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Old December 29th, 2008, 06:25 AM   #16
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I think the use of 16mm depends on the level you wish to teach your students to and how broad you wish their education to be. Some of the best film schools have traditionally just used stills in the early stages of their courses, so that students build up their visual vocabulary.

It could be argued that just giving students DV cameras is extremely limiting in the long run and they're not really exploring the medium in any great depth because their knowledge is limited by the use of the use of increasingly automated tools. Courses should allow students to explore both the older and the newer technologies and how they can interface. Sometimes there's a large amount of re-inventing the wheel going on and people are still rediscovering ideas from the 1920s film makers, only now they're a lot easier.

Just because it's new technology doesn't also mean it's better, quite a lot of CGI is becoming less impressive than the old model shots and less believable. Old skills and hard earned knowledge also needs to be applied to new technology.
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Old December 29th, 2008, 11:38 AM   #17
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TA film school that did not teach film would not be a film school. Film is still used almost exclusively for movies and primetime dramas. It still needs to be taught.
I agree whole heartedly with the added caveat that there is a place for digital video in film study to allow students to make inexpensive mistakes before committing to the budget of film. Framing, studies in focus and movement all retain their validity in HD or even SD video and can be practiced at significant savings BEFORE moving up to the "big leagues".
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Old December 29th, 2008, 12:28 PM   #18
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I was just thinking about another "advantage" of film - which in some ways I really do think of as an advantage. And I note that it's been mentioned in passing by a couple of posters who posted while I was thinking!

I think the advantage if you will is that with film (either still or motion) there's a tremendous premium on getting it right in the first place - in other words, you have to be familiar with your materials and your processes and you have to have a concept of what it is that you really want already formed in your mind before you push the button.

When I was doing a lot of large format work, I'd often force myself to go out for a day of shooting with only one filmholder in my car. Not because of the expense (although the film was and is expensive) but because it forced me to focus focus focus (and I don't mean just focusing the lens but focusing my thoughts) on what I was after and to evaluate each shot opportunity and question whether this was what I wanted to have as the final product of the day.

I think with digital, it's too easy/inexpensive to "commence firing" without having "taken aim" at a clear concept of what you're after, and then try to discover some "found art" after the fact.

Of course I'm just an old geezer who wrote my first computer program for pay 50 years ago this coming June and have (mis)spent my life in the "digital domain" ever since so why am I ranting against digital? Of course I'm not anti-digital, just concerned that without a grounding in and appreciation of film/analog, we're less well equipped to make the best of digital and manage the flexibility that it gives us as creative people.

Cheers!
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Old December 29th, 2008, 05:30 PM   #19
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Recently I got my 16mm projector out for the screening of some short films. All the films except one was available on DVD, this was a 10 year old stop frame animation film which for which there was only a 16mm print. This projected old 16mm print was visually more stunning in every department than any of the projected modern DVD material shot on video.

Even the old optical sound worked surprisingly well in a what was a relatively small space with around an audience of about 30 people. In the film festivals it was always the optical sound that let down the 16mm films, the Super 16 blow ups to 35mm were always more impressive in the sound quality department.
Having used 16mm i can only say it must have had a magic solution on it,dont get me wrong i know some love its look,regarding your projection test i can not comment other than dvds are 500 line res hardly hd video.It would interesting to compare the hd material i put on blu ray to some 16mm on blu ray.
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Old December 29th, 2008, 05:44 PM   #20
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I think the appropriate comparison would be anything on Blu-Ray vs the projected 16mm.

Once it's on Blu-Ray it's been digitized, no?
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Old January 3rd, 2009, 01:53 AM   #21
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In addition to the comments previously made about the relevance of film, most schools spend a pretty penny on 16mm equipment. So it was cost the school quite a bit of cash to abandon film and go completely digital. Unless they are a prestigious school, which as Jeff mentioned, they would teach on film for prosperity and industry sake. Film ain't dead.

On the other hand, many schools already incorporate digital video into beginner classes. Community colleges are a great example of that. Some 4 year schools with never film/video programs are completely digital.

No offense Tim, but do some research.
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Old January 3rd, 2009, 03:41 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by Martyn Hull View Post
Having used 16mm i can only say it must have had a magic solution on it,dont get me wrong i know some love its look,regarding your projection test i can not comment other than dvds are 500 line res hardly hd video.It would interesting to compare the hd material i put on blu ray to some 16mm on blu ray.
It might be interesting to compare 16mm to Blu ray projection. The colours were the thing that really kicked out from the 16mm print compared to the DVD, which is what you'd expect and also the contrast range.
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Old January 3rd, 2009, 07:20 AM   #23
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When you start comparing 16mm to Blu-ray projection, the projector becomes the component in question. Obviously there is a massive range of quality amongst projectors that can nominally handle the specs of Blu-ray, from an inexpensive briefcase model to a 4K stunner. Many film festivals have fallen short in this department. I shot a short some time ago which went on the festival circuit, and eventually the director decided to film-out to 35mm for Academy screening purposes. She told me in subsequent festivals the 35mm print looked fantastic every time, whereas prior to that the HDCAM master could look anywhere from OK to awful (washed out etc), which of course said a lot about the digital projectors and how they were set up.

In contrast, and back on track with this discussion: unless a 16mm projector has either a dim bulb or poor optics, it should consistently look good.
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Old January 3rd, 2009, 01:25 PM   #24
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You know what, I've seen all these arguments about film being taught in film school, and yet...

There are two aspects to film school - aesthetic moving image theory, and technical know-how. I can understand why the use of film would have to be taught to those going for technical know-how, in the exceedingly rare case that they have to work on the technical aspects of a 35mm film shoot, of which, there are, what, 100 positions worldwide? But to suggest that film has some sort of intrinsic qualities that digital does not?

You talk about color detail and richness - let me tell you, no one will notice. The "elusive film look" isn't very elusive - most people cannot tell the difference between digital and film production, and post-production digital tools have narrowed the gap even further.

You put people in a double-blind test, and they won't be able to tell the difference.

As for the movies and primetime dramas; Generation Y doesn't watch primetime dramas and they watch movies at home, from some sort of digital copy.

Don't get me wrong - keeping film as an elective is a good idea. There are those 100 jobs out there and someone has to fill them.

Still, I went to journalism grad school - if I had to pay $1000 a credit for a 3 credit course in how to use a Smith Corona typewriter, and I had to pay for my own type ribbons and whiteout, just because "Woodward and Bernstein did their reporting on a typewriter, therefore typewriters are the best type of reporting", I'd never have signed up.

Casablanca, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, The Muppet Movie, Raiders of the Lost Ark, all would have been rightly seen as great movies if they had been shot on digital.

Dr. Horrible's SingAlong Blog - loved - was shot in HDCam - but you wouldn't know it.

And shooting on film would not have saved Star Wars Episode II.

Nobody cares about the technical process to get the images on the screen so long as the images on the screen are entertaining to watch.
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Old January 3rd, 2009, 01:39 PM   #25
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"Nobody cares about the technical process to get the images on the screen so long as the images on the screen are entertaining to watch. "

Well certainly "Content is King" - that's the core of your statement, that it overides any technical aspects of creation - no argument there. BUT "Nobody cares" is belied by the very existence of this forum - where infinite discussion go on over the most arcane details.

To stretch metaphors and analogies - Why learn to sew by hand, when most sewing is done by machine???

Why learn to type AT ALL? (Keyboards will soon be obsolete, even if Woodward and Bernstein typed on EXACTLY THE SAME LAYOUT I'm using now, why should I be saddled with learning TYPING for Chrissakes!) Soon, all computers will be controlled by voice only, no?

Maybe -sometime in the future - but not right now.

True is same for film technology. You've got a generation left to it, might as well learn it. There is MUCH more to be learned from shooting FILM, than shooting film. There is the discipline it requires, that is ENFORCED upon you by the vary limitations of the magazine and cost of the workflow. These are real restrictions that exist in the 'professional' world, even if you're shooting digital. The clock is TICKING with a full cast and crew, its costing TONS of money for them to be there - you had sure as heck be disciplined with what you're doing. Film helps to impose that on student production.

(I see posts complaining about the P2 workflow, or limitations of various 'card' formats - well, if you shoot film, you're used to planning the shoot around 'swapping magazines' and having someone unload/reload/prepare the next magazine while you're shooting. You understand the 'film workflow' around what is basically a 10-20 minute load.)
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Old January 3rd, 2009, 01:51 PM   #26
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Brian, I wouldn't be able to give an accurate figure of every AC, operator and DP who are involved in 35mm production worldwide at current time but I can assure you it is far more than 100...!

For me, I've probably gone from 90% film work 5 or 8 years ago to maybe 50% now and it's fast changing, but I fully expect to be working with film for a while yet.

I don't really think the ultimate reason to teach or not teach something is whether the "unwashed masses" can appreciate it. There are quite a few obscure or "lost" arts still being taught around the world and that's the way it should be.

The primary motivation for why a given project is shot in film vs HD is generally monetary. Film is a mature medium and while it has its unique costs, it is sometimes a more reliable workflow, believe it or not. The studios are completely comfortable with film negative at this point but flash memory is still a dicey proposition. I worked on a feature last spring where we had to dump the flash media to HDCAM tape on the camera truck every day because the bond company would not insure the footage on flash.

Consider further that the only media considered truly archival at this point is 35mm film, and that purely digitally originated productions are being mastered onto film negative for this purpose...
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Old January 3rd, 2009, 02:13 PM   #27
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The snag with education - and in particular, educating kids of the generation that demands instant results with instant gratification is that the essential planning skills are missing. I shan't pretend to be some magic expert here, but I did spend a few years teaching media studies and it was horrible. Really basic concepts such as story boarding are critical to film, but just watching today's TV output shows the basic idea employed now is to just shoot and shoot and there's bound to be something usable.

I'd not argue with the quality and feel of real film vs video, but film production demands proper advance planning. There's also the 'fllmic style' - something rarely seen when produced on a video camera. I guess that you could gaffer tape the zoom control, fit a letus to reduce depth of field and as mentioned above, perhaps even dish out very small memory cards or even doctored video tapes with just a few minutes of tape. Then people would learn film making skills. With video, they learn video techniques - just very different beasts. On a film course, you'll have camera tracking, proper framing, accurate or remote focus - all that kind of stuff that gets done differently on video. Many video courses also move into multiple studio style of operation and that kind of thing. Film courses usually also concentrate on the history of film.

Just different courses, I guess.
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Old January 3rd, 2009, 02:43 PM   #28
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Having worked on video drama & commercial shoots with crew members who have and haven't been trained by tutors (often former 1st ACs) that from a film crew background. The people who have had these former film crew tutors at college are much more together and efficient than those crew members who haven't been taught the film procedures, set etiquette by their tutors.

Shooting with say a RED is a lot closer to a 35mm film camera than a DV camera and just because the latter is digital doesn't mean the procedures used are the same as on the RED.
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Old January 4th, 2009, 12:56 PM   #29
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I don't know why this should seem so, but I think folks who come to digital with a knowledge and background from film (still or motion) have acquired a better understanding of light, DOF, F stops etc. that helps in their digital shooting.

As for schools and their use of film, I don't see that anyone has commented that digital cameras become obsolete in a few years. An 16mm Arri (or Bolex for that matter) canserve their purpose well for decades with proper maintenance. That could also serve to motivate them to continue using film, all other reasons aside.
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Old January 4th, 2009, 02:49 PM   #30
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I don't know why this should seem so, but I think folks who come to digital with a knowledge and background from film (still or motion) have acquired a better understanding of light, DOF, F stops etc. that helps in their digital shooting.
I think this one is actually fairly easy to explain--the WYSIWYG nature of digital shooting means for most that they make their adjustments based on the monitor (or waveform or historgram), i.e. dial the iris until the picture looks good. With film you are metering, evaluating the readings, making decisions based on that and then picking a stop. It's a lot more mathematical, requires more attention to theory.
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