Monday, November 26, 2012

Film is Dead, Long live the new digital

I know what you're saying. I've heard this all before, and I would of agreed with you in the past, but a few things have happened in the past month or so that has changed my mind. One is that I went to the Content and acquisition expo in New York a few weeks ago, and the other was while watching the latest Bond film "Skyfall". Canon was holding seminars on digital cinema at the expo, and the one person who was giving the seminar was a cinematographer/director whose name is Felix Alcala.   Felix has a number of years under his belt as a cinematographer/gaffer/grip, and now he's been directing episodic TV. So the guy has a lot of experience in the world of production. I loved his "can do" mentality. He was quite inspirational in his seminar about shooting digital, and how filmmaking is getting smaller. No longer the BIG crews, but smaller crews and lighter cameras. Cameras that can do MORE then the film cameras could. Resolution, and quality has come up in the digital arena, and projects done in digital have a quality that is surpassing film. I'll agree that film is a GREAT archive format.  It can really help save a lot of films past and present from deteriorating and from never being seen again. Shooting on film isn't necessary anymore. The sensitivity and the latitude of digital cameras sensors are becoming better and better. While seeing the latest James Bond film called "Skyfall" I was amazed at the clarity and the beauty of the shots in the film. In the end of the film their is a shot of a burning building illuminating the country sky, and I swear I haven't seen such beautiful shots since Terrance Malick's film "Days of Heaven".  But don't take my word for it over at Kat Clay's blog she makes a great case for Skyfall to become a masters class in cinematography. The images were breathtaking. The film was shot on a ARRI ALEXAs, and is the first Bond film to be captured completely digitally. Roger Deakins was the cinematographer on the film, and you've seen his work on many different types of movies. There's a great article located here on how and why Deakins shot the film the way he did.

All I will say is see Skyfall, and tell me I'm wrong. I really felt that this film blew the lid off digital acquisition.  So back to the statement is film dead?  I have to say yes.  But does this mean the death of film.  I think not, but if your a producer you're probably already going digital, and still photography has really embraced digital, so much so that Kodak stopped making film.

I'm a real enthusiast of film, and it will always be a part of my pallet, but I am already doing more in digital then I did in film.  That should mean something.  Seeing the quality surpass film is very heartening, and exciting.    Felix Alcala was also very enthusiastic about digital cinema, and he showed us a short that he and his partner did, and that was done on a Canon camera, and it looked great.  The camera is the new EOS 300.

His film is located here:

For people to say that film is better I cannot agree with that statement.  The argument between digital vs. film cannot be made any more.  Digital has arrived and it looks great.  As artists we should embrace it, and move forward.  No longer is film making steeped in the mysterious.  It can be done by many, and all you need is a camera and laptop.    That's what Mr. Alcala was so enthused about, and I have to say I agree with him.  Digital knocks down walls, and it's been a long time coming.  Francis Ford Coppola  once said that someday we'll all be blown away by a film made by some "fat little girl living in Ohio".  Maybe I can be that fat girl or maybe you can.  It opens up cinema, and by new innovations happening better cinema is to come.  New technology breeds innovation.  It happened in film several times.  Once when film went from silent to sound, and then from black and white to color, and from there smaller portable cameras were developed that sporned the New Wave.

I have to agree with Felix that filmmaking is getting better, and the best is yet to come.  

More to come from my notes at Content & Acquisition Expo....

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