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Film vs Digital. Impact on Art, Culture, Experience.


Gregg MacPherson
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Everyone knows I'm a big advocate of film, but I also feel that digital has its place. I've argued this topic to death, so I'll make it simple. My feelings are that film and digital should be able to co-exist. Everyone has their preference. Oil painting didn't disappear when photography became popular. Neither should film.

 

But at the end of the day, whether people want to admit it or not, this is all about money. It's a question of who can get the best for the cheapest to deliver to the most. And that's it.

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Film is a wildly addictive drug, once you feel and touch the mechanics and magic of film. Its very difficult to even look at anything else.

 

Two years ago I would have agreed entirely with the original post, but really the truth is. It doesn't matter. Film doesn't matter. Digital doesn't matter. Its the story. The vision. The work put into getting the image that really matters.

Film was a great thing, but it had its short comings which is why digital was invented.

 

Digital's raising the bar for the low budget segment signficantly.

Digital has essentially eliminated the worry about generational quality loss.

Film was a step in our photographic evolution that has brough us into this current generation of film making. And when you think about it, we've got it pretty dang good.

 

Once the number of 'classic' movies shot on digital grows, then you'll see the merits and timelessness of digital grow too. It's just a matter of time.

 

 

Film really is for the Art and 'style' crowd now, and if anyone wants to buy my Arri 2c its in the cinemarket place.

 

Good bye Film, it was great knowing you all these years.

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This is a great post from Bill. It is clear that film is being deliberately killed by the movie studios after co-existing for a while, just like vinyl was deliberately killed by the record companies in the late 80s after co-existing for a while.

 

Neither case had anything to do with customer preference. Neither had anything to do with quality (you tell me that anything digital can beat a brand new 70mm release print on a huge screen). Both vinyl and film are analog, organic formats- there is something that feels deeply human about them both and they touch us in a way that digital cannot.

 

Each was the target of a very deliberate, concentrated propoganda PR campaign to convince Average Joe on the street that the new solution was "better quality".

 

In both cases, it was ALL about money for the companies. Aesthetics be damned. Plastic discs may not sound as good, but they are incredibly cheap to produce. Film looks 100x better than digital (no matter what the "technical specs" are), but you can't argue that streaming digital to a movie theater isn't a lot cheaper than printing miles of celluloid for release prints.

 

This is a travesty, a tragedy, and a great national loss. My only hope is that like vinyl (when a subset of consumers rebelled against what they were "supposed" to like and realized they had been duped and that vinyl still sounds better), film will experience a comeback in about 20 years.

 

Unfortunately, although vinyl has experienced a comeback you don't see the high quality record players you used to see, and the vinyl itself is typically lower quality in new LPs these days. I hope when film comes back there will still be the equipment to do it properly.

Edited by Joseph Konrad
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If I may add this without getting sucked into another debate from someone (I find it odd that I was the only person to be targetted but I digress) that the issue of archival is one that has still not been dealt with. While all of the digital fans are patting themselves on the back because they managed to change public opinion and overcome their own shortcomings from not understanding the craft of film or just not caring anymore...our whole history of movies can be at risk. Anyone who honestly thinks that digital medium is stable for any decent length of time archival are fooling themselves. Even a particular cinematographer (cannot remember who now) said on Keanu Reeve's doc that everything that we have ever done...not a trace will be here in 200 years. Isnt that sad? Or do people not give a $#*!?

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Took me thirty seconds to find this:

.......Although early photography such as Daguerreotype and Calotype appeared by the mid 19th-century, photographs only began to be displayed in art galleries and museums only in the early 20th century.......

And using the same framework of observation, how does chemical photography and it's associated grain hold up against the near atomic grain of a daguerreotype?

 

Post 4

 

Chris !

So I'm a crap researcher! Let the combat begin! Neah just kidding.

 

These facts did float through my world about 1978 at art school. You would assume that someone starting a theme like mine would do a lot of objective research. The internet makes this so fast. But no, I wanted a subjective and experiential foundation. The main axis of my theme, or to me the most important part, needs to consider finer values of human perception or awareness and subtle, microscopic elements at play in an interaction, a photographic event. By extension a motion picture negative and....

 

So how does one prepare a subjective and experiential foundation. I did spend a lot of time with my eyes closed in a very quiet but vitalized state and had my chance to listen to the enlightened. I do fess up that I started study at uni in physics and quantum physics when young. The quantum physics lecturer had big curly hair and a goatee, a happy maniacal gleam in his eye. I remember him writing the Schrodinger equation at demented speed on the board without looking......

 

Thinking of the idea of making the film negative more densely detailed, a more literal photograph, A big leap in that direction may be almost available now, or actually ready now, at least for B&W. The microfilm style emulsion of the Gigabyte film.

 

I talked about really refined values of process in the photographic event, seeming to imply that an almost infinitely fine result on the negative was the ultimate thing to achieve. That may be one version of it. If the info rich playful photons arrive at an emulsion with coarser grains then you simply have more photons making a detailed map over a larger grain. In the terms that I have been talking about it, this map still attempts to express all that information.

 

The idea of photo etching on concrete came up on another thread. I heard that an old ex art school colleague Ronnie did some of that. I didn't see them, but the idea is an extraordinary expression of photography. Its a good nudge that the ideal "grain" size is not always small. I get a similar sense from silhouettes of hands made by blowing soot onto cave walls. The "grain" here is formed by soot onto the texture of the rock. What's common to all these is that the obvious unit of image, the grain if you like, is organic within the image making. I use that word in exactly the same way that many of you use to describe the look or grain of film.

 

Consider now, maybe Ronie could have somehow achieved small rectangular image units on the concrete, up close quite visible. As a photograph, odd, uninteresting (to me), but if he jumped camp to the sculpture class it would be a remarkable piece previsioning and commenting on the concerns we have today.

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I find it odd that I was the only person to be targetted

 

Just shake it off mate. I think you wound each other up a bit. Got slightly emotional and personal. I was maybe the only other option, and my ideas mostly have never been discussed before so it's harder to find a start point for a reaction (guessing).

 

Chin up.

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Everyone knows I'm a big advocate of film, but I also feel that digital has its place. I've argued this topic to death, so I'll make it simple. My feelings are that film and digital should be able to co-exist. .....

 

Post 5

 

Hey Bill,

 

The key ideas that I've offered, hoping for some response to, I don't know if they ever have been discussed on the forum. I never noticed them. If they have, just nudge me along by pointing to where. I do include some ideas that have come up before and may feel old, and I do express some of my feelings, which may feel similar. But, actually I am quite overtly taking this Film vs Digital comparison to another level. Those that believe the world is constructed only of what they can in the moment objectively see will think my proposition is gobledy gook. Those that acknowledge even the most basic hidden things or processes in nature may be curious.

 

I put the thread title as Film vs Digital, Impact on Art, Culture, Experience. My original tittle was longer, something about a comparison between the two. Too long to fit. The vs makes it seem like it's all about the conflict between these two media. Mostly I was interested in the comparison. But I know the conflict part is inevitable, and I have obvious feelings about that too.

 

You were one of the guys who I thought might respond to my idea or theme. My first thought was that you hadn't read me, but were responding to Matthew and Khaleem's debate. The ideas in their interaction are not central to the core of my idea. Yes, there is a good chance that all the old emotional fights can happen again here, but the core idea I offered was actually new. It could alter peoples perception of the comparison and suggest some left field ideas for the development of digital.

 

There is still time to respond before you wake up one morning and your parner has been replaced by a hybrid cyborg. Maybe you didn't read that one yet.

 

Hope all is well in NYC,

Gregg.

 

 

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Gregg, I honestly am not sure of what comparisons you were looking for. I can tell you what I feel are some differences (and I promise to stay on path of actual image differences instead of discussing the work ethic of those who shoot either way.)

 

The way I see it, the problem with digital was that it lacked resolution. Or this is what people thought. Not to mention 35mm had shallow depth of field and this give a "cinematic look."

MiniDV was blamed for being standard def which couldnt compete with films large capacity for detail. So RED fixed all of that by having a 4k camera (I say 4k loosely since engineers like Keith and electrical enthusiasts and computer scientists like myself realize that it isnt true 4k but some believe it so whatever) and a large sensor that could create a very thin depth of field.

 

However, people realized shortly that despite 4k (so called) resolution and shallow DOF that digital still looked inferior to film. So then came the talk of how digital could reach film's unique quality by adding the dynamic range of film. So you have the EPIC which claims over 14 stops of latitude and the Alexa which varies by test but is somewhere around 14.5 stops of latitude. Supposedly Vision2 stock was around 14.3- 14.7 stops. Despite the so-called similar latitude, film still has a look that digital cant accomplish,

 

But with each obstacle the digital achieves, people still perpetuate the myth that film is dead and that digital is better. But yet you still notice the discontent in people who shoot digital as they still crave for that true film look. They want it and they want it bad. What's not to want? I camera that can make film beautiful images digitally with the cheaper and more convenient workflow and shoot it as much as you want! I wish I had such a thing...however

 

This is unlikely to happen. Yes, digital will continue to get better but it will have a unique look that will not mimick films unique look. The look of film is going to be something people will have to lose and give up on if they abandon film. There is something special about film. Its got a "haze" about it that takes you out of this world and puts you into somewhere different. A timeless state that is the same now as it was in 1950. Its like living in a heavenly abode that looks similar to our world but different enough to amaze us. Digital doesnt have that effect. Digital at its best is like looking at extremely pretty reality. Its pretty but its too familiar. Its too real. It doesnt take us to that place of escape. It just reinforces our reality.

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Let the sprawl begin!.......

 

Just saying ... um, I guess - hrrrrm

 

I'm glad someone else around here has a sense of humour. So a "sprawl" would be a fight or brawl that you can do while horizontal, perhaps while skimming the www ? Or a "sprawl" is like a multi directional divergence from topic start, like spilling a can of paint? I'm not sure I'm signing on for either of these personally. We'll see.

 

I'll follow those links in an extended jiffy.

 

Is there any refference for that "just saying" sign off? Did you go and read some of that 48hours forum i pointed to. That chap never actually said a darn thing. He and pals normally filled their thread with short nonsense that looked like Bevis and Buthead on nitous oxide.

 

 

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I'm rather late to this party, and there some good points have definitely been made already. I could be considered a "film guy," since I've shot pretty exclusively on film for the last four years, but I started off as a computer/tech nerd. I switched to shooting on film when I realized that it was easiest and best for the way I wanted to realize narrative imagery, and was the best fit for my ideal creative process.

 

I believe that the tools artists use shapes their creative process, and filmmaking is no exception. I think the greatest loss if film is no longer viable will be the loss of direct movie-making tools. Case in point: I own an Eclair ACL, which is around a 40-year-old camera design, and it's about as simple to use as a movie camera could be. Because I've been using it for a few years, I know exactly how it behaves; I can rely on its consistency. The same is true of photographic emulsion - I can simply load a roll and start shooting, and know how it will look after it's been processed.

 

Video technology is lacking in these respects. Camera behavior changes from one software update to the next, and more new camera models come out every year. Will there be a digital camera I can rely upon for 40 years? Likewise, for video imagery that quantifiably approaches the characteristics of film at this point in time, it has to be shot with grading in mind.

 

Without that direct connection with the medium and the process, I feel that there's less room for the creative aspect, and thus less opportunity for artistic inspiration to strike. Further, without the penalty that wasted film footage incurs, the creative process becomes less decisive and less committed to achieving an artistic goal than ever before. For my own part, I want to take risks and commit to my creative choices, and current digital working methods are less conducive to that.

 

Will digital tools become more streamlined in the future? I hope so. I don't see why people feel like they have to take sides. If someone is creatively inspired by their medium of choice, that's wonderful. But there's no need for anyone to denigrate mine.

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Just make stuff, no one cares about the format. No average person comes out of Skyfall going 'wow that Alexa was fantastic!' which also for the sake of these arguments has been a very well received/high grossing movie and it was also beautifully shot. And what I find astounding with some of the opinions here is that we can't agree on the fact (be it film or digital) if someone is gonna get good at this craft, they're going to get good at it. How can you question that? Do you think suddenly because digital is around that people will not master something? It's a ridiculous point to argue against.

 

Give an average person with no film experience who wants to make movies a Millenium XL and some Kodak 5219 and you'll end up with crap, give a handycam to a brilliant director and it'll still be far more watchable. The director perfected the craft, like anything this artform takes time & practise. Just like writing, everyone has a pencil but we don't see Shakespeare everywhere.

 

If you have the option to shoot film, then shoot it, but a lot of people are getting into filmmaking via digital who probably couldn't afford film when it was around and some of them will probably go on to have very prosperous and talented careers.

 

And the fact about the 200 years thing, well how much art has really lasted from 200 years ago? How much film will we be restored even today (which we can)? Most probably the classics and even then, it's questionable. And that's the same with digital, the digital classic films will be restored in the future (and they will be everywhere too) and how much of the crap that we make will deserve a restoration? Probably not that much in the end.

 

Just go out and shoot, I'm sick of the elitist notion of the industry that's scared by the amount of people out there. Time and dedication are something that shooting on film requires cause you're chewing through $$, but there are numerous other ways to become skillful and people will do it in digital filmmaking regardless of what you think. Data is the future and soon the new generation will enjoy movies through the cloud, times are changing and we have to adapt.

 

I've also shot with 16mm film and had great experiences with 35mm, but all I can really stress is to accept what's happening and keep making movies.

Edited by Marcus Joseph
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Gregg, I honestly am not sure of what comparisons you were looking for. ......

 

Me personally I already found a comparison that really interests and concerns me. It's clearly offered at the start of the thread, then expanded on a bit later. If someone has ideas as a direct response to that I would find that interesting. But the topic "sprawl" is inevitable, and people are free to do whatever they want unless they get ugly and over personal, in which case I suggest they be completely ignored. There are things in your posts I'd like to chat about but I can't be in too may places at once without loosing focus on the idea that brought me here.

 

Did you enjoy any of the jokes? I thought ACHE (art, culture and human experience) was pretty good. But Chris did better with "sprawl", perhaps by accident. Too obscure? I don't know why, but over the last few days, in the face of some serious thoughts, including this thread, I've had inexplicable, obscure, humorous ideas and fits of laughter.

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@ Marcus.

 

Honestly, your analogy about Skyfall (yes, i realized that I brought it up) is still not an indicator of what to expect from future digital DPs who "knew not film" so to speak. We see some decent looking imagery coming from the Alexa in the hands of veterans who learned their craft on film. What is not so clear or proven is whether we will see great things from "digital only" DPs who never learned the path of film. I'm not the first one to discuss how important it is to learn on film even if your intended result is digital. We dont know how Deakins, Mullin, and people of that variety that we hold so highly now would have been if they were out of the time that they were and put fresh faced 10 years into the future to learn a craft in a digital only workflow and time.

 

I still stand by the fact that when you treat impatience, conveniences, and bargain chasing as your main virtues, I dont see how good can come of that. And let's face it...that IS what this is about. Money, speed, and perceived ease of workflow. If Kodak magically came out with a product that looked as good as film but could self-process like a polaroid as well as having inexpensive telecine units that could be connected to your firewire or USB port to scan footage quick and easy with no one else in the chain and said film was as cheap as HDCAM tapestock, my God, people would be all over it. I know I would.

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sprawl:

 

no fun intended

 

:lol:

 

I did read a bit of the 48hour forum but I started to lag a bit - my head at the moment is right into coding a digital video effect plug-in - something that using an 'analog' system could theoretically be done, but in reality is next to impossible... I'll post results in a decade (progress = learning = slow).

 

You might be interested to know I used to be the guy in the lighting booth of the Civic that had the misfortune of hitting play on Ant Timpsons collection of mini-DV cameras for all the Auckland 48hour final screenings - did it for about 5 years, so for that time I'd seen them all. The state some of those tapes turned up in ! Of course it was always my fault the sound/picture was bad :rolleyes:. I was a human audio compressor/limiter, if anything just to save my own eardrums from the glitches.

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There is still time to respond before you wake up one morning and your parner has been replaced by a hybrid cyborg. Maybe you didn't read that one yet.

 

Hope all is well in NYC,

Gregg.

 

Thanks, Gregg. Things are slowly getting back to normal, here.

 

My apologies for not responding to your post(s.) I've had a lot going on as of late, but I will get back to you (either here or via PM.) And yes, I've only read two of your posts. But I have a lot of theories on all of this that reach far beyond media.

 

Will get back to you soon. Thanks.

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I did read a bit of the 48hour forum .....my head at the moment is right into coding a digital video effect plug-in..... I'll post results in a decade (progress = learning = slow).

 

You might be interested to know I used to be the guy in the lighting booth of the Civic that had the misfortune of hitting play on Ant Timpsons collection of mini-DV cameras for all the Auckland 48hour final screenings - did it for about 5 years.....

 

 

 

Post 4-1/4 (a bit like the train station in Harry Potter)

 

Chris,

You poor chap. Having to endure 5 years of that. I have no connection with them other than trying to provoke some vigorous, serious debate in their small cotton wool universe. I pulled my head out of the sand (1) a couple of years ago, looked at some kiwi shorts in the Int Film Fest and felt no real progress had occuered over the 17 years that I had been avoiding them. Films were less formally adventurous, sort of normalized. Similar feeling about the (seemed to me) reduced intensity of the core creative values in the ideas. About half were shot on film.

 

I looked around to see what shape the creative sub culture of grass roots or emergent film makers was in. Did they communicate and help each other? All I found was this large perenial thing on the 48hour forum. I thoght this contest and the culture that has grown with it was a very bounding, limiting thing. Of almost no value at all as far as enabling the emergence of exquisite talent or exquisite little films. But the city walls are well defended, and inside all the space is taken up with the most inane short, self congratulatory bable. Endless variants of Bevis and Buthead on nitrous oxide.

 

I think if that culture can't somehow grow a limb that encourages these more exquisite qualities that I missed seeing then IMHO it desrves to fail, dissapear or just own up to the fact of becoming "white noise", irrelevant to anything except affirming film making as a fun social exercise and achance to learn some basic skills. Again, my condolences on having spent 5 years of palpable conract with them.

 

I have a 10 year project like that, but not to do with moving pictures.

 

(1) Any mean folk can enjoy the obvious oportunity for a joke at my expense.

 

Must be time for Matthew to point out how far off topic I have strayed.

Edited by Gregg MacPherson
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Post 6

 

Freya on the "Is 3D really here to stay" thread pointed out this BBC report on 8K.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/click_online/9774380.stm

 

Pasting here some of my response on that thread. I'd like to write more later.

 

Without a whimper from the human population this will be fed to us as a kind of ultimate refinement. The human eye can't resolve finer than that etc. I think this is rubbish. It represents a sort of, perhaps ultimate particularization, in terms of the fine objective value of the image, but ignores finer values of perception and the value of whatever we are able to ingest through the eyes without being literally or objectively aware of it. To do with that, or taking it further, it's as if ignoring the sophistication of the human eye and nervous system.

 

Simply adding more pixels is a simplistic approach to refining the image. What value is there in using a computer to simulate or interpolate in order to turn those crude discrete signals into something akin to an image from a piece of film, or worse, a real object ? (rhetorical question). The engineer in the interview had a faint glow, as though he had just quietly cured cancer. Sad and ironic.

 

 

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The value is in the eye of the beholder...

 

Value not only in the image seen, but also in the value of the values of the viewer.

 

If you subject 'any bloke off the street' to a blind-comparision (not the best of terms :lol:) of video vs. film or to throw it in the mix also: film that was chemical from acquisition through to presentation vs. a process involving a DI - then get back indeterminate or results contradictory to your expectations then where do you stand but on your own two feet?

 

i.e. where you always have.

 

Our senses do have limits, it's impossible to prove they don't without appealing to some kind of metaphysical clairvoyance - or this that what you're saying all along ?

 

And if so, why are discrete signals 'crude' ? Would you disregard some kind of poetic response from someone so attuned ? (that wasn't in marketing that is :rolleyes:)

 

Anyhoo, yeh so my mother recently 'upgraded' her TV in Auckland to HD - something they call freeview, which of course, costed her. To her eyes, the HD is completely wasted. I cant even begin to explain why there are black bars around both the top, bottoms and sides (I know why, but to get into it... sheesh, I may as well just watch Shortland St (kill myself))

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@ Marcus.

 

Honestly, your analogy about Skyfall (yes, i realized that I brought it up) is still not an indicator of what to expect from future digital DPs who "knew not film" so to speak. We see some decent looking imagery coming from the Alexa in the hands of veterans who learned their craft on film. What is not so clear or proven is whether we will see great things from "digital only" DPs who never learned the path of film. I'm not the first one to discuss how important it is to learn on film even if your intended result is digital. We dont know how Deakins, Mullin, and people of that variety that we hold so highly now would have been if they were out of the time that they were and put fresh faced 10 years into the future to learn a craft in a digital only workflow and time.

 

I still stand by the fact that when you treat impatience, conveniences, and bargain chasing as your main virtues, I dont see how good can come of that. And let's face it...that IS what this is about. Money, speed, and perceived ease of workflow. If Kodak magically came out with a product that looked as good as film but could self-process like a polaroid as well as having inexpensive telecine units that could be connected to your firewire or USB port to scan footage quick and easy with no one else in the chain and said film was as cheap as HDCAM tapestock, my God, people would be all over it. I know I would.

 

Being able to light well technically and creatively is of importance. Not whether something is shot on film or digital. The value is understandable, however after awhile it becomes grossly exaggerated. Especially when film is becoming more and more technically outdated and is primarily an aesthetic at this point.

 

The impatience factors are more of a current generational thing though. The need for instant gratification is all over the place.

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Kahleem, I find it amazing that out of everyone here who has said anything pro film, you only reply to me.

 

However, let me quote my good friend Adrian Sierkowski from another thread where he (as both a digital and film shooter) said "You are always going to shoot more digital footage than film no matter how careful you are. There is a knowledge that money is running through the camera" or something to that effect. I apoligize if I misquoted him but the sentiment was there.

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The value is in the eye of the beholder...

If you subject 'any bloke off the street' to a blind-comparision (not the best of terms :lol:).....

Our senses do have limits, it's impossible to prove they don't without appealing to some kind of metaphysical clairvoyance ....

And if so, why are discrete signals 'crude' ? Would you disregard some kind of poetic response from someone so attuned ?....

... sheesh, I may as well just watch Shortland St (kill myself))

 

Post 7

 

Ok, fair cop, overuse of the word value there. Normally I mean value as an engineer might. For example the number of unique signals per unit area on a sensor is a relatively low number value. The number of unique signals per unit area from the human retina is a relatively high number value. Just while we are here, that is one of my reasons for my calling the signal from an individual pixel "crude".

 

More on value. If we talk about the fine objective value of the image we could (did) refer to the pixel size. If we talk about the finer values of perception, we are edging beyond objective or conscious seeing, more on that in a moment. If we talk about the value of whatever we are able to ingest through our eyes subconsciously, we are pointing to the useful value of it, the usefulness of it. And I am pointing to that useful value, or provoking awareness of it because digital technology is basically ignoring it. As I said before, a vast and sophisticated stream of information stops at the sensor and becomes a "crude", oversimplified trickle. What I think of as the over-objectified global mindset, lacking a sense of wholeness or lacking in what should be just common sense, has enabled this. Now digital technology could further culture the weakening or disablement of our more refined perception. This affects art, culture (popular art, moving pictures) and obviously, human experience in general.....

 

The limits of our sense perception. Momentarily, for a given or specific physiology, there are measurable limits to conscious visual perception. There may be physical factors creating these limits. There are certainly cultural factors and conditioning that create limits to sense perception. Our apparently objective view of the world through our eyes is not really an objective view but a conditioned view. There is far more information entering the eye than we bother to, or are able to, consciously see. Unlike a sensor, which discards almost all of this information (keeping just averaged values of intensity), all the photons arriving at the retina have a potential for interaction with light sensitive cells.

 

Most of the information from these incoming photons is not useful or acceptable for our conditioned style of seeing, but these interactions at the retina are still provoking activity in the neurophysiology, the brain. Lets call this something like "unconscious visual perception". Lets just make a leap of common sense and say that these "unconscious" layers of perception are an integral part of how we form finer layers of subjective awareness or feeling. And, dare I say it, evolve our sense of self and our sense of integration with the universe. Perhaps a good start point to think about art........

 

As said before, when we transcend boundaries the apparent functional laws can change. In physics this is the accepted common sense. We experience objectively, by consensus or conditioning, in a world governed by Newton's basic mechanics, in a one plus one equals two style. We also have layers of conscious subjective experience where commonly the whole is more than the sum of the parts. Meaning in a more wholistic style. A difficult concept if one has never.....fallen in love for example. Such a common experience actually.

 

By using an intuitive think on microscopic process in a photographic event we are using familiar concepts from physics as a start point. The description actually makes sense in a literal way without actually invoking the magical ideas of quantum mechanics. But those ideas, or the exotic flavoure of them, are a useful nudge toward what may be required for a deeper conscious appreciation of the model I'm offering. So in short, no serious metaphysics nor any sympathy for clairvoyance was required as my start point. I'm sure one could put this model in more spiritual terms, but in the modern world our style of experience and thinking is extremely objective. And about to get a lot worse if you accept my theme.

 

Can one make art with "crude discrete signals" ? Yes of course. While a thing can be considered to have any "value" - it could be art, dollars, we like or love it, a whole culture may love it......The critical useful value I am thinking about is how a wholesale shift to digital tech is going to condition our awareness, our ability to see, and compromise that. And compromise our ability to make art. The coolest piece of art I can think of using crude discrete signals was the piece I imagined Ronnie Van Hout having done years ago. An image photo-etched onto concrete, where you look closer and see it is composed of tiny rectangles mapped over the grain of the concrete.

 

Maybe we'll deal with your mother and the experiments on blind people later (cue laughs). Did you know..some people with no rods and cones still have the photosensitive ganglia cells, which do cool stuff, like sense the circadian rhythums (day/night/day.) and somehow enliven other functions in the brain.

 

I have only ever warched Shortland St for the time it took to change the channel. Although data speeds are a bit crap here, I am actually watching more online. Goodwife, Homeland, Boardwalk Empire, Sons of A, Downton Abey (I'm getting old) and some odd but cool quasi documentaries like Life on the Alaskan Frontier.

 

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The edit function disappears too fast for me. I wanted to edit, near the bottom of paragraph 3.

 

It reads:

"Unlike a sensor, which discards almost all of this information (keeping just averaged values of intensity), all the photons arriving at the retina have a potential for interaction with light sensitive cells."

 

It should read:

"Unlike a sensor, the pixels of which ignore everything but an averaged value of intensity, all the photons arriving at the retina have a potential for sophisticated interaction with light sensitive cells. A photon is tiny compared to a rod or cone."

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Gregg, I believe you touch on some good points. But I wanted to point out, although I know this is not new information, that film is about much more than the chemical process and even the look. It is about an approach to filmmaking that, I believe, is dying.

 

That approach is about discipline, dedication, mastery of one's work, and that unsettling drive to pursue greatness the first time around. Digital filmmaking is introducing a new paradigm that basically allows one to always let the cameras roll, ignore auditioning, attention to detail, and most other aspects of a controlled set because either 1) you can experiment and shoot more without consequence 2) there is this idea that you might catch something greater because the camera rolls more often 3) some even have the idea "you can fix it in post." Then again, the post idea even started to creep in with film but to a lesser degree, I believe.

 

Digital, in its quest to provide a pathway of entry, has done little outside of flood the market with lesser quality products. The barrier to entry of film seemed like an evil for some but it was a necessary evil. It permitted the dedicated and talented to rise to the top and the winner in the end was the end viewer. They didnt have the burden of sorting through thousands of low end films. Yes, there was always low budget stuff but the nature of film made those types of films easy to spot. Digital technology has allowed sleek presentations on the box with poor product on the disc. There is difficulty for the viewer to discern by looking at a box. In fact, many lower end digital features have greater artistry in their marketing concepts than in the finished product. Perhaps the filmmakers should switch careers and pursue marketing!

 

So I dont over run my time, I just want to sum up that I believe the demise of film brings with it the end of an age of discipline, dedication to quality, obsession with detail, passionate desire to get things right the first time, and the death of patience in this industry. When you hear of people editing on the set before the production is over, you know something is wrong. Time should be taken and care should be given to look at the overall vision and behold what you did in production. If the Director is involved in the editing process, he needs a chance to process in his/her mind what just happened and to regroup, even if only for a weekend, before he delves into editing decisions.

 

The implications for you working professionals is even worse, Im afriad. At least at the lower budget level. This is the first of the hammer falling. Soon filmmakers will cut you out if new technologies render you useless, and by useless, we arent talking about them getting the same quality as having you. No, they dont need as good of quality, only passable quality as enough to justify cutting you out of the chain. No different than film is being cut from the chain. Perhaps a studio boom stand with a long reach can replace a sound guy and any buffoon who can press a button can man the record and stop button to further automate processes that used to take skill. Ok, Ive said enough for now...would love to hear others thoughts.

 

Hey Matthew. Valid point. Just finished watching Side by Side the documentary about film vs digital http://sidebysidethemovie.com/ Hosted by Keanu Reeves. They had interviews with Chrisopher Nolan, Steven Soderbergh, James Cameron, David Lynch, Richard Linklater, Martin Scorsese, David Fincher and numerous other Directors and DP's giving their take on the whole Film vs Digital topic.

 

You know I was raised right in the cusp of Film and Digital. My first PA job was on a Target commercial, shot on 35mm directed by Albert Hughes. My first 6 yrs in the business I was working as a PA, Grip and 2nd AD where 70% perfect of all the work was on 35mm. Now it the last 6 years working as a 1st AD, Line Producer and Producer 95% of all I work on is on digital. There is a huge difference in disciple, prepping and atmosphere between being on a film set compared to a digital set.

 

The shame is that the majority of these new directors and "directors of photography" just don't know the bear essentials of photography. Can't remember the last time I saw a DP with a light meter or an AC measuring distance for focus marks. What ever happened to measuring your Key Light, Fill Light and Back Light? Everything is a given on digital. Nothing is earned. There is no evolutionary process.

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Jesus, I appreciate your honesty on the matter. Those who disagree with the difference in discipline have either A) worked with old school vets who have the old ways ingrained in them or B ) I question if theyve ever shot on film. I honestly have not seen the same disciline on a digital shoot ever. Not even once. Its too easy as humans to lax when you know you can.

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