How many still shoot film?

Started Sep 16, 2013 | Discussions thread
Fogsville Contributing Member • Posts: 577
Re: nooo... :)

Midwest wrote:

DigitalJay wrote:

Film tonality IS a wonderful thing, but all the film images we are looking at here have become digital by the scan process. So the answer is (in some form) "Yes".

The answer is "Yes", period. Anyone who thinks the appearance of these digitized film shots is superior to digital photos is seeing something that is not there because now they are digital photos.

That's not quite the correct answer. First, think of motion picture films that originate on film stock. The film is telecine'd (scanned and digitized) for non-linear editing and color grading (nobody uses Steenbeck or Moviola flatbed editing systems anymore and haven't for quite a long time now.)  Once the film is 'in the can' (ready for distribution), there are choices: the product is finished onto print film for conventional projection and/or finished in a digitized format for digital projection. The digitized format becomes a digital file called a digital cinema package (DCP.) The DCP is encrypted and needs to be ingested by the server and projector in order to screen the film. The final edited film (whether it's a projection print or a DCP) will also be archived onto an asset film using a film recorder for storage purposes as an archival copy (unfortunately digital is not archival; even films that were captured originally in digital are recorded onto film for archiving. Kodak introduced another new asset film for these purposes just last year.)

A digital projection of a movie from an original film capture is not the same as a digital projection of a movie that was digitally captured. It is a different aesthetic and it's why there are directors, DPs, and cinematographers who still use and prefer film. And why the major studios still have long term contracts with Kodak (who still makes motion picture film; Fuji pulled out of the motion picture industry this spring.)

Now think about still photography. An image that is captured on film can be scanned using a PMT scanner (aka drum scanner) and turned into a digital file just like in the motion picture industry. It can then be software edited just like in the motion picture industry. The finished file can be either projected digitally (i.e., viewed on a monitor or digitally projected with a projector) or it can be 'reverted' back to analog in the form of a print. And I don't mean a digital inkjet print. It can be printed onto analog photographic paper (RA-4 for color or FB for B+W; e.g., B+W with the Hostert processor) by exposing the paper using an Océ Lightjet laser printer and processing it chemically (just like any light sensitive substrate, e.g., Fujiflex polyester.)

The aesthetic of the drum scanned film and laser printed photograph (using conventional chemistry and silver halide paper) is unlike a photograph that originated as a digital capture and either viewed on a machine (e.g., a computer monitor) or printed as an inkjet print (or even as a Lightjet print onto analog paper.)  And that's why many photographers still use and prefer film.

Yes, there is a point where the film becomes a digital file, but it does not give up its film qualities.  If that were the case, no film director or still photographer who desires film qualities and the film aesthetic would let their film get telecine'd or scanned to become a digital file in the first place.  They originate their product on film for a reason.  And that is to maintain a film aesthetic.  If you or any other viewer cannot discern the differences, that's just an issue of not being able to discern the differences.  But the producer of the image can.  And until that aesthetic is no longer desirable or a digital capture device can absolutely replicate in totality that film aesthetic, then there will be people using film.  In the motion picture industry where the technical development of digital capture is at a very high level (and with very expensive products), that time may well be near.

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