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Alex Anstey

"The cinematographer of Knives Out wants to end the film-vs.-digital debate”

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6 hours ago, Robin R Probyn said:

and film sadly is on the way out .. its a shame for sure but who in their right mind is seriously arguing that its not happening...

It will continue to exist as a niche market. Now quit worrying so much about how we prefer to make our tea!

Edited by Ben Ericson

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Two moving images diverged in a creative decision. And I --- I took the one more arty. And that has made all the difference.

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It's a curious and, I find, somewhat amusing characteristic of the current era that often it is those who rail the most against some group or type with some imagined quality that is out of touch with the contemporary vibe or spirit are actually the ones who are doing the railing and the fist shaking. The other mob are often a lot more cool and just getting about their lives in a healthy way. And it's the railers who are doing the very thing they accuse the accused of. Quite amusing to see, and it's a rife phenomenon in the world right now. Oh people, look at thyselves in the mirror and seek ye thy common humanity. And then relax and enjoy your tea, because it's all good.

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6 hours ago, Satsuki Murashige said:

This is rather besides the point, as nobody can agree on what ‘good’ is. If this thread proves anything, it’s that most people would rather fight endlessly to defend the superiority of their own taste rather than just letting other people enjoy what they enjoy in peace.

Also, the camera wars punditry is ridiculous. You know that old saying about gym teachers? Well, turns out there’s a rung below that.

Yes totally agree and thats exactly my point all along .. .. I don't  believe one is better than the other, have never said that .. my response about "good" is a reaction to some of the film fans, constantly saying digital looks crap and is inferior to film.. seemingly in all ways .. they are letting their personal taste get in the way of reality ..  which is based on economics , which its films days are numbered .. 

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3 hours ago, Ben Ericson said:

 

It will continue to exist as a niche market. Now quit worrying so much about how we prefer to make our tea!

The making of tea is very important ..  it is the keystone of civilization .. yes it is already pretty much a niche market and I hope it can be one for many years .. but accountants will decide, not the local film club or even Chris Nolan..  how long it exists in a commercial form.. 

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19 hours ago, Phil Connolly said:

A move to film projection is really a step back why would that be a good thing?

In an era where you can get the same image quality at home then in the cinema, why bother going to the cinema? Digital is not the solution because as it's been said countless times, what's unique about one's and zero's? Convenience? 

19 hours ago, Phil Connolly said:

- Its expensive to master and produce prints. There is a greater environmental impact then digital files 

Cost is the #1 reason it's not done as much. If you could reduce cost (which has already happened for 35mm prints) then you can produce prints that serve the purpose and deliver high quality results, much better than the classic photochemical finish workflow. The idea would be to create special 70mm prints of certain releases (hopefully those originated on film, but not necessarily) and allow the theaters to store them for a certain amount of time so they can continue to run them even after the first run is over. This way it will help build micro libraries across the country and the world. 

19 hours ago, Phil Connolly said:

- Prints are heavy and expensive to ship, again worse for the environment then digital.

Oh yea and modern 70mm prints are pre-assembled on platters here in Valencia CA, where they're boxed up and shipped to theaters with platter systems. Change over prints come directly from Fotokem in most cases. 

19 hours ago, Phil Connolly said:

- On screen the quality of 35mm has been superseded by the current generation of digital projectors, 70mm is perhaps better better but that brings in even more costs to produce and ship.

What's another $30k for an IP and $3k per print on the back end of a big feature film? Making a run of 35mm prints is super easy, many labs can do it and the results are excellent, much higher quality than you'd think. Of course doing that with 70mm is the holy grail and that's the "tech" which is missing. If that could be solved, I think more studio's would jump on the bandwagon. It's a real shame Hateful Eight tried to do too much. I wish they had just used standard spherical 5 perf 70mm instead of anamorphic. I think they would have been more successful with the run. 

19 hours ago, Phil Connolly said:

- Limited number of venues that can show film, less then 100 for 70mm

 I mean honestly, the lockdown has showed all of us, there is no reason to have a cinema. We're getting first run at home, without having to do anything but pickup a remote control. What will drive people to the cinema? It's not the content because we already have it on the streaming platforms, so what is it? LIMAX? Nope. How about virtual reality, which is what IMAX is trying to do next? I'm sorry, nobody cares about that shit. What unique viewing experience is there, which can't be recreated at home? Maybe bring back a "classic" staple of cinema; the "road show" 70mm release? 50 theaters across the nation. The run would be 2 weeks before the standard theatrical run. It would be limited to one or two screens per cineplex and there would be the red carpet treatment. Make a "night at the movies" something special, not the same content, delivered the same way, that you can see at home. I argue that the 70mm prints would be longer than the theatrical release like what Quentin did with Hateful Eight. So the only way to see the "complete" cut would be on a 70mm print. 

19 hours ago, Phil Connolly said:

- Projecting film is more labour intensive 

I mean we've been doing it for over 100 years. I don't think there is anything unique about bringing in someone to run a film projector a few times a year. It keeps the projectors working and it keeps people trained on how to operate them so the knowledge doesn't disappear. 

19 hours ago, Phil Connolly said:

- Film gets damaged,

With Film Guard and a decent projectionist/equipment, 70mm prints usually last a long time. "Once upon a time in Hollywood' ran for months and I saw it 2 times, once at the beginning of the run and the last weekend and the print looked identical. No scratches, no dirt, no hairs, just a solid perfect projection, thanks to a Kinton projector. 😛

19 hours ago, Phil Connolly said:

Most cinemas trashed the prints, dirt scratches etc... Even happens on the 70mm expensive runs, the London 70mm print of the master was scratched pretty early in the run and thats at a supposed "west end" cinema with good facilities. 

Well yea, the program would include cleaning up equipment and replacing damaged prints. You can't just do it with the current tech. 

19 hours ago, Phil Connolly said:

Digital has brought consistency to cinema projection.

There is nothing unique about watching a digital cinema. The technology is available for home consumption. We have 10 bit 444 UHD Blu-Ray with 24 bit 7.1 DTS audio. We have laser 4k projectors. We have decent sound systems. Today, the average city dweller, has a TV that has a viewing angle/seat to screen position not much different than the cinema anyway. Getting 4k content is as easy as hitting one button on your remote control that says "Netflix". 

19 hours ago, Phil Connolly said:

I've seen Bladerunner projected on 35mm three 3 times and once on DLP - the DLP looked a thousand times better then the 35mm prints in circulation - which as times were more scratches then image. 

How can you compare to horribly worn antique prints to a fully restored digital version? We get at least 3 new films a year on film prints here in Hollywood. So I get to see the best of the best and a good print, with decent projection, looks nothing like an average digital projection. Sure there is a lot to be said about the new HDR formats and laser projection, but they aren't widely used yet, outside of LIMAX theaters. 

19 hours ago, Phil Connolly said:

Sure their is some hipster cool factor attached to film projection in the same way that vinyl is popular.

Hipster? Have you looked at the statistics? The artists make more money per sale on Vinyl than they do digital download. Film prints make the studios more money per seat because it's something special they can charge more for. When the print is worn out, then it ceases to exist, so you better catch it on film or you won't see it look that way ever again. It's not about "cool" its about a unique experience that not very many people get to have. That's why people go on vacations to strange and unusual places, not because it's a hipster thing to do, but because it's an "experience". People who collect film prints and play them at home, ok... you can call those people hipsters and I'll raise my hand on that one. I think it's cool to watch films from the 30's and 40's projected on film, the way they were intended. Does the BluRay look better than the 16mm prints? Sure it does, it's crisper and the audio is better. But is it an experience? No. It's not special at all. 

19 hours ago, Phil Connolly said:

Screenings sell well because Chris Nolan is good branding.... but 35mm at least isn't that good, its less practical, more expensive and usually looks like crap.

Ahh see that's where you're incorrect. There are many filmmakers who have joined the film print bandwagon. Where it's true, they're usually one-off screenings of "prized" prints, they do happen and they have done small single night, national runs in select cities. Heck even La La Land got a 35mm run that I couldn't even get tickets for. 

19 hours ago, Phil Connolly said:

Once you put laser projection or Dolby cinema into the mix its not even close in terms of quality.

Again, it's not about quality, its bout an experience. It's the same reason why rich people own classic cars, old boats or old houses. It's the same reason people own vinyl and reel to reel tapes. It's the same reason why people bother re-building and running steam trains. It's the "experience" of doing and/or seeing something unique. People lined up for nearly 1000 miles just to see Union Pacific's 4014 Big Boy run from Cheyenne to Los Angeles. Every few yards there was a person pulled over in a car watching a steam engine go by. Mind you, I see steam engines all the time, but it's the experience they're after. If you bring that uniqueness to the cinema and market it as such, you will get people to show up. Heck, the New Beverly cinema here in Los Angeles, which is a "film only" cinema, is generally sold out. I had to fight to get tickets to the 70mm screening of Vertigo not long ago, it was completely packed. Oh and the 2001 re-release, amazing, I sat right behind Tom Hanks and his wife. I mean experiences bro, those people came out to see the film print. 

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16 hours ago, Robin R Probyn said:

in fact its the film zealots  who are claiming one technology is vastly better than the other .. not I sir  .. the defense will now rest your honor .. 

As someone who shoots both film and digital on a regular basis, using the best pin-registered scanning technology AND has all the tools from DaVinci Resolve through 4k 10 bit 444 17:9 grading monitor, I can tell you right now, film is STILL a better format. Why? Because I buy a camera for life. I make one investment and when I die, the camera lives on. With digital, you're constantly being forced to upgrade and in 10 years what you're using now, will be worthless garbage that will be crushed and thrown away when it breaks and can't be fixed. Because film has a remarkable and artistic feel to the image that is baked-in, there is no digital post processing. Because film still to this day, retains better highlights and I'm sorry, but people don't see in HDR. I'm staring at a dark section in my kitchen and I see black, not details. So fuck off with those bullshit hyper sensitive cameras and HDR capture technology, the human eye doesn't see that way. Film has over 14 stop's of latitude (9 of which are in the highlights alone) and with an HDR scan (which can capture all those stops) you can generate an image that is more "realistic" with perfect skin tones and contrast ratio from day one. No reason to re-work the image in post for months. 

Robin, the problem is that MOST cinematographers and even filmmakers, aren't colorists as well. They shoot the film and their assistants hand off the media to the DIT who hands off the media to the lab or client, who then edits it and eventually colors it. Sure, DP's are usually brought back in to go over final color, but that's after the colorist has spent a week pre-grading everything. Have you actually graded modern Vision 3 stocks and compared it to an Arri Alexa? I have. I mean, until you do it, until you actually have that experience, ya don't know. 

Also, last time I checked, this conversation isn't about what you do. A freelance videographer is for sure a pretty long way away from this conversation, especially someone living in Japan which is all about high-tech. 

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Believe me, there's not going to be a problem bringing back film projection to the occasional suburban or big city cinema. The number of uber-keen kids out there who love film, absolutely it is their dream, is huge. These young kids will be the vanguard of a whole new movement in bringing back cinema film projection (in selected theaters, of course). And dudes like me have the cameras and lens know-how to feed the cinemas. Calls accepted. Please speak to my secretary.

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My third-last post here is a play on words, from Robert Frost's The Road Not Taken. For me that would mean the Red and the Alexa. Thank you and, may I say, STAND OLD IVY!!!

They are cheering for film!

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2 minutes ago, Tyler Purcell said:

As someone who shoots both film and digital on a regular basis, using the best pin-registered scanning technology AND has all the tools from DaVinci Resolve through 4k 10 bit 444 17:9 grading monitor, I can tell you right now, film is STILL a better format. Why? Because I buy a camera for life. I make one investment and when I die, the camera lives on. With digital, you're constantly being forced to upgrade and in 10 years what you're using now, will be worthless garbage that will be crushed and thrown away when it breaks and can't be fixed. Because film has a remarkable and artistic feel to the image that is baked-in, there is no digital post processing. Because film still to this day, retains better highlights and I'm sorry, but people don't see in HDR. I'm staring at a dark section in my kitchen and I see black, not details. So **(obscenity removed)** off with those bullshit hyper sensitive cameras and HDR capture technology, the human eye doesn't see that way. Film has over 14 stop's of latitude (9 of which are in the highlights alone) and with an HDR scan (which can capture all those stops) you can generate an image that is more "realistic" with perfect skin tones and contrast ratio from day one. No reason to re-work the image in post for months. 

Robin, the problem is that MOST cinematographers and even filmmakers, aren't colorists as well. They shoot the film and their assistants hand off the media to the DIT who hands off the media to the lab or client, who then edits it and eventually colors it. Sure, DP's are usually brought back in to go over final color, but that's after the colorist has spent a week pre-grading everything. Have you actually graded modern Vision 3 stocks and compared it to an Arri Alexa? I have. I mean, until you do it, until you actually have that experience, ya don't know. 

Also, last time I checked, this conversation isn't about what you do. A freelance videographer is for sure a pretty long way away from this conversation, especially someone living in Japan which is all about high-tech. 

Yes I already said many times  film is long gone in the doc /corp market ..just a few posts ago I said its been dead for 30 years .. didn't you see that ?..how am I talking about myself ..  Im what I claim to be,    ...   .. .. as I said  film is only still used in features ,some commercials /high end tv dramas.. and thats great.. but I would argue ,and have done consistently that film is not "better" than Digital these days .. in the past for sure .. it looked pretty crappy on a big screen .. but not these days and I would say again..this is patently obvious to any DP . its an antiquated argument that film is better.. what you mean is its your personal; taste .. great  , but regardless of personal tastes the sheer economics will kill off film being used commercially .drum roll .. its cheaper ..it fits the work flow and distribution of the modern world .. new cameras are digital , cinemas are digital ... its just a plain fact .. 

 

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Posted (edited)
11 minutes ago, Robin R Probyn said:

sheer economics will kill off film

Sheer economics haven't killed steam engines. Most rebuilds cost upwards of a million dollars and need to be done every 1475hrs, yet again... there are 250 working steam engines in the UK and in the states, we have a hand-full of railroads that are 100% steam only. How the fuck is any of that "economical"? 

The hustle I have to work in order to make my movies on film, is an award-winning experience in of itself. However, in doing so, I've been able to shoot things on film for very little money and as a result, have very unique looking products. The teaser trailer I made for my most recent self-funded feature-length documentary 100% shot on film, has garnished me more work than any other film I've made. It's a teaser trailer for gosh sakes, but people really dig the look and feel. Could I have done that with digital? Maybe? I haven't really tried because honestly investing in digital cameras is suicide unless you're literally a "gun for hire" and are constantly working. So I only really own film cameras and for the record, if I wasn't busy doing post work, I'd be on most of the rentals my cameras go out on. I simply don't have the time to be on EVERY show that comes through my door, but like yourself, I created a niche market here in Hollywood and it's paying off. Even if nobody ever rented my cameras, I'd still shoot exclusively on film because ANYONE can shoot on a digital camera and I don't want to be like everyone else, that's boring. Sure, people are paying attention to the story, but its a visual medium, they're mostly paying attention to what they're seeing. 

This is part of my new series about filmmakers who exclusively shoot on film. Of course, shot entirely on film. 😛

 

Edited by Tyler Purcell
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27 minutes ago, Tyler Purcell said:

Sheer economics haven't killed steam engines. Most rebuilds cost upwards of a million dollars and need to be done every 1475hrs, yet again... there are 250 working steam engines in the UK and in the states, we have a hand-full of railroads that are 100% steam only. How the **(obscenity removed)** is any of that "economical"? 

The hustle I have to work in order to make my movies on film, is an award-winning experience in of itself. However, in doing so, I've been able to shoot things on film for very little money and as a result, have very unique looking products. The teaser trailer I made for my most recent self-funded feature-length documentary 100% shot on film, has garnished me more work than any other film I've made. It's a teaser trailer for gosh sakes, but people really dig the look and feel. Could I have done that with digital? Maybe? I haven't really tried because honestly investing in digital cameras is suicide unless you're literally a "gun for hire" and are constantly working. So I only really own film cameras and for the record, if I wasn't busy doing post work, I'd be on most of the rentals my cameras go out on. I simply don't have the time to be on EVERY show that comes through my door, but like yourself, I created a niche market here in Hollywood and it's paying off. Even if nobody ever rented my cameras, I'd still shoot exclusively on film because ANYONE can shoot on a digital camera and I don't want to be like everyone else, that's boring. Sure, people are paying attention to the story, but its a visual medium, they're mostly paying attention to what they're seeing. 

This is part of my new series about filmmakers who exclusively shoot on film. Of course, shot entirely on film. 😛

 

"Sheer economics haven't killed steam engines. Most rebuilds cost upwards of a million dollars and need to be done every 1475hrs, yet again... there are 250 working steam engines in the UK and in the states, we have a hand-full of railroads that are 100% steam only. How the **(obscenity removed)** is any of that "economical"? "

Thats exactly the point .. and how many are actually moving passengers and freight commercially .. in the UK its zero ,except tourists and Im pretty sure the US is the same   ..  in the past it was 100% steam.. something cheaper came along .. steam died except for enthusiasts.. all power to them..  but the job of an engine driver or conductor or engineer or maintenance person.. but that job today, if I go to the job center with my CV showing my vast knowledge of steam engines ,will not get me the job  ... .. maybe we are talking at cross purposes here .. you are making your own films and all power and respect to you sir.. thats a tough road that few have the balls to do... . and sure, I hope there will be  some  amount of film made by some company .. and cameras will be maintained  and become collectable items .. super 8 is this world already .. but the main stream .. its pretty much already gone except as you say, the few, older big name directors that can insist on film, and producers who weigh up the box office returns and say ok..  but that will pass.. the days of big time DP,s insisting on film is already gone.. they either retire or shoot digital .. its going to happen .. thats my only point .. I don't see thats its a controversial topic..its very obviously happening now..  and  its not a disaster ,as digital is very bit as "good" these days anyway ..  films are not suddenly looking like shite.. well except for the 48fps hobit !..  they are only shite if the script, acting ,directing etc is shite .. 70mm film shot on a film camera  made by virgins in Switzerland ,will not save that movie.. 
 

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21 hours ago, Robin R Probyn said:

but the main stream .. its pretty much already gone except as you say, the few, older big name directors that can insist on film, and producers who weigh up the box office returns and say ok..  but that will pass.. the days of big time DP,s insisting on film is already gone..

Kodak's business was never OCN, it was always print stock. Since that business died, one could say the reduction in OCN manufacturing hasn't had much impact on the business. I can still get film same day here in Hollywood from not just Kodak but two different vendors. We also have 3 labs in LA alone, the US has a dozen commercial labs now. 

There are more younger directors shooting on film than older one's. WAY MORE. In fact, from just the people I work with, the "film" movement is MOSTLY young people. 

Box office will always be high for movies shot on film. The faces change, but the format doesn't. 

The days of directors and DP's insisting on film is increasing again. Now of course, there is a lot of mixed format stuff going on these days, with digital being used for night cinematography and film for day, but still never the less, people request it and from my personal experiences, it seems like things are getting busier not slowing down. My personal film business has exploded since 2018 and I'm one guy in a garage. 

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10 minutes ago, Stuart Brereton said:

So Robin is not allowed to have an opinion? There are many things you know little or nothing about, but it’s never stopped you from mouthing off.

no problem ..I think we were talking at cross purposes .. I was talking about the main stream in general .. which is undoubtedly going Digital.. Tyler was talking about the more niche world of shooting film for shorts or indies  and  people like himself that often shoot their own projects .. all power to them .. but still without being a feature film DP myself,  it plain to see Digital taking over purely on lower cost ,work flow, effects heavy, and projection /distribution in the modern era of the business...  

I might be in the gutter but Im looking at the stars ..  clutching my Fx9 to my heart .. 

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, Tyler Purcell said:

Kodak's business was never OCN, it was always print stock. Since that business died, one could say the reduction in OCN manufacturing hasn't had much impact on the business. I can still get film same day here in Hollywood from not just Kodak but two different vendors. We also have 3 labs in LA alone, the US has a dozen commercial labs now. 

There are more younger directors shooting on film than older one's. WAY MORE. In fact, from just the people I work with, the "film" movement is MOSTLY young people. 

Box office will always be high for movies shot on film. The faces change, but the format doesn't. 

The days of directors and DP's insisting on film is increasing again. Now of course, there is a lot of mixed format stuff going on these days, with digital being used for night cinematography and film for day, but still never the less, people request it and from my personal experiences, it seems like things are getting busier not slowing down. My personal film business has exploded since 2018 and I'm one guy in a garage. 

Well best of luck sir .. but I think your standing on the beach trying to hold the tide back .. sure your niche world  of shorts and indies, low budget music videos will surviver longer ,but main stream big features , going to be 99.9% digital in next 10 years at the very least .. without a shadow of a doubt .. I'll bet all my videographers gear on it .. 🙂 

Edited by Robin R Probyn
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Not to relight this fire but...

This is a painting. I knew this painter quite well and was always taken aback by the detail. It looked real, like someone had printed a photograph. I one day asked 'Why don't you just take a photo' (I was very young), he responded 'Because people can feel the difference'. Now by know means am I comparing the amount of work it takes to paint this work of art (which I may add the painter very much disliked and was pretty much forced to sign) to the amount of work it takes to shoot film. However film does take more work than digital and for that reason alone I think people can feel a difference.

Now that may of been THE most wankiest pretentious statement I have ever made. Do note that I pretty much only shoot digital. One could argue the years of hard work Yedlin has put it in to make a digital negative look could be the same? Who knows.

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  As a former film and projection manager of a 16 screen movie theatre for six years:

On 7/25/2020 at 11:52 PM, Tyler Purcell said:

The idea would be to create special 70mm prints of certain releases (hopefully those originated on film, but not necessarily) and allow the theaters to store them for a certain amount of time so they can continue to run them even after the first run is over. This way it will help build micro libraries across the country and the world.

Before we went digital, we barely had the room for the 35 prints that came in. Empty space is valuable for a theatre; ours was specifically designed for mass volumes of concession, restroom, and office items all of which were still overflowing into our projection booth because we simply needed more room for those inventories. Film cans had a specific area, and that wasn't enough, while most platters were filled up quickly with the movies we were showing. (IE four prints of Dark Knight plus multiples of over movies playing). Outside of licensing reasons, we could never properly store prints for the long run because that space would already be taken up by the inventories above and we had no way to properly control our climate for long term storage of film.

It was nearly impractical for theatres to do this on 35mm, let alone 70mm.

On 7/25/2020 at 11:52 PM, Tyler Purcell said:

Oh yea and modern 70mm prints are pre-assembled on platters here in Valencia CA, where they're boxed up and shipped to theaters with platter systems.

The IMAX theatre my company owned did not receive any per-assembled prints. I can't speak to 70mm, per say, but IMAX doesn't ship pre-made prints for new releases. (Though, if I remember, we did ship the assembled prints back)

On 7/25/2020 at 2:51 AM, Phil Connolly said:

70mm is perhaps better better but that brings in even more costs to produce and ship.

Before the digital change over, theatres were almost exclusively 35. Converting those heads to 70mm is costly, let alone the entire system needed for 70mm. These companies already shelled out millions for the digital conversion, it's unlikely they'd do the same for niche 70mm screenings (especially given COVID).

On 7/25/2020 at 11:52 PM, Tyler Purcell said:

Where it's true, they're usually one-off screenings of "prized" prints, they do happen and they have done small single night, national runs in select cities. Heck even La La Land got a 35mm run that I couldn't even get tickets for. 

and

On 7/26/2020 at 12:33 AM, Jon O'Brien said:

Believe me, there's not going to be a problem bringing back film projection to the occasional suburban or big city cinema. The number of uber-keen kids out there who love film, absolutely it is their dream, is huge.

Completely agree that those special screenings are one of a kind (I saw 2001 at the Cinerama and Casablanca at Music Box), but those kinds of screenings don't scale up economically to convert theatres back to film or even offer one auditorium to show on film. Space is valuable and, again given COVID, theatres will be severely tightening up their belts now...more than they already were for the past ten years.

On 7/25/2020 at 11:52 PM, Tyler Purcell said:

With Film Guard and a decent projectionist/equipment, 70mm prints usually last a long time.

Decent projectionists were hard to come by when I was a projectionist and they're even harder now.

I've got a jar full of about 5 years of lab splices I've removed from prints (I think it's almost a thousand frames?) and I remember receiving the occasional reel with massive discoloration from the lab and had to reluctantly show the bad quality reel while we waited for Technicolor/Deluxe to ship the replacement reel.

To add insult to injury, we would get prints other theatres had and those films were in horrendous shape; scratches, missing seconds, etc. We had a print delivered for Zemeckis's A Christmas Carol that had almost 100 feet of destroyed sprockets on the second reel that I had to simply splice out. That shaved off a few seconds from the movie and was a noticeable jump cut. Phoned Technicolor and they sent a replacement reel in a week. That's a week of awful presentation.

I never had those issues when we converted to digital.

---

Unrelated to movie theatres:

8 hours ago, Robin R Probyn said:

I might be in the gutter but Im looking at the stars ..  clutching my Fx9 to my heart .. 

Don't talk like that! One of the features I shot was on the FS7, it looked great, and made money which made the producer very happy. You're a cinematographer (or Directory of Photography, idk Storraro doesn't like this title but whatever floats your boat!)

A camera is a camera...a knife a knife...a brush a brush...

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10 hours ago, Robin R Probyn said:

I might be in the gutter but Im looking at the stars ..  clutching my Fx9 to my heart .. 


Almost a haiku. I think you are becoming more Japanese, Robin. Seriously though, I think you left out the part where your gutter is lined with yen! 

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14 hours ago, Robin R Probyn said:

Tyler was talking about the more niche world of shooting film for shorts or indies  and  people like himself that often shoot their own projects .. all power to them

My entire world revolves around niche markets and if you went to a random "filmmaker" on the street, I bet they'd fall somewhere in the same line as myself.  YouTube alone has 300 hours of content uploaded every minute! I bet if you calculated every union shoot in the entire world, you'd not even get close to 300 hrs of content shot in a 12hr "union" day. 

Don't pick on those niche filmmakers, you'd be SHOCKED how many eyes they get on content. Heck, my cosplay YouTube channel, all shot with my "niche market" equipment, with no crew and hastily assembled, has nearly 3 million views. Imagine being the owner of all your content and controlling what is being seen from initial capture through distribution? Some of those niche filmmakers have 20 million subscribers, with each video averaging 5 - 10 million unique views. That's an absolutely mind blowing success story, even if they make zero dollars. 

See, that's the difference between you and me Robin. I'm not a filmmaker because it's the only skill I have to make money. I'm a filmmaker because it's my passion. I don't shoot on film because it's convenient, I shoot on film because I like the entire process, to me it's more enjoyable and the aesthetic it delivers is in my opinion, unrivaled. It makes my content stand out in a crowd and I know what I shoot is a permanent record, not something that's easily deletable/lost, like digital. I can't tell you how many digital shows I've lost, it's insane. At least with film, the big bulky boxes are hard to lose. 

I'm also not anti-digital at all. It's great for programming that has no long-term value like commercials, educational/industrial films and non-scripted/multicam TV. I would never roll film on those types of programming, waste of celluloid. 

15 hours ago, Robin R Probyn said:

Digital taking over purely on lower cost ,work flow, effects heavy, and projection /distribution in the modern era of the business...  

Film died Robin, it already happened. December 2013 was the end of it. Kodak filed for bankruptcy. The theaters stopped projecting film. Rental houses dumped their film cameras. The two world-wide lab companies Deluxe and Technicolor closed all their labs. IMAX was bought out and went from a quality format to a profit driven format. Nearly all of the films released in 2014 were digital. 

Then something happened. Everyone kinda looked at what was being made and went, hmmm it all looks the same. What can we do to differentiate ourselves from the pack of Arri Alexa and Red Dragon movies? Well, that's when the film revolution started back up again. Christopher Nolan's very successful "Interstellar" release on 70mm both 5 perf and 15 perf, was eye opening. Since then, the total number of movies released theatrically every year, 50% or more originated on film, went from 20 to over 60. Warner Brothers made a deal to start releasing key top box-office films on 5 perf 70mm for the first time in modern history after the format died in the 90's. I mean this all happened AFTER the death film. 

So when you say digital is going to  -as in the future- take over, that already happened. What the people on the ground in the US and Europe are seeing, is a new movement of people wanting to shoot on film. 
 

15 hours ago, Robin R Probyn said:

but main stream big features , going to be 99.9% digital in next 10 years at the very least .. without a shadow of a doubt .. I'll bet all my videographers gear on it ..


With the upcoming global economic crisis and hyperinflation, I'd be surprised if anyone has any work, let alone cares what format they shoot on. Your prediction maybe completely accurate, but I'm more worried about jobs than format in that case. We will always be able to create and film will never go away. The moment our economy is back on its feet again and the money is flowing, film will come back just like it did a few short years ago. 

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6 hours ago, AJ Young said:

  As a former film and projection manager of a 16 screen movie theatre for six years:

Before we went digital, we barely had the room for the 35 prints that came in. Empty space is valuable for a theatre; ours was specifically designed for mass volumes of concession, restroom, and office items all of which were still overflowing into our projection booth because we simply needed more room for those inventories. Film cans had a specific area, and that wasn't enough, while most platters were filled up quickly with the movies we were showing. (IE four prints of Dark Knight plus multiples of over movies playing). Outside of licensing reasons, we could never properly store prints for the long run because that space would already be taken up by the inventories above and we had no way to properly control our climate for long term storage of film.

It was nearly impractical for theatres to do this on 35mm, let alone 70mm.

The IMAX theatre my company owned did not receive any per-assembled prints. I can't speak to 70mm, per say, but IMAX doesn't ship pre-made prints for new releases. (Though, if I remember, we did ship the assembled prints back)

Before the digital change over, theatres were almost exclusively 35. Converting those heads to 70mm is costly, let alone the entire system needed for 70mm. These companies already shelled out millions for the digital conversion, it's unlikely they'd do the same for niche 70mm screenings (especially given COVID).

and

Completely agree that those special screenings are one of a kind (I saw 2001 at the Cinerama and Casablanca at Music Box), but those kinds of screenings don't scale up economically to convert theatres back to film or even offer one auditorium to show on film. Space is valuable and, again given COVID, theatres will be severely tightening up their belts now...more than they already were for the past ten years.

Decent projectionists were hard to come by when I was a projectionist and they're even harder now.

I've got a jar full of about 5 years of lab splices I've removed from prints (I think it's almost a thousand frames?) and I remember receiving the occasional reel with massive discoloration from the lab and had to reluctantly show the bad quality reel while we waited for Technicolor/Deluxe to ship the replacement reel.

To add insult to injury, we would get prints other theatres had and those films were in horrendous shape; scratches, missing seconds, etc. We had a print delivered for Zemeckis's A Christmas Carol that had almost 100 feet of destroyed sprockets on the second reel that I had to simply splice out. That shaved off a few seconds from the movie and was a noticeable jump cut. Phoned Technicolor and they sent a replacement reel in a week. That's a week of awful presentation.

I never had those issues when we converted to digital.

---

Unrelated to movie theatres:

Don't talk like that! One of the features I shot was on the FS7, it looked great, and made money which made the producer very happy. You're a cinematographer (or Directory of Photography, idk Storraro doesn't like this title but whatever floats your boat!)

A camera is a camera...a knife a knife...a brush a brush...

By some weird alining of the stars I was talking g about this just yesterday with a mate .. neither of us could understand by the Maestro didn't like DoP..   you should try the fx9 sir .. all that new FF sensor loveliness ..

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3 minutes ago, Tyler Purcell said:

My entire world revolves around niche markets and if you went to a random "filmmaker" on the street, I bet they'd fall somewhere in the same line as myself.  YouTube alone has 300 hours of content uploaded every minute! I bet if you calculated every union shoot in the entire world, you'd not even get close to 300 hrs of content shot in a 12hr "union" day. 

Don't pick on those niche filmmakers, you'd be SHOCKED how many eyes they get on content. Heck, my cosplay YouTube channel, all shot with my "niche market" equipment, with no crew and hastily assembled, has nearly 3 million views. Imagine being the owner of all your content and controlling what is being seen from initial capture through distribution? Some of those niche filmmakers have 20 million subscribers, with each video averaging 5 - 10 million unique views. That's an absolutely mind blowing success story, even if they make zero dollars. 

See, that's the difference between you and me Robin. I'm not a filmmaker because it's the only skill I have to make money. I'm a filmmaker because it's my passion. I don't shoot on film because it's convenient, I shoot on film because I like the entire process, to me it's more enjoyable and the aesthetic it delivers is in my opinion, unrivaled. It makes my content stand out in a crowd and I know what I shoot is a permanent record, not something that's easily deletable/lost, like digital. I can't tell you how many digital shows I've lost, it's insane. At least with film, the big bulky boxes are hard to lose. 

I'm also not anti-digital at all. It's great for programming that has no long-term value like commercials, educational/industrial films and non-scripted/multicam TV. I would never roll film on those types of programming, waste of celluloid. 

Film died Robin, it already happened. December 2013 was the end of it. Kodak filed for bankruptcy. The theaters stopped projecting film. Rental houses dumped their film cameras. The two world-wide lab companies Deluxe and Technicolor closed all their labs. IMAX was bought out and went from a quality format to a profit driven format. Nearly all of the films released in 2014 were digital. 

Then something happened. Everyone kinda looked at what was being made and went, hmmm it all looks the same. What can we do to differentiate ourselves from the pack of Arri Alexa and Red Dragon movies? Well, that's when the film revolution started back up again. Christopher Nolan's very successful "Interstellar" release on 70mm both 5 perf and 15 perf, was eye opening. Since then, the total number of movies released theatrically every year, 50% or more originated on film, went from 20 to over 60. Warner Brothers made a deal to start releasing key top box-office films on 5 perf 70mm for the first time in modern history after the format died in the 90's. I mean this all happened AFTER the death film. 

So when you say digital is going to  -as in the future- take over, that already happened. What the people on the ground in the US and Europe are seeing, is a new movement of people wanting to shoot on film. 
 


With the upcoming global economic crisis and hyperinflation, I'd be surprised if anyone has any work, let alone cares what format they shoot on. Your prediction maybe completely accurate, but I'm more worried about jobs than format in that case. We will always be able to create and film will never go away. The moment our economy is back on its feet again and the money is flowing, film will come back just like it did a few short years ago. 

Yes and all power to you ,clearly you are a man of passion and I admire you whole heartedly for going the indie film maker road .. making your own projects and the  sacrifices to do so.. I wouldn't even call myself a film maker ..Im not .. Im a jobbing freelance cameraman .. its my job .. I have a passion for it but its still my way of enjoying a certain life style .. well till now anyway !.. Im not picking on the niche film makers at all.. as I said I have alot of admiration for them.. but still I think its inevitable that film will die in the main stream of this so called film /tv industry ....no industry stays the same and its obvious that film was the best option for close on 100 years .. but there has been rapid improvements in Digital capture   ..  I mean the bean counters would dictate Digital anyway because its cheaper .. thank god it also looks good at least .. 

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Posted (edited)
6 hours ago, AJ Young said:

Empty space is valuable for a theatre; ours was specifically designed for mass volumes of concession, restroom, and office items all of which were still overflowing into our projection booth because we simply needed more room for those inventories.

The theaters I'm talking about wouldn't necessarily be cineplexes. 

Quote

The IMAX theatre my company owned did not receive any per-assembled prints. I can't speak to 70mm, per say, but IMAX doesn't ship pre-made prints for new releases. (Though, if I remember, we did ship the assembled prints back)

Correct, prints had always been sent with cue marks on reels until 2014. It was Nolan's insistence that future prints would be made without cue marks and on platters. Thus, delivering an package to the cinema that is more akin to what we expect for modern film projection. Nobody wants to see poor splices, cue marks and dirt in the areas of the splices. Projectionists also don't want to deal with failed splices or loading/unloading film. It's a win-win for everyone, even if the packaging is heavy. 

Quote

Before the digital change over, theatres were almost exclusively 35. Converting those heads to 70mm is costly, let alone the entire system needed for 70mm. These companies already shelled out millions for the digital conversion, it's unlikely they'd do the same for niche 70mm screenings (especially given COVID).

Hateful Eight installed I believe 97, 5 perf 70mm Century JJ projectors into various theaters. We currently have over 100 working 70mm projectors in the US alone. Another few dozen in Europe and Australia/New Zealand. The systems exist, they're working and ready to roll. Honestly, that's too many screens, I would limit the run's to maybe 50 world wide. 

Quote

Space is valuable and, again given COVID, theatres will be severely tightening up their belts now...more than they already were for the past ten years.

Oh no doubt at all and yes, my game plan and comments were all pre-covid. We don't really know what post-covid will look like. 

Quote

Decent projectionists were hard to come by when I was a projectionist and they're even harder now.

Yes! Hateful Eight was a debacle! What a horrible mess! Solution is so simple. Ship the projectionists with the films for the roadshows. Ya only need 50 people world wide, that's WAY less than the 1000 or so that were needed up to 2013 when the end of film happened. Finding 50 good guys internationally would be a piece of cake. 

Quote

I remember receiving the occasional reel with massive discoloration from the lab and had to reluctantly show the bad quality reel while we waited for Technicolor/Deluxe to ship the replacement reel.

High speed duplicators were not perfect, there were MANY mistakes made. Today, the 70mm prints are pretty much perfect because there are so few of them made, every one can be examined before distributed. The quality of "Once Upon A Time In Hollywood" prints were outstanding. Complete photochemical blow up from anamorphic 35mm and it was like glass. Even better with a Kinton 70mm projector, which uses a computer controlled pulldown system to insure every frame lands perfectly before the shutter opens. Gotta love the Germans! 

 

Edited by Tyler Purcell

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5 hours ago, Satsuki Murashige said:


Almost a haiku. I think you are becoming more Japanese, Robin. Seriously though, I think you left out the part where your gutter is lined with yen! 

 ..  I spent a lot of money on women , drink , and cars...  but wasted the rest of it .. 

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Its a long thread so I'll just add a quick 2 cents. The point of the demo as a far as I'm concerned is "the camera is a tool"  is not the way to think about digital, its not a saw or a hammer, digital is a two dimensional array of over 1 million measurement devices for light, that can capture 68 billion unique measurements per pixel 24 times per second.  Its not a tool, its big data, so the issues of color science are really a statistics and data science problem.  A lot of people will say film is too complex for digital to replicate, but there are statistical machine learning algorithms for emulating a function that is too complex.  Thats basically what Yedlin is doing.   If filmmakers open themselves to programming, digital signal processing, and data science,  the only limits to what you can do with digital is your own programming skills.  I know Davinci has been mentioned a couple times, but the math davinci uses makes it almost impossible to effect small color idiosyncrasies, its better suited for global color grading. I think instead of clinging to film, filmmakers should ask for better tools for digital, specifically interpolation algorithms, so you can make your own emulations, with samples and targets, and design a transform matrix iteratively and efficiently so everyone has their own personal looks. 

 

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I'm not against film screenings from a historical perspective, sure the technology should be preserved for people to view. I've seen both "This is Cinerama" and "How the West Was Won" projected in 3 strip Cinerama which was a cool experience.

I understand why people seek out film screenings, its a bit different but its not "better".

Sure 35 mm done well can look really good. We had Kinotons and access to pristine show prints at film school, so I'm aware of how good 35mm can look.

But the reality of going to a typical multiplex with one "Booth Usher" threading up projectors for 16 screens tended to not result in perfect presentation. 

When I go to see a movie, I'm going to be immersed in a film, not observe a projection technology. Any time I see or hear a fault it takes me out the film and I observe the fault, not the story. That happened a lot more with film eg:

Scratches - thats annoying ,

3D IMAX scratches - really annoying the sratches are floating in 3D,

Colour/density shifts on reel changes, miss timed change overs, miss-framed change overs, lamp colour temp shifts on change overs, keystone distortion shift on change over, change over cue

Lab splices, badly repaired lab splices, missing frames, audio pops on lab slices

Optical sound, scratchy optical sound, Optical sound with worn sound bearing

Dolby Digital Drop out, SDDS drop out, Non existent DTS because the CD-ROMs were missing damaged

Dirt

Soft low contrast prints on mass releases - I remember Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter looking really soft and grainy

Black and white films printed on colour stock

Miss-framed projection, neg splice flash visible, dirty projector gate's

cinch marks, diagonal platter scratches, brain wraps

Unstable projection - vertical jitter 

Projector audible in the auditorium 

16mm Optical audio

too much film guard used - resulting in visible streaking (although this is rare because few cinemas used film-guard)

Reels out of order

Wrong lens used - eg scope on flat

For film to be done right an a lot has to go right and its a real fragile format - even a good projectionist can miss something and trash a print. On average I'd say digital projection looks better, is more reliable and has fewer distracting artefacts which is a good thing. These days films are finished digitally, so its not possible for a film print thats a couple of optical generations away from the source to look as good. I'm not up for destroying films legacy, but I don't see much point in new releases being released on film. 

I do understand the arguments about whats the point of cinema if its the same as what you can get at home? And I broadly agree, I tend to go to the cinema less now I have big 4K TV, then when I had a 20" SD TV and VHS. I agree cinema has to be better then what you have at home. But that can be achieved by big screens, big sound systems (that don't need wife approval), excellent picture, a communal experience (I miss that in these covid times).

When I sought out screenings of Blade Runner its because I desperately wanted to see it on a big screen in a version that was better then rubbish original DVD transfer. I sought it out in 3 cites in 2 different countries - travelled quiet a distance for the screening. For one of the screenings paid for premium tickets. Each time I hoped to watch "Bladerunner" and each time I watched scratchy crackle fest - the dvd was more watchable. Finally watching the 4K restoration on a big screen in DLP was close to a religious experience, something I'd never been able to get in a film screening.  

 

 

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