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Deakins says that film is dead


Jim Carlile
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Good luck to Deakins - he's got True Brit! (groan :lol: ) TG is nicely lit, but it's just a remake of the original, and the plot looks a bit dated now. Would anyone but the Cohens have got it green-lighted?

 

Meanwhile back in Blighty, Deluxe Soho labs, formely known as Soho Images, have ceased taking orders for the printing of 16mm film. There's no-one left in the UK now who does it. :(

 

As it happens I'll be looking over an Epic later today... :o

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Just another man's opinion. I wonder what Nolan or Snyder would have to say if they were asked? Wally? Still, I can't wait to see what he did with his first digital shoot.

 

The post is misleading, by the way, as it looks like a quote from the article you linked, which it isn't.

 

I don't see what the big deal is anymore. Use film or not, to keep talking about it won't affect anyone's view to do the same thing, assuming they have the ability to think for themselves and craft to their own needs.

 

Boring subject matter these days.

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Just another man's opinion.

 

I agree, though I consider him to be one of the best cinematographers working today, and I love his body of work.

 

I wonder what Nolan or Snyder would have to say if they were asked? Wally?

 

If you haven't already, you should check the latest video in the "Kodak.No Compromise" campaign..I guess Wally's point of view is pretty clear there :)

 

Still, I can't wait to see what he did with his first digital shoot.

 

Me too. I would never avoid any movie just because it's shot on this or that format/camera. That'd be so silly.

 

The post is misleading, by the way, as it looks like a quote from the article you linked, which it isn't.

 

To be fair, the last quote in the WSJ article is: "This year or next will see more or less the end of film". So, it's not literally the same, but i'd say it's close enough.

 

I worry, Vincent, that the number of people who can think for themselves has been in a long decline.

 

dramatically so, in my very humble opinion. And aggressive marketing for an "economy model supporting obsolescence in any way it can" (don't know if this makes sense) is doing the rest.

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Quite true Francesco. Also, i have noticed with alarming regularity, people just getting into this industry think it is the gear which makes the shot. And sadly, perhaps because of our generation, growing up buying computers where we examined specs (processor speed, giga bits, whatever) they fall to these metrics which, while useful, fail to really convey too much about how something will work in the wild.

It's nice, though, to be able to say I totally disagree with Deakins in this opinion.

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"This year or next will see more or less the end of film," he said, sounding as unsentimental about the end of an era as "True Grit" is about the Old West. "It's been a long time coming, really. Film has had a good run."

 

Ok so that's a very short time frame, we'll all be around to see the results. If I shoot a film in 2013 on film then I have single handily proven Deakins wrong. Cool!

 

R,

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"This year or next will see more or less the end of film," he said, sounding as unsentimental about the end of an era as "True Grit" is about the Old West. "It's been a long time coming, really. Film has had a good run."

 

Ok so that's a very short time frame, we'll all be around to see the results. If I shoot a film in 2013 on film then I have single handily proven Deakins wrong. Cool!

 

R,

 

I don't think Deakins was saying that there will be no film production in 2013. In fact, no doubt he will still be shooting some film in 2013. He's just saying that the technology has arrived today that serves the same needs as film more or less.

 

Let's be reasonable here -- it's not like the switchover to digital broadcasting, there won't be this date in 2012 where all production has to shift over from film to digital.

 

We are already in a transition as anyone who can look at a graph chart can tell you. It doesn't take a math genius to see that digital will increase in use over time until it exceeds film production -- in fact, if you take into account all narrative production worldwide, including television production, it probably switched over to being predominately digital years ago.

 

So what are we really talking about? We're talking about mainstream Hollywood studio production as the benchmark for how far digital has made inroads over film, which is why the opinion of studio cinematographers like Deakins matters. What a few independent producers making small movies want to do with their money is their own business, they aren't necessarily defining an industry-wide trend if they choose film over digital. But if the studios, with millions and millions invested in a single production, start choosing digital on a regular basis, well, then film will become a minor player in the industry. It hasn't happened yet, despite all the major 3D movies being shot digitally. Only a few of these big shows will be getting ahold of an Epic in 2011, the camera won't be available to a lot of people until the end of the year. And Alexa, despite being a great camera, is still a 2K camera, so I don't really consider that a true replacement for 35mm, though close. And I don't think every Hollywood director and producer are going to be happy only being able to choose between an Epic and an Alexa before ditching film.

 

So with that being the current state of the industry, it's hard to say that that's enough -- two primary digital cinema camera options -- to cause an industry-wide switchover away from film in 2011-2013. Maybe. But these are certainly the transition years away from film either way.

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But David what does Deakins mean exactly when he says:

 

"This year or next will see more or less the end of film,"

 

I mean he can't have it both ways. He seems pretty clear here, he's saying well....this year or next will see more or less the end of film. :)

 

What I find amusing about the film is dead camp, is that they have been prognosticating for 10 years now for the complete elimination of film. Yet every time one of their predictions misses the date they predicted, they simply move the end date back another couple of years. Kind of a nice position to be in I suppose?

 

I think the film is dead people need to admit one important fact, they don't know what the *bleep* they are talking about.

 

On a concluding note we all know that film is set to deliver the knockout blow once again at this years Oscars. It's really quite an embarrassment for the video systems of the world, for all their ballywhoo, they haven't made that much progress at all.

 

R,

post-4653-0-59047600-1298747783.jpeg

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But David what does Deakins mean exactly when he says:

 

"This year or next will see more or less the end of film,"

 

I mean he can't have it both ways. He seems pretty clear here, he's saying well....this year or next will see more or less the end of film. :)

 

Sure he can mean it both ways.. he said "this year or the next" and he said "more or less". That's not the same thing as being definite, he gave himself some wiggle room of a couple of years.

 

We're merely haggling over a timeline at this point. And even when film is fairly uncommon for production, there will be several years of "is film making a comeback?" momentary and periodic resurrections. Back in 2000 when 24P HD arrived and people were saying "film is dead" back then, I tossed out the random figure of 15 years before digital took over, i.e. 2015. I still may be right, but either way, I don't think film will disappear by then either, just as film hasn't disappeared from the still market world.

 

For most of us, the stakes are not that high, we don't have shares in Kodak... Deakins is still going to be working well beyond 2015, whether on film or digital. This is cocktail party conversation stuff.

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Sure he can mean it both ways.. he said "this year or the next" and he said "more or less". That's not the same thing as being definite, he gave himself some wiggle room of a couple of years.

 

Love it! Deakins should go into politics.

 

"The economy will recover this year or next, more or less." :D

 

R,

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Technology like the Sony F3 is actually going to make it even tougher for indie films to justify that extra $10k+ for film lab fees, especially for those struggling with a very tight bottom line, which only gets tighter each year as the markets have basically died. This scenario just happened right in front of me a week ago. Hopefully I can post more about that soon.

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I've been discussions on an indie movie where the director wants to shoot 35mm; based on a 200,000' total footage if we shot in 4-perf (20:1 ratio more or less), I did some very rough calculations and it worked out to be roughly $40,000 for stock and processing for every perf of 35mm we shot, i.e. $160,000 for 4-perf, $120,000 for 3-perf, and $80,000 for 2-perf. Of course, I was picking a fairly high number for the cost of stock and processing, about $800 for every 1000' roll shot and processed, the real number would probably be closer to $600 or less. And of course we could shoot less than 200,000' of 4-perf. So maybe it's more like $30,000 for every perf shot and processed for a 20:1 ratio.

 

Trouble is that the budget might be under 2-mil while still being a union shoot, and while 10 years ago that still would have meant shooting in 35mm, it's much less common today. But this is a period story and the director doesn't feel that digital would have the right feeling for that.

 

Funny thing is the last feature I did last summer, a 7-mil feature, also opted to shoot in 35mm because the director insisted on it. So it hasn't gone away yet even for the indies, as long as you are above a certain budget figure.

 

For years, I shot a bunch of 35mm indie movies in 4-perf, contact-printed, finished photochemically, and we always had 100,000' of stock, and fresh stock was about $500 per 1000' can more or less. So that was about $50,000 for stock alone.

 

In the "old days" (two years ago) you could say "well, there are no stock and processing costs for digital, though the cameras are more expensive to rent, but the film-out was going to cost you $40,000 or so, not including the color-correction session, which is more like another $40,000. So it's a wash with shooting film and finishing photochemically." Except today it's a given that the movie will need a digital master of some sort even if you finish photochemically, and most people want to do a D.I., so the post costs between digital and film are similar, leaving the difference in the production costs. And it's hard to get around that stock & processing & telecine cost for shooting film compared to digital, even if the digital cameras cost 3X what the film cameras cost to rent. But above a certain budget, film is still viable if the director and/or producer feels strongly enough about using it.

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Meanwhile back in Blighty, Deluxe Soho labs, formely known as Soho Images, have ceased taking orders for the printing of 16mm film. There's no-one left in the UK now who does it. :(

 

 

Just to clarify, this is for making 16mm film prints, not actually processing 16mm. Some people are confused about that.

 

Because there is now so much demand for 35mm film processing and so few labs left in the UK, they decided it would be better buisness to put all their resources into 35mm to keep up with demand. The 16mm people are less important basically, and while they still make money on 16mm they make more on 35.

 

Too much demand not enough capacity basically.

 

love

 

Freya

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The post is misleading, by the way, as it looks like a quote from the article you linked, which it isn't.

 

I don't see what the big deal is anymore. Use film or not, to keep talking about it won't affect anyone's view to do the same thing, assuming they have the ability to think for themselves and craft to their own needs.

 

Boring subject matter these days.

 

It's not misleading-- that's what he's saying.

 

And it's not "boring" if you can't get a hold of film.

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My extra "$10k" comment was based on a S16mm feature with about a 6:1 to Prores. This was how much more it was going to cost on that particular film, over renting a red package or now, an F3 with KiPro mini. This price is accurate but only by getting things done with lots of calls for best rates, special deals on film, etc. The rentals on production grade 16mm cameras is super low right now. $4500 will get you a modern package for a month from certain places. Hell I was offered an very nice Aaton Prod for sale recently for $7k.

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M. David Mullen, ASC wrote:

 

"So with that being the current state of the industry, it's hard to say that that's enough -- two primary digital cinema camera options -

to cause an industry-wide switchover away from film in 2011-2013. Maybe. But these are certainly the transition years away from film

either way."

 

I think David (as usual) has nailed it right on the head - the transition is well underway and will continue, even

though old film guys like me are having a very hard time accepting this.

 

I spoke with a good friend of mine who works in the front office of Panavision/Woodland Hills last November and

asked him for his take on this topic.

 

He basically told me that 35mm 4 perf film acquistion is still the most cost-efficient mode of production at this time,

and will most probably be around for several more years.

 

The progress that has been made in digital cinematography in the last ten years is staggering, especially considering

the dynamic range of new cameras like the Arri Alexa.

 

I own two Arris (a 16BL and an 35BL) and I feel confident enough in film's future to have had both of these cameras rebuilt

by Axel Broda. But when I saw APOCALYPTO in a theatre several years ago, I was so stunned to see the Panavision Genesis

logo in the end credits, that I could barely get out of my seat. I literally had assumed I was watching a picture shot

on 35mm. That was the moment I experienced cognitive dissonance - it caused me to re-assess everything I had assumed

about film vs. video.

 

 

-Jerry Murrel

Little Rock, AR

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I own two Arris (a 16BL and an 35BL) and I feel confident enough in film's future to have had both of these cameras rebuilt

by Axel Broda. But when I saw APOCALYPTO in a theatre several years ago, I was so stunned to see the Panavision Genesis

logo in the end credits, that I could barely get out of my seat. I literally had assumed I was watching a picture shot

on 35mm. That was the moment I experienced cognitive dissonance - it caused me to re-assess everything I had assumed

about film vs. video.

 

 

-Jerry Murrel

Little Rock, AR

 

IMO, Apocalypto had scenes that looked like complete ass. Like TV news from the 80's. Never fooled me into thinking it was film and I don't think Semler cared either way. Obviously the camera was "good enough" for him. The tipping point I think has come by the way of cameras (Red MX and Alexa) that have a "good enough" image to a large number of DP's and producers...finally. I think technology has reached a point where digital images are an acceptable alternative to film. I believe the next generation of digital cameras will make such a huge impact on film that we might loose it just because the companies that make film and film labs are not prepared for the shift. Companies can't seem to scale back, they just cut and run.

 

I don't think any serious cinematographer ultimately cares if the camera is film or digital. Cinematographers have just been screaming for years that digital cameras need to meet certain standards of quality and usability. These standards have only just been met and that's why digital has been having a serious impact lately.

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Guy nears 60; eyesight softens, has made his pile, wants convenience. To me the elephant in the room is probably one of the

largest feature-to-feature drops in quality by a major American cinema artist:

 

Mulholland Drive Vs. Inland Empire.

 

Am I speaking Greek here? Interviews with Lynch focus on the need for changing magazines and the ability to get into less

interrupted dialog with the actors.

MD = great-singular!, IE = mediocre.

 

Maybe I'm cherry picking here, but as a good rant seems to remain fun ( unfortunately for my listeners) through repeated recitals--as a total

bottom-of-the economic barrel guerilla,

I STILL find film not only better when there is any decent light, but overall significantly CHEAPER, especially at the the bottom [my] end of the economic spectrum.

 

Why?

 

1) Far higher talent level cast/crew recruited simply with the mention of film for given "wages." A official nobody from nowhere with no training,

I get awesomely talented AFI grads to work with me precisely because I use film. They even

pretend not to notice how dumb and inexperienced I am. And the people you get are more important than the equipment.

 

2) No buying PAIRS of hard drives every 4-6 years (as connector specs obsolete) to preserve your masterpiece, film is its own backup

when you also have telecine you like.

And it takes work or heat to destroy developed film. A hard drive can go completely at any time with no warning for no reason. Better

back up A LOT.

 

3) Much less chance of understaffed crew ERASING a CF CARD because of disorganization. That never happened to me. Really. It didn't.

 

4) That 5 LB roll of processed film is HARD FOR HYPERACTIVE Directors to LOSE.

 

4) You get a nice camera now for 1-2k, NO CAM RENTALS of rapidly obsoleting cameras. No overhead/time waste of dealing with

rental places.

 

Now the truth is, to do the nobody from nowhere film technique, it helps a lot to have a 7D to do low-light shots. I've never even PRICED a generator truck as I know it's hopeless.

But ironically, digital looks better with really low light if you can keep it below the noise horizon. It isn't so crystal F-ing clear so as to be annoying.

 

The more people switch to glassy, soulless digital, with the two year product cycle keeping everyone on the Buyanewa treadmill,

the better off nobodies like me are in our little ghetto of compatriots.

 

Someone please post an image, ANY IMAGE FROM ANY DIGITAL PRODUCTION as beautiful as this cap from Story of A Prostitute (1965) cinematography by Nagatsuka. Just one.

post-34466-0-99282700-1298946800.jpg

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Guy nears 60; eyesight softens, has made his pile, wants convenience. To me the elephant in the room is probably one of the

largest feature-to-feature drops in quality by a major American cinema artist:

 

Mulholland Drive Vs. Inland Empire.

 

Am I speaking Greek here? Interviews with Lynch focus on the need for changing magazines and the ability to get into less

interrupted dialog with the actors.

MD = great-singular!, IE = mediocre.

 

Bizzarely this was actually the look that Daavid Lynch was going for!

I mean even if he wanted to shoot digital, PD-150's weren't even new at the time, in fact at that point the whole HD camera thing was really taking off. On the one hand I'm slightly mystified as I thought it looked really mushy on the screen at the cinema, but on the other hand I kind of like the look on a little monitor off my DVD. However at the same time David Lynch was railing against people watching films on their mobile phones and insisting they neded to see films at the cinema!

 

It's strange as I felt quite horrified at the suggestion that he was going to shoot on a PD-150 as I disliked the look of it even back when it was one of THE dv cameras so to speak, but when I saw the movie I was impressed at what he did with it. He was I'm sure to be fair, going for a really ugly nasty look in places.

 

I think a lot of what was driving him forward in terms of going digital, was artistic freedom, and not needing the financial backing he would need for film, but I do wonder how he might feel about Super16 if he gave it a chance?

 

I notice that the recent commercial he shot was made with an HD camera of some description so maybe he will try that out on his next movie, who knows!

 

I like Inland Empire and certainly it's a very different film because of the fact it was shot digitally. Most films shot digitally are the same as if they had been shot on film but Inland empire takes advantage of the cheapness of digital cameras to be shot piecemeal and all over the place in a way that film probably would not be. I feel if it was shot on film it would be more tightly scripted and shot to a schedule.

 

I'm sympathetic with his decision, I just hope he doesn't keep in that vein but continues to mix it up and go new places. :)

 

love

 

Freya

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I've been discussions on an indie movie where the director wants to shoot 35mm; based on a 200,000' total footage if we shot in 4-perf (20:1 ratio more or less), I did some very rough calculations and it worked out to be roughly $40,000 for stock and processing for every perf of 35mm we shot, i.e. $160,000 for 4-perf, $120,000 for 3-perf, and $80,000 for 2-perf. Of course, I was picking a fairly high number for the cost of stock and processing, about $800 for every 1000' roll shot and processed, the real number would probably be closer to $600 or less. And of course we could shoot less than 200,000' of 4-perf. So maybe it's more like $30,000 for every perf shot and processed for a 20:1 ratio.

 

Trouble is that the budget might be under 2-mil while still being a union shoot, and while 10 years ago that still would have meant shooting in 35mm, it's much less common today. But this is a period story and the director doesn't feel that digital would have the right feeling for that.

 

Funny thing is the last feature I did last summer, a 7-mil feature, also opted to shoot in 35mm because the director insisted on it. So it hasn't gone away yet even for the indies, as long as you are above a certain budget figure.

 

For years, I shot a bunch of 35mm indie movies in 4-perf, contact-printed, finished photochemically, and we always had 100,000' of stock, and fresh stock was about $500 per 1000' can more or less. So that was about $50,000 for stock alone.

 

In the "old days" (two years ago) you could say "well, there are no stock and processing costs for digital, though the cameras are more expensive to rent, but the film-out was going to cost you $40,000 or so, not including the color-correction session, which is more like another $40,000. So it's a wash with shooting film and finishing photochemically." Except today it's a given that the movie will need a digital master of some sort even if you finish photochemically, and most people want to do a D.I., so the post costs between digital and film are similar, leaving the difference in the production costs. And it's hard to get around that stock & processing & telecine cost for shooting film compared to digital, even if the digital cameras cost 3X what the film cameras cost to rent. But above a certain budget, film is still viable if the director and/or producer feels strongly enough about using it.

 

The decline of film has been quite evident from a few years ago from a reseller perspective. You saw it coming - it was obvious. Anyway, from a budgetary point of view discussing the (non)merits of both film and digital, to me and from what I've been told time and time again, it comes down to shooting ratios. I recently had a discussion with a cinematographer coming off a film using digital where the ratio averaged out to be a staggering 63:1. Yikes! Time = money right? And then there's the entire storage argument that leaves digital out in the cold.

 

But yep, this shift from film to digital is killing our local labs, killing the rental houses, killing film availability, and I don't see it slowing down really. Next year to me is a very realistic time frame for the general demise* of film. *less than 20% of productions using it. Sad....

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... from what I've been told time and time again, it comes down to shooting ratios.

 

Shooting ratios look to me more like an effect than a cause. Shows that shot 40 minutes of circled takes a day on film went up to two hours on tape, because tape was cheap. The same people on digital are going more like three hour a day. It's more work for the editors -- same needles, bigger haystack....

 

 

 

 

 

-- J.S.

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