Originally Posted by Lee Stewart
You can wave the "35mm is better" flag all you want. The fact of life is that due to the generation loss, audiences see a fraction of the resolution that is on the OCN. They are seeing better resolution at home then they see at their local cinema. And Hollywood is "stepping it up a notch" when this year they begin to release 4K movies on 4k projection systems.
The major benefit of digital versus 35mm = you see the results instantly. That saves time and money. Two items that are MOST important when shooting a movie.
Laziness it not an excuse for mediocre images.
And resolution is but one rather small part of the picture. I'm the first one to cheer the continued improvements in digital cameras, it just irritates me when people sit around saying "film is dead!" as if digital cameras have vanquished film altogether in quality and in reality.
Many of the choices to shoot digitally have to do with economics, not picture. And that's fine.
The capacity of digital cameras to enable
filmmakers is amazing. You see them deployed brilliantly in films like Children of Men
, or in Michael Mann's amazing night shots (which simply aren't possible at all
on film), or in allowing James Longley to shoot Iraq in Fragments
practically by himself with some prosumer camcorders. I have seen, and continue to see, digital cameras deployed for excellent reasons and to excellent effect. But often, the reason is arbitrary, or cost-related, and the comparison to 35mm just doesn't hold up, yet
. It will
, but it doesn't yet.
Everything I've seen so far that I've really applauded on digital, has been either because it enables the filmmaker to make something not achievable on film logistically, OR because it goes all-in to capture a style that is possible digitally that is not possible on film (a-la Michael Mann).
I mean, you can say that realistically 35mm film prints in the theater barely reach 1080p quality, and are soft and full of grain. And you could logically say that a pristine digital 1080p or 2k viewing of something shot in HD, say even HDCAM or HDCAM SR will beat 35mm film.
But I just recently watched the french film Cache
, shot in HDCAM I believe, and it looks like absolute sh*t
. And you could preach all you want about it yielding far better MTF than what is accomplished at an average multiplex on generations-away 35mm, but at the end of the day it still looks like unmitigated sh*t. And when I see a film like that, the only excuse is cost. Because I can't fathom anybody looking at that and going "gee, wow, that looks just fantastic!" And sadly, it's also a fascinating film that might stand up to time, but just a few years later I look at that and go: eww, god that's a hideous-looking disaster. If it were 35mm, which is totally doable for this kind of very simple film, it would absolutely stand the test of time. Instead, it looks like a cheap mess, which is exactly what it is, and it's really unfortunate. And to me, that's frustrating be, because people are bailing out of film before there's an adequate lifeboat for them to jump into. They're bailing out into the ocean for nothing more than a life-vest, and it absolutely shows.
And the quicker digital cameras move along and my complaints become quaint and moot, the better.
Because I'm getting sick of looking at garbage, when films from 20-30 years ago kick the pants off anything I've seen digitally yet.
And when I see something like The Thin Red Line
, it's abundantly clear: there's no digital camera that can make that film. Or even when I see low-budget productions, something like Mira Nair's Monsoon Wedding
, shot in 16mm, it would be a horrible shame if she had the capability to shoot that digitally and was forced to do that because of cost or logistics. An absolute travesty. And we can wax on about 4k cameras and distribution, and laugh
at the low MTF and grain of 16mm, but at the end of the day Monsoon Wedding would be a cruel joke shot on the Red One.