When I was a child my dad got a supper eight camera and shot our family movies. The family would sit at night, in the living room, while my dad put up the projector that screened our home movies. The quality of the films was poor and the audio sounded as if it came from far far away. Nostalgic as it may appear to some of us, there is not much to miss by the loss of the film format.
As a photographer I love the film format. A top-notch camera captures the light and color better than any high definition camera. The contrast can be very dramatic and the process of film development is extremely romantic. With that said, one must notice that esthetics only goes so far. There are other factors that should be taken into consideration.
Although film is superior in my view to digital it is also more complex and not so user friendly.
When shooting moving pictures Film is a highly difficult task:
o Film celluloid does not record audio and one needs a separate recording device. Focus is very complex and there is an additional person that operates that side of the camera.
o Film needs to be developed and can’t be seen immediately unless it is also recorded on a digital device.
o Lighting can be a lot more difficult than digital because film is highly sensitive.
o Reels need to be changed often in a highly difficult process involving unloading and reloading in the dark, with out the use of visual sight!
o Film material and the process of filmmaking is offensively expensive. It does not allow filmmakers to take a lot of takes and that creates more room for mistakes.
o High Cost of raw material makes it harder to acquire the desired practice, hone it and penetrate the film industry.
o Large crews are needed for a shoot.
o Big studios have absolute control of what is filmed and what is not. That means they control the amount of films made, talents and the content.
Digital camera revolution made shooting pictures easier:
o Audio is recorded on the same strip as the film, using multiple channels.
o Digital Cameras are user friendly and viewing the materials is possible Immediately, after a shot is taken.
o Materials are cheaper and allow plenty of takes. DV cassettes cost few dollars and allow at least 45 minutes of straight recording.
o Reloading a tape is simple and no “blind” practice is needed.
o Digital format is not as sensitive to light as film. Although it reduces some of the contrast and color range, it also reduces the amount of light needed.
These digital format advantages allowed a huge change in media. Documentaries are popping out in great numbers. All one needs is a $2,000, 3 chip camera and a desire to tell a story. The home computer may be a good enough solution to edit the film and compose the sound track.
The Internet is full of Websites introducing amateur work. These amateurs have the chance to make films in industry format and get discovered as talent.
Independent filmmakers are making feature films and do not need to answer to the big studios. Freedom of speech wins!
Even well known directors are shooting in high definition digital format. George Lucas made the first three ‘Star Wars’ digitally.
The digital renaissance age is already here. Innovations are swift and rapid and if you blink once, you may miss worthwhile. For this reason I keep a digital camera in my car, so I can record those happy moments, those extra ordinary moments, like my daughter’s first steps…. At night I hook the camera to the television and sit with my family to watch the movie of our lives.