In this present day, movies are of epic proportions. Multimillion dollar ventures include explosions, high technology, the most skilled actors and actresses and only the newest and greatest camera gear. Right? Let’s not forget James Cameron’s billion dollar venture of Avatar.
Sometimes, the best way isn’t always the newest way. Popular films such as Dark Knight Rises, Snow White and the Huntsmen, Djano Unchained, and Inception were all shot on FILM, as in, negatives and prints. I’ve been thinking about this for awhile now but didn’t really know how to go about speaking about it until today, when I came across a rather striking image that I found both impressive and inspiring.
These are all of the movies that were major hits this year and what do they have in common other than being awesome? They’re all shot on film.
“With so many winners and nominees on KODAK Film, we’re already looking forward to next year. Thank you for choosing to bring your stories to life on film, a medium that isn’t going anywhere.”
In a time when digital is glorified through technology and the latest updates, it’s really refreshing to see that film can still hold its own. Right now, 35mm is being pushed out by Hollywood and directors like Steven Spielberg and Christopher Nolan are on a mission to keep it around forever.
The reasoning behind that push is primarily pricing. In an article from LA Weekly, writer Gendy Alimurung says
“Today, the driving force isn’t so much a single movie as it is the studios’ bottom line — they no longer want to pay to physically print and ship movies. It costs about $1,500 to print one copy of a movie on 35 mm film and ship it to theaters in its heavy metal canister. Multiply that by 4,000 copies — one for each movie on each screen in each multiplex around the country — and the numbers start to get ugly. By comparison, putting out a digital copy costs a mere $150.”
So why do filmmakers prefer film over digital? Christopher Nolan, as found on The Hollywood Reporter, discusses why he prefers film.
“There’s a huge danger in all of this,” Nolan said while being interviewed at the annual Produced By Conference, presented by the Producer’s Guild of America. “If you are looking strictly at production cost, then you would use digital. But for the best image, it is still film.”
“The problem with the push to digital is its has been given a consumer aspect,” says Nolan,” who suggests it confuses the camera with an Ipad. “It’s not what is best for the film,” he insists.
Nolan said he thinks film is still best because it provides the filmmaker the most range, captures the most depth of image and works best as a tool to tell a story. Nolan said that moving to digital creates a risk of “devaluing what we do as filmmakers.”
I agree. I mean, they’re called FILMmakers. I don’t hate digital, in fact I think digital has offered a whole new world of opportunity to filmmakers but I just don’t think it’s quite on par with what film has to offer just yet.
So last question; if these movies were shot in film, then how do they add special effects? Most film goes through a digital intermediate process. That means the processed negative is uploaded on to a series of hard drives and then cut using an AVID or similar system to edit. This also allows effects shots to be dropped in seamlessly to the required frame. Similar to how I could Photoshop my scanned negatives once they were uploaded onto my computer.
I think that digital and film work well together, like cookies and milk. Pitting them against each other makes the piece suffer when it could be something beautiful. What do you think?