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YOUNGER FOLK STILL WANT TO EMBRACE FILM


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There was a little lighting session today, mixing it up with digital cinema and 16mm film. In a few weeks the truth will be telling on whether the old film stock worked.

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ProstituteAmsterdam382014DanielD.TeoliJr

Amsterdam - De Wallen Project (Candid) 

Digital Photo:  D.D.Teoli Jr.

Sure, it is good to know a little about film, history and all that. But it is bad to shoot projects with film wondering if it will 'turn out' as we used to say.

If you want to be film specialist, then great. Maybe you will be one of the last film specialists left when they call for a film project. But don't be a slave to your ego. And by all means, don't ruin a project over your ego and infatuation with film. Film had its day...time to move on! 

Ego is a big problem with film fanatics. One film fanatic once said he would rather give up photography than leave film for digital if film was ever extinct. He is a film masturbator. I looked at his work. He produced your run of the mill garbage for photography. His pride was in 'shooting film' and not in making museum quality work with his photography.

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Nitrogen Burst Film Processor

DDTJRAC

I still work with millions of feet of film in the cine' film Archive. In the still photo Archive, I work with everything related to film. From half-frame 35mm to 8x10 sheet film and glass plates. And I worked with film for my own work for 3-1/2 decades. I also worked with film and silver imaging of all types in the wet darkroom for that time as well. 

But...I'm done with film, other than in the Archive. (OK, I miss the gas bust sound sometimes, but can do fine without it.) I'm 100% digital now. And stupendously happy with it! After you film nuts get your fill of film fiddling...move on to 2022 or even 2012.

The poor film photogs will go to any lengths NOT to get the picture. – Daniel D. Teoli Jr. (wordpress.com)

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Digital Photo:  D.D.Teoli Jr.

 

 

Edited by Daniel D. Teoli Jr.
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One other thing...

Do better with your still photography. I see a lot of cine' devotees do shitty still photography. It is more of an afterthought to them. Have a little pride in your still work even if it is not your main area.

Although still photography and cinematography are brothers and sisters, they are not identical twins. Even so, you can do better with your still work if you put in a smidgen more effort. You never know when some job may do a Google image search on you and your crappy still work pops up and they lose interest. Try only to sign you name to decent work you are proud to show. 

Good luck!

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"But it is bad to shoot projects with film wondering if it will 'turn out' as we used to say."

Perhaps I should clarify. Two retired cameras were serviced and some old expired stock was brought out as an experiential for younger folk and the actual doing of it, rather than a production as such. The purpose was to compare the two regimes, digital and film in a lighting exercise among a group of friends. 

The scene was lit to suit the sweet spots of the lenses of the film camera and the estimated ISO of the film stock which was between ten and twenty years old. The digital cinema camera was a Sony FS6. 

With competent practitioners working with film along its entire progression from aquisition through processing to viewing, there should be no doubt about the image "turning out". I concede that the risk chain of filmed image aquisition was greater.

However when it was mainstream, if everyone along the chain was doing their job, here was little more risk than a digital image file becoming corrupted or a drive laying down before the mandatory safety copies are made. 

"Have a little pride in your still work even if it is not your main area."

The late Aussie PM, Sir Robert Menzies once said, "Self-sufficiency is the first instinct of a proud man". As for still photography, those images were casual pickoffs with a phone camera whilst staying out of everyone's way. At age 74 and counting the mile-markers along the downslope, caring about future career progress is no longer a consideration. 

Yes. Digital is the way forward and certainly a lot of material wastage is eliminated. I possess, operate and enjoy a damaged Blackmagic Ursa 4.6K-EF, which I patched up from wrecks, so I am no stranger to digital imaging and embrace it. Modern digital post beats the hell out of sitting at a Steenbeck syncing film takes before one can even dream about cutting.

Film which was once a familiar tool is no longer affordable for me. 16mm in its Super16mm form as a workaday tool falls short of the image clarity digital audiences are becoming accustomed to. The former cost-barrier of film which tended to filter out some of the dross from commercial product is now missing. 

So we will see more sub-par digital audiovisual fillbelly for streaming. Those who can easily afford the indulgence of film at a hobby level will throw together some inferior work. The need to eat and pay the rent tends to sharpen one's competences in any field of endeavour.

However there is no harm in dwelling on the past whilst the tech is still available for folk to touch and feel. After all, people are still doing plate photography not because they should but because they want to and can. I was being a little self-deprecatory in a social media post about this before the event.

 

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4 hours ago, Robert Hart said:

16mm in its Super16mm form as a workaday tool falls short of the image clarity digital audiences are becoming accustomed to.

I don’t think that is entirely accurate with a good modern 4K scan. 
 

Edit: Not meaning to argue with you considering you’re a thousand times more correct than the other idiot in this thread, but I just thought I’d point out that the quality of the scan matters in that scenario.

Edited by Raymond Zrike
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I’d rather look at film images from Ukraine made with a spring driven Eyemo, even a few days later, than what’s delivered today along the electronic chain. One cameraperson who can keep the camera on a tripod, a monopod, placed on something, and who can set focus. Today we haven’t even lip-synch reports on the telly, from TV stations where there should be technicians. It’s not about fake news, it’s nothing useful at all.

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I am personally shooting film because I like the workflow and the mechanical nature of the cameras and that they can still be repaired even if being very old whereas broken video equipment, even current one, is useless and you have to buy new one.

The workflow and apparent restrictions of film origination affect storytelling quite much which, if used right, can make the end result better (more "focused and though through) than a similar short project made on video would have been. You have to choose the correct medium for the project though so one needs to be very experienced to be able to evaluate which is the correct way to do a project or if it is even necessary use both of the formats on a same project shooting different scenes with different formats.

I have shot tons of great material which would not have been possible to capture on film at all. But most of the film material could not have been made on video on the other hand without it having become dull and boring. You just have to make right choices from the beginning to be able to choose which working method is the best for the project. It is not a ego thing, it is just choosing the right point of view for your storytelling.

Film and digital are different kind of beasts and I think anyone should use both at least to some extent. it is like seeing the world through different kind of glasses, from different points of view

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A 4K scan of 16mm certainly looks fine as there are subtle elements of sharper image resolved across several frames that a 2K scan does not see. By "clarity audiences are becoming accustomed to", my opinion is that 4K display in cinemas is now the benchmark they are enjoying.

The not so recent film exhibition experience took a dip when cinemas kept their film projection lamps operating up until their olive-green coloured death. They did not bother with trimming focus through the initial heating cycle of the optical path or checking the horizon of the anamorphic display lens. Now cinema audiences have had something given back. 

I was a bit of a pest during a Sony product evening way back when HDCAM was being promoted. A statement was made about digital video having better resolution than film and I contradicted this in the Q and A session, suggesting that originators using film might think something different. The compromises of a 2K post-production pipeline hobbling 35mm film resolution were conceded. 

In the next few weeks I will be alone, shooting some interviews with an aviator in situations that a sync film camera and recorder simply would not be friendly for. I have shot one-man-band with a film camera and an analogue sound recorder. It can be done but with inevitable compromises.  With digital, the value-adding is in the flexibility and immediacy that film would require a crew and its impact to achieve. 

As for technical complexity, I prefer the film camera which except for the electronics I can keep serviceable myself. I can take a clockwork Bolex wrapped up in a sleeping bag into a remote area and forget about batteries. With the digital cinema camera, I always fret whether something is going to open up inside the electronic complexity somewhere and the camera may not wake up.

Ultimately what happens to the end-product shakes down to what the marketplace will bear. For now at least, it is a horses for courses thing. Deep austerity measures we will experience over the coming 25 years while governments redeem their war and pandemic debts. All entertainment will fall victim to the decline in the "discretionary spend". 

Finally my comments are an expression of personal opinion as were those of another respondent to my comments. I thank my fortune in living in a country where people can still express an opinion. 

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My two youngest sons (16 and 13) enjoy being on my current short film shoots with me. I have been teaching them how to use my Sekonic light meter and how that corresponds to the film speed and lens adjustments. While they get to pull the camera triggers (Bolex H16 REX and a Filmo 70 HR), I do the lens adjustments. They are fascinated with it and always want to come with me when I get to "do my hobby." 

I asked my 16 year old what his favorite part of the day was when I took him on a location shoot for my short film. His response made me smile, "Seeing you in your element. Doing what you love and sharing that with me." 

When my project is over, I have some expired film set aside in the freezer for the two to have hands-on learning and fun with.

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I've been looking at tons of online footage from digital cameras like the FX9, FX6, C300mkIII, C500mkII, Ursa G2, etc, for a while now as I have to choose a camera/system. I can really see now what these can do. I still much prefer the look of film. I think the top video cameras are great though and as Robert says in many situations they are clearly the best choice. But even with the best LUTs, plugins or whatever applied they still don't look as good as film to me. Even if I sit down in front of the TV flicking channels I can straight away see if something is shot on film. Film has a 'high-quality' look, to me. I always get up to double check, online, if my guess is a correct one (most of the time with a more recent movie you can find out what it was filmed on). Video still has that 'video' look. It's still an obvious difference even if the show is being broadcast at a lower definition than HD.

Anyway, that's my experience. That's how I see things. Shrug. Your mileage may differ. I just don't like the video look so much, even in top cinema release films.

I went to a film screening the other day of an Australian movie from the 70s, projected in 35mm. It looked really great. But I did come away from that being grateful that these days we have digital projection. The ideal look for me for a feature movie is to shoot on film and project as a DCP. I think the digital revolution is a good thing in many ways. But is it the death of film? I don't think so!!

 

 

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16 hours ago, Robert Hart said:

Yes. Digital is the way forward and certainly a lot of material wastage is eliminated.

I think you'd actually find that to not be the case. 

With film, you owned a camera for 40 years. Same body, same lenses, same everything really. 

With digital, you're buying new cameras every 3 - 6 years. You honestly have to, or you'd be left behind.

The camera manufacturers make millions of cameras every year and they aren't magically getting millions of new users. It's mostly the same users, just buying the newest trinket. So the waste with digital is actually far greater. Everything has lithium batteries which are currently not recyclable in the US (this is changing soon). You can't recycle the circuit boards or even mechanics of older cameras. They literally go into landfills. 

As we use digital tech increasingly, as the tech continues to be leap years better generation over generation, we will actually pollute the planet more with our digital tech than film honestly. We've just had well over 100 years of film and only what, 20 years at max with digital. 

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17 hours ago, Robert Hart said:

16mm in its Super16mm form as a workaday tool falls short of the image clarity digital audiences are becoming accustomed to. The former cost-barrier of film which tended to filter out some of the dross from commercial product is now missing. 

Eh, I mean if shot and graded properly it can look pretty good. It also looks NOTHING like digital. 
 

 

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One more thing on this topic.

I've heard film 'purists' being described as everything from "Old men screaming at the sky" to "Egotists" etc etc.

That's bull in my experience. It's the other way around. For goodness sake just accept that film and video comfortably co-exist. I do notice a trend for one side to seem to want to kill off the other. Film 'purists' don't want to kill off digital. But a lot of digital people seem to have an angry bee in their bonnet and want to do film in totally. And how very telling is that?

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27 minutes ago, Tyler Purcell said:

With film, you owned a camera for 40 years. Same body, same lenses, same everything really. 

With digital, you're buying new cameras every 3 - 6 years. You honestly have to, or you'd be left behind.

... So the waste with digital is actually far greater.

Spot on.

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"... you owned a camera for 40 years ..."

Yes, and then it went on to somebody else who cared for it and got it repaired and maintained it, and kept it and used it for many years more .... and so on. A bit like a good musical instrument, it didn't go into landfill after a few years. Not until it was absolutely worn out, which took time if it was an Arri or similar and couldn't be repaired any more.

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7 minutes ago, Jon O'Brien said:

Yes, and then it went on to somebody else who cared for it and got it repaired and maintained it, and kept it and used it for many years more .... and so on. A bit like a good musical instrument, it didn't go into landfill after a few years. Not until it was absolutely worn out, which took time if it was an Arri or similar and couldn't be repaired any more.

Exactly

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9 minutes ago, Jon O'Brien said:

One more thing on this topic.

I've heard film 'purists' being described as everything from "Old men screaming at the sky" to "Egotists" etc etc.

That's bull in my experience. It's the other way around. For goodness sake just accept that film and video comfortably co-exist. I do notice a trend for one side to seem to want to kill off the other. Film 'purists' don't want to kill off digital. But a lot of digital people seem to have an angry bee in their bonnet and want to do film in totally. And how very telling is that?

I think digital shooters tend to have a constant need to justify the new gear purchases they need to make every year to keep up to date and a part of that scheme is to say that anything old is always obsolete and useless... like someone would constantly be over their shoulder judging about them "wasting money on digital stuff for no reason" or something like that and thus they need to make a huge noise of their gear decisions being the absolute best in the world and everyone should follow their example 😄 . Part of that condition is telling everybody that any kind of old technology is useless, obsolete and dangerous to the environment whereas their cutting edge prosumer digital camera would somehow magically resolve all the World's problems including wars and energy crisis  and even feed the poor if people would just admit that it was the best decision in the world to purchase that new cool camera without criticizing it silently in their heads in any way 😄

I mean, why a person would not be allowed to go pick up a camera from the store and go shoot with it and be happy with it if they like the workflow and the end result? sometime later they may borrow another camera from a friend and shoot with it too and no one needs to even know if it was film or digital gear if the end result was nice and they were happy with it. OR a person may choose to gather a large collection of cameras, both old and new, and shoot with ALL of them because liking different workflows and end results (sounds like what I am trying to do most of the time 😄 ).

The issue is unhappy people coming to the perfectly happy camera person, saying that they should "throw that old s*** away and get yourself a proper camera, I will show you what exact camera kit you MUST buy to be a proper filmmaker" and then no one is happy anymore. And now someone planted this idea in their heads that nothing they currently have is ever enough to do anything properly and the only way to get forward in life is to throw all your old stuff to the garbage bin and purchase everything again every year "to stay current" or you will be doomed for all eternity and can as well burn your own camera because it "is useless for being old".

It is like saying that everyone should get a limousine as their primary car and brick all the other types of cars "because limousines are the only real cars around and everything else is useless garbage". I am pretty sure that for example a hunter or a maintenance person would prefer a proper pickup or any other style of car over a limousine if constantly driving dirt roads in the middle of nowhere in snowstorms and such 😄

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2 minutes ago, aapo lettinen said:

The issue is unhappy people coming to the perfectly happy camera person, saying that they should "throw that old s*** away and get yourself a proper camera, I will show you what exact camera kit you MUST buy to be a proper filmmaker" and then no one is happy anymore.

But that negates the technology advantages. 

My original pocket cameras are great, but nobody will accept 1080p anymore. I don't mind using them for my YouTube shows, but for any project I care about, I'd rather have a higher res image. 

There are a lot of features on more modern cameras, which are great to have as well. Are they required? Nope! But once you use them, it's hard to go back. This goes for both film cameras and digital cameras. Like we got a modern 35mm still camera recently and I was like "omg it has amazing auto focus" so now why would I use my Nikkormat? 

 

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4 hours ago, Jon O'Brien said:

The ideal look for me for a feature movie is to shoot on film and project as a DCP. I think the digital revolution is a good thing in many ways. But is it the death of film? I don't think so!!

Amen to that. I go to 35mm screenings all the time because for a lot of pre-2000s movies it’s the best way to see them, but for my own work, the digital intermediate is a godsend. Yes shooting film costs money, but many people don’t realize just how much we’re saving, and how much more control we’re afforded, with a modern day post workflow. In addition to that, the HD video tap is a wonderful invention that bridges the reliability gap between digital and film production. I have a feeling many of the older members of this forum who blindly dismiss modern-day 16/35 production have not shot with an HD tap! 

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2 hours ago, Jon O'Brien said:

I do notice a trend for one side to seem to want to kill off the other. Film 'purists' don't want to kill off digital. But a lot of digital people seem to have an angry bee in their bonnet and want to do film in totally.

Exactly. I’m as big a film fanatic as they come, and yet I pick digital for half my projects! They both can be beautiful—why dismiss either? Now I’m starting to sound like one of those tacky coexist bumper stickers.

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42 minutes ago, Tyler Purcell said:

Nothing better then seeing your stuff projected on 35. 

I bet that is the case. I would love it! We here in Australia tend to only see old, ageing prints when we do get to see film projected. I think DCP is a very good compromise. Ideally I'd love to see some more dedicated celluloid theatres in Australia. I'd also love it if more Australians really took up the cause for real film production much more than they do. They say it's about the cost but when you think about it cost is not the real reason. All film production ends up as expensive if you want quality. As for film processing the old saying is true: if you build it they will come. Where there's demand ...

Edited by Jon O'Brien
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The essence of course is that the successful practitioners are adaptable, can shoot with film or digital and have built the knowledge to choose the right tool for a particular purpose or aesthetic. They may not even own an industry level camera. They may well have the best common sense of the lot of us.

When the scientists have perfected the headset which taps into people's brains and the democracisation of filmdom is complete, there will still be masters of the realm. If we think we are overwhelmed with choice now, just imagine the amount of sheer dross which will be propagated in the future that we will have to filter through to find the rare gems after donning our AR headsets.

Then again, if Einstein's prediction is correct and we bomb ourselves back into the stone age, our motion picture experience could become walking with a handheld burning stick, head turned, blinking our eyes to animate a sequence of drawings along the cave wall.

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