By Ron Merk
Notice that I didn’t capitalize any of the words in the title of this article except the first work of each sentence and the VS. VS means versus or against for those of you who didn’t study Latin or are not sports fans. Why? Because I think these kinds of discussions are pointless, and often self-serving. Why should one technology “fight” another?
We know that the nerds have taken over film technology. Okay. They’re clever. Even brilliant. But they are often blinded by the brilliance of their newly invented technology, blind to the heritage of more than 100 years of film production, and I could have spelled FILM in capital letters. I do not mean to take one side or the other in this “debate.” But I think it’s time that the debate needs to just stop. What we need to do is find ways to make all technology, film and digital, serve our artistic and economic needs. What prompted me to write this short piece is something I read on site called hitfix.com. The original posting can be seen at the URL: http://www.hitfix.com/in-contention/industry-cinematographers-weigh-in-on-film-vs-digital#5eSI570iCcZjbrFB.99
I recently wrote a short, and I think, to the point, response to the piece, which I’m quoting below.
“As someone who’s been in the business for almost 50 years, I think we have to stop looking at this issue as a hot debate and consider the benefits of both forms of origination: digital and film, not digital vs. film. Do we battle in painting over oil paint vs. water color? No. They are each different media, and the results, even of the same image, are different. Each is a different expression of the artist. So, let’s stop arguing about this issue. What we should be looking at, since no one can “guarantee” how long digital files can last, is the long-term preservation of digitally-made motion pictures. At present, the best bet is still outputting the project to film, and tucking that film safely away in ideal storage conditions. Frankly, I’ve heard all the arguments about how digital files can last as long as film elements. But these are opinions or predictions, not based on experience, but perhaps hope. If you spend 5–7 years creating a project, getting it made against all odds, do you really want to “wonder” where that project will be 10 years after it’s made, 20, 30…..100? Not me.”
I’m working with both digital and film origination on a number of projects. Working with each of them has given me almost unlimited opportunities to do what could not be done even 10 years ago. I think we need to embrace film and digital as our friends, instead of looking at them at contenders for a heavyweight crown.