunately still not.

Film might be fading out in the industries that produce the cameras (and one day in the hands of Fuji and Kodak), but lives in the hearts of too many to be simply "killed". Especially by those claiming "green" when in fact MONEY is the CENTRAL POINT, even on this article... if you read in between the lines, MONEY means also making people's heads that SOMETHING is better because is "GREENER" or simply more EASY TO USE, "practical". There is advantages. But not in all situations.

Now seriously... What is more "greener" than a spring-wind Bolex Rex-5 or its "cousin" cameras?

I have more fun shooting and processing in film, other than simply pressing a (digital) button.

Long life to FILM!
+1
@Flavio Filho
by Robert Houllahan
We support Ultra-16mm in all of the processes we run (B&W Negative and B&W Reversal and Color Negative) we offer 1080P Ultra-16 transfers and soon we will be offering 2K Ultra-16mm scans.

-Rob-

Robert Houllahan
Director / Colorist
Cinelab Inc.
http://www.cinelab.com

MAHC-PRO 6-Core 3X GTX285 20Tb SAS Wave Panel Panny 11UK SDI Plasma.
@carlos egberto silveira
by bud fritz
'Pray tell me which of the top 20 films with theatrical release in the US during the last 5 years were shot using digital equipment throughout principal photography.' Not sure what you mean by 'top 20'- box office? Critical aclaim? But the following widely popular and/or critically hailed films were all exclusively shot on digital: Avatar, the Social Network, The Tree of Life, Winter's Bone, Tron: Legacy, Certified Copy, Anti-Christ (I purposey left off the many that were shot on a hybrid of film and digital, regardless of the ratio). Currently in theatres we have Drive, Contagion, Melancholia, Real Steel.


"...any major production being shot NOW, at this very moment, is still using negative film, even if afterwards a DI will made at the lab." Well, coming soon we have the Avengers, Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, the Hobbit, Amazing Spiderman, Hugo, Adventures of Tintin, etc etc. all shot on digital. I am a celluloid fetishist myself, so my point here is simply to say that perhaps before you speak with such absolute certainty you should have the facts to back you up.
-2
Digital cinematography
by Tim Wilson
To your list of recent pictures, Bud, I'll add Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (RED), and Transformers: Dark of the Moon (PACE rig with Sony F35), two of the biggest movies of all time.

A little further back: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (Thomson Viper), Miami Vice, the last (or first) 3 Star Wars pictures (in fact, the Sony FW-900 as modified by Panavision is called "the Star Wars camera), Superman Returns (Panavision Genesis), Apocalypto (shot by Dean Semler on Panavision Genesis), Public Enemies (Dante Spinotti, on CineAlta CineAlta 750/900/F23).

Coming soon: Bond 23 (Alexa - DP Roger Deakins, who swears he'll never shoot film again), Three Musketeers (Alexa), Underworld: Awakening, Total Recall, Bryan Singer's Jack the Giant Killer, and Ridley Scott's Prometheus (these last ones on Epic).

Here's the sad part about making this post. I would love to make a list of films being shot on film -- and TV series being shot on film; there are still quite a few -- to observe that the story of film shooting is far from over.

The article is in fact about the manufacturing of film CAMERAS. The major players stopped in 2009. There is nothing to debate. The facts are facts. The End. Fade to Black.

You will save us all a lot of time, helping us avoid making posts that we would rather not be making, if you had a little more information. Start with Wikipedia, which has a list of digital films going back to 1998. It's a long list, but it's not even complete.

Digital is not a marginal, niche format being used strictly for genre pictures. Especially as cameras like Alexa, Epic, Sony F65, and even the Sony F3 with S-LOG have MORE latitude than film, the uptake of digital on big-budget blockbusters shot by the biggest names in "film" is accelerating.
+3
@Tim Wilson
by Robert Houllahan
As for the digital camera systems meeting or exceeding films latitude I think you are still off on that. Certainly the Alexa and Epic come close as for the F65 nobody knows yet and the F3 is not even in the same ballpark as film, even in Log. There are other factors to be considered like color fidelity too and in the case of the little F3 the aliasing issues with it's native sampled sensor.

Robert Houllahan
Director / Colorist
Cinelab Inc.
http://www.cinelab.com

MAHC-PRO 6-Core 3X GTX285 20Tb SAS Wave Panel Panny 11UK SDI Plasma.
+1
@bud fritz
by Damon Vrettos
"perhaps before you speak with such absolute certainty you should have the facts to back you up."

The Tree of Life was shot on film: http://www.theasc.com/ac_magazine/August2011/TheTreeofLife/page1.php
+1
Re: Film Fading to Black
by carlos egberto silveira
I never mentioned the words "print" or "prints". Most theatres now use a digital signal instead of a "real" film print . I am talking about image capturing on negative film, which still is the standard method of photographing any decent production that has a decent distributor. Pray tell me which of the top 20 films with theatrical release in the US during the last 5 years were shot using digital equipment throughout principal photography. Please do not include films like "Black Swan" in your list, which did use digital photography for pratical purposes on cut-away takes, but principal photography were, of course, done on negative film. Many films have used up to 20 or more small digital cameras (Canon 5D for ex.) for such purpose. True, many TV series moved to digital image capturing, but any major production being shot NOW, at this very moment, is still using negative film, even if afterwards a DI will made at the lab. As usual, digital special effects and colour timing will be done using digital techniques at finishing houses. But I still doubt, that any major production will consider, at this time, doing a whole film with digital cameras.
-3
Re: Film Fading to Black
by carlos egberto silveira
You are absolutely RIGHT ! Last night I had dinner with two prominent ASC (America Society of Cinamatographers)members, and they told me that´s all bullshit. Hollywood is still shooting the majority of their production on FILM and only some TV series have switched to digital, and that´s it. Even in Europe most productions use film and that`s true for most feature production in Brazil (where I live)as well.
-3
@carlos egberto silveira
by Ronald Lindeboom
I have to ask myself if you even bothered to read the article, Carlos?

You point to two "prominent" unnamed ASC members but the article itself interviews heads of companies like ARRI, Panavision and AATON, quotes Steven Poster, ASC who is the head of the International Cinematographers Guild, talks to senior heads of top film processing companies as well as quotes facts and figures that fly in the face of the "evidence" espoused by your "prominent" friends.

NONE of the people we spoke to WANT film to be marginalized or to go away. They have HUGE investments in film and have built massive companies around it. They are NOT enemies of the format and neither are we. They have just shared with us what is happening in their worlds and we are reporting what is happening.

Lastly, you seem to have missed the quote wherein the president of the National Association of Theater Owners said that all theater screens will be digital by 2013. Most "prints" sent to theaters today are already digital.

I think these are some of the points you missed in the article.

Best regards,

Ronald Lindeboom
CEO, Creative COW LLC
Publisher, Creative COW Magazine
A 2011 FOLIO: 40 honoree as one of the 40 most influential publishers in America
http://www.creativecow.net


Creativity is a process wherein the student and the teacher are located in the same individual.

"Incompetence has never prevented me from plunging in with enthusiasm."
- Woody Allen
+1
Re: Film Fading to Black
by carlos egberto silveira
As far as I am concerned, being an established cinematographer, all the guys in this article will be waiting the death of film till the "COWS come home".
You can all grab a chair and wait till your asses turn square !
-2
Re: Film Fading to Black
by george manzanilla
"The technology of yesterday becomes the artform of today"

Great commentary by everyone. I agree with Royce below on his points. Its rather true that most crews and audiences might care less at this point. Frankly, it's a numbers game. Digital gives everyone access and that democratizes the medium. It's done some great things for the industry and the artform as a whole.

However, film does have a real aesthetic place. It's a choice now. I just finished an entire action sports surf film that was shot all on super 16. The latest snowboarding epic , Art Of Flight, was all shot digitally, using all the latest tools. Beautiful artistic images can be created with both. In many ways, film is actually much more accessible from a cost perspective now than ever before. The trick is educating the new breed of filmmakers about this.

I still use film quite a bit for fashion, music and sports. High speed cinematography is much easier and affordable using film. maybe that will change sometime in the future. whatever the case, I feel lucky to have a bolex, arri sr, and a host of other film cameras in the arsenal. I plan on shooting film and convincing my clients to shoot film for as long as possible because I just like it more, it's that simple.

----
george manzanilla
rundfunk media
http://www.rundfunk.com
http://www.georgemanzanilla.com
@george manzanilla
by Sean Mullen
George,

I've found it much cheaper to shoot high speed digitally. The Phantom series of cameras can be obtained for only a few hundred dollars per day with the right connections AND I'm able to show my clients the footage within seconds of shooting it. If you are talking over 1000fps, then yes, I can see your point.

Sean Mullen
Rampant Design Tools
+1
@Sean Mullen
by george manzanilla
Hey sean, i wish i could find a place that would rent me a Phantom for a couple hundred bucks! I might try shooting digitally too... Love the look of high speed super 16 however. I've edited surf footage for over 10 years now and water footage has always been shot on super16 using old Milikans. Now i've been seeing some more phantom stuff... to be honest, it's just not the same. It's crisp and digital and perfect... and maybe i'm emotionally tied to film in some way, but the image makes me feel like i'm watching a surf film from the perspective of the BBC or if it were being made by James Cameron. Maybe I'm looking at this issue culturally rather than economically, but that seems more interesting to me anyway. It's unfortunate that we let the corporate overlords of profit rule what we have to our disposal, but that's what happens in the mainstream and causes rebellion... great discussion.

----
george manzanilla
rundfunk media
http://www.rundfunk.com
http://www.georgemanzanilla.com
+1
Re: @Sean Mullen
by Malcolm Matusky
Having been around before the "death of film-editing" I can attest to the lack of most people to embrace change. In the 70's news was shot and cut on film, then things changed! ENG equipment was invented and BOOM everything changed and frankly I would not want to go back to shooting timely material on film and rushing it to a lab and cutting it with a tape splicer and then getting it transferred to video, etc, etc.

Film production took a few decades longer, though I remember working on a shoot with an "EC-35" an early Ikagami electronic "film" camera. Even in the 80's things were changing for film production.

Now, it is no surprise that Kodak is hurting and there are no more film cameras being produced. The same paradigm shift happened in still photography, I still have a couple of 4x5's and 2-1/4 cameras in the closet. Should have dumped them years ago, but didn't, my loss, I shoot digital now and have been using photoshop and printing digital way before I stopped shooting on film, but now I'm 100% digital. Same will happen with Film production, now it's a way of shooting, not a physical product you put in your camera!

Do I miss shooting film, sort of, but not really. I had a "lab" and always hated working in the dark, I embraced the "lightroom" and never looked back, though I still have my enlarger out in the garage.

I have a friend who is still shooting S-16, he owns a couple of cameras and will shoot with them till there is no more film and processing. Since the equipment is a sunk cost with no recovery value, this makes sense for him, for now. If a 2/3 camera comes on the market (Ikonoskope) that will take his lenses, that may be a great time for him to change to digital, he has been cutting on an Avid for decades? though I remember cutting on a 6 plate Steenbeck, I do not want to go back to that!

Change, It has been amazing in the past few years!

Malcolm
http://www.malcolmproductions.com
Re: Film Fading to Black
by Royce Allen Dudley
No doubt Arris and even Bolexes will keep whirring for decades to come, and some incarnation of Kodak will offer color neg, and someone else will put it in the soup and scan it for digital edit... but the harsh reality is that for much of the world, the SAG / AFTRA issue eerily timed with digital's maturity and global economic realities has dealt a paralyzing if not imminently fatal blow to film.

Labs have closed and absorbed, negative cutters are history, even telecine is waning by lack of demand.

The economic realities of trading emulsion for data files cannot possibly be ignored, and anyone who denies this probably works as a romantic hobbyist / artist filmmaker or an A-list studio DP. The in-between work is pretty much all digital now and has been for several years. In my little world, film fall right off the cliff in 2007...

...and that's a shame, because the discipline taught to film shooters is not continuing into the digital age. I hear this from other departments... something was lost with the end of film on sets. The precious magic and expense and mystery of a can of chemical that must be stored in total darkness... and the trust in the DP and lab that the dailies would knock your socks off... that's gone forever. The shortened learning curve to good image- making that comes with digital often costs the disciplines of protocol and technique that must first be learned and mastered before they are skillfully and intentionally broken.

I think there will be a rebound from this decade of everyman as imagemaker, and some will inject a new quality into the medium however they are used.

Fact is, there are entire working, professional crews right now who have never even seen a film camera in person, let alone on set... and could not care less.

Royce Dudley
Cinematographer
Southern California
http://www.vimeo.com/halepark
+1
Re: Film Fading to Black
by Marco Ruggio
The end of film and film "look" is really generational. The young don't equate "drama" with film and news or "live" broadcast with tape. HD is HD.

Forget film. Anyone tried to sell a $45,000.00 digibeta lately? No one wants them.

Marco
Re: Film Fading to Black
by Shanna Pharis
@ George, I agree! I saw you speak about Super 8mm film last spring, and I am right there with you with a love of Super 8 film. Despite the fact cameras are no longer being made, I hope that film will continue to be made long into the future. I recently heard that Kodak was struggling in the third quarter, and it made me worry for the future of film. But as long as it's around, I will continue to shoot it, and our clients continue to request it. Digital effects are still far from recreating the magical feeling of film and its ability to evoke an emotional response, and film remains the best archival medium.
Re: Film Fading to Black
by Tim Wilson
Nobody noticing that film camera manufacturing stopped (before, ahem, WE did) speaks to two things. One, that even some film fanatics have largely moved on. Two, that the number of film cameras out there has not decreased! That's what's been lost here. There are cameras enough to support film production dramatically increasing. Panavision alone has about a thousand of them for rent right now...which is what most projects that shoot film DO. They rent, so it's irrelevant if any more film cameras are for SALE.

Elsewhere in this issue of Creative COW Magazine, there was an article called "Film Is Alive And Well in An Atlanta Trailer Park," about the INCREASE in film production among indie producers who find that S16 in particular can be cheaper than, say, renting REDs (as was the case for the folks in that article). This has been accelerated by Kodak creating new, less expensive stocks packaged for indies.

It's just that any conversation about the future of film has to take place in the context of no new film cameras having been manufactured for a couple of years...and nobody noticing.

Tim Wilson
Associate Publisher, Editor-in-Chief
Creative COW Magazine
+1
Re: Film Fading to Black
by Mike Garrick
The future of film can be glimpsed by walking through the pages of Ebay. The motion picture cameras for sale is amazing, even more amazing are the prices $500,00 S35 cameras selling below 20K. 16 & S16 there’s tonnes of it. However sad this makes me feel I remind myself professionally I work in a money making business. Film was once the pathway for a operating a profitable business. Those sums are now changed. Digital mightn’t deliver the perfect “film look”…. Yet, but I ask the question does anyone else see it or care . I have sat in theatres watched & cringed at rolling shutter, artifacting, compression whilst the audience surrounding me applauded a blockbuster. Did they care it wasn’t shot on film?... NO.
+1
Re: Film Fading to Black
by Luis Villalon-Meunier
I've been shooting film for the last 42 years but as of late, all my jobs have been shot digitally. Will I miss film? Of course!. I have shot commercials with a 40 year old 35mm Arri IIc with Zeiss lenses with no problems. Will an Alexa or Red be relevant in 3 years or will we have to buy a new model every 6 months like an I-Phone? I have to confess that I have seen a lot of recent films where I have no clue if they shot film or digital. But, all of them were shot by talented experienced pros that used the same crews, lighting, composition and techniques as if on film. What scares me the most is the new generation of film dilettantes that believe you can make a film over the weekend with your brother in law as crew, no lights with an ISO of 6400. Film had its long run. We can't sit and cry about its demise, but we have to remember that just because digital is cheaper and readily available to anyone all the laws of aesthetics can be bypassed. Image making is still a craft that you don't learn by turning a camera on.

LuisV
+1
@Luis Villalon-Meunier
by george manzanilla
I agree with this. However there are many niche markets for film in the production world that a lot of people don't consider. You've heard the quote "The technology of yesterday becomes the artform of today", well that is being seen in the popularity of shooting 35mm stills now, and in small gauge films. Super 8 and Super 16 both have distinct looks that are not necessarily commercial or big budget, but have an appeal that is hard to dismiss and no digital format can accurately reproduce. Fashion, music and action sports are 3 niches where the use of film is still very prevalent. The industry is always led by profits, as we all know (continually buying new gear is a goal), however the artists should be the balance on the scale. Film at this moment is an aesthetic choice and i think we'll see it continue to evolve as an art form. As it's been discussed the only issue is that Film manufacture is controlled by ONE key player, Kodak. I don't cry about it, but I guess I cherish the time we are in now because we DO have the option, 2 great options, Film or Digital. I would hate to just have one, whether that was only film or only digital.

----
george manzanilla
rundfunk media
http://www.rundfunk.com
http://www.georgemanzanilla.com
Re: Film Fading to Black
by Debra Kaufman
Hello George: I would be happy if film endured. As Ronald says, nobody wishes its death. I think the point of my article is that factors that have nothing to do with aesthetics are pushing film into obscurity. When film is no longer the medium of distribution, will the tiny amount they make for those still shooting film justify the costs of making it? Kodak once made its money with the huge consumer market, which has entirely disappeared. Our industry is a minor player in comparison....
Re: Film Fading to Black
by george manzanilla
film is going to be here for a while longer. Not everyone is so caught up in megapixels and resolution. I get it, but film is still a very artistic medium and the physicality of it makes it much more rich than 1's and 0's. Bottom line is there are things that you can do with film that you simply can't do digitally and that will keep it alive as an art form, albeit maybe a more expensive one.

----
george manzanilla
rundfunk media
http://www.rundfunk.com
http://www.georgemanzanilla.com
-1
@george manzanilla
by Sean Mullen
If you don't mind sharing, what can be done in film that cannot be achieved digitally?

Sean Mullen
Rampant Design Tools
@Sean Mullen
by george manzanilla
Hey Sean, there are a number of things that one can do with film that would take a very long time to realistically emulate using digital cameras and post effects. The first thing that comes to mind is hand-cranking. You can take a spring wound bolex and disengage the spring to a hand crank. of course you can bring your footage and re-time it in after effects to try to copy that, but that's extra time and never comes out as organic...

You can write on and physically stress a negative after a clean transfer then re-transfer for a realistic organic dirty look. This was done for the intro of True Blood i believe? Super 8 is also a film format that has a very distinct look that I have never seen accurately re-created in post. why would you need to when it's so easy and more economical to shoot the real thing.

One can also write and paint on negative. I've seen a couple recent music videos that used this technique. Or spraying a negative with bleach and other acids to destroy the image.

There are times where these looks are desirable. In counter-culture youth marketing we've found that to convey anti-establishment we're always trying to destroy and deconstruct the image in some way. It's much easier and faster to do this with film.

Also, shooting super16mm for fashion I found gives much nicer skin tones that shooting 1080P HD and helps hide a lot of skin imperfections. True, one can fix that in post, but I find the resolution of a super16 image to be enough detail and not too much detail for certain closeups. granted, that is a matter of taste...

----
george manzanilla
rundfunk media
http://www.rundfunk.com
http://www.georgemanzanilla.com
@george manzanilla
by Sean Mullen
@George - I see where you are coming from, it's not that it can't be done digitally, you're saying it's more organic when done on film. I dig where you are coming from.

Hand cranking is a great technique, but I've done that with a Red MX camera as well, not in post but in-camera. I've also done re-timing in AE which can come out with an organic feel if you have an artist who gets your vibe.

I completely understand the need to grunge up footage, that's the #1 request from my clients across the board. I've even gone as far as painting on actual film. But I have found that most of my clients (many on the national level) have a very difficult time telling the difference between elements I've shot on film and ones that I've manipulated or generated. When the shot is finished they are simply happy to have the grunged up look. Yes, there are some really cheesy filters out there, but that's not what I'm talking about. I have literally hundreds of hours of scanned and generated film elements that I mix and match all the time.

The majority of the projects I've been on lately are behind schedule, budget and due yesterday. They want the amazing look of 8 or 16 but want it now. I've shot snowboarding events on Super8 and it looks awesome. But I've also shot the same production the following year with a series of digital cameras and was able to have it match the film quite well.

It's really all a matter of taste, I hate the thought of film disappearing - I can remember watching my first VFX dailies on film. But I also have to say there is something cool with being able to shoot and manipulate 4k footage immediately, and it looks stunning on the big screen.

Sean Mullen
Rampant Design Tools
@Sean Mullen
by george manzanilla
Yeah, i wouldn't shoot everything on film. Obviously there are many reasons to shoot digitally nowadays. In many ways, it's expected. however, like i mentioned in a previous post, it's great to have these options where we can make the aesthetic choice.

I value the process of film as an art form in a way. It would suck to not have that option... If every painter stopped painting with a brush just because you could use an airbrush or a computer, we'd be screwed. They're all valuable tools.

----
george manzanilla
rundfunk media
http://www.rundfunk.com
http://www.georgemanzanilla.com
Re: Film Fading to Black
by jill mcmillan
I think that videotape is the only archival medium that matters.
+1
Re: Film Fading to Black
by tom hennig
I've been shooting on an XTR Prod since 1993. I've also owned another half dozen ENG cameras simultaneously. Currently shooting primarily on a PDW-700 XDCAM. The 18 yr old S16 camera is the only one that is making better pictures today then it did when I bought it.

Digital may be faster, it may be cheaper, but is the color fidelity better? Can a digital camera handle contrast latitude as easily and smoothly?

I dare anyone to take videotape that was shot in 1993 and try to get a clean dropout free show out of it. As a point of comparison we are rereleasing a theatrical print of a low budget horror flick that we shot in 1999. That footage which was stored on a shelf in a bedroom for 12 years looks even better today then the day we screened it.

Ansel Adams had it right.
Re: Film Fading to Black
by Ann Turner
If you write about archiving, please interview the competent staff at George Eastman House.
@Ann Turner
by Ronald Lindeboom
As opposed to the incompetent staff at the Library of Congress? ;^) -- whose archiving article is online here at Creative COW.

Thank you for the reminder, Ann. I am sure that there will be more on the subject to come in the days ahead.

Best regards,

Ronald Lindeboom
CEO, Creative COW LLC
Publisher, Creative COW Magazine
A 2011 FOLIO: 40 honoree as one of the 40 most influential publishers in America
http://www.creativecow.net


Creativity is a process wherein the student and the teacher are located in the same individual.

"Incompetence has never prevented me from plunging in with enthusiasm."
- Woody Allen
Re: Film Fading to Black
by Charles O. Slavens
I'm in complete agreement and have fully participated in the transition. I segued from stills to film (Bolex R-5) around 1966. I remember when I first encounted a camerman lugging what looked like a large suitcase over his shoulder and a Sony camera at an event in NYC around 1973. We were shooting with an Arri 2C with a 25 to 250 zoom and lights mounted on a dolly. The video guy was getting in our way and my AC said, in a scornfull tone, "excuse me Mr. Sony, but do you mind?" I now shoot with a Canon 5d2 and edit in Premiere.

Charles O. Slavens
The apparent is never the real.
Re: Film Fading to Black
by Darren Nauerz
Damn right i can tell the difference between a digital photo and a pic shot on camera film stock! The digital snap is nice and clear but completely "flat" in appearance. As for vinyl, the format has made a massive comeback in the past 10 years and there is no comparison to cd's, or worse, mp3's. mp3's have 10% of the fidelity of a vinyl record and .wav files from a cd about 50%. check out SoundStageDirect.com to see just how many titles are available on vinyl these days.This whole digital thing is crap - you know what it really is all about? Money! The industry alwasy tries to find "the next thing" to get consumers to buy. Even if it is not only not an improvement to past technology, but may be a lesser format. Just like when cd's replaced vinyl for about 10 years. Or HDTV... you really think that looks better? Sharper yes, but better? Not to my eyes... i have a 35" Toshiba newer, but "old school" TV that looks better than ANY HDTV i have seen on the market recently. i try and find one every now and then, but nope... not yet. Digital? No way kids. Looks like poo. I'm kickin' it old school until i see something REALLY better.
@Darren Nauerz
by Ronald Lindeboom
There is another reason that film will not be the dominant player that it once was...the green factor. Digital is a much greener form of imaging than is film. Cheap and green are arguments that are becoming harder and harder to ignore.

Also, it is crazy that anyone would say that a format is automatically crap, disregarding the craft of the artists who plan, light and shoot the images, as well as the artists into whose hands they fall for color correction, etc. That is nonsense and ignores the fact that there is garbage shot on both film and digital. There is also art found in both.

People not formats define the difference between craft/art and crap and anyone that ignores the human element ignores the most central part of art and storytelling.

Best regards,

Ronald Lindeboom
CEO, Creative COW LLC
Publisher, Creative COW Magazine
A 2011 FOLIO: 40 honoree as one of the 40 most influential publishers in America
http://www.creativecow.net


Creativity is a process wherein the student and the teacher are located in the same individual.

"Incompetence has never prevented me from plunging in with enthusiasm."
- Woody Allen
Re: Film Fading to Black
by Von Thomas
I witnessed the denial of digital taking over the still industry in 2001. It went very much the same a in moving pictures, and as of today, about 90 percent of all commercial, advertising, fashion, editorial and consumer photography is shot digitally. It took only 6 of so years for that to happen, but can anyone honestly say, that they can tell the difference? Most of us own music, do any of us still have vinyl? Most everyone owns an iPod, and the enjoying of music has evolved, I for one don't miss the hisses of vinyl.

There will be those that will hang on to film until the bitter end, but eventually they too, will shoot digital. Digital is all grown up, but the question is, what's next?


Von Thomas
RED/Epic Tech- DIT
Arri Alexa
Canon 5DMKII Tech
IATSE Local 600 DIT
http://www.digitaltechnyc.com
http://www.vonthomas.com
http://reddigitalmotionandstill.blogspot.com/

Von Thomas
RED DP / Workflow Guru
@Von Thomas
by Jiggy Gaton
It's true. Most consumers can't tell the difference, but artists can. My wife is a singer, and she is always complaining about iTune downloads. My brother shoots music videos, and hates the way they look on YouTube (but that's where everyone watches them). As they say here in Nepal, Ke Garne (what to do, with hands raised in defeat).

I think the question you asked is a good one...what's next? Holographic 4D panels? That will keep archivists busy trying to figure out how to preserve that. But perhaps the issue will become "is any of it even worth preserving?" Perhaps the nature of media will evolve into what Buddhists here think of as thoughts. They come, they go, they will come back again...why worry?

Phoenix Studios Nepal: A small A/V Production House in Kathmandu.
+2
Re: Film Fading to Black
by Charles O. Slavens
Wow! This is amazing. When we entered the "film" business in the mid sixties it was a mature, more-or-less, stabilized industry. It hadn't basically changed since its inception, baring technical advances in film stock and improved cameras. But the entire art form rested on moving a chemically treated piece of plastic one frame at a time behind a lens mounted on a dark box. Then, you sat in a bigger dark box and reversed the process as the images captured on that piece of plastic were projected on a white wall.

Painting, sculpture, poetry and prose have been with us since the first cave paintings, which are how old.... I think the latest estimate is 35,000 years. What is so poignant and sad about film's brief moment is that it took the combined efforts of so many skilled and talented people and a high level of artistry by everyone to bring it to life.

For me it was always the process of creation that was the most thrilling, not the end result itself. In addition to capturing the original images, the most satisfying moments were transitions between scenes and making them work smoothly and flawlessly, moving the story forward. That is why today, I still enjoy just standing near it all....Charles O. Slavens

Charles O. Slavens
The apparent is never the real.
Re: Film Fading to Black
by Darren Nauerz
This is truly sad. Digital is garbage if you ask me.It's too clear and too easy. Film is film and the look of a real movie cannot be replaced or replicated by digital. Anyone remember Eraserhead? Blue Velvet? And the man who made them has gone digital and has lost the classic look of his classic films. I'm sorry, but the whole realm of digital is completely sterile to me. It's just like the audio comparison - nothing can touch recording music to 2" tape vs. pro-tools digital. The difference is night and day to my ears as is film vs. digital to my eyes. No thanks... I'm sticking with film to the very end.
-1
Re: Film Fading to Black
by Freya Black
This is actually a really well written article on the subject with some really interesting information!

The only thing I disagree with is the idea that the video tape situation is at all relevant. Film is not really reliant on video tape and it would actually help film a lot if telecine houses would ditch their reliance on the stuff. The shortage of HDCAM-SR tapes is basically a non issue.

What is massively relevant is the whole AFTRA union thing and the switching of productions to video tape. This is a monumental change that I expect will continue for a little while.

It isn't really sensible to make film cameras in the current climate because there are loads of great film cameras available at VERY low prices right now! It could be that at some stage in the future there will be demand again of some sort but it seems unlikely for the time being.

The other big factor not mentioned is the whole situation with the economy. People are looking to make savings. The cost of silver is going way up. It's another part of the perfect storm.

There may well be a film revival at some point in the future when the situation has stabilized. Film will then be part of a largely digital workflow and will be the choice for very high quality productions. I'm not sure whether there will be a Kodak in that future however!

love

Freya
+2
Re: Film Fading to Black
by Victor Toader
Thanks for the story! There's an engaging point of view in it and I didn't know about the end of film camera production really.

It is clear that film is clearing out of the way for digital at an increasing speed and this will not stop until filmmaking on film as a recording medium becomes a realm of those who can afford it and are enthusiastic about exploring its particularities, not so much quality-wise (as digital is getting there quite fast), but primarily for the photochemical processes and mental ones as well. These are a thrill for many people at least as much as the stories they are shooting. Hence the main source of sadness about spotlights turning away from film stock. But, from a commercial point of view it all comes to the costs and risks involved, so....

I guess there's a good side to this story - filmmaking on film might get purified in a way, artistically speaking, after people who keep doing it reduce to those who truly love it for what it is and hopefully are worth the funding. The sad part is that this means it will get much more unaffordable, unreachable to many, many other talents who will have to work their way to it with a lot more difficulties, but hey, this is the unstoppable reality to come.

...And I'm not saying that digital is less creative! Just different as a medium and much more affordable and safer, so it will naturally pull along more of the artistically bad part of filmmaking with it, along with the good.

I belong to those "nostalgic" ones, but I accept digital development to its best, and I can get great results still playing. A few days ago I was calculating my photometrics using my head, a pen and a piece of paper, instead of using a software. So let's keep what we can and keep evolving.

Cheers!
+1
Re: The Most Successful television shows are still shot on film.
by Alessandro Machi
Just because film cameras are no longer being made is less an issue with film fading than digital constantly requiring a new upgrade and makeover, kind of like the ultra high maintenance wife that keeps hubby working overtime just to break even.

http://www.alexlogic.com
@Alessandro Machi
by Sean Mullen
Alessandro - I've been working with RED, Phantom and Arri digital workflows for several years, it's really not that big of a deal.

Sean Mullen
Rampant Design Tools
+1
Re: Film Fading to Black
by Graham Cooke
Great article Debra. I did research for a company on archiving some years ago and all my research led back to the fact that film is the only proven archive media we have.
100 years and the technology to access it still exists. If you go back 25 years in video tape technology you will struggle to find a machine to play it back. LTO although very good is not proven to last even 15 years although they claim 30 years. Migration will have to be done regularly to ensure hardware compatibility an so on. Digital acquisition is creating al sorts of problems with 3 backups of all your rushes and any project data.
With film there is one negative.
Don't get me wrong I am a digital baby I was there from the beginning, I love the digital revolution. If film can economically find a way to coexist with the new technology the we have a perfect world. I fear that in time it will disappear but as long as there are people willing to make it and process it there will be people willing to use it.

Graham Cooke
G-Vision Post
Re: Film Fading to Black
by Kahleem Poole
Like a lot of people are saying: no one is CALLING for film to die, but the writing is on the wall.

Film has its inherent aesthetic, but its advantages visually are fairly slim at this point. And even more important for producers and indies, the price/budget comparison.

I'm in love with s16 film, personally. But, it's going. No use in folks getting all up in arms about it.
+1
Re: Film Fading to Black
by Michael Brassert
I cannot believe we are still having this discussion. I shot my last film in 2001 and never looked backed. This is after a 25 Year carreer as a 35mm Director/ Cameraman in Nt/LA.

Re: Film Fading to Black
by Richard WILSON
Digital era is here and its arrived quickly, so filmmakers/Producers need to catch up ASAP on the new tech device, which by the way when making movie on digital media, makes your workflow easier and you are right on the spot for editing!

Richard WILSON
Graphic Design • Websites • Motion Graphics
RW Design Studio - Freelancer
http://www.rickywilson.ws
Re: Film Fading to Black
by Patrick Simpson
Haven't they been predicting the "death of film" since the early 2000's? Yet, motion picture film has been far more stubborn than still photo film to give way to digital.

Of course television and mid to low budget features are moving to digital en masse, but what about larger studio pictures? Are they really moving to digital? The end of film camera production is striking, but I'll believe it when I see it - as in, I'll believe it when the majority of studio films are shot digitally.
Re: Film Fading to Black
by Debra Kaufman
Hey Jiggy - Two other very important sources of archival material: The Library of Congress! And universities. UCLA has an amazing film archive for example. Do you know there are still millions of feet of nitrate film that's never been transferred? I'll make sure to visit you when I go back to Nepal some day...
+1
@Debra Kaufman
by Jiggy Gaton
Yes, I've been to both many times (CU Boulder for BA) and the other is making news here:
http://www.rollcall.com/issues/56_110/Library-Congress-Hit-Hardest-Cuts-204...

One word regarding "world knowledge" if entrusted with these institutions: Scroomed.

Cheers,
jigs

Phoenix Studios Nepal: A small A/V Production House in Kathmandu.
Re: Film Fading to Black
by Debra Kaufman
Jiggy - You bring up a very important point: archiving today's media for tomorrow. You'd be surprised how many archivists are out there! The studios have a vested interest in ensuring that their media remains safe: they repurpose it for every new distribution platform that comes out. Hence each of the major Hollywood studios does have an archivist and archival efforts. The conversation is often around the best way to archive, since LTO (which most people use) isn't ideal and must be constantly migrated. Stay tuned on this area, though - I'll be writing about this eventually. And, by the way - namaste! I've been to Nepal several times and have friends in Kathmandu & Pokhara.
@Debra Kaufman
by Jiggy Gaton
Namaste back at ya! Next time you are in town, come see us for some tea...or something without the milk and sugar :)

It's interesting that u point out that studios are the home of archivists, because they are the ones with the interest. Kinda like public libraries are the home of paper archivists I presume. So what happens when budgets are cut, and positions are removed?

Do we need to get the UN involved? (That's what they would do in this country, if anyone gave a rat's butt).

Me thinks cave people had the right idea... carve it on the walls someplace deep in the bowels of the earth. Or the Tibetans perhaps, who just chant it from generation to generation.

Personally, I think most of what we do today will be lost by tomorrow... and maybe we should plan accordingly. Cheers!

Jigs in the Doo

Phoenix Studios Nepal: A small A/V Production House in Kathmandu.
Re: Film Fading to Black
by Jiggy Gaton
I agree with David above! Interesting read. But I've read so many like, only the authors and the media keep changing: paper (as in office), paper (as in books), photographic film, DV tape, tape (as in music), Vinyl, and now film film.

To me all of the above is dead. But I am just a producer / user. Another interesting angle might be to look at archivists, to see if they are dying ...or growing. They are the ones who will have to eventually deal with all these legacy formats, and my guess is that might be dwindling in numbers as well. But I have no data on that... and I've only met a handful of archivists in my lifetime - for any media type.

And I've never met a kid in high school or college who told me, "when I grow up I want to be an archivist."

So if there are no archivists left at some point in the future, isn't "fill in the blank__ is dead" a mute point. In this future, everything is dead as soon as a new media is released and adopted by producers. The world's knowledge in words and pictures and sounds becomes a rolling ball collecting bits as it moves forward, and losing bits as it bounces down the steep hill of eternity. Oh well...

Phoenix Studios Nepal: A small A/V Production House in Kathmandu.
Re: Article: Film Fading to Black
by Marco Falcone
As a young filmmaker myself, I always wanted to use film (I never have b/c I can't; I'm 16). I can definitely see the different between film and digital. I hope one day I can, but it's probably never going to happen. All in all, it shouldn't really matter what people shoot in, it's about the story, it's about the value, it's about what you see. Digital seems more practical to people now and days because it's cheaper to shoot, quicker to get to the editing software, and you can delete/keep whatever you want. But I still see the value in film, but I can't say I'm surprised that film is fading to black.

I'm an artistic bastard.
Re: Film Fading to Black
by Debra Kaufman
George/Eugene -- Nobody here is calling for the death of film - just reporting on it. In fairness, I don't think anyone in the industry wants the death of film. This is just an example of how a group of disparate forces come together and create a result. Once all the movie theatres go to digital projection, there's no need for release prints anymore. Kodak/Fuji/film labs economy of scale is already severely compromised. At some point, it just won't make financial sense to make or process film. Although I do believe that film won't entirely go away - someone will keep producing it, although it might become more difficult to get it processed. Best, Debra
Re: Film Fading to Black
by george manzanilla
I've been waiting to respond to this article ever since it came in the mail.

The only ones that dream of the death of film are the ones that don't shoot it. Sorry but I shoot both digital and film and I still prefer film in many instances. Action sports, fashion, music videos are a few industries where I see Film has an advantage.

We should note that as far as digital vs film, there is a duality there. And the more that people push and push for more digital looks and process, the more there will be a reactionary move in the opposite direction. How do you differentiate your look in a market that is FLOODED with digital, shoot film. We did just that on a recent surf Film for a client and the reaction to the look and feel of the film has set it apart and given it a lot of buzz.

People will have to make artistic choices now, and I agree that we are in a moment where we have 2 equally good choices to go with, digital or film. However nailing the coffin on film is not contributing anything to the discussion. It just seems to me that many people who have economic interests in the rise of digital acquisition and distribution are the ones who are trying to "kill off" film. I am here to tell you, I WANT FILM TO BE AROUND for a LONG LONG time. It gives me a choice and a way to differentiate my work.

I agree that film print distribution is going by the wayside, but in terms of acquisition, Film is still the gold standard.

----
george manzanilla
rundfunk media
http://www.rundfunk.com
http://www.georgemanzanilla.com
-1
@george manzanilla
by Ronald Lindeboom
George, I do not recall anyone "dreaming about the death of film" or wishing anything of the sort.

The end of film camera manufacture by ARRI, Panavision and AATON is happening, it is not wishful thinking.

We do not wish film to die and in fairness, in the very same issue with the article about the end of film, we ran another article about an indie production in Atlanta shooting on film because it proved to actually be cheaper than digital in their case.

Just to clarify,

Best regards,

Ronald Lindeboom
CEO, Creative COW LLC
Publisher, Creative COW Magazine
A 2011 FOLIO: 40 honoree as one of the 40 most influential publishers in America
http://www.creativecow.net


Creativity is a process wherein the student and the teacher are located in the same individual.

"Incompetence has never prevented me from plunging in with enthusiasm."
- Woody Allen
Re: Film Fading to Black
by Ronald Lindeboom
@Eugene Lehnert brings up interesting points regarding film and file preservation, archiving, etc.

In another article from Creative COW Magazine the Library of Congress gave our readers a look at how they are working to preserve films for thousands of years. It was quite an eye-opening article. You can read it here in the COW.

Film's days as the dominant acquisition and distribution medium are numbered. But as an archival format, it is tough to beat. Because of this, I tend to believe that film will exist for a long time but more as an ancillary part of the industry, not as its heart.

This is a great article, Debra, and you did a great job on the morning financial news show discussing it with the reporter.

When Tim first told me about the idea for this article, I knew it would be a big story. You have done it and all of the COW proud, Debra.

Great reporting.

Best regards,

Ronald Lindeboom
CEO, Creative COW LLC
Publisher, Creative COW Magazine
A 2011 FOLIO: 40 honoree as one of the 40 most influential publishers in America
http://www.creativecow.net


Creativity is a process wherein the student and the teacher are located in the same individual.

"Incompetence has never prevented me from plunging in with enthusiasm."
- Woody Allen
Re: Film Fading to Black
by Eugene Lehnert
Everyone seems so quick to kill off film. When it's gone everyone will be like "where did it go?" I wonder what resurrecting old archived tape based media will be like in 20-30 years? Or all the failed hard drives sitting on people's shelves.

Re: Film Fading to Black
by Debra Kaufman
Thanks, David - there's more to this story and COW will keep covering it! Best, Debra
Re: Film Fading to Black
by David Roth Weiss
Wow!!! Nice article Debra. It seems an obituary for film can't be far off.

It's as though film has just slipped away, right under our noses, and most of us simply missed it because we weren't paying attention.

BTW, you covered this story from some terrific angles too. Well done.

David Roth Weiss
Director/Editor/Colorist
David Weiss Productions, Inc.
Los Angeles
http://www.drwfilms.com

Don't miss my new Creative Cow Podcast: Bringing "The Whale" to the Big Screen:
http://library.creativecow.net/weiss_roth_david/Podcast-Series-2-MikeParfit...

POST-PRODUCTION WITHOUT THE USUAL INSANITY ™


Creative COW contributing editor and a forum host of the Business & Marketing and Apple Final Cut Pro forums.


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