Monday, June 30, 2008

Film vs Digital (the argument continues)

I read a lot about production, and sometimes I come across some really good interviews with either a filmmaker or cinematographer or editor. In a recent interview in the magazine "Student Filmmakers" I came across an interview with Richard Crudo ASC. He is a director of photography and more recently a director of a film entitled "Last Night".

The interview is in the November 2007 edition, so if you want to read it you can go on over to Student filmmakers website and see how to acquire it.

The part I thought of interest is where Crudo is asked about his opinion about digital technology today and his opinion on HD cameras.

"Clearly digital technology is the future of what we do. There's no question about that. Unfortunately, the future isn't here yet. And the industry has been sold an enormous bill of goods with regard to what this technology's current capable of doing..."

Crudo goes on say "Primarily digital needs to improve in these areas: color space, contrast, quality of the blacks, and resolution. We need a interoperable system of color management. We also need a widespread adaptation of Technicolor's Digital Printer Light System, which is an absolutely brilliant way of returning control of the dailies process to the cinematographer."

"The ASC has gone a long way in driving a lot of efforts in these areas, and we will continue to do so. In many cases today you've got digital technology- a brand new way of doing the same thing - reinventing the wheel. But the trouble is that the wheel is too often surrounded by a flat tire. The unfortunate thing for us is that rather then starting at a point at least equal to the best of what the existing technology delivered (i.e. 65mm), digital started at a point 40 notches down the pole. Through a massive wave of diabolically smart marketing, people (some producers, studio executives and others who don't know any better) were taught to believe that anything new is automatically better. And they bought it no questions asked. It's another tool in the box that has its own applications. But to me the downside still outweighs the benefits. For the thinking cinematographer, digital technology is still not at the point where we need it to be. And it's not going to be for a very long time."

I kind of agree on this. If you said I can do it cheaper digitally then on film I would be the first to tell you that you're wrong. I could shoot on film and edit on film, and still produce a film cheaper then you could do on digital. Why? Because in digital you're hit in post production with the expenses. Everyone may be able to edit on Final Cut or Avid, but you have to output it eventually, and that's where it's going to cost. The old argument that something "new" is better is horse shit.

I'm not saying digital is wrong, or it's evil. I'm just saying that it isn't there yet, and for people to tell you that You YOURSELF can produce product like Hollywood does is a lie. You can get your film to a certain stage, but if you want or need worldwide distribution then it's going to cost, and don't get me started on E & O insurance. But I digress, and so I'll close with Richard Crudo's comments on digital technology. In his comment he explains the crux of the conflict which is "image capture".

"(Image capture) represents the dividing line between people who think digital technology is the answer to every question and the people who think it represents an incomprehensibly poor way of "improving" things. In its simplest terms, it comes down to this: people who prefer digital technology above all always use the term "image capture" in relation to what we call "original photography". People who have come through the filmic tradition, who have that discipline in their bones, will use the term "image creation". The best way to think of the schism is to imagine a bunch of engineers dictating to artists what they think the artist will need instead of the other way around. This is one of the biggest factors that's slowing the actual maturation of digital technology - which we're all desperately hungry for."

No comments: