Sony F65 Digital Cinema Camera

Film is Dead, Film is Not Dead

NAB 2011 was this week and brought a slew of announcements, but one in particular has been bagging headlines left and right -- and no, I'm not talking about Final Cut Pro X. I'm referring to the announcement of Sony's new 8K sensor digital cinema camera. The Sony F65 camera outputs in true 4K resolution and is future proofed for the next wave of digital cinema.

With a camera designed for professionals with money to spend, Sony is set to shake up the high end of digital cinema and even the sacred world of film.

Sony is right to be bragging about their new camera’s capabilities — 16-bit RAW output, 8K 20 mega-pixel CMOS sensor, slow motion shooting up to 120 frames per second — but its the testing that has me interested.

This is the first image capture system designed from the ground up to support the Academy IIF-ACES (Image Interchange Framework – Academy Color Encoding Specification). Using these specifications, the Sony F65 has eeked past film in color and dynamic range. Further, the resolution of the sensor has been compared to 6K or 8K scans of 35mm and approach that of 65mm film.

Don’t believe it?

Curtis Clark, ASC member and chairman of the ASC Technology Committee had this to say:

“Sony’s new F65 digital motion picture camera combines true 4K resolution with an expansive dynamic range that enables a more nuanced reproduction of fine textural and tonal details. Along with excellent contrast and exceptional color reproduction the F65 produces images that have a rich filmic look and feel, providing filmmakers with significantly enhanced creative photographic possibilities.”

An Option Instead of a Standard

Some are proclaiming the F65 to be a film killer, but I’m skeptical.

We’ve heard it over and over again through the years that film is dead. And yet it perseveres like Rasputin in the Russian monarchy.

Film isn’t dead nor will it die anytime soon. Instead, film will enter a transitional period where it will become another option to shoot on rather than the standard. Film will become another horse in the stable instead of the prized thoroughbred.

Film and it’s properties are always going to inform digital cinema, but from here on out it’s the wild west. What’s the limit on dynamic range? On color manipulation? Will the data flow stop?

Moore’s Law says no and that digital cinema will only become better and faster. In a few years, a camera will come out that blows away the incredible specs of the F65.

If it gets to the point where we have surpassed film and achieved the holy grail of the “film look,” then film itself will not be relegated to the grave, but back in line with all the other cameras.

Film is drifting away from being the standard and towards being an option.

For filmmakers of the future, it won’t necessarily be the best choice, the right choice, or even the given choice. In fact, that may already be the case for certain projects.

Film isn’t dead and it’s not going to die, but its marketshare is going to level out when the digital cinema big boys finally grow up.

And though the term “filmmaker” will live on as a reminder of the celluloid roots of the proud profession, the theory of digital cinema, in its purest sense, will rise to fulfill the prophecy its name proclaims.

P.S.

I wrote this article without budgetary concerns in mind. I understand that many filmmakers couldn’t afford an F65, let alone film to shoot on. For them, film may already be dead. I wrote this article with the big budget Hollywood gurus in mind. They’re the ones shooting film and they’re the ones this camera is aimed towards.

  • http://twitter.com/jamesdrakefilms James Drake

    Film still holds an organic aesthetic… something not achieved in digital cinema. I’m excited about the F65, but I’m also skeptical that people will exclusively choose digital.

    • http://www.theblackandblue.com/ Evan

      I agree. I don’t think digital vs. film is as black and white as some people want it to be. Film will always be an option to the smart filmmaker. I recently shot some Super 8mm film the other day because I liked the aesthetic of it. It is inferior in many ways to digital cameras, but that’s why I wanted it. It had a timeless feel to it because it was the medium of an era.

  • FB

    Great article, and I share your (and James’, and I suspect many others’) skepticism about the death of film. I apologize for the long rant/comment. If you’re really into digital and hate film, you may want to skip this.

    The F65 is probably going to be a great camera for many things, just like whatever future camera main manufacturers release the next few years. Sometimes soon, the real specs of those cameras (and not some inflated marketing claims by the usual suspects) will surpass the actual specs of celluloid film, there’s no doubt about it.
    We can argue that Sony’s 4K (or 8K) are not really the “same Ks” of a film scan, but soon enough that too will be irrelevant. I’ve seen a film-out of a 2K camera (Alexa) projected on a big screen, and frankly the quality of the image was stunning. Same thing for a up-scaled 4K version of the same footage, projected digitally. It was great digital footage. Was it anything like film? Hell, no. Close enough for many, maybe, but it was clearly different.

    Some say we’re already “there”: Roger Deakins has stated Alexa is actually better than film latitude-wise, though he’s also said (on his forum) that more resolution wouldn’t hurt (I can almost imagine folks at Arri really working hard on their next, higher-res sensor). Some are committed to use film because, simply put, they think it’s better (Pfister, Kaminski, and many others).
    But can the whole thing be reduced to numbers, megapixels, Ks, etc? Personally I don’t think so, at all.
    As of today, the introduction of so many different cameras from so many different companies (in such a short time frame) is not really solving any problem, but it’s only adding to the confusion of a market ruled by obsolescence, where “you must use the newest toy to be on top of your game/to capture the best images” (false), “newer means better” (false), and “you can now afford to own the camera that’s being used on the biggest blockbusters” (true, but the camera it’s not the reason a movie is good or bad, and we should ask why are those blockbuster being shot with one camera instead of another). Meanwhile, storytelling becomes a secondary, less important issue, and all the talk is about digital tools (just take a look at the list of the next 40 3D movies being shot at the moment, or close to release, and you’ll see not even one of them is original material, they’re all sequels, prequels, remakes, reboots, and so on…).

    I’m clearly and openly biased, and not ashamed to be “old-fashioned”: I grew up using film (for stills) and I consider myself fortunate to still work with film on set when I hear that somewhere else everyone is already using digital 100% of times.

    We’re constantly being flooded with new cameras and more megapixels every 6 months or so, yet we still don’t have a standard workflow or color management system (Richard Crudo, ASC wrote a wonderful editorial about this in American Cinematographer, years ago, I’ll try to dig it out and post it here later): every company has its own solution and approach, and they obviously want you to pick theirs instead of the competitors, so that’s not going to change anytime soon. They want one thing, and one thing only: sell as many cameras as they can and replace them with better tools you will want to buy as often as possible, let’s not forget that.

    We don’t have a reliable archival solution for digital files: even the most reliable (LTO) is nowhere near the level of safety of 3-strip black&white film, which curiously enough is still the “weapon of choice” used by the majority of studios to archive movies, even those shot digitally. In the meantime, time and again we hear about some negative film from the ’30s being found in some wooden boxes in some people’s basement, and that negative is cleaned, analyzed, sometimes restored, and ready to be scanned at whatever the current resolution is, or having a film print made from it.

    The reliability of digital cameras is inherently inferior to their digital “relatives”, by design: any 35mm film camera can break (it’s happened to me only ONCE, it was an Arri SR3, but after replacing a fuse, it was good to go again and it’s still working today, I saw that same camera 3 days ago), but if you’re well trained most problems can be fixed on set with a screwdriver (and sometimes some serious sweat), while no camera assistant I know has the guts (or a PHd in electronic engineering) to pull the circuit boards out of a digital camera and fix it on the spot: that camera must return to the rental house and to the manufacturer. If you’re in LA or in Munich probably that’s not a problem, but if you’re shooting in the middle of nowhere, it becomes a bigger issue. Sure, a magazine can scratch the film, but you can see it right away. Can you check a dozen drop frames on a 1 Terabyte drive after the “right” take, on set, without having to backup the footage and check it on your DIT station?

    But, perhaps the most important thing, and I apologize if I get too sentimental or philosophical about it all, it still seems like every digital camera is desperately trying to look like film. Why is that, if Film is supposed to be “dead” or “surpassed”? We hear all the time: “organic” images, “filmic” footage, and so on.
    Besides, do we really need 20 stops of latitude? Do we really need surgically clean, grain-free images?
    I know I don’t. But that’s me.
    I don’t care if I have to wait 2 days to get the footage back from the lab, or if I have to go at 6 in the morning there to check the footage and talk to the colorist there. Actually, i look forward to doing it (I’ve done it with a DP friend of mine, he insisted I’d go because, in his words, “someday you may be a cinematographer, and that’s part of the job, and part of the fun, too”).
    I don’t care if film cameras are that much bigger or heavier than digital ones. I don’t care if I don’t see exactly what I have shot right after I’ve shot it, on the monitor, on set. I don’t care if I can shoot 97 takes, because “film is expensive, and digital is cheap”. I don’t care if I can get any look “later, in post”.
    I love the mystery of emulsion. I love the fact I have to WAIT to see what I’ve shot. I love that anticipation, just like I love watching the image slowly appearing on paper in the darkroom. I love the organic look that comes with film, and I don’t care if I can mimic it with some high-end software. I love being at a concert, rather than listening to the live recording. I love women, not life-size sex doll.
    I love to see even the finest grain of the slowest film stock making the screen vibrate. To me, that’s magic.
    I could go on rambling for hours (or pages), but I already feel like this sounds more like an emotional rant rather than a rational reply to a very nice article on your blog, Evan, and if this sounds “too much”, then I apologize to you and to your readers.
    I’ll leave you with the last sentences by ASC president Michael Goi, in the editorial of the current issue of American Cinematographer (you can read it all here: http://www.theasc.com/ac_magazine/April2011/PresidentsDesk/page1.php )

    “Innovation is valuable if it’s actually an improvement over what has come before. Reinventing the wheel is great, but make sure you have truly created a better wheel before you throw away the old one. And don’t forget to keep your eyes on the prize.”

    • http://www.theblackandblue.com/ Evan

      Francesco,

      Don’t apologize for your wonderfully thought out comment! I understand you are a fan of film and I am glad that you are there to remind us of the wonders it can provide.

      I know you understood my article but I want to make it clear for others reading this that I am no proclaiming film as dead, nor do I hate it, nor do I want digital to “win” this falsified war. Instead, I am saying that digital cinema is starting to catch up to film, which will, in effect, render film as another option instead of the go-to standard. At least visually and technically.

      You bring up the greatest argument against digital, I think, when you mention that film cameras can easily be repaired since they are mechanically based instead of electronically or computationally like digital cameras.

      That is an important consideration. And you’re right — I would never try and repair a digital camera myself on a set.

      You and I are on the same page when it comes to these discussions. The cameras don’t matter, but the films do.

      One may look “better” according to who you ask, but a better image doesn’t equal a better movie. That’s what we need to remember everyday when a new camera is announced, analyzed, tested, and thrown up on the blogs.

      If I had all the money in the world, I could afford to buy the same car as Michael Schumacher, but I’d never be able to drive it like him. That’s a fundamental difference.

      I love that quote that you like to throw out from Goi. He says so much of what I believe in a short time frame.

      New technology is exciting, but its still the older technologies that are informing the new tools and should stay around to inform and compare.

      I don’t think film will die anytime soon (if at all, really) but the competition against it grows everyday.

      Thanks for your comment again. It shouldn’t go unnoticed by anybody that without celluloid, we wouldn’t have jobs. We wouldn’t have the magic of the stories. We wouldn’t have digital cinema.

      • FB

        Evan,

        “Instead, I am saying that digital cinema is starting to catch up to film, which will, in effect, render film as another option instead of the go-to standard. At least visually and technically.”

        Absolutely. No matter how much I’m biased, I’d be just plainly stupid to ignore the advances of technology. Besides, as an AC, I don’t really have the power to pick the format I’m shooting on (I don’t have that power even when I’m – rarely – hired as DP, but at least on those occasions I can start a conversation about it). But you can be sure that if I ever get to work as a DP someday, I’m going to fight for film, or at least I’m going to ask “why are we shooting on digital?”

        “New technology is exciting, but its still the older technologies that are informing the new tools and should stay around to inform and compare.”

        This is so true. That’s why I think everyone who works with moving images should at least once in their lives try to shoot some film. Doesn’t matter if it’s 8mm, or 16mm short ends. Everyone would benefit from such an experience. There is a reason things are done a certain way on a film set, and there’s a reason for the discipline that comes with it. I’m not saying ALL digital crews are less disciplined, but they could benefit from some “old-school” methods, at least to undersand some procedures better and compare.

        “Thanks for your comment again. It shouldn’t go unnoticed by anybody that without celluloid, we wouldn’t have jobs. We wouldn’t have the magic of the stories. We wouldn’t have digital cinema.”

        I think I’m going to print this, Evan. I agree, 1000000%.

        • summer summers

          Hey just want to say i agree with your statement – “That’s why I think everyone who works with moving images should at least once in their lives try to shoot some film. Doesn’t matter if it’s 8mm, or 16mm short ends. Everyone would benefit from such an experience.” – i’ve only shot on digital, but i would very much love to try film ONCE – before (and this is where i disagree with you) film dies.

          I don’t think film will last much longer – the same way lights these days aren’t the same as lights from a century ago. Things change, technology changes, things die off. Books and CDs too – i foresee they’ll be gone soon enough too. Photographers – even really pro ones – have gone digital already.

          Such is life………….

          Oh, and to answer WHY do digital cams try and capture a “film look” if film is dead? Well, cos film is beautiful! But it’s messy to work with, expensive and development costs are there too – so if digital CAN make your footage look like film, then you have the best of both worlds.

    • http://www.facebook.com/Kunitaroohi Kuni Ohi

      Hi, I usually just read these posts on the sidelines and marinate on the topic, but I thought I’d lend my thoughts as its such a hot button topic.

      I’d like to be a proponent of film as much as the next guy, but as a DP that’s constantly getting himself into that dreaded 1-2 mil budget, the option of shooting on film, although something I’d love to push for, is becoming a more difficult option to pursue.

      This is mainly for all the reasons that you pointed out in the latter half of your post. From the costly workflow on the back end, the turnaround of dailies, the inability to do half as many setups in a day; all of those element factor into my choice for a camera. That, unfortunately, is why many producers and directors choose digital. Now, I’m not saying that its that its the better choice, but it is the most cost effective / logical progression.

      Also, with all the reasons you’ve pointed out that film is bulletproof, you have the downside of it as well. Film can be flashed, dusted, scratched, shittily batched. With the corruption of digital footage, you can also get the inaccuracy of film handling (let’s not get into the accuracy of film loading / unloading, I’ve my share of that I can tell you from my experience, I’ve had good and bad days). In addition, with camera malfunctions, I don’t know alot of ACs or cam dept crew who are willing to tinker any camera (film or digital) extensively in fear of making it worse / receiving fault.

      To be honest, I’ve kind of stopped trying to champion this whole digital / film deadlock. Both formats serve a purpose and if digital will serve the convenience / longer running times of the narrative I’ll gladly pick that. But, if I’m privileged (emphasis) to shoot on film, I’ll bet you that its for a purpose. Plus, from a budgetary perspective, I’d rather use the most reasonable format and get my thrills on more awesome production design, costumes, actors.

      Granted, I think my distaste for digital comes more from the horrible usability factor for some cameras (I’m pointing at you DSLRs and RED ONE) so for once I’m glad that companies like Arri and Sony are starting to standardize the digital cinema cams so it’ll be a lot less hassle for everyone in the camera dept.

      In the end, I don’t care what’ll give me the image; it can be a tin can attached to a cardboard box. My main concern is if digital is progressing (and it is, at an alarming rate at times), it does so responsibly and with the features I like to have (and for the most part, its getting there, thank you ASC).

      And in part, yes, its kind of a callous way to differentiate when choosing a format, but my job is to help realize the director’s vision, regardless of what I shoot it on, or how ugly / beatutiful / plain it needs to be. A soul of a film doesn’t come from what its shot on (again, this is another long winded topic that’ll encompass a whole semester of film theory) and as production crew, we’ve kind of forgotten that audiences generally couldn’t give a flying shit what its shot on, as long as they are entertained or affected emotionally in some way by the end product.

      • FB

        Kuni, in order to reply better, I guess it makes more sense if I quote parts from your message, but let me just say I agree for the most part with what you wrote.

        “That, unfortunately, is why many producers and directors choose digital. Now, I’m not saying that its that its the better choice, but it is the most cost effective / logical progression ”

        Absolutely. But how many times the choice is made after having considered all different options, and how many times it comes from “let’s shoot digital. film is dead” kind of attitude?
        I’m not saying that ALL producers or directors are misinformed, but i’ve seen people making the wrong choice because they “heard” somewhere that digital was faster, cheaper, better. They ended up with a lower quality than they expected, and they didn’t save any money. The money they saved by shooting digital was spent on longer hours on set (because of endless takes) and in post-production, and I’m not talking about a low-budget short film, but a medium-budget feature. Same crew is shooting 2-perf now on a different, funnily enough smaller-budgeted, project.

        “Also, with all the reasons you’ve pointed out that film is bulletproof, you have the downside of it as well. Film can be flashed, dusted, scratched, shittily batched. With the corruption of digital footage, you can also get the inaccuracy of film handling (let’s not get into the accuracy of film loading / unloading, I’ve my share of that I can tell you from my experience, I’ve had good and bad days). In addition, with camera malfunctions, I don’t know alot of ACs or cam dept crew who are willing to tinker any camera (film or digital) extensively in fear of making it worse / receiving fault”

        I’m not saying that film cameras are 100% bullet-proof, after all they’re quite sophisticated pieces of engineering, so if something can go wrong, sooner or later it will, at least once. We’ve all heard horror stories about the weirdest failures. At the same time, I remember asking Doug Hart how many times in his long career he had had to replace the boards of a Panaflex, and he said maybe twice. Digital cameras don’t reduce that possibility of failure, they somehow increase it because instead of having to deal with something mechanical you have to deal with something that’s almost 100% electronic, a computer with a lens. Flashing a mag has happened to every AC I know at least once, but it’s a human mistake, not a “bug” which is somehow inherent to the nature of the system (hardware and software).

        “we’ve kind of forgotten that audiences generally couldn’t give a flying shit what its shot on, as long as they are entertained or affected emotionally in some way by the end product.”

        I agree 100%.

        • http://www.facebook.com/Kunitaroohi Kuni Ohi

          First off, thanks for replying so fast! and I appreciate the response being so comprehensive.

          I do agree that nowindays so called “producers” that get their info off of trade magazine often make the choice of shooting digital from buzz words that satisfy their bottom line. However, I’d like to say on the other, I’ve been in plenty of productions that both the producers and directors have considered carefully and weighed their options on digital as both a time / money saver. Granted, the end result would’ve def looked better if it had been on film, but it would’ve def been at the expense of set dressing, costumes, etc. Plus, the director was notorious for doing long takes and I know that had we gone film, I would’ve seen us never making the day, def overbudget, and the director would have not gotten what he wanted.

          All in all, I’d say that with all the endless digital / film talk that’s been happening its best to roll with the punches. I’m sure that in a year or two we’ll be saying the same thing about shooting 24fps or 48fps so as weird as it may sound, we must all be diligent and make the best of what we have. To cling to old traditions and customs may be noble at times, but in the age of rapid technological progression we gotta do our best to adapt.

          • FB

            Kuni,
            I must stress the fact that I’m not talking about ALL producers or directors. It’s so easy to generalize these days and to jump to the wrong conclusions that every sentence that comes out of my mouth should have a “in some cases” tag attached to it :-) I agree, some producers and directors go to great lengths before making their choices, others don’t, and I’d say that’s always been the case.

            The 24fps/48fps is no interest to me at the moment, because we’ll have to see how that plays out (and because in the market I primarily work it’s really a non-issue). It probably makes sense for 3D productions (and I agree shooting digital for 3D makes more sense than film), but as of today, I’m not even sure 3D is so definitely here to stay as some people claim.

            Finally, I want to add I have nothing against technical advancements, I’m not living in a cave, painting on walls to the light of a flame (though it might be interesting). If it weren’t for progress in filmmaking, we would still be shooting at 5-10 ASA, black and white, and silent. All I’m saying is that I get the feeling, now more than ever, that we’re moving too fast and that a lot of people are talking so much about the “future around the corner” that they forget about the recent past and even the present. That is more than evident on the Internet, but in the real world things are somehow a little bit different.
            Will we have digital cameras that surpass the specs of celluloid? I have absolutely no doubt about that, and maybe we’re already there. But, as I wrote before, I believe there’s more to it than just resolution and latitude. I’ve heard from people who were at Nab (not bloggers, but friends of mine who actually were there) about the Zacuto Shootout, and the general reaction is that Alexa is, as of today, the new quality “bar”, except for resolution, where Red and 35mm Film seemed to be superior (they also told me that the way that film handles highlight is still unsurpassed, though the Alexa does indeed a terrific job at it). Still, a friend of mine who was there asked a couple of ASC members who were in attendance what would they shoot on if budget was not an issue, and the answer was, without any doubt, film. That shouldn’t make any sense, if the Alexa (or any other camera) is so much better, quality wise, than film. But I feel (and others do) there’s something “more” to film, from the process itself to the aesthetics.

            Quoting Michal Goi (again, sorry), it’s great to have a brand new shiny wheel, but are we sure it’s really better than the old one we’ve been using until 5 minutes ago? And what about the car? Is it better to have an old, reliable, proven, good wheel on a Ferrari or a new wheel on a horse cart? :-)

          • Kuni Ohi

            Thanks again FB for your comprehensive comment.

            I think, when all is said and done, both digital and film has a different way about working with it. There’s a sense of romanticism of working with a purely mechanical element and having your image go through a mercurial process. But at the same time, I get a great sense of satisfaction when I see a fantastic looking Master at video village and turn to see my director gape in wonder of what we’d accomplished.

            What I’m trying to get at is that yes, technology is progressing. Yes, some ASC members still want to exclusively shoot with film. But in retrospective, we must all learn to enjoy the art of motion images, whether it be digital or film. Like I said earlier, my job in the end is to give my best to the director and the audience so if that means shooting on a 30 stop HDR cam then so be it. I’ll enjoy and feel from the gratification of knowing that I did my best and aquired the best possible image I could’ve gotten from the format.

            Regardless of all the details, the digital / film forum is quickly becoming a subjective issue. Even I’m guilty of looking at a camera and going “god, that thing looks so oppressive, I wish I was shooting super 16 now”. What I’m personally hoping to do now is weigh in each new job with a fresh pair of eyes and enjoy within the parameters (whether it be self / outer inforced) given.

        • summer summers

          Um you say “. The money they saved by shooting digital was spent on longer hours on set (because of endless takes) and in post-production, ” – but so many have said the REVERSE is true. Digital mean less hours and cheaper post pro.

      • Jruf23

        I disagree.  i believe that film is part of the soul.  I thought it wouldn’t be but it is.  A digital film has yet to move me deeply and it think it blurs objects awkwardly.

      • summer summers

        Amen Kuni, Amen! Absolutely agree! Esp with your last statement! So True!

    • http://twitter.com/HumanGobo Jeremy Bernatchez

      As someone that works 100% digital these days, I thoroughly envy you guys that work on film…

      As to your point about being able to fix a film cam with a screwdriver, but with digital it needs an engineer; a friend of mine who’s DPing the film “Bright White Hearts” just had a recent run-in with a RED that had a faulty logic board, which had to be taken in to the rental house, fixed, and sent back. Figure that’s a great example of how right you are ;)

      Was going to comment how I feel that digital provides results for society’s general desire for instant gratification & immediacy, whereas I think that shooting film may be a bit more zen in process, but I can’t really remember how I was going to go about explaining that…

      Anyway, great commentary Francesco!

      • FB

        Jeremy, as I’ve done with Kuni’s post, I’m going to quote things you wrote in order to reply better :-)

        “As Evan said, no matter how “good” digital gets, film is not going away. It will merely be another option. It will just fall in line with the thousands of other cameras that are being released on a seemingly monthly schedule. We have to be ecstatic, and consider ourselves extremely fortunate when we do get hired on to these projects.”

        As I wrote before, I’m very aware of how fortunate I am to be working with film, and frankly with budgets shrinking, especially on this side of the world, I don’t know how long I’ll be able to stay that fortunate.
        I’m pretty sure film will be an option for a long time to come, no matter what digital cameras marketing says. Actually, it’s funny, because with the new generation of people being used only to digital cameras, I’ve seen a growing interest from younger people in film, and most of the times they fall in love with the process and are eager to try it at least once. I’ve met a few filmmakers/directors who started their careers shooting a few shorts digitally, and now that they’re slowing moving up to bigger projects, they only want to shoot film.

        “I sincerely hope I have an opportunity to work with you on ANY film project because its the passion for film (like your own) that will keep it alive through the “Sony F 10065″, “Red’s Really Super Epic” and “ARRI’s Alexa Squared.”

        I wish the same too, my friend. Wouldn’t it be great to be on a “TheBlackAndBlue crew” at least once in our lives? Shooting film, of course :-)

        “Thank you, by the way, for the well written response!”

        Thank you for taking the time to read it and reply to it!

    • xxbluejay21

      This is the greatest comment I’ve ever read. Beautiful. Long live film. It really does give me great pain that we’re moving to an uglier medium. I came into the movie industry because of film. I’m going out because of digital. Same as Quentin Tarantino.

  • http://twitter.com/ZackMAustin Zack Austin

    Francesco,
    I share many of the same views as you, and lately have been somewhat depressed because of it. It is depressing because the advent of digital has really hurt us all as AC’s – I have worked in all aspects of the camera department, and can honestly say that film loader is still one of my favorite jobs to date. Digital, in large part, is ruining/eliminating this position all together (hence my depression). Digital Loaders???! Haha – Putting it lightly, its just “not the same.”

    Unfortunately, we as AC’s can’t do anything to completely stop technical camera “advancements. ” Especially when the world’s top DP’s are embracing it. As Evan said, no matter how “good” digital gets, film is not going away. It will merely be another option. It will just fall in line with the thousands of other cameras that are being released on a seemingly monthly schedule. We have to be ecstatic, and consider ourselves extremely fortunate when we do get hired on to these projects.

    I sincerely hope I have an opportunity to work with you on ANY film project because its the passion for film (like your own) that will keep it alive through the “Sony F 10065″, “Red’s Really Super Epic” and “ARRI’s Alexa Squared.”

    Thank you, by the way, for the well written response!

    • FB

      I tried not to mess up the replies, but failed miserably…sorry folks, it’s past 2 am here :-)
      My reply to Jeremy is in fact the one that was meant to go here, and vice versa.

      “Was going to comment how I feel that digital provides results for society’s general desire for instant gratification & immediacy, whereas I think that shooting film may be a bit more zen in process, but I can’t really remember how I was going to go about explaining that…”

      I know exactly what you’re saying, and that’s the reason my lovely digital Nikon SLR has been collecting dust for the last year or so. Meanwhile, my F100 and my Hasselblad are dust-free :-)
      I’m shooting less pictures, that’s for sure, but results are overall much, much better.

      “Anyway, great commentary Francesco!”

      Thanks Zack!

  • FB

    p.s. messed the replies. My reply to Jeremy and Zack got mixed up. Sorry!
    p.p.s. Love this Blog! :-)

    • http://twitter.com/HumanGobo Jeremy Bernatchez

      lol, you had me thoroughly confused :)

      Though the feeling of Zack’s is true for me too… would love to work with any of you guys sometime :)

  • Steve oakley

    First I’ll say that film will be mostly dead in 5 years. I’m really surprised it isn’t already but there is a lot of resistance to change. Do you know what will kill film production ? they simply stop making it. With dropping demand there will just come a point where its continued production just won’t work. If you look at how much film the MP biz uses, it was roughly equal to what the entire consumer market used. The consumer market is pretty much gone. Maybe a few years from now they’ll fire up the production line once or twice a year to make a run, and you better have your order in for a feature length production or get stuck. thats coming, its just a matter of when.

    You can talk quality / dynamic range / look /whatever, but a lot of it is about money, as in the people taking it to release your images from that bit of silver and animal protein, and then do stuff with it thru the post process. There is a lot of vested interest in not letting film go away. I have none.

    I started shooting on film when I was a kid, stills at first. I’ve run a lot of 16mm and a bit of 35 over the years. What I liked about working with film was the discipline around it, and the methodology. What I always hated about it wasn’t just the absolute cost of stock / processing / transfers but everything else including big lighting packages. sure its nice to play with big toys, but that also costs money that isn’t there anymore. ( producer hat on ! )

    in 1998 or 99 when the F900 was a new camera, I started shooting HD and haven’t looked back. it easily blew away 16mm back then. people thought I was crazy :) but I was right then how this was going to go.

    to be honest, I’ve generally found shooting digital has been really really liberating. first, you don’t have to worry about running out of film stock, or rationing out your supply. That doesn’t mean over shooting, but there is one less thing to worry about. Next is simply having a monitor to show you what you have, and being able to play back on the set to know if you got it, or another take or two is in order. Of course all the problems of film handling are gone too which I always found to be of higher risk then those with data wrangling. I like being able to dump cards at the end of the day and review things in my hotel room or studio.

    it isn’t ALL about dynamic range and tonal contrast / reproduction, otherwise why would one pick Fuji over Kodak ? because they are different, not the same. Likewise digital cameras are different too, just like film stocks. With digital cameras now equalling film technically, the arguments of film’s superiority are over in most tests.

    these days I’m shooting a lot on dslr’s. no they don’t have the dynamic range of the bigger cameras, but that is easy enough to control most of the time. what’s nice is that I own all the gear, its paid for, I have no payments on it, and I’m much more profitable for a change. making money is a very good thing, actually saving money in the bank is a great thing. there is no way that would be happening if I were still stuck on 1890′s technology, however much improved over the years. In fact, I may consider finally picking up a RED…. if it makes economic sense.

    • summer summers

      Great post!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=7717548 Lawrence Marshall

    I just spent some of the best 45 minutes of the year reading these replies and debates. I can learn more here sometimes than many trade magazines can cover the topic. Thanks guys!

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  • http://www.diyfilmschool.net/ DIYFilmSchool.net

    Regarding the article’s headline: as of today (and according to NoFilmSchool), they are anticipating 2014 to be the potential death of celluloid. With Fuji stopping production of film stock, Kodak is the only brand left, so NFS figures next year’s Oscars to have a great deal of digital films.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Randy-Tomlinson/100002972034036 Randy Tomlinson

    OK, so this article was writen about 2 years ago from today (23. April 2013) and all the enthusiasm about the F65 has settled down a bit. My opinion. I am not a young but freshman filmmaker, so please accept my apology if i write something completely BS. When this article was writtren i attended brighton filmschool in the UK. God bless that school because they teached us “Film”, maybe a little about video. I learned all the video thing myself on youtube or books and i must say it never has touched me really. Film is so much, i call it “relaxing” to watch. It does not rape your senses. All the new FULL HD cameras are nice but the color and intensity of the picture is, at least for me not so cool. To much information for my brain. No that is no BS, if you are upmost honest to yourself you will agree that you exit a movie cinema more relaxed then watching a blue ray video at home.
    And a movie for me is still something that should entertain me and not push my senses to the limit.

    Yes i agree, shoting with film takes more time, forces you to be more carefull with the media, not to waste anything and you MUST know a lot things about film. You need to work 100% accurate and professional. No mistake is forgiven. With a Videocan you can just shot again with minimal cost. Now we’re talking $$$. So you think shoting with film costs way more than with video? I only agree partially. I personally own a MOVIECAM COMPACT mkII. A 35mm film camera. I have shoot a few small documentaries and local commercials and with filmstock for a 10 minute shot, developing and scan in full HD (not 2k) i walked away with a 800.00$ hole in my pocked. That is not to bad considering i can edit the digital version at home on my (very good) computer. If i wanted to shoot Digital i would have to rent the camera, lets say an alexa or a sony F55. the rental of the body only with no lense would cost me 1400$ (with insurance) for one day only. the whole package with mattebox, lense etc about 4500$ for one day.

    Did i mention that i paid 5000$ for my Moviecam Compact complete ready to shoot without lense but battery pack, mattebox, baseplate, groundplate two 400′ magazineas and one 1000′ magazine? if i add 800$ for a 10 minute shoot it is still worth it because at the end i go home with my own camera which i can use again and again and again…. and you have to pay 4500$ for the rental of a digital camera…per day.

    And we dont need to discuss about the quality of the image. In terms of a long term solution, i walk away with half of the budget of a cinematograph who’s shooting on film.

    Best Regards
    Randy Tomlinson – Cinematographer

  • Yevghenij Ribalko

    Film exists for an artistic expression on canvas with texture. Digital
    technology came for producing -visual contents- for flat screens and is very good at this.

    For example a shot of still glass of water on a table made by still digital cinema camera will look just like a photo, a digital photo. All of its 24 frames every second are totally the same pixel-by-pixel, so you will not even notice the frames running. But when you shoot the same on film – you actually fell how time is running in the shot (YES!). Every frame is unique, changing each other, the time is running! And this is a nature of cinema – a fixation of time, not the movement, but time! There can be no movement in time, but the time will naturally flow! And this is in the blood of a film stock! And only film can fix it and viewer will fell it – no doubt! It is just like in the real world where you always feel the running of time. So, how dare we to loose it with digital? Isn’t it against the nature of cinema? And with digital you loose that part – the movement must present in the shot to prove it is a movie or you will get a fullscreen photo hanging and waiting for you “to press any key to continue…”. This is an unacceptable loss in artistic arsenal. And for me personally – a fundamental drawback of digital technology, a degradation of cinema expression possibilities. Can’t imagine “The Mirror” or “Stalker” shot on digital.

    I think that shooting film will become -cool-, because now a lot of top DOPs, after touching digital technology choose film. The story repeats – these days music on vinyl is only for those who knows, that mp3 was not a progress in sound quality.