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

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Just now, Robin R Probyn said:

A reply of legendary proportions ..  pure genius sir ..  I prostrate myself at your feet .. 

Just watch out with your "my Fx9 film...."

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27 minutes ago, Phil Connolly said:

Just watch out with your "my Fx9 film...."

Im a videographer sir .. you don't have too worry .. I know my place ..

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, Phil Connolly said:

The basic rule of film production is if the filmmaker introduces it as:

"My 35mm short film...." 

Its nearly always terrible... its an immutable. 

If the technology is the first thing the filmmaker mentions, they have their priorities wrong. 

(this isn't just a film issue -digital has its own share of miss priorities.  "My RED 8K anamorphic film..." is just as likely to be just as meh, but higher resolution and less grain)

 

 

No, no, no, Phil, this just won't stand the test.

A clever filmmaker who has a some wit, talent and aptitude would never be so dumb. A smart person never makes the mistake of bragging. You just make the film, and if so blessed, you have it shown at a film festival. Okay, so it was made on 35mm. Does that make it garbage? Er, well, no, it doesn't. The film is only garbage if it's garbage. Lots of people can make garbage films -- on 35 mm, on Reds, on Alexas, on Blackmagics, ..... or on any manner of other camera or phone.

But .... what if ... now, sure, it's a big what if ...... but ...... what if ....................... it's not a bad little film??? Good heavens, what if it's even rather good?

....And it was made on 35 mm? You'd be happy wouldn't you? We all would. Even Robin would be. There's nothing particularly remarkable about wanting to shoot on film. If I painted watercolour I wouldn't give a fig if there were oil painters out there. The scandal!! People painting in oils. Who ever heard of such a thing? They must be untalented. Only watercolourists have talent, professionalism and artistic shrewdness, why, we all know it. The rest are highly likely to be pretentious scam artists or untalented idiots. I will be writing a letter to the editor of the local paper to air my views. This scandalous business must be brought to the light of public enquiry. Oil painters!! Surely if we petition the Government this can be revealed for the sham that it is.

Edited by Jon O'Brien

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3 hours ago, Phil Connolly said:

The basic rule of film production is if the filmmaker introduces it as:

"My 35mm short film...." 

Its nearly always terrible... its an immutable. 

If the technology is the first thing the filmmaker mentions, they have their priorities wrong. 

(this isn't just a film issue -digital has its own share of miss priorities.  "My RED 8K anamorphic film..." is just as likely to be just as meh, but higher resolution and less grain)

I could not agree more.

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OP...

Yes, digital can cause one to be lazy and undisciplined. But they had lazy and undisciplined film shooters as well back in the day. I'm pretty lazy and undisciplined myself. I never take meter readings, I use the screen for exposure.

I don't know what will happen to film. As long as they make the chemicals and the film, I guess people will shoot it.  The look from film is the grain is organic and varies. It is not like a digital grain screen that applies grain evenly all over. If they want to add digital grain, they should make the computer grain organic like film. And cut down on the gradations. Digital has more of a plastic look to it. Part may be due to the hyper sharpness of digital. The black and white digital sometimes has too much shades of gray and not enough whites and deep blacks.  I'd never go back to film. I like digital. But I enjoy working with film in my archive.

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Posted (edited)
On 7/20/2020 at 7:23 PM, Jon O'Brien said:

I'm hoping this whole debate will just calm down and people will relax about using either digital or film for the actual shoot. You want to do either, fine. There are costs to be considered for both - perhaps digital costs more in post if you are seeking a film look for instance. What is starting to interest me more and more is the idea of shooting on digital but making film prints. Or, let's say, shooting on 2 perf or 16mm possibly, doing a DI (is that what it's called?), and printing to 35mm anamorphic film for exhibition in cinemas with film projectors. I think that would be such a good look -- it would get around some of the photochemical/optical limitations of shooting on smaller formats and blowing up to 35mm or even 70mm. Okay, so not too many film projectors in current use but I'm sure they're stashed away somewhere, lovingly greased and protected from dust and awaiting their time to shine again. As I wrote a while back here, I found two myself in a tiny garden shed along a very rough track out in the wilds. 

Well, people get attached to one side or the other. If you attack film or digital, it is an attack on them personally. Back in the 70's it was the same if you shot BW or color. The BW shooter was the purest, the color shooter was a sellout. 

Ernst Hass sums things up nicely on this subject …

“There are black and white snobs, as well as colour snobs. Because of their inability to use both well, they act on the defensive and create camps. We should never judge a photographer by what film he uses- only by how he uses it.”

The same can be said about the digital / film debate. Alan Watts used to say we define ourselves by our enemies. He used the beatnik / squares as an example. 

I always tell everyone, no matter what the subject...if it is legal, do as you like. You only have to please yourself. If you are being paid, then you have to please your employer.

 

Oh...David Mullen, I looked at your website. Very impressive. Easy to navigate, short and concise...Beautiful!

Edited by Daniel D. Teoli Jr.

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2 hours ago, Jon O'Brien said:

No, no, no, Phil, this just won't stand the test.

 

Your miss-understanding the point, if the first thing the filmmaker says to introduce their film is "My 35 mm short film...."

Its nearly aways bad... its a basic rule.

If the film was good the filmmaker would introduce it as "My documentary about female sumo wrestlers"..or "My short film about facing your fears and mental health."  The filmmaker can also say "My cosplay doc about furry culture and mental health that happens to be shot on film"... is also fine and has a chance of being a good film. I'm not stating that a 35mm short film can't be good of course thats not true.

But if the first thing that comes out of their mouth is the shooting format. We have all encountered filmmakers that mention shooting format before the story.  They nearly always have the wrong priorities, about what makes a good film. Resulting in a less then good film. Again i stand by my rule... I've even been guilty of it in the past...

I could point to examples on this very forum (but won't because I'm too polite) 

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Posted (edited)
10 hours ago, Ben Ericson said:

Here's a good example. Newest Drake track, Shot on 16mm with with the Arri 416. 184 Million Views. Does it get more Gen Z or Millenial than that?

Yeah I love scrolling through the comments to see virtually no one commenting on what the video was shot on. They could've shot this on an iPhone and the feedback would be identical. My point is in the ROI margins.

Also most Gen Zers kinda view Drake as a meme at this point.

 

Quote

The two biggest features of 2020 are film; Bond and Tenet. Wonder Woman is 65 and a quiet place 2 is 35mm. Nobody is shooting a feature on the C500 Mk2, Ursa 12k, or the Sony FX9, but those cameras are able to exist. Maybe the market in general is bigger than you think. 

I'd like to think we're discussing productions that don't have the entire machine behind them? Billionaires can spend whatever they want, half a million is a drop in the bucket to them.

Edited by Max Field

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8 hours ago, Phil Connolly said:

Your miss-understanding the point, if the first thing the filmmaker says to introduce their film is "My 35 mm short film...."

Its nearly aways bad... its a basic rule.

If the film was good the filmmaker would introduce it as "My documentary about female sumo wrestlers"..or "My short film about facing your fears and mental health."  The filmmaker can also say "My cosplay doc about furry culture and mental health that happens to be shot on film"... is also fine and has a chance of being a good film. I'm not stating that a 35mm short film can't be good of course thats not true.

But if the first thing that comes out of their mouth is the shooting format. We have all encountered filmmakers that mention shooting format before the story.  They nearly always have the wrong priorities, about what makes a good film. Resulting in a less then good film. Again i stand by my rule... I've even been guilty of it in the past...

I could point to examples on this very forum (but won't because I'm too polite) 

Correct analysis sir...  its the message not the media .. 

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13 hours ago, Max Field said:

My point is in the ROI margins.

Okay. It sounded like you were denying the popularity of film and were citing your own personal experience on set as proof. All I did was provide an example that proves how popular it is at the moment. The biggest directors and large artists are shooting on it. Of course digital is cheaper. Nobody is going to argue with you about that... 

18 hours ago, Phil Connolly said:

The basic rule of film production is if the filmmaker introduces it as:

"My 35mm short film...." 

Its nearly always terrible... its an immutable. 

Oddly this is the first thing I thought of. 🙂 I heard it did pretty well!

https://nofilmschool.com/2015/11/quentin-tarantino-hateful-eight-65mm-ultra-panavision-70mm

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Posted (edited)
8 minutes ago, Ben Ericson said:

Oddly this is the first thing I thought of. 🙂 I heard it did pretty well!

https://nofilmschool.com/2015/11/quentin-tarantino-hateful-eight-65mm-ultra-panavision-70mm

When you have Quentin's track record, and are literally installing 65mm projectors in theatres around the world, to facilitate a large-format "roadshow" film projection rollout... then yeah, sure, you get a pass to namedrop the technology.

Likewise Nolan, or anyone else shooting on IMAX cameras. These are the exceptions that prove the rule.

But for everyone else? The rule still applies.

Edited by Mark Kenfield
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Posted (edited)
52 minutes ago, Mark Kenfield said:

When you have Quentin's track record, and are literally installing 65mm projectors in theatres around the world, to facilitate a large-format "roadshow" film projection rollout... then yeah, sure, you get a pass to namedrop the technology.

Likewise Nolan, or anyone else shooting on IMAX cameras. These are the exceptions that prove the rule.

But for everyone else? The rule still applies.

Sure, but it just shows that people of all skill levels often take pride in their choice of format, whether it be the iPhone, Alexa, or Film.

You could maybe just say that when any filmmaker tells you about their short film, chances are that it won't be great.

Edited by Ben Ericson

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1 hour ago, Ben Ericson said:

Okay. It sounded like you were denying the popularity of film and were citing your own personal experience on set as proof. All I did was provide an example that proves how popular it is at the moment. The biggest directors and large artists are shooting on it. Of course digital is cheaper. Nobody is going to argue with you about that... 

Oddly this is the first thing I thought of. 🙂 I heard it did pretty well!

https://nofilmschool.com/2015/11/quentin-tarantino-hateful-eight-65mm-ultra-panavision-70mm

It proves my rule Tarantino doesn't introduce Hateful Eight as "my ultra Panavision film"... he introduces it as "Tarantino does a western" (talking in the 3rd person a bit) or the 10th Tarantino film. Or a Bunch of crooks in a thing.... The story/tarantinoness is the main selling point and its unique shooting format is a bonus thats discussed a little way in. 

The rule is simple if THE VERY FIRST THING a filmmaker says about their film is "I made this great [INSERT SHOOTING FORMAT HERE] Film" .... be like Bruce Dickinson and RUNNNN FOOOR THE HIIIIILLLLLL's 

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Further observations:

1. Cameras are disposable. It's the image that counts. It's great that some cameras have gone up in price, though. I mean, try finding a discounted A-Minima. Good luck!

2. Sometimes the format, or shooting style, is appropriate to advertise. E.g. The Wizard of Oz (Technicolor), Citizen Kane (deep focus), Schindler's List (b&w as a minority format), Too Late (four long takes on 35mm), Russian Ark (one take), Tangerine (iPhone + anamorphic), Timecode (parallel single takes), The Dark Knight (IMAX). N'est-ce pas?

3. You only shoot a project once. Maybe the hassle of film is worth it in the long run. That's up to the producers.

4. You don't get to say lenses matter but at the same time say that media doesn't. Get the **(obscenity removed)** outta here, as they say on the East Coast. What you can argue, very fairly, is that cameras and lenses should be as cheap as possible, but no cheaper. So, Cine Alta primes with a Red EPIC are a very smart choice compared to Summilux C's and 35mm. Pro-film guys aren't going to say that you are wrong.

5. The word 'show' is half as long as the word 'business'.

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21 hours ago, Ben Ericson said:

Sure, but it just shows that people of all skill levels often take pride in their choice of format, whether it be the iPhone, Alexa, or Film.

You could maybe just say that when any filmmaker tells you about their short film, chances are that it won't be great.

The point remains that they were literally installing 65mm projectors in theatres in order to show the film in traditional 65mm projection. There's an inherently different objective there, to someone declaring their shooting format for something that's only going to be seen on Vimeo or 2k digital projection.

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Posted (edited)
6 hours ago, Mark Kenfield said:

The point remains that they were literally installing 65mm projectors in theatres in order to show the film in traditional 65mm projection. There's an inherently different objective there, to someone declaring their shooting format for something that's only going to be seen on Vimeo or 2k digital projection.

I still can't really figure out your, Robin's and Phil's viewpoint on this. You say that someone who pretentiously brags about the format as the first thing they do is going to be showing something that's worthless dross. But it's an odd thing to get your goat, if you know what I mean. An odd bee to have in your bonnet. Really, an odd thing that definitely gets your knickers in knots. Now, I know, you don't like to realise this about yourselves. But I must say it, guys. You sound irritated by people who shoot film. 

It's just so obvious.

... And someone needed to tell you.

 

Edited by Jon O'Brien
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11 hours ago, Karim D. Ghantous said:

Further observations:

1. Cameras are disposable. It's the image that counts. It's great that some cameras have gone up in price, though. I mean, try finding a discounted A-Minima. Good luck!

2. Sometimes the format, or shooting style, is appropriate to advertise. E.g. The Wizard of Oz (Technicolor), Citizen Kane (deep focus), Schindler's List (b&w as a minority format), Too Late (four long takes on 35mm), Russian Ark (one take), Tangerine (iPhone + anamorphic), Timecode (parallel single takes), The Dark Knight (IMAX). N'est-ce pas?

3. You only shoot a project once. Maybe the hassle of film is worth it in the long run. That's up to the producers.

Good points, all.

 

11 hours ago, Karim D. Ghantous said:

4. You don't get to say lenses matter but at the same time say that media doesn't.

Spot on, Karim. That’s what it all boils down to in the end. All the equipment choices matter to the final image, to some degree. And that’s our job, to care about the nuances of the image. 

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5 hours ago, Jon O'Brien said:

I still can't really figure out your, Robin's and Phil's viewpoint on this. You say that someone who pretentiously brags about the format as the first thing they do is going to be showing something that's worthless dross. But it's an odd thing to get your goat, if you know what I mean. An odd bee to have in your bonnet. Really, an odd thing that definitely gets your knickers in knots. Now, I know, you don't like to realise this about yourselves. But I must say it, guys. You sound irritated by people who shoot film. 

It's just so obvious.

... And someone needed to tell you.

 

Well the first step is to not group those opinions together. They're not cohesive, because they're not the same opinions.

My point about the Hateful Eight roadshow is a very specific one, and has nothing to do with the fact it was shot on film - it has to do with the reasons that particular example of a filmmaker trumpeting the format they shot on, is an inherently different thing to any Regular Joe stating they shot on Arri/Red/Film in advance of actually talking about the film they've made.

And I know this well because I've shot for such people in the past - and the "prestigious" formats we've shot in, have done diddly squat to save those films from themselves.

I have four rolls of Kodak 7207 sitting in my fridge (with the vegetables) at the moment, one of the first festivals I took out the "Best Cinematography" prize for was for a film shot on S16mm, and I've come THIS close to shooting two separate features on film (one on S16mm Tri-X and the other on Vision 3 S35mm). I also don't want to tally up just how much I've spent on post-production materials over the years to create film emulations for digitally originated films (it's a solid four-figures). 

I love film deeply, I prefer the on-set workflow it provides, and I certainly do not want to see it eliminated as a format option.

At the same time though, no image format - either film or digital, from S16mm, to S35mm, to large-format or even IMAX, is ever going to change the frames I would compose for a project, or how I would light them. So I'd like to think I can maintain at least some objectivity as to the actual differences particular formats can make.

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On 7/28/2020 at 1:14 PM, Max Field said:

Sorry but I need numbers on this. I exclusively work with young people and film isn't even a fathomable option in that demographic.

I wish I had demographics, but it's difficult. I can only tell you what I know, being a rental house AND doing a lot of scanning/post work. But it's Los Angeles. I bet if you lived in NYC, you'd see more film. 

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On 7/29/2020 at 4:33 AM, Robin R Probyn said:

Im a videographer sir .. you don't have too worry .. I know my place ..

Right, so why the F are you even here talking about this? What does this conversation have to do with you? 

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1 hour ago, Tyler Purcell said:

Right, so why the F are you even here talking about this? What does this conversation have to do with you? 

He has to post snarky comments somewhere.

  Lets celebrate that he's not in the USA.

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1 hour ago, Tyler Purcell said:

I wish I had demographics, but it's difficult. I can only tell you what I know, being a rental house AND doing a lot of scanning/post work. But it's Los Angeles. I bet if you lived in NYC, you'd see more film. 

He is in the NYC area Tyler.  How he misses the stuff still shooting on film is a mystery.  It's not all Trust Fund Kids and Vanity shorts shooting on film.

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2 hours ago, Tyler Purcell said:

Right, so why the F are you even here talking about this? What does this conversation have to do with you? 

WTF !..And your a feature film DoP..     ??  alot of irony in you, of all people on this forum, posting this  ...  Im just stating my opinion that film days are numbered .. it wouldn't matter what job I did .. Im not basing it on my personal taste ,  I think its of little importance in the making of a good film, just purely as an economic observation .. Im not a stills photographer but it would have been simple to comment on the way film went in that job..  sorry if its bad news 

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1 hour ago, JD Hartman said:

He has to post snarky comments somewhere.

  Lets celebrate that he's not in the USA.

.  you guys are a riot .. times must be desperate ..  

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