Only after I watched Sidney Lumet’s ‘Before The Devil Knows You’re Dead’ did I learn that it was in fact shot on video. Maybe that’s because I just wasn’t paying attention, but I suspect it’s much more to do with the increase in quality of video cameras and related equipment today. So with the increased quality of video equipment available coupled with the possibility of the whole production and distribution process being done digitally what is the future of film? Do filmmakers really need those hugely expensive, cumbersome, heavy cameras, dolly tracks etc or are we entering an age where every director will use digital video technology? What effect do you think that will have on future film production?
EDIT: Also – knowing how technology goes, it’s just a matter of time until video can absolutely replicate the ‘look’ of film to such a degree that nobody could tell the difference. Surely then all filmmakers would switch because there would be no reason not to.
I still do not think that every director will use digital, as, right now, it does not look as good as film. Wally Phister said that in an interview in American Cinematographer once, where he was discussing the use of film and IMAX to shoot The Dark Knight.
Now, though, here’s my deal; no, digital does not look as good as film, but how can it? And why would someone want it to? Technology is always advancing, and digital might just be the next step. I mean, I still love film, and I love to see movies shot on film, no doubt, because it does look beautiful and fantastic. If, however, someone wants to shoot on digital, be my guest. I would say that digital can ground a story in a sense of reality. Just look at Public Enemies. It feels grounded in life, because it looks like it could have been shot on home video, or something. I don’t know. Either way, I guess.
Yes, but film is not what it used to be either. A lot of films go direct to dvd now without having an extensive theatrical run. In terms of actually savoring the look of 35 mm on a big screen — that doesn’t seem to be how people are consuming most films these days.
The idea that digital will never look as good as film is a little ridiculous. Consider this: Film has had a 100+ years to achieve its look. Digital has made leaps and bounds in a fraction of that time. And as I stated in the Public Enemies thread, look at Zodiac and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. If you can SERIOUSLY tell the difference between the digital used there and film, you’re lying.
I’ll respond to this topic later today when I have a little more time but I wanted to remind people that many parts of Benjamin Button were in fact shot on film and Fincher has stated he’d absolutely shoot a whole movie on film if he thought it served the story.
Okay, fair enough but the fact that a lot of directors use digital and film in the same movie and you can’t tell the difference is further proof that digital isn’t the shoddy, inferior format “purists” make it out to be.
Michael, I never said that digital would never look as good as film, only that it does not right now, and that is why some people are staying away from it. In Wally Phister’s interview, he said that if ever digital was to look as good as film, he’d change over, but that right now that wasn’t the case.
Interesting to note that Harris Savides, the guy who shot Zodiac, has said the digital is not there yet. It may someday but right now, film is still the superior capture medium.
It was perfect for the dream-hazy state of Inland Empire. I think it really added something that some of the shots were slightly blurred or washed out. I don’t really make a fetish of “empty clarity.” What good is high definition if nothing in the shot is interesting?
“If you can SERIOUSLY tell the difference between the digital used there and film, you’re lying.”
Them I’m a liar. Because I could notice the digital look in Zodiac as soon as I sterted watching it. The main reason DF shoots digital is to match the CGI he seems addicted to.
Zodiac has been called a benchmark by professionals in the business and I agree it looked fantastic. But Zodiac is the exception when talking about digital; most films shot digitally do look that way and unfortunately, there are limitations that even the best digital camera has (see Apacolypto, Che, etc.).
I would slightly disagree with Francisco that Fincher uses the Viper b/c of CGI. Spielberg, Bay, and countless other directors used CGI but insist on shooting on film. I don’t think one necessarily is a requirement for the other and I think Fincher’s desire to shoot on digital has more to do with the capabilities of the camera and his interest in the technology. But like I said, Fincher has stated he’d still shoot on film if he felt it necessitated it.
Wait a minute – how many well known films have been shot on video so far? So there’s (most of) Benjamin Button, Zodiac, Before The Devil Knows You’re Dead, Che, Apocalypto, Miami Vice and now Public Enemies. Anything else?
Miami Vice looked like CRAP.
Rumplesink – A lot of films are being shot on digital these days. You mention well known dramas but most comedies are being shot on digital camera as well. I don’t have an answer to your question that is easily ready – I should know this and if I had kept up my subscription to American Cinematographer I would know of more films to name. Collateral comes to mind.
DANCER IN THE DARK
Yes, you can definitely tell the difference. For those who clamor on about not being able to “tell the difference”, I ask, is that the point? Is it an aesthetic of subterfuge? If so, what’s the big deal, then, and why bother? Viper, Red One, F-23, who cares? Jia Zhangke has created a beautiful, intelligent and formally ambitious digital aesthetic, and he’s not using one of the marquee brands. He and a few others are pointing the correct way, particularly for independent-minded filmmakers who want to explore the digital medium. Let industrial Hollywood have their brand name, uber-expensive digital toys. Who cares?
Fredo – I know there are a lot of sitcoms etc on TV that use video and I think usually it’s quite noticeable there. I was thinking more in terms of big name films in the cinema that everyone would be aware of. Michael Mann is obviously very keen. Has he stated (as David Lynch has) that he intends to use only video from now on?
And so far, Inland Empire is still the only film that makes really good, pointed use of DV — which is to say, not trying to make it look like 35 mm but exploiting its ability to suggest extremes of perception, and gray areas of perception.
He has stated (as David Lynch has) that he intends to use only video from now on?
I hope David Lynch springs for the cost of a DP next time.
Rumplesink – I don’t know if Mann has stated he will only shoot on digital going forward. He might have although my suspicion is that he’s smart enough to know not to paint himself in a corner like that. Lynch can do that b/c it Lynch but Michael Mann makes very different films and he may someday need to use film for something that he’s working on. But like I said, I don’t know what his position is other than he seems to love the new technology and is willing to experiment with it (like in Miami Vice). My guess is that he’s looks at the new technology very much like Fincher does and will use whatever he feels fit.
The only films that I’ve seen where shooting digital actually enhanced the story is Three Monkeys and Rachel Getting Married. Both of these films exploit and embrace the medium and do it quite well.
I don’t know how I feel about this. On the one hand, digital will soon be the dominant form of filmmaking, and Inland Empire was pretty good.
On the other hand, I think it would have been a lot better had it been shot on film. I don’t know why. It’s probably just me noticing details and being picky, but there’s something about celluloid that just looks nice. Not nicer than digital, but still nice. Maybe it’s what film connotes in the overall history of filmmaking, I don’t know.
“I hope David Lynch springs for the cost of a DP next time.” :)
I know what you mean, Bookwibble, but in the interests of affordable filmmaking, I think that attachment to 35 mm is something we should all get over. When I think of how crappy most films are, and how mega-expensive they are, I’d much rather see directors use DV. And great beginning filmmakers will embrace it more and more the way they used to embrace super 8 and 16 mm and even old style video.
What good is a technically accomplished look if the content is idiotic and the director has nothing to say?
Filmmakers can use either as far as I’m concerned. My fear is an all 3D movie world. PLEASE DON’T LET 2D DIE!
KJ, the point isn’t so much making it exactly like film but dismissing it as an “inferior” medium. Different is a good word but some people are downright ridiculous about it (not referring to anyone here). And what about Zodiac makes it obvious it was shot on digital?
I like the look of digital, I’m not going to say it trumps film. It is own its own thing but when old pros like Michael Mann, Francis Ford Coppola and David Lynch are swearing by it, why are people still so dismissive of it?
“Anything you can do with film, I can do with HD.” – Sidney Lumet
>Digital has made leaps and bounds in a fraction of that time.
And something like expansion in data storage capacities (which have exploded, in the 21st century, even at the consumer level) will have an effect that no one can foresee.
Do directors NEED film? No, I suppose not. But it’s entirely a matter of personal taste and aesthetics. I refuse to shoot digital because then it doesn’t feel authentic to me. It’s absolutely a matter of taste. People will certainly start using digital more than film (I expect that documentary will soon be an entirely digital genre), but film will always have it’s uses. It’s not a matter of film being ‘needed’ anymore. It’s simply that now digital is very reasonable option.
And what about Zodiac makes it obvious it was shot on digital?
Did you notice the night scenes? The sharpness and infinite depth of field? Using 35mm, do you know the amount of light you’d have to flood the set with to acquire that kind of effect, if even? You saw that same effect it in “Collateral”, you saw it in “Miami Vice”. I did not say it was inferior, but different. What I did say was I’m so tired of all the “You can’t tell the difference” hyperbole, when that’s just not true. I did single out Jia Zhangke as being someone who is doing remarkable work with digital cameras. But since he’s not linked to the RedOneCineAltaVipercam and he’s not part of industrial Hollywood, with their obscene budgets and playthings, he doesn’t count, I guess.