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HD and UHD ( 2K+ ) Digital Cinema
Various topics: HD, UHD (2K / 4K) Digital Cinema acquisition to distribution.

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Old February 18th, 2009, 09:29 PM   #16
Inner Circle
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: San Mateo, CA
Posts: 3,840
What sort of percentage would you consider a 'changeover'? Fifty percent? Seventy five percent?

When more than fifty percent of feature films are shot digitally, and more than fifty percent of theaters are projecting digitally, I think you can say "We're five years away" from going completely digital - with only the odd feature shot in 35mm.

It's anyone's guess in this economy - mine would be another decade before we see that.
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Old February 20th, 2009, 11:08 AM   #17
American Society of Cinematographers
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Posts: 123
I basically think we are one generation away in digital camera technology from a major switchover for features (for television, we're already in the middle of a major switchover, partly driven by the SAG-AFTRA mess, not by technology).

We had the F900 now for nine years and the Varicam for eight. It wasn't until the next generation of high-end digital cameras came out (the Viper, F950, F23, Genesis, D21, RED, etc.) and were out for a few years so that inventories could be built up (the RED obviously being introduced in great numbers more rapidly than the others) that we've seen producers more willing to switchover now that they have greater options to choose from than just the F900 and Varicam.

But the image quality of these new high-end cameras are still slightly below what one can get from 35mm film, though not in all departments (obviously they are less grainy than film and more steady, for example). Some would say that the resolution is close enough. Some seem better in low-light than 500T film stock while others are actually worse than what we can get with film. Size & weight, frame rate options, etc., well there are all sorts of choices now.

If the NEXT generation that gets released in the next two years has an improvement in dynamic range, and then is out long enough for inventories to build up and reliability to be established, workflow to be worked out... then producers will not only have those new options but the current high-end options like the F35, Genesis, etc. will have fallen further in price to rent or buy.

Once that happens, I think we will be in that final tipping over point where within a few years, more high-end feature projects will opt to shoot digitally than will opt to shoot on film, leaving film to slowly fade off in usage after that.

So who knows, all told, that may mean five years, seven years, until the day comes when we wonder who is out there still shooting movies on film. Which is not much time actually. But I don't think it's going to happen with our current choices, and with the downturn in the economy and the scaling back at places like Sony (even RED has announced a slowdown in development), major leaps forward in camera design, sensitivity, dynamic range, workflow, may be slowed down a little. Same goes for the switchover to digital cinema screens.

However, narrative television could easily see a near-total switchover away from film with our current choices, mainly as a cost-cutting device, over the next two or three years.
David Mullen, ASC
Los Angeles
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