^Imagine if you had seen it on IMAX (aka “film”).
“I’m sure if you gave a “filmmaker” today a changing bag and a film mag, they’d freak out so hard they’d probably faint. lol”
So? Not saying you are making any sort of statement here, but other people in this thread definitely are.
When did the artform become defined by how difficult it is to use your instruments? It’s like longing for the days when guitar strings broke very easily or something.
I really don’t get how people can totally throw out the insane benefits that digital formats offer filmmakers. I don’t care if I can touch my film, I want people to watch it, not have sex with it. Talk about fetishes.
lol. It’s not about how difficult your instruments are; it’s about how well you know your instrument. It’s about learning your craft. One format requires advanced knowledge, skill, experience, craftsmanship, and expertise. The other does not.
“It’s like longing for the days when guitar strings broke very easily or something.”
In terms of the musical reference it’s somewhat more like longing for the days when people played without amplification. And it’s an interesting comparison. When Miles went electric there wasn’t an immediate backlash, some of his most well-received albums are played with that twangy Fender Rhodes. But when he took his own trumpet and amped it… <—That backlash had to do with the characteristics of the horns in jazz, not the practical application of it in his music at that time.
Miles had an interesting something to say about electric, though. It was without a judgment on his part, too. He stated people can become better, faster on electric instruments because you hear yourself better. True. But it also means that people tend to become sloppier because the time spent learning basics is reduced.
It’s a tool. It’s about how you use it, not what it is.
If digital had no merit there wouldn’t be a debate; where are the debates about film vs. analog video, or beta? And forty years ago the people that adore film on here would be downgrading the look of 16mm vs. the look of 35mm, and forty years before that they would be talking of the loss of quality after the switch to sound. These debates are cyclical and endless. It’s not actually about the technology at hand, just the opportunity to opine.
Notice that gap between the discussion of formal characteristics and practical application hasn’t yet been tackled by anyone on here…
“In terms of the musical reference it’s somewhat more like longing for the days when people played without amplification.”
I think it’s the other way around though. With my little camera and my little tripod and my little computer and my little group of friends, I can make a little movie for little money that will ultimately end up on a little screen somewhere, if I’m a little lucky.
Most digital films made aren’t even screened on a big screen, much less for an audience. It’s like lo-fi musicians making albums in their bedroom, or aphex twin making his electronic albums using all electronic means.
The only sad part is- digital films have not really had the same luck digital music or digital writing has. Digital films still take money and time, but most people won’t see them, much less pay for them.
That’s why I’m interested in making films the same way someone writes a novel or makes an album. I don’t want to have to worry about my “one shot” or “Getting funding”. If no one is likely to see my movies outside of a handful of people on the internet, then I want to actually have fun making them and focus solely on the art of it- what I want to say and how I will say it. Just the very basics of real world filming- with NOTHING but a camera- require a lot of practice and some money.
So why I would want to dash that and bring in the costs of film and film cameras and film processing and digitizing baffles me. I’m sure you could make 8mm films relatively cheaply and they would be very unique looking, but for me personally I could make the same films cheaper with digital (even Standard Def) and have way more clarity and control (and fun!) doing it.
I don’t know why I’d worry about film in this instance. If you’re already accustomed to film and have the resources, then God’s speed. Since I do not foresee a time when I’ll have those resources, I am sticking to my 1s and 0s.
Right, Mr. Pastuch. Precisely. Beautifully put. And I think that’s the attitude that actually makes the most of digital.
It’s not a comparison of formal quality of the media, but of formal intent of the filmmaker.
^If they don’t teach that in film school it doesn’t really matter how much skill or expertise one holds over their “instrument.”
“To me, things seem faster, cheaper and easier (technically) with digital. This allows me to concentrate on artistic decisions and not so much on monetary and technical ones (there are still tons of technical things to learn and monetary worries).”
“It’s not a comparison of formal quality of the media, but of formal intent of the filmmaker.”
Reading this thread, I get a sense that artistic decisions and the chosen medium (film or digital) are two separate things. But isn’t the decision of a filmmaker to choose film over digital (or vice versa), to use this medium over that medium, an artistic decision in itself? Don’t you think – if a director is creative enough – most monetary and technical decisions become artistic decisions?
For example, in the Philippines, digital cinema has resurrected Philippine cinema, with filmmakers as diverse as Lav Diaz, Khavn, Sherad Anthony Sanchez, etc. However, some Philippine filmmakers – trying to find new means of creative expression – are going back to the film medium. Raya Martin’s BUENOS NOCHES, ESPANA, Shireen Seno’s BIG BOY were two 2011 films that were shot in 16mm, and digital filmmaker John Torres’ latest movie will be filmed in 35mm. I don’t know the real causes of this return to celluloid (could it be related to the Instagram revolution?), but it couldn’t have been a financial one (after all, film is still relatively expensive). So would it be presumptuous to infer that this return to film was above all an artistic choice, a return to craftsmanship so to speak?
“But isn’t the decision of a filmmaker to choose film over digital (or vice versa), to use this medium over that medium, an artistic decision in itself?”
Absolutely. They are not separate things at all. Most (if not all) technical decisions, you would hope, would be based on artistic decisions. That’s what separates the master from the novice. You would hope that with whatever choices are made, they are based on an understanding of what those choices mean and what the decisions represent to the work. God forbid you arbitrarily are making choices without any knowledge or comprehension. All filmmaking is is making choices and being specific about knowing what choices to make.
Digital is not bad. It has it’s place. The problem (and this goes for any tool – i.e. see Steadicam) is that a lot of filmmakers don’t know when to use it or how to use it. But this goes back to experience and knowing your craft. Jonathan Demme shot Rachel Getting Married digitally and it was brilliant. The film would’ve been very different (and in my opinion, not nearly as effective) had he shot on film. But Demme knows what he’s doing. And he understands the ramifications of the medium and how to best exploit it for artistic purposes. But for people who don’t know anything about anything to just pick up a 5D and say “I’m going to shoot digital because it’s cheap and easy” and then go about trying to make a movie blindly without any understanding of the format is just silly.
I try to be open minded and am appreciative of the democratization that digital technology has brought cinema. More voices in a medium mean more opportunities for enlightenment. I get that. It’s the negative aspects of “now everyone is a filmmaker!” that just irk me because there exists a level of disrespect that gets placed on the art form when everyone thinks they are director simply because they can buy an HVX.
It’s the same issues I have with photography.
I know I’m an asshole and we’ve been having this same discussion since the inception of Mubi three years ago so I know I’m pissing in the wind at this point.
I totally get your point, Santino. Craftsmanship has fallen in value ever since wannabe filmmakers began picking up cheap digital cameras. By the way, I love digital filmmaking. I think its mobility (one can shoot anywhere with relative ease) and the immediacy of its workflow (how one can shoot footage then upload it to the world wide web in a couple of minutes) has allowed more filmmakers (more than when film was the only available format) from all around the world to record and bear witness to what exactly is going on today (not necessarily the same things one finds in the news headlines), for example, the video documents of BURMA VJ, those Youtube videos of the Arab Spring, or (as Falderal mentioned) the work of Ai Weiwei. I also believe digital, since it is younger than film, has a greater potential for plasticity than film, from David Lynch’s INLAND EMPIRE to the video experiments of Khavn. But today I think many digital filmmakers are not exploring the grand potential of the medium they are using. It seems as if they use digital filmmaking as an easy escape route, since it is the easiest way to record footage, to record stories (I don’t want to incur the wrath of some people here, so I won’t name any names mc).
I’m not going to shell the extra bucks to see an IMAX screening. I paid quite enough for the digital edition screened and I certainly felt overwhelmed by the visuals without IMAX. That can attributed in part to the bright , clear, focused projection. Just how much better can the viewing experience get for it to be worth it? My issue is the lack of competent projectionists and until seeing the digital edition of MI: Ghost Protocol it had been years since I’d seen a film a that stayed in focus over the whole screen for the entire movie. The most common problem was one side of the screen was in better focus than the other. I will admit to having no idea what a digital projector does or how it works but the results I saw where so dramatic as to make me an immediate convert.
That sucks. I certainly can’t argue bad projection. I’m not a big proponent of IMAX (like you said, the extra cost is not worth it) but for films that were shot with IMAX cameras, the experience is quite breathtaking. The scenes in The Dark Knight and Mission Impossible 4 were awesome spectacles and really added to the overall movie-going experience. But for films like Avatar and Star Trek, I saw them in IMAX but I really didn’t need to and it didn’t add much.
I agree that one thing someone working in digital definitely needs is perspective. But it’s not always an artistic choice, it can just be a monetary one. “The only thing I can afford is to shoot with my DV camera and that’s it. What can I make?”
But consider Chris Marker, who turned to his cheap 16mm camera and a cheap tape recorder to make Sans Soleil. He wrote a little essay on it for the DVD release. And consider what Kiarostami has to say about tiny digital cameras now- now it’s even CHEAPER (cheaper meaning it’s easier to work a day job and still make your art).
The problem, as Kiarostami has pointed out, is that virtually no one has done anything very interesting with this new dynamic. They just take digital cameras and spruce them up to try to make them look as “professional” and as much like 35mm as possible. Of course not everyone has done this, some have tried some interesting things, but it never really evolved into anything in the way one would hope…
Or maybe it has? I’m sure I’m ignorant of a lot of stuff.
The real problem might not actually be film vs digital, the real problem might be that not enough people except indie film the same way they accept indie music.
Nowadays an indie musician can record and mix his whole song on his PC and release it to the world and gain a following. The indie film equivalent still seems to be looked down upon and seen with dread. Why is that? Sorry I’m rambling.
“lol. It’s not about how difficult your instruments are; it’s about how well you know your instrument. It’s about learning your craft. One format requires advanced knowledge, skill, experience, craftsmanship, and expertise. The other does not.”
A “filmmaker” does not load film. A 2nd AC does.
Regarding this idea of digital aesthetics as something to be nurtured on its own terms without miming film, this is yet another one of those things where that’s both to the point and beside it. As narrative cinema, which commands the grand majority, goes, no, digital aesthetics and film aesthetics are basically the same process of storytelling and worrying about whether the grain is ‘real’ or not is beside the point of whether the artist (director or DP or whomever) chose it to be there. Nevertheless it is true that the 35mm ‘look’ aspired to in DV is something of a waste of time — it’s not 35mm, so don’t pretend it is. I do not think a digital aesthetics as regards actual cinematography is too significant, except for the craft-level observation that some ‘filmmakers’ (but Lucas, in this case they probably mean directors of photography, who damn well should know) don’t know how to use film at all.
Of course in the experimental world digital aesthetics takes on a prominent influence that is only given just coverage based on the piece we’re dealing with specifically. And eventually those experiments wind their way into the world of mainstream film.
Nevertheless. The place where digital matters as a process more than film is digital workflow, which is not just cinematography but editing, visual effects, and motion graphics. Pixar is digital ‘film’ just the same as Public Enemies. The significance is the difference between a photo print lab and Photoshop: there’s a hyperreality at play and it’s the larger aesthetic influence in 3D beyond the inflated ticket costs. Avatar was an experimental film in virtual location shooting. I think it failed because traditional continuity editing doesn’t play as smoothly in 3D for physiological reasons —> 3D is stretching your eyes apart (literally) so your eyes are not as responsive to cuts, meaning in some places with Avatar I felt regular continuity editing felt like jump cuts whereas in 2D, the movie flows much, much more smoothly. Later on I saw that they had avoided similar fate in the new Pirates of the Carribbean movie, partly because they kept a stage-like flat quality to the compositions and camera movements as opposed to some dynamic reverse-shots and inserts. This is also probably because the director used to work on stage, and the ease-of-eyes result was unintended. But even later, by the time we reach Tintin we’ve arrived at a more fully realized, dynamic virtual ‘space’ and in 3D. Earlier ‘3D’ movies like Christmas Carol will look to future audiences like early sound films look to audiences today: unpracticed and a little disoriented, comparatively to the dynamically synced sound of later. However, since the primary narrative and continuity concerns of film language have already been developed, those changes are much, much, much slighter than the silent-to-sound conversion.
Nevertheless the point is that digital aesthetics ARE developing and differentiating themselves from film, and are largely the focus of newer Hollywood spectacle. We get Transformers from Hollywood today the way it looks today because Hollywood wasn’t able to make it look anywhere near like that back then. But less this seem like simply a defense of effects, it also informs workflow (digital intermediates, already mentioned; frame-by-frame toggle editing and even the idea of ‘non-linear editing’) and is starting to inform production processes (editors actually on set, editing the movie as it’s getting shot —> this is a real thing and gaining prominence). (I mention a lot of editing concerns because they’re the ones I’m most familiar with). Certainly many filmmakers, as already pointed out, profit from the versatility and smallness of a digital camera —> smaller crews can be more spontaneous, and also communicate more rapidly, which right now may be causing more dissonance than benefit in the indie world but in the industry has started changing the responsibilities, which inevitably change the way things are shot if again only in a way that a technical observer like me would notice. DPs increasingly are also Visual Effects Supervisors, since they need to know how to shoot toward effects. (Plate shots and all that). Sound mixers are benefiting from on-board camera sound since it helps syncing and also creates a basic stereo mix (eventually they chuck the on-board out because it’s bad sound but hey). This opens up a lot more real estate on sound mixes. Multicamera shoots are both cheaper and cut together easier because metadata syncs the timecode on each so that there is literal real-time continuity preserved between them.
ALL of this stuff whether the audience sees it or not is changing, if only slightly, the language of movies. Or, to put the ‘both the point and not’ into different words, we’re changing the syntax of film language but not the grammar.
i have a question for the filmmakers here.
i play music, and i prefer analog recording, but in recent years i’ve done a bit of experimenting with pro-tools for editing purposes (recording analog and dumping it onto pro-tools for mixing, etc).
i know very little about filmmaking, the cost of film, digital film editing programs, etc, but i’m just curious if anyone knows of people who do something similar for film?
You mean, do people shoot in film and then edit digitally? If that’s what you’re asking then yes, all the time, including in the indie/experimental industries.
^ If you’re big budget or at least keep this cost in mind, there’re digital intermediates that’ll transfer your film to digital. Most independent filmmakers use telecines. The go-for-broke sort of filmmakers that really just want a digital backup can do as much as project the film on a screen while videotaping it themselves. It looks horrid but it’s done, and often.
“You mean, do people shoot in film and then edit digitally?”
That’s how I operate. I’ve never cut actual film. I shoot on film, telecine, and edit digitally
^ nice, thanks for the info guys
You mean, do people shoot in film and then edit digitally?
Yes. I’d wager that most bigger films (those that are shot on film I mean) are edited digitally. I think Spielberg still cuts film, unless that’s an urban myth. The irony is even if you shoot and cut on film you’re going to have to make some sort of digital version, provided you want it exhibited theatrically these days. I suppose if money and time was no object you could conform it yourself, get an answer print and run it on the side of your garage using a 16mm projector.
I try to be open minded and am appreciative of the democratization that digital technology has brought cinema. More voices in a medium mean more opportunities for enlightenment. I get that. It’s the negative aspects of “now everyone is a filmmaker!” that just irk me because there exists a level of disrespect that gets placed on the art form when everyone thinks they are director simply because they can buy an HVX
“I think Spielberg still cuts film, unless that’s an urban myth.”
It’s not an urban myth however he did just switch over. He cut War Horse digitally, which was a first for him.
This reminds me of something Godard said a few years ago about digital cameras.
Someone asked him what he thought about everyone being able to make films now that digital cameras were so cheap, and it was something like:
“Anyone can use a camera. But not everyone can make cinema. Now everyone can THINK they can make cinema.”
I think YouTube is the true democracy. 90% noise, and everyone else just wants to tell you about their cat.
90% seems generous
YouTube must be AT LEAST 10% cat videos. That’s why I’m being generous.