Death of 35mm Film

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Art Andrews

Community Owner
Community Staff
On the other hand, a hard drive, EMP or not, will lose its **** after just a couple of years sitting on a shelf. I believe it's called bitflux. To retain the integrity of their data, hard discs need to be spun up and "refreshed' periodically. Google did a study a few years back and determined that after only 1 or 2 years without being powered up, hard discs ran a serious risk of data loss.

So much of production has gone tapeless now and the archival issue is one of the big concerns. Most serious post houses who know what they are doing are using LTO or DLT tape backup, with multiple copies (one stored offsite), but most in production seem to be unaware of the archival issue. A few months back I was dropping off some footage at a local production company that does their post in house. I asked what they were doing for archival of client projects. They just threw stuff on a hard drive and put it on a shelf in the closet. I asked them what they did to refresh the data and they were clueless. Not long ago they called about that footage again; they had needed to re-edit the project and low and behold their "backup" had corrupt data.
I think this SCREAMS to the point about digital truly still being in its infancy. The average person doesn't know what needs to be done and the technology isn't progressive enough or pervasive enough that issues like this aren't accounted for automatically. Will things get lost? Sure. Have many historically significant art pieces been lost to a lack of understanding about UV and what it can do to a piece of art, or improper moisture content? Etc, etc.

You can't save everything and how many films from back in the day aren't here anymore because of the same type of issues or because of poor quality film stock?

And on a final note, as Michael pointed out, if we had an EMP blast, making sure we preserved a good digital copy of "Big Mama's House 16" for future generations will probably not be at the top of our concern.
 

Kerr Avon

Master Member
And on a final note, as Michael pointed out, if we had an EMP blast, making sure we preserved a good digital copy of "Big Mama's House 16" for future generations will probably not be at the top of our concern.
I wouldn't mind of most of Bay's stuff and Uwe Bole's were wiped out. Might do future generations a favor.
 

cayman shen

Master Member
And on a final note, as Michael pointed out, if we had an EMP blast, making sure we preserved a good digital copy of "Big Mama's House 16" for future generations will probably not be at the top of our concern.
No, but I'd think it was a shame to lose GOOD movies, haha! If we're going to rebuild after the apocalypse, I think our shared cultural touchstones might be a source of community strength.

Man that was one of my weirder posts...

If there was only one print of Seven Samurai left in the world, and it was in a burning building, I'd run in after it. Some works of art are just too important to lose. Let's not forget the library of Alexandria, right? If digital helps preserve movies perpetually, awesome. But I think some people's concerns about it are legit.
 

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Jeyl

Master Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Why can't we just put Hard Drives in EMP proof cases? :darnkids

Or distribute the files to other, non-curcial locations far away? Or create a tape like component like DV tapes that can record information digitally without being overall electronic.
 

robn1

Master Member
Does anyone remember Showscan? I saw some of the films in the early 80s, when it was meant to be a new film format for movies. It didn't catch on, so it became a format for theme park rides.

As a movie format it was amazing, 65mm film shot and projected at 60fps. The image was pristine, no grain at all. And motion was lifelike, it was like the screen disappeared and the action was happening live in front of you.

The motion effect would work in 35mm, if anyone had any interest in doing it :unsure

And as old school as I can be, I have no problem with digital photography. It can look great, it saves tons of money, and it's improving all the time. The long term storage issues are all I'm concerned about.
 

Chaank

Well-Known Member
I became interested in this in 2000 while I was studying cgi and design. Like most things in life the arguments of either side are often based on feeling not thought. It's the same arguments drifting round the art world. The interesting I think is these two different fields, fine art and movie making have one thing in common. A canvas. I think we all agree film looks amazing! On the big screen it's hard to beat the Je ne sais quoi it can give big movements or live tech (I'm thinking of the helicoptor seens in apocalypse now). In a gallery it represents an investment and converdance on the part of the artist.
The fact is though it is NOT always needed nor appropriate. As with all tools, choosing the right one is not only important but can be make or break for said project. Film will never die. Like polaroids, LP records, steam engins and god only knows how many other TOOLS it will be saved by those who love it and used where appropriate. Like it should be.
 

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Kerr Avon

Master Member
Like polaroids, LP records, steam engins and god only knows how many other TOOLS it will be saved by those who love it and used where appropriate. Like it should be.
I think I read Polaroid film had stopped being made recently, or will be stopped being made very soon.
 

Chaank

Well-Known Member
Yes they did or are going to stop making it at polaroid but it has been pick up by a boutique art supplier. There is also another place I've heard of who make large format polaroid film. I can't remember what they use it for now. Polaroid is a perfect example of what this thread is discussing because it is not perfect. It just has a "feel" similar products don't.

Cool pic Kerr. Love B7.
 

Michael Bergeron

Legendary Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
True, but at the same time anyone knows that if you have 100GB of files you should back them up so that when the drive fails you still have them. When the file types change you can convert them.

Preserving something should always be in it's original format. That way it's preserved in the best resolution it will ever be. HD will be low resolution one day but if you have something that was shot on an HD camera that stores HD digital video files the best way to store them is on a hard drive, backed up.

If anything is truly important you should have it backed up at least three times. Also, in the age of digital archiving you could have massive redundant storage facilities all over the world in small offices or even homes. If LA's office has a fire and loses everything no problem, buy a new server and repopulate it with the files from another location.

Anything shot on film should be archived both on film and digitally in the highest resolution possible. The argument of digital v. film storage isn't one that needs to take place, there's a perfectly viable reason to have both.
 

0neiros

Master Member
This is the Video Equivalent of the Vinyl vs MP3 argument. Both have their Pluses and Minuses. Vinyl has made a surprising comeback,and I believe in time so will 35mm, if they really do a nationwide flush of it. I Don't agree with the 'Let's move on and sh**can the old stuff mentality. My CD Collection is all ripped to MP3, but I still have all my CDs, why? Because if anything ever wipes out my MP3s (And despite my best efforts at backing things up has happened twice), I can re-rip them, and incidentally, all the MP3s I have are backed up onto CD for this reason. Also, 2nd and third world countries may not be able to afford to go all digital, etc. are they really going to pass up all those Sheckles, Rubles and Rupees?

If they are destroying 35mm prints of films, that's just reprehensible, shortsighted, and borders on the criminal. And keep in mind, I am a Technophile.
 

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Jack Hawksmoor

New Member
I work in television, but originally came from the wonderful world of film. Fact of the matter is shooting digitally made film making affordable and more accessible for everybody involved. There's a reason why anybody can make a short film and upload it onto You Tube. This certainly could not be done when film was the only thing you could really shoot on. There's a ton of costs that go along with film that you never realized, such as:

Lighting: much more difficult to light for film then for a digital HD cam as the HD cam has some nice in-camera lighting apps that act as it's own gaffer for most shoots.

Transfer costs: film costs money, and so does transfering the film to a studio to develop the film (each copy actually) as well as transfer cost, etc. Now if you want to upload that short film to YouTube, you have to then convert the film to an HD format which costs even more money.

Efficiency: Film cameras are bulky, heavy and need a lot of people working out a simple shot. A good HD quality camera has a lot of features that make it easier for one person to get off a shot. For example, if we're using a film camera for a steady tracking shot, you need grips to lay down track and push a dolly, a gaffer to light the scene, etc, etc. Whereas on some HD cams you can just switch a button to steadicam mode and take the show. You can do more with less with an HD cam in this respect.

So really what it comes down to is cost efficiency. There is obviously a difference in quality, but it's somewhat slight. The best HD cams are already in use in just about every TV show out there because most people don't notice the slight difference in picture quality.

Anyway, there's been a death rattle for film for a number of years, but there will always be somebody out there who wants to shoot in 35mm for aesthetic purposes, just like there's always somebody who wants to shoot in black and white film.
 

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