youtube channel for steve oakley
Facebook logo for steve oakley

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Film Is Near Dead, My Post Censored

So a website named after a farm animal censored my post. That's nothing new there, just horribly lame and pathetic. They have a big post about film's last gasps of life, to which I basically posted, WHO CARES ! Given that the post was written by some one who clearly could not differentiate between appreciating a great medium and realizing its time had past and needed to move on, no surprise almost. Really I've had some negative comments here or on YouTube and was tempted to kill them, but I left them. I'll take some heat if you don't agree with me or have an intelligent argument I might not agree with. I'm a big kid :) !

However this other site was just gushing over how if it wasn't shot on film they couldn't emotionally connect to it as well as something shot on "video". I nearly barfed on that one. Clearly they haven't seen my short film A Great Life to make the comment you can't connect as well to something shot on ... ! Ok digital cinema camera ! get over it for just once. Of course the person making that post worked at ... AHEM... a film lab in LA. Any self interest  in keeping dead medium alive here ? any ?

Its not like I haven't shot 35mm16mm and Super 8. It was cool, it was the best we had 10 or 20 years ago. It lasted 100+ years because it was good, but its been surpassed. Get over it already. I'm sorry if some way of life has been a bit lost, and some jobs lost. What about the jobs gained elsewhere ? What about all the people like me who are making amazing images and its not costing them $500 for 11 minutes worth of images ? That $500 you collected ? oh wait, could there be a motive here ? Nah ! No way you'd be interested in taking $500+ per 11 minutes of material shot times an entire industry. 

Even worse was that I also directly called out FotoKem ( written up in the article ), the great LA lab for having sent green dark dubs of major hollywood features for 2 years. I was doing work in a place cutting spots for those features. Oh yes we and some others complained, but it took 2 YEARS before some one finally figured out that a Beta SP deck there had a bad input board. One VTR that all our dubs came from. Magically the next set of tapes looked good. We lived for 2 years with a color correction to compensate their problem out... but wait, they said there was not problem. No way there was a problem. It has to be your on your end !  Its just the shear arrogance of the LA film crowd and all of those eating at the film trough that bother me. If it weren't for them the dslr revolution might of been a slow quite whimper rather than the huge bang that it was. RED never would of gotten the attention and product sales they did.

Of course this article and its responses just went off to the typical film circle jerk that often happens. Crazy claims of 4K and 8K resolution on 35 film. Really ?  shoot ISO 100, perfect exposure, F5.6, perfect processing and MAYBE you can pull 4K from a 35mm negative. Reality - about 2K or so resolution on ISO 250T  with decent glass and everything else went ok. What about using an older lens wide open... 4K ? no way. Then go to ISO 500 or  800 which is used a lot and you have maybe 2K of actual resolution under normal shooting circumstances. Sure you can capture it at 4K or more, but you are just making nice samples of the grain that's there. Once you leave the ivory tower for the real world what you get is quite different than perfect tests of resolution charts where the camera doesn't move, focus is perfect, iris is ideal, ect.... meanwhile for what a couple rolls of 35mm + processing + HD transfer would cost I have a digital cinema camera that makes better pictures shooting to SSD. The entire film chain of camera neg, cut neg, interpositives master copies and finally release copies kills a lot of the resolution. Now we have camera digital file, NLE ( maybe vfx touched ) files, graded files, DCP file playing in your local cinema or TV. So much of the losses with film are just gone.

Look, film is cool, but the continued exaggerated claims of its greatness have just worn on me. This is especially true when you get to dynamic range. As much as things have gone forwards with film, so have digital sensors and formats to record those images and edit them. Every time you hear a digital sensor added another stop of lattitude, so did film... maybe. At this point once you are into 12+ stops of dynamic range it just doesn't matter so much. Ok, so your digital format can do 14 stops. GREAT ! instead of using HMI's to balance daylight exterior to interior light ratios I can use fill cards, some LED lights or small HMI's that plug into the wall rather than ones that need a gennie + cables + crew to work it all. Its exactly that sort of thing I took advanatage of when I shot my short film a few months ago. The 12 stops of DR and high ISO's of the canon cinema cameras gave me a huge burst of freedom to not need  big lights and big crew to work them. Instead we did that indie dream of small crew, minimal gear, amazing results. In fact we didn't kill ourselves with moving tons of gear, balancing power loads and all the fun things of shooting... film.

 Sadly I'll never run another roll of 16 or 35mm thru a camera, and happily I don't have to worry about it either. I've kept many of the good habits of shooting film like controlled thought out takes into the digital age. Lets face it, at edit time I don't need 5 hrs of takes for a 20 sec spot. What I do need will probably be found in 15-30 mins of thought out, controlled, well done takes... just like the film daze.

Your thoughts ?