Whose side are you on: Film or Digital?

Okay, we’re going to get real honest here.  When I found out we were watching a documentary comparing digital and film cameras I was disappointed.  I kind of had hope for the documentary part of the film because I like nature documentaries (especially those with the over dramatic narrator).  But nope, just a bunch of pompous white guys essentially complaining about their job to a forced audience.  Though I kind of had mixed feelings about the overall content, I surprised myself by learning something.

First of all, I had no idea people still used film cameras especially in huge box office hits like the “Dark Knight.”  Just thinking about how many cases of films they would have had to lug around makes me tired.  Cinema in general just seems like a very time consuming process, one for which I lack the attention span.  I thought that everyone used digital cameras because of the addition of CGI and editing technology.  I did not even know it was possible to convert films to digital and work with it that way.  I was shocked once again when they mentioned how many pixels the first digital video cameras were.  My cell phone has more pixels than that clunky thing.  Seriously, I could have shot a movie on my cellphone and it would have looked way clearer!

Which is probably why some of the older guys featured in this documentary were very strongly clinging to film.  Film seems to have become some ancient ceremony, one only ancient monks hidden away in some lost city continue.  I personally only use digital point and shoot type cameras (as seen in the image above in the mirror of the jeep; look closely).  Before I used to have a pretty good film camera and it would drive me nuts because I had to wait for my pictures (I am beyond impatient so this was basically like dragging nails down a chalk board).

The part I most appreciated about this documentary was how focused it was on the behind the scenes aspect of movie making.  There are so many little steps I did not even know existed like color touch ups, and industrial film developers.  Most of us mere mortals know only of the actors who flex their muscles in front of the camera not the person actually using their muscles to hold the camera.  No matter the medium, film or digital, I think the real shots are obtained by at least in part by luck.  There are so many variables to anticipate, especially camera type, and with experience, more can be accounted for, but something can always go wrong.  So whatever way works, film or digital, just use it.

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3 thoughts on “Whose side are you on: Film or Digital?

  1. SPOTLLAMA: I really enjoyed your review of Side by Side. You were frank, honest and were able to keep me interested and entertained until the end of your review. Like you, I was also amazed at the fact that film is still being used in many productions up to this day. I also noticed the age of the some of the dedicated ‘film users’, but was mostly surprised at the younger directors who are determined to continue film technology because of the aesthetics.

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  2. I really liked reading your post! I agree that I surprised myself by learning some new things I didn’t expect! I ended up liking this film and I enjoyed hearing the different views and feelings about film and digital uses. To me it seems that digital is just so much easier to use. I don’t really have any experience with film though so I wouldn’t know too much which is better. Great job!

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  3. Speaking on behalf of pompous white guys, I enjoyed reading your insight. I was amazed at all of the work that goes into making a typical Hollywood film. All of the time, effort, and constant swapping of the film between companies before it is good to go was nuts! That alone makes me in favor of digital. I also understand your frustration with using film but like some people said in the movie, it gives you a surprise to look forward to and makes your shots really count. When there is money burning every time you start to film or take a picture… everyone takes things a little more seriously and gives their best. I think the bigger issue with the film was that people were picking one over the other instead of just accepting both and using whatever medium best tells the story.

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