16 mm film: WHY? at DVinfo.net

Go Back   DV Info Net > The Tools of DV and HD Production > Open DV Discussion

Open DV Discussion
For topics which don't fit into any of the other categories.


Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old December 28th, 2008, 06:55 PM   #1
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: May 2008
Location: New York, NY
Posts: 28
16 mm film: WHY?

Why do some film schools still use 16mm film as a teaching tool? It appears some film schools still use it as a teaching tool. But I think film students would be better off learning digital formats and discarding the 16 mm format.

I am sure educators will defend the use of 16 mm film as a way for students to learn the basics of filmmaking but I disagree with because there are a ton of really DV filmmakers online who have probably never seen a can of 16mm film but they have made some excellent films.
Tim Bisley is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 28th, 2008, 07:00 PM   #2
 
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: santa fe, nm
Posts: 3,264
Images: 10
Celluloid(aka film) has characteristics that will never be duplicated with video(grain, gamma performance, resolution). As much as video thinks it can duplicate film, it can't. Film is an artistic media unto its own. Not that video isn't artistic, it's just that video is only, now, coming into its own. It has its own unique video characteristics. If you're young, you'll probably never understand the intrinsic artistic value of celluloid, hence your question. It's a valid question, please don't think I'm belittling your question. But video will never look like celluloid. And video should find its own value. When a whole generation of movie goers has never seen celluloid footage, the value of celluloid will be gone. R.I.P.
Everything is relative.
Bill Ravens is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 28th, 2008, 07:17 PM   #3
Trustee
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: North Conway, NH
Posts: 1,745
What Bill says makes a lot of sense to me.

As an old guy who watched film all of his life and came straight into the world of moving pictures using only tape, I still find it challenging to wrap my head around what film does and does not do. I've seen real film with really wonderful images on it. I've also seen some very special things done digitally on tape. They are different media with unique characteristics.

As an analog (no pun intended), I worked in the realm of phonograph records and reel-to-reel audio tape starting back in the 60s. What I learned there were the fundamentals of what makes good sounding audio. Flash forward to the early 90s and my introduction to digital audio and computer-based tools. I was able to take what I had learned spooling through miles of tape and adapted it to the digital realm, and it ultimately all came together.

My point is that understanding how light reacts to film would likely lay a strong basis for the student of the art to take forward, wherever the technology is, or will take us.
Tripp Woelfel is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 28th, 2008, 08:28 PM   #4
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: Vancouver, British Columbia (formerly Winnipeg, Manitoba) Canada
Posts: 4,087
Digital "cinematographers" continue to chase the look of film whilst cinematographers work with it. Interesting...

I'm a videomaker (albeit at the higher end of the form) but my humble beginnings were with Super 8mm. If I had the time and money to invest, I'd go to film school just for the organic feel of film running through my fingers on a Steenbeck. Once it's gone (and I do believe EVENTUALLY film will disappear), it's gone. The latitude and colour richness and simpleness of technology is intriguing on a visceral level.

Is film for everyone? No. Will it be missed? Heck yeah.
__________________
Shaun C. Roemich Road Dog Media - Vancouver, BC - Videographer - Webcaster
www.roaddogmedia.ca Blog: http://roaddogmedia.wordpress.com/
Shaun Roemich is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 28th, 2008, 10:24 PM   #5
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Tucson AZ
Posts: 2,206
I feel the same way about still film vs digital stills. Digital is great, but film is- well, film. As a practiacl matter, these days I spend a lot of time with Photoshop, but if I had the space, I'd be back in a real darkroom in a minute. Particularly working with large format B&W negatives yields a scale and richness that digital, for all its real technical and artistic advantages can't duplicate.

As others have said, digital and film are different media and each has its own advantages - and disadvantages. If all you're intrerested in is portraying the content and the story, either is fine. If you're concerned with the visual feel though, film is still way ahead. In my humble opinion. Whether still or movie!

And I'm an old guy too!
Jim Andrada is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 28th, 2008, 11:47 PM   #6
Wrangler
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Posts: 6,781
I was having this exact discussion with an old NYU buddy at dinner tonight (who works as an editor), we were comparing notes about the massive difference between cutting on film vs non-linear digital. I was wondering how much film schools are still using film at this point. There is a certain logic for poor struggling students not to have to absorb the additional costs of filmstock and the hoarding mentality that accompanies it (I well remember scavenging for short ends and doing absolute minimum number of takes at all costs). The freedom of working digitally means more opportunities to stretch out, experiment, try alternate choices without having to worry about the bottom line.

That said, it seems a shame to not have students exposed (literally) to the other joys of working with film, even though they may be the last generation to do so. Chances are that fewer and fewer of them will experience actual film shoots when they get out of school.

I think ideally that students should be able to do their smaller projects digitally but have the opportunity to shoot at least one project on film.
__________________
Charles Papert
www.charlespapert.com
Charles Papert is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 29th, 2008, 12:59 AM   #7
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: PERTH. W.A. AUSTRALIA.
Posts: 4,356
As long as sound and running time per rewind is not an issue, one can go alone, take an old Super16 converted clockwork Bolex out in the boonies with a couple of rolls of film, shoot near to HD image quality, undercrank and overcrank to the heart's delight and not sweat about batteries going flat.

With film stock, you will have that enduring crisis of confidence about whether the lab will botch the processing and whether the couriers will lose it, abuse it, x'ray it or burn it if their truck or airplane crashes.

I once lost a 400ft roll of reversal to misdelivery. I later heard a fourth-hand or even furthur removed story that somebody had tried to project my unused stock on a B & H 16mm theatre projector "to see what was on it".
Bob Hart is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 29th, 2008, 04:11 AM   #8
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: Wales
Posts: 2,130
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Hart View Post
shoot near to HD image quality
No Bob, AT LEAST HD quality, there's not much doubt that S16 holds its own against HD in terms of res, lattitude etc., it's only the grain causing compression problems during transmission that relegates to "non HD" material.
Steve
Steve Phillipps is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 29th, 2008, 04:18 AM   #9
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 2,699
Quote:
Originally Posted by Charles Papert View Post
The freedom of working digitally means more opportunities to stretch out, experiment, try alternate choices without having to worry about the bottom line.
Later on, I agree, but it's this bottom line to film that forces a discipline, digital encourages a lazy attitude. Using film means you have to think about how to get it right, digital encourages a "try everything, one will be OK".

A bit like teaching basic maths. Practically, in later life people will use calculators, allowing their use early on doesn't help basic understanding.
David Heath is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 29th, 2008, 04:34 AM   #10
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: PERTH. W.A. AUSTRALIA.
Posts: 4,356
Interestingly, there is a college here which has enquired of a way to "cripple" or limit the single clip and total project of filesizes available for recording on the SI2K in order to enforce the discipline of film on particular assignments.

We tried going direct to a USB thumb drive as the simplest method. The clip limit is a bit too short because the buffer is committed after ten seconds at 1280 x 720 25P when writing direct to a USB thumb drive.
Bob Hart is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 29th, 2008, 04:39 AM   #11
Major Player
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: England
Posts: 444
Super 16 may still be good but standard 16mm is far from good,if you like low res grain and the film look 16mm so be it , i prefer vibrant video any day.
Martyn Hull is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 29th, 2008, 04:55 AM   #12
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: PERTH. W.A. AUSTRALIA.
Posts: 4,356
Slow speed stocks yield less grain.

The grain from higher speed stocks used for low light is not to my eye more of a problem for mpeg compression than gain noise from cranking up the gain on a video camera.

It is when pushing the low-light envelope that the convenience of video shines and that is the assurance available on the spot that you got something and the abilty to do something about it then and there if the shot was a dud before striking and having to drag everything back again for a re-shoot.
Bob Hart is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 29th, 2008, 04:58 AM   #13
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: Wales
Posts: 2,130
I agree. It always seemed to me that the problems that hd broadcast tests found with grain were likely a result of testing the highspeed stock like 500t/800t, as I couldn't imagine there'd be an issue with the 7245/7201 50D stock. But I suppose it does make sense to test for the worst case scenario.
Steve
Steve Phillipps is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 29th, 2008, 05:09 AM   #14
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Belfast, UK
Posts: 4,121
Quote:
Originally Posted by Martyn Hull View Post
Super 16 may still be good but standard 16mm is far from good,if you like low res grain and the film look 16mm so be it , i prefer vibrant video any day.
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.
Brian Drysdale is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 29th, 2008, 05:57 AM   #15
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: Cincinnati, OH
Posts: 8,421
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim Bisley View Post
Why do some film schools still use 16mm film as a teaching tool? It appears some film schools still use it as a teaching tool. But I think film students would be better off learning digital formats and discarding the 16 mm format
This interesting discussion doesn't address the question raised in the original post.

Tim your original question is nonsensical on the face of it, thought you obviously didn't mean for it to be. A 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.

The UCLA School of Theatre, Film and Television is an example of a film school whose graduates often end up in the film industry. Why would the school teach primarily digital when the students intend to work in the film industry? Film is not a catchall term that includes video in this case. It means film.

If you want to study digital media you would not want to attent a film school, but instead he would want to take courses in the digital arts in a school that offers what he wants.

Your original question is like asking "Why do they teach Truck Driving at a Truck Driving school when most people want to drive a car?"

There are plenty of schools that focus on digital media. That is where you would focus your attention if that is your interest, not on a film school.

Last edited by Jeff Harper; December 29th, 2008 at 07:02 AM.
Jeff Harper is offline   Reply
Reply

DV Info Net refers all where-to-buy and where-to-rent questions exclusively to these trusted full line dealers and rental houses...

Professional Video
(800) 833-4801
Portland, OR

B&H Photo Video
(866) 521-7381
New York, NY

Z.G.C.
(973) 335-4460
Mountain Lakes, NJ

Abel Cine Tech
(888) 700-4416
N.Y. NY & L.A. CA

Precision Camera
(800) 677-1023
Austin, TX

DV Info Net also encourages you to support local businesses and buy from an authorized dealer in your neighborhood.
  You are here: DV Info Net > The Tools of DV and HD Production > Open DV Discussion

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

 



Google
 

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 10:21 PM.


DV Info Net -- Real Names, Real People, Real Info!
1998-2017 The Digital Video Information Network