Death of 35mm Film

Discussion in 'Entertainment and Movie Talk' started by Vivek, Apr 12, 2012.

  1. Vivek

    Vivek Master Member Community Staff RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

    Trophy Points:
    3,181
  2. Larry T

    Larry T Active Member

    Trophy Points:
    341
    Can't believe MGM was actually going to dump the negatives for Wizard of Oz and gone With the Wind into the ocean.
     
  3. Kerr Avon

    Kerr Avon Master Member

    Trophy Points:
    2,841
    I'm sorry, can I get a synopsis? The first two pages seemed to be 'cost to theaters = bad' Seriously, would the same argument about the death of silent films by the new requirement for projectors to be able to play 'talkies' be any different?
     
  4. Wes R

    Wes R Legendary Member

    Trophy Points:
    6,750
    They're too stupid to realize that they could auction them to a collector who would use and preserve them.
     
  5. Vivek

    Vivek Master Member Community Staff RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

    Trophy Points:
    3,181
    You could read the abridged version in the second article I linked from Badass Digest titled The Importance Of Being 35mm.
     
  6. Kerr Avon

    Kerr Avon Master Member

    Trophy Points:
    2,841
    Also, film degrades, scratches, freaking melts even. It's like why would anyone ever want to swap from VHS tapes to a DVD or Bluray? Why? Because you can play a DVD or Bluray 50,000 times and the quality is as good as the first day you played it. A VHS tape degrades as you rewatch it over and over, as anyone who had a copy of "Caddyshack" on VHS found after watching the high diving scene!
     
  7. cayman shen

    cayman shen Master Member

    Trophy Points:
    3,080
    Real film looks better, period.
     
  8. Larry T

    Larry T Active Member

    Trophy Points:
    341
    Never realized how many problems there were with storing digital movies. Couldn't 35mm film continue to be manufactured in smaller quantities just for archival purposes?
     
  9. cayman shen

    cayman shen Master Member

    Trophy Points:
    3,080
    To play devil's advocate (and again, I prefer real film thank you), the argument that formats change is disingenuous. Technology chnages too. So the projectors that show the 35mm prints may be so obsolete in a century you can't project the prints you've preserved. Try finding an 8 track player for instance.
     
  10. Jeyl

    Jeyl Master Member

    Trophy Points:
    2,670
    I don't know. David Fincher's "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" looks amazing. That was shot with RED.
     
  11. Rotwang

    Rotwang Sr Member

    Trophy Points:
    1,046
    I've been wondering the same thing about the photos I have taken and all that digital information and media that I have stored. In most cases, beyond a backup harddrive or some storage on the internet, it's gone once the drive or device fails.

    What happens if the internet goes and all the computer servers and backup-drives are fried ?

    Should something really go wrong, we might find ourselves in a true dark age, lose vast amounts of information that only exists in a digital format.

    About the article, they said somebody accidentally erased Toy Story 2, but unless they wrote new data over it, they should be able to get it back, there are companies that can salvage a lot of information on the drive of a laptop that lay in a swamp for days or weeks, they shouldn't have had any problem in getting most if not all the files back.
     
  12. micdavis

    micdavis Master Member

    Trophy Points:
    3,326
    I prefer film too.

    But everyone complains when their job or business is threatened by technology.

    That's why they call it progress.
     
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2012
  13. Colin Droidmilk

    Colin Droidmilk Sr Member

    Trophy Points:
    1,296
    Then again, we all take thousands more photos than we ever could have with film...so most of them would never have existed anyway without digital...
     
  14. cayman shen

    cayman shen Master Member

    Trophy Points:
    3,080
    The fact is, nothing, in any format, lasts forever.

    Jeyl, I agree that non-film movies can look great. So maybe I shouldn't have said "period." But generally I feel that film is more...inviting? Of course, part of that is a comfort and familiarity thing. I'm not even nuts about blu-ray to be honest. It's so crisp it almost looks hyper-real. I don't always care for it. I guess "soft and warm" is what I'm accustomed to and digital often (not always) looks "hard and cold." Like my ex wife.
     
  15. The Guyver

    The Guyver New Member

    Trophy Points:
    2
    Hi guys. I was projectionist up till December last year. My cinema went fully digital. Shame to see it die off. Loved working with 35mm. Making the films up. Testing them before the public breaking them back down at end of run. Shame. All good things come to an end.

    Sent from my HTC EVO 3D X515m using Tapatalk 2
     
  16. cayman shen

    cayman shen Master Member

    Trophy Points:
    3,080
    I used to love doing all that as well. Big old downtown theater, ancient bohemoth of a projector...lots of character in that booth, lots of history. :thumbsup
     
  17. Colin Droidmilk

    Colin Droidmilk Sr Member

    Trophy Points:
    1,296
    Thing with film is if you enlarge a frame you find an infinity of organic gradation - it gets grainy but it's still 'stepless'. You can enlarge as much as you like but you'll never find 'steps'. You do the same with digital and in the end you get down to pixels. Which is rubbish.
     
  18. Colin Droidmilk

    Colin Droidmilk Sr Member

    Trophy Points:
    1,296
    I don't know about cinematography but digital still photography has some way to go to match the dynamic range of film. I was told this by a pro when I was questioning him as to why digital images tend to break flesh tones into noticeable bands and zones - in the way old master painters do, in fact. He told me that, like painters, the digital eye has to take short cuts to recreate what it sees, due to its lower dynamic range compared with film. This is a serious flaw with digital. And it's scandalous that film went out before digital was able to match film's dynamic standard. Plus, the problem is something I certainly noticed on early digital film transference of films to dvds. I remember thinking the Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon dvd looked like every garment was inhabiting its own separate 'colour universe', unrelated to the actor's flesh, which in turn was unrelated to the environment etc. The precise same effect was present in a British kitchen sink film from the 60s, 'Poor Cow' - bizarre disconnection between all the colours, as if each object had been separately hand-tinted.
     
  19. Jeyl

    Jeyl Master Member

    Trophy Points:
    2,670
    Why would we do that though?
     
  20. Colin Droidmilk

    Colin Droidmilk Sr Member

    Trophy Points:
    1,296
    It's a good question....I just like knowing that film is an organic, seamless response to the organic, seamless environment it's recording, and feel uncomfortable knowing that at some micro-level digital comes to a dead end of unnatural perfect squares, that at its root, digital is plastic, synthetic. I suppose it's a philosophical thing, lol... but it's not only that. In amateur digital photography you don't have to enlarge much before digital is pixelated crap, where film will still give something beautiful - the grain effect of a film blow-up can still be aesthetically pleasing.
     
  21. Jeyl

    Jeyl Master Member

    Trophy Points:
    2,670
    syn·thet·ic
    - noting or pertaining to compounds formed through a chemical process by human agency, as opposed to those of natural origin.

    And film is pretty heavy in the chemical department. So judging by your comments, digital AND film are both synthetic. And even if you were to zoom in on film elements, all you'd end up getting is globs of undefinable fuzziness. At least with pixel blocks I can make a building out of it.

    I've had enough of your snide comments.

    *BAN*
     
  22. Colin Droidmilk

    Colin Droidmilk Sr Member

    Trophy Points:
    1,296
    What snide comments?
     
  23. Jeyl

    Jeyl Master Member

    Trophy Points:
    2,670
    Calling digital synthetic! That's like calling a human being an animal! We're all animals!

    I've had enough of your disingenuous assertions.
     
  24. BlobVanDam

    BlobVanDam Sr Member

    Trophy Points:
    1,085
    I found that article a bit sensationalist, biased and baseless in its lamenting of film at times, although it was a great read, and regardless it had a lot of valid points.

    Both film and digital have their pros and cons. I still feel digital is in its relative infancy to be entirely replacing film just yet, although for projection purposes in cinema, I don't feel they raised any good points against digital replacing film.

    In terms of actually filming the movie, I still feel film is better than digital because of its higher dynamic range, and the more natural light response. But films have been entirely edited digitally for long enough now, so I don't see that storing these movies solely digitally is any loss here. For older films that were shot and edited on film, I feel that both formats should be kept. Once you've committed to a digital copy, you can never go back and gain any more detail from it. You can't clean up the film, you can't rescan it at higher res, you're stuck with it as is. Many movies are still only transferred and remastered at 2K or 4K, which is nowhere near the potential of 35mm film. And there's the issue of colour depth too. But on the other hand, film can degrade and fade over time, whereas digital can theoretically be stored perfectly as long as you can read the data, so I think that we should be focusing on restoring and preserving old films too. But most definitely not at the expense of the original format just yet. Once you lose your first generation copy, that's it.

    I don't see a problem with digital replacing film at all. But it's still a relatively new technology, and I think it's a bit premature to be ditching those old film reels just yet.
     
  25. laszlo

    laszlo Sr Member

    Trophy Points:
    1,210
    Amen!
    I shoot a lot of 5x4 negative and transparency as well high quality digital.
    Film still looks better. Grain does not neccessarily impede clarity, it seems to correlate more to the way the human eye perceives things. Film is dynamic - it is a crying shame digital had won before it was successful enough to warrant the crown.
    Saw a lovely print of Tarkovskis Stalker at the BFI in London last year - first 35mm experience in years - it was a rich and amazing sight after years of flat digital projections.
     
  26. Kerr Avon

    Kerr Avon Master Member

    Trophy Points:
    2,841
    Do you still take digital photos with the same camera you had 10 years go? Or have you gone from taking 640x800 digital photos to 8-10 MP pictures? They're not going to be filming movies with the same digital resolution they are now that they will be using in 5-10 years. Sure, you may not get the same quality of digital video you get in 10 years from films made today, but so what? The technology continues to improve and filmmakers will continue to upgrade their equipment. Digital photography has almost surpassed film, and video won't be far behind.
     
  27. BlobVanDam

    BlobVanDam Sr Member

    Trophy Points:
    1,085
    I agree with you. I was only saying that digital transfers of film as they stand right now aren't necessarily capturing the full detail of the original 35mm film. But digital video is progressing continually, so it's only a matter of time.
     
  28. Vivek

    Vivek Master Member Community Staff RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

    Trophy Points:
    3,181
  29. Kerr Avon

    Kerr Avon Master Member

    Trophy Points:
    2,841
    People can still make films on film, but they're probably going to have to digitize them then and then use that to distribute them. Really, the concept of sending tins around all parts of the country is so laughably antiquated it's ridiculous.
     
  30. Vivek

    Vivek Master Member Community Staff RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

    Trophy Points:
    3,181
    Yeah distribution is actually much easier and economical with digital. But what people like Nolan are insisting is not having the option to shoot film, which is being forced by studios and not giving cinemas to play 35mm films, which of course again all makes business sense to studios.
     
  31. Borjis

    Borjis Well-Known Member

    Trophy Points:
    566
    I like film too.
    I like digital as well.

    Anyone concerned about digital Dynamic Range should take a really good look at the RED camera tech and how far it's come in just a few years.

    Within the next 5 years or sooner it will surpass the dynamic range film offers. They've also made a big investment in projection technology. Very soon they will be shipping Laser light based projectors. Much brighter and lasting much longer than traditional bulbs.


    I found the article a bit sensationalist as well, but it does have a lot of valid points.

    The bit of Toy Story 2 being deleted sounds like an incredible story of I.T. incompetence
    or massive exaggeration.

    That it was stored on a single drive with no form of tape backup or redundancy on a single linux server at a company like PIXAR smells fishy.

    The post production facility I manage has a redundant mirrored, server storage which is backed up
    every night to tape. Those tapes are rotated every other week and stored off site.
    We're nowhere near the size of Pixar, but I feel pretty safe about any data loss.
     
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2012
  32. Laffo

    Laffo Sr Member

    Trophy Points:
    1,486
    As someone who's being forced to convert or shut down a 70 year old Drive-In it's a moot point. We have no choice. I can also attest to the fact that NONE of the Studios are supporting any repertory screenings of film. We showed Barbarella, Forbidden Planet - here at The Starlight - and the Shining - at the Plaza - for the last time on 35mm from a Studio's collection.
    The prints are gone.
    “The Shining” at the Plaza Theatre, the Last of the 35mm Public Screenings | IdyllopusPress Presents
    Had I known what was going to happen I would have "lost" FP and Barb.

    We still don't know how the new deal is going to work with the widespread conversions or how the Studios are going to administer it for shows out of the norm, i.e. screening old movies. As of now there is a deadline of September to have deals and possibly conversions done. There is a good deal of resistance to that so we won't have to convert during high season and so we wait until the deep Winter for it.

    I will, eventually watch my friends loose The Plaza this year. The oldest Movie Theatre in Atlanta will go under because of this change and the inability to get repertory titles.

    Frankly the march of technology is not so important that we loose ALL avenues of projecting film. There is a Cinemascope version of How The West Was Won being screened in LA this weekend. It is as important to be able to see that version as it is to be able to watch it in my home.

    I also have a fear of there being ONLY digital versions of anything. There are cave drawings that have lasted 10s of thousands of years - yet one EMP and an entire generation of photography, illustration, literature, animation, etc. would vanish.

    I know in my own life a total digital meltdown would wipe out the better part of the last 15 years of my work.

    We will go digital here and remain open, hopefully for another 70 years. I will layoff the 3 projectionists that work for me and they will need to find a new craft. It sucks - but we didn't get asked who cared.

    Laffo.
     
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2012
  33. Borjis

    Borjis Well-Known Member

    Trophy Points:
    566
    sorry to hear about that.

    I do miss the drive-in experience.
     
  34. Laffo

    Laffo Sr Member

    Trophy Points:
    1,486
    It's still here to have.
    Laffo.
     
  35. Apollo

    Apollo Legendary Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

    Trophy Points:
    5,035
    Digital is close but not yet at films level.

    I would keep film around as a back-up though and not just to please us diehards
     
  36. Weequay

    Weequay Well-Known Member

    Trophy Points:
    556
    I too felt the article undemined itself by being sensationalist.

    The toy story 2 incident is either highly exagerated, or made up.

    If it did happen it says far more about the person on the delete key than it does about digital as a storage medium.

    I am atraditionalist in many ways. I 'like' the idea of celuloid as do many others, but it can become an exercise in nostalga.

    As it stands today, the majority of movie going public have no idea how the movie they are watching was shot. They dont care, and never notice how it is projected.

    For me, film is a wonderful acquisition format. Beyond that in terms of finished product for the public viewing, I will take digital projection every time. People get caught up ith the whole 'film has more this and that...'

    The originals might, but the prints that are distributed to cinemas are poor by comparison.


    The option to shoot film will soon be only available to the highest budgets, and I do agree that we may see a deterioration in the quality of work produced (some would argue we already are). This to me is far more concerning.

    In 5 years, the top level digital equipment wil be producing images to same level as celuloid. In 10 we will have that equipment in the hands on indies.

    Film will exist for some time to come. Hell I still have super 8 in my fridge... :)

    weequay
     
  37. CB2001

    CB2001 Master Member

    Trophy Points:
    3,155
  38. cayman shen

    cayman shen Master Member

    Trophy Points:
    3,080
    Only if I drive three hours :unsure
     
  39. Vivek

    Vivek Master Member Community Staff RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

    Trophy Points:
    3,181
    Cool..thanks for sharing.

    Pixar studio stories - The movie vanishes (full) - YouTube
    If anyone is skeptical about the Pixar story, the incident was addressed in the Blu-ray special features. Check the above clip where they explain it.
     
  40. Chrisisall

    Chrisisall Sr Member

    Trophy Points:
    1,355
    A lot of stuff Dark Angel predicted is coming true... *shudders*
     
  41. micdavis

    micdavis Master Member

    Trophy Points:
    3,326
    So IF the EMPs are being let loose, do you really think a priority will be what movies are still available on film.

    I think we'll have slightly more important priority than that.
     
  42. Chrisisall

    Chrisisall Sr Member

    Trophy Points:
    1,355
    Nuclear wars come & go- lost art is forever.:angry
     
  43. jlee562

    jlee562 Sr Member

    Trophy Points:
    1,685
    Digital films can look good, no question about that. But it's not the same as film. Film has its own aesthetic.
     
  44. Laffo

    Laffo Sr Member

    Trophy Points:
    1,486
    Well, I guess all the art that survived the last, say 9000 years of wars, should have been burned along with the cities and such because there were higher priorities.
    Got it.
    I have a feeling Humans would survive 24 months without electricity - and EMPs - don't need to be a nuclear weapon and wouldn't be worldwide. But let's make sure that all the art and film that is only digital is lost after that.

    Good thing all the cinema, illustration and photography from before WW1 and WW2 and anything in central Japan from the end of the war wasn't left to that attitude.
    Laffo.
     
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2012
  45. Laffo

    Laffo Sr Member

    Trophy Points:
    1,486
    There's a ton to do in town. Make it a weekend.
    Center for Puppetry Arts, Georgia Aquarium, Stone Mountain, Zoo Atlanta, Starlight Six. I can point you to the right places so you eat like a King while you are here.
    Laffo.
     
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2012
  46. nightwind1

    nightwind1 Active Member

    Trophy Points:
    341
    But with film, if it hasn't degraded in, say, 100 years, you could still view it. With digital, who knows if any format in existence today would be readable 100 years from now?

    It's one of the reasons I hate the overabundance of digital cameras that people are taking all of their family photos with now. In 50 years, will those pictures even be available? Whereas, I have photos and negatives my grandparents shot back in the '40's.
     
  47. micdavis

    micdavis Master Member

    Trophy Points:
    3,326
    Well, you're right about that. Don't leave "art" in my hands.

    To me most of that stuff isn't worth the canvas it's painted on.

    I'm doing my part. I own 110 reels of 16mm film.
     
  48. Chrisisall

    Chrisisall Sr Member

    Trophy Points:
    1,355
    Little anecdote here: Back in '79 or '80 I bought a Super 8 two reel magnetic sound version of Superman: The Movie. 40 minutes of sheer eye candy. No VHS OR DVD has ever looked as sweet. There IS no comparison.
     
  49. CB2001

    CB2001 Master Member

    Trophy Points:
    3,155
    You're very much welcome. I may have a DSLR that shoots video at 24 FPS, but I believe there's no school like old school when it comes to certain films. Though John Carpenter would probably have shot on a digital camera if the technology had been available at his first time (he's stated in this video back in 2006), I doubt any of Hitchcock's films would work if they had been shot on digital.

    To me, the argument of digital vs. film is completely pointless. I see the decision between film and digital no different from deciding on a film stock. Depending on what kind of story you're telling should be the deciding factor on if you want to shoot on film or digital. Is it cheaper to shoot on digital? Yes. But also shooting on unused film stock left over from a film production for almost half the price. The story is what makes the film. And depending on what its shot on can help enhance or dilute the experience of the film. 28 Days Later was shot on a MiniDV prosumer camera. One of the perks was allowing to quickly set up shots on London streets and allowing for a less shooting time on location in those streets, cutting down on time that they had to hold up traffic for those in London. But, one of the things about using that format was that it added a sense of realism that seemed almost documentary-like, thus enhancing the story and the realism. However, when it comes to film, Vertigo wouldn't be the same if Hitchcock had the same technology we have now available to him back then.

    But most importantly, the Pixar story, though showing the horrific event of almost losing a film, is a cake walk in comparison to something else I myself have read. Back in the 1950s, they started to utilize video. When it came to the show of I Love Lucy, the producer refused to shoot it on video and chose to shoot it on film while all other producers competing against him chose to film on video. Look at I Love Lucy now. Its still being able to view as the first day it was broadcasted because it was shot on film. The other shows that the producer was competing are not on the air because the video they were lost due to various circumstances all relating to video (such as being accidentally recorded over, being placed near equipment that produced a magnetic field that wiped them out and others. Even the first few episodes of Doctor Who were thought to be lost because they shot on video (recently, they were recovered by NASA and the BBC because they discovered broadcast signals that had made it to space, so they were able to recover those episodes that had been thought to be lost).

    That's why I believe that storing copies of the actual films on 35mm is important. Thousands of formats have come and gone while film has managed to survive for almost a century of use. That's saying a lot.
     
  50. Chrisisall

    Chrisisall Sr Member

    Trophy Points:
    1,355
    Excellent thoughts on this, thanks.
     

Share This Page