Rest in Peace, Film

According to the October issue of HDVideoPro magazine (one of my favorites) film is dead.  Recently, some of the biggest blockbuster films, including the newest Bond film, SKYFALL, Peter Jackson’s THE HOBBIT as well as the AMAZING SPIDERMAN have been shot digitally.  Using either the RED camera or the ARRI Alexa has become the standard for shooting many feature films and television shows.  It simply looks like it’s time to accept that digital age has taken over.  And I say… bring it on!

However, for the sake of honoring that which began moviemaking, here are a few things that I have experienced in my journey that will be missed, remembered fondly, or deserve acknowledgement.

When I was mainly working as an actor, I remember one of my favorite high pressure moments came when the director would yell ‘action’.  I always feel this surge of energy when that word is called out.  But it often started when the AD would yell ‘roll sound” then ‘roll camera’.  Hearing the film speed through the sprockets at 24fps added such a finality to the moment, simply knowing that it was already capturing images before the action began.  There’s such a finality to film, in the sense that is an organic piece of matter that is actually being exposed.  It’s not a digital file that can be transferred or deleted easily.  It actually had to be exposed to capture the image-and it had to be exposed properly.

To continue on the acting experience side of my work, I will also miss the moment of ‘check the gate!’ There was always such pressure and excitement around that moment.  I remember years ago one of my favorite acting teachers, Amy Lyndon, told a story of her shooting a very dramatic scene on a film.  She had a large monologue and nailed it on the first take (tears and all).  The director yelled “check the gate” and, low and behold, there was a hair in the gate.  She had to do it again.  Pulling from her stellar technique and years of experience she was able to do it once more and this time all was in the clear.  But there was always something so exciting about the checking of the gate-it added such a finality to the moment, raised the stakes of the process, and made you feel like you were a part of something big.

I remember when I first started working behind the camera, mainly in post production but I also found myself shooting a lot of Mini-DV, as I had the hit camera of the time, the Sony VX1000.  My wife (then girlfriend) was attending film school at Loyola Marymount University and I became fascinated by everything she was doing (truth be told, I always loved moviemaking-since I was a kid).  I helped her on her Super 8 films (which she edited without any magnification on an old splicer!).  I also attended her sessions in the flatbed edit bay where she worked tirelessly putting together an edit of the old TV series GUNSMOKE for an assignment.  I loved being around the film, seeing it, feeling it, it was like creativity in organic form.

Later, I worked as an Associate Editor on a beautiful film called FINDING HOME.  It was shot on Super 35mm and it was quite the experience.  Because we were on a 30 frame AVID system we had this terrible process, that some may remember, called matchback-where the system creates Edit Decision Lists for the Negative Cutter and conforms the 30fps video to 24fps film (and the negative cutter is another casualty of the digital age-an entire job that will soon be nonexistent).  What I loved, though, is that this is really where I learned the importance of a single frame.  Rather than allowing the program to decide what frames to drop, in order to keep the sound in sync, the Director and I chose the frames.  It was exhausting but worth it to really learn how much a single frame matters.

On FINDING HOME I also had the pleasure of cutting actual film for my first and only time.  I learned a lot in the process.  We had a tremendous amount of obstacles on the film and, in order to make sure everything was in sync, we opted to start printing film and cutting in the film opticals for the sound mix-yep they actually projected the film reels to do the final audio mix.

Some other things I’ll miss about actually dealing with film have sort of been transferred over to the digital world.  Although I never worked as a Camera Assistant, I always had such respect for the changing of the magazine.  I found that entire process to have such pressure.  And the limitations of time on the magazine also added some pressure.  I sort of feel like this is similar to changing your memory card, although not nearly as time consuming.  I will say there is some pressure with the data transfer as well-once you wipe the card, that’s it.

There’s so much I could write about film but I think it’s important that, as media creators, filmmakers, storytellers, we remember that this is where it all started.  Film will continue to be the aesthetic that we try to mimic in the digital age.  And, although images will continue to get clearer (4k to 8k and beyond) what really matters is what we capture, what we are trying to tell.  It’s all part of the process of telling the story and making the audience feel something-and regardless of technology, that is what really matters.

19 thoughts on “Rest in Peace, Film

  1. Hey there I am so thrilled I found your web site,
    I really found you by error, while I was searching on Yahoo for
    something else, Regardless I am here now and would just like to say thanks a lot
    for a marvelous post and a all round interesting blog (I also love the theme/design),
    I don’t have time to read through it all at the moment but I
    have bookmarked it and also included your RSS feeds, so when I have time I will be back to read more, Please do keep up the
    superb b.

  2. Good day I am so thrilled I found your site, I really found you by accident, while I was browsing on Bing for something else, Regardless I am here now and
    would just like to say cheers for a fantastic post and a all round interesting
    blog (I also love the theme/design), I don’t have time
    to go through it all at the moment but I have saved it and also added in your RSS feeds, so when I
    have time I will be back to read much more, Please do keep
    up the awesome work.

  3. I’ve been exploring for a little for any high quality articles or weblog
    posts on this sort of area . Exploring in Yahoo I finally stumbled upon this website.

    Studying this info So i am satisfied to express that I’ve a very
    just right uncanny feeling I found out just what I needed.
    I such a lot indubitably will make sure to don?t forget this site and provides it a look on a constant basis.

  4. Thank you, I’ve recently been searching for info approximately this subject for ages and yours is the best I’ve came upon so far.

    But, what in regards to the bottom line? Are
    you sure about the source? Quest Bars blogesaurus

  5. I’m no longer positive the place you’re getting your information, but great topic.
    I must spend a while finding out more or figuring out more.
    Thank you for wonderful information I was searching for this info for my
    mission.

  6. Each new age brought the criminal element forward with it.
    , it is best to go for affiliate marketing being an initial step
    into the world of generating impartial income from home.
    Make certain that the payment gateway you are making use of, permits similar languages as
    the remaining of the web pages so that they can match well
    together.

  7. I love your blog.. very nice colors & theme. Did you create
    this website yourself or did you hire someone
    to do it for you? Plz reply as I’m looking to construct my own blog and would like to find out
    where u got this from. thanks a lot

  8. Yоu rереаt thі
    ѕ fоr ѕеvеn dауѕ аnd уоu wіll nоtісе
    thе fruіtѕ. , it is best to go for affiliate marketing being an initial step into
    the world of generating impartial income from home.

    To report stolen email addresses at Yahoo, click Yahoo.

  9. Unquestionably imagine that which you stated. Your favorite reason seemed to be at
    the net the easiest factor to have in mind of. I say to you, I certainly get annoyed while other
    folks think about worries that they just don’t know about.
    You controlled to hit the nail upon the top
    and outlined out the entire thing with no need side effect , other people can take a signal.
    Will probably be again to get more. Thanks

Leave a Reply