Kids today have never experienced the majesty of Technocolor, not that Transformers played on smartphones and tablets really need it. And how many have sat in monster theaters with screens a block long since they were chopped up into shoebox theaters? Film going used to be special. Now, if people leave their home theaters for a movie theater it is more to get out of the house. And, of course, the look of film can be faked on digital video, with out the scratches, combined with significantly lower cost to produce, so why use film?

While the debate has raged over whether or not film is dead, ARRI, Panavision and Aaton have quietly ceased production of film cameras within the last year to focus exclusively on design and manufacture of digital cameras. That’s right: someone, somewhere in the world is now holding the last film camera ever to roll off the line.
[…]
Beauviala believes that that stereoscopic 3D has “accelerated the demise of film.” He says, “It’s a nightmare to synchronize two film cameras.”
[…]
Do camera manufacturers believe film will disappear? “Eventually it will,” says ARRI’s Russell.



  1. Dallas says:

    This is as dead as Newt Gingrich’s bid for president. Even the CRT will likely outlive film.

    • deowll says:

      You think somebody is making CRTs? Ha! Ha! Giggle!

      • deowll says:

        Okay Dallas, You win one:

        Insignia – IS-TV040927 – 26″ CRT TV – 1080i

        $30 online

        That would actually seem to be a decent product for bedroom.

        • Dallas says:

          A microwave oven is kinda like a CRT too!

        • CrankyGeeksFan says:

          This CRT HDTV probably has a wider viewing angle than the LCD HDTV’s that were about that size a few years ago. It’s probably very heavy though.

  2. Cephus says:

    I never get how people think that the advance of technology is a bad thing. Film is dead and it should be. We no longer need it. There’s no point to being nostalgic about how things used to be, it had it’s run, now we’ve improved and there’s no reason to keep using something for which there is no longer a use.

    Farewell film. Can’t say I’ll miss you.

  3. tomdennis says:

    Granite seems to be the only thing that lasts. I hope we can send all those stone tablets into space.
    When the ice storm hit us a few years back we had no electricity, no roads , no telephone; just frozen food in the freezers. What we could not eat we lost. I wrote on a tablet (pencil and paper).
    It took 4 days for the folks 100 miles away to realize we were froze in. All the trunk lines west of Owensboro, Kentucky were lost.
    No Electricity, no toys.
    I can look into the sun and see film. Digital? I hope it is in Braille.

    • msbpodcast says:

      “I can look into the sun and see film.”

      Sure you can… But don’t stare at the image or you’ll go blind. And its not too handy for projection is it?

    • CrankyGeeksFan says:

      Try CB radio or ham radio if that situation occurs again.

  4. ReadyKilowatt says:

    Back in school we had a guest speaker come in and talk to us about financing a movie. One thing he stressed was that you always had to order 20% more film stock than you expected. Not because your director would use it, but because it was going to disappear. Some for the DP’s side project, some for the continuity guy’s side project, some for the sound guy’s side project, and some for the Teamsters to sell at the flea market.

    I wonder how the side projects get made today? I guess a Canon 7D is cheap enough for mom and dad to buy. But what about the poor Teamsters?

    • msbpodcast says:

      Fuck ’em… (IBEW member)

    • CrankyGeeksFan says:

      Poor inventory control of the production is my first reaction.

      Don’t forget the retakes of scenes. For a 20 to 25 minute short, a 7:1 ratio of shot footage to final running time is common. So 140 to 175 minutes of film must be purchased. Remember film can’t be re-exposed. This is where economics hurt film. The economics favored video 20 years too, but the technology didn’t exist back then to project the video content onto a screen. Digital cameras and projectors finally caught up.

  5. Olo Baggins of Bywater says:

    Kodachrome.

    Just went through a treasure trove of slides my grandfather shot in the early 50’s. They look beautiful. Apparently grandpa knew how to measure light. And he was wise about another thing…toss a viewer in the box. It didn’t need upgrades, any old OS, or tweaks. Just a bright window. Imagine that.

    65 years from now, how many times will the file format change? Hell, will there even be a file format?

  6. Thomas says:

    A big reason film is dead is that it is easier to preserve digital media than physical media. Think how many films we’ve lost because the originals were strewn all over the planet, stored poorly and they degraded or simply because of fire. IMO, arguing for physical film is akin to arguing for real corks in wine bottles because of tradition.

    • deowll says:

      I respect your view but everything digital is hopelessly vulnerable. If you don’t have multiple copies it can all go phoom in a heart beat. Even if you do you need the right hardware and software to read it.

      When western civilization falls virtually nothing other than ruined buildings and tools will be left. The next culture will consider us to be a void.

      • Thomas says:

        And you somehow think that celluloid will still be around when civilization falls and nothing but ruined buildings are left?

        Yes, digital is vulnerable. News flash: so is celluloid. When Ridley Scott refurbished Blade Runner they had to send people all over the world to find the originals which were left in various warehouses and they never did find the original audio track; it had to be recreated which meant that many cut scenes had no original audio.

        I’m pretty sure that companies and labs treat digital copies of their films much like any other critical data: multiple offsite copies.

        The hardware to read files isn’t a factor (although it is with some physical film factors. Try playing a beta cassette.). The software really is the issue and there isn’t much that can be done about that beyond maintaining compatible file formats.

        • Drive By Poster says:

          What you just describes is called unplanned archiving. Given that VHS was known to exist at the time, such a complete lack of thought to archiving source material is the fault of which ever studio made Bladerunner. Heck, blame Ridley himself for not keeping a personal copy of the important source materials that he then had to scramble to find.

  7. Drive By Poster says:

    The real issue is the reliability of media longevity.

    Film’s real strength these days is that it lasts when compared to electronic or most digital mediums. Even unstable nitric celluloid film used back in the early 1900’s is still around and transferable (and restorable), if not outright usable straight up.

    Much of the analogue magnetic film from the early TV industry era is expected to be lost as the last remaining machines that can read those tapes will WEAR OUT before tens of thousands of hours of material can be transferred to current media. All that content will be lost forever unless somebody takes the time and expense (soon) to custom manufacture new transfer machines from scratch, assuming the knowledge exists to do so…

    Heck, I’ve come across a number of old video files on my computer that won’t play because the players can’t find the codecs to play them. Assuming the files aren’t damaged, I’m assuming that the codecs were early formats that nobody? bothers to provide support for any more. That’s like less than 2 decades ago.

    In as much as we have yet to prove the viability of endless media transfers of data content – especially as data file formats and codecs become increasingly obsolete and then obscure – content needs to have a few archival versions of media that will easily last and be EASILY TRANSFERRED for the long haul.

    For film/video, that would ideally be Technicolor (which is chemically archival grade by nature) on modern, stable film stock which can easily be retransferred decades from now. For sound, it would be “pressed” CDs or “pressed” audio DVDs. Tthe “pressed” version of these media are the ones that supposedly last for a century – longer, I would assume, if they were intentionally made to be archival media rather than mass produced. There have been enough CDs and DVDs made over the years to guarantee mechanical media support for decades to come (it’s an easily reproduced technology), Apple’s removal of the DVD drive not withstanding. With all the java tweaking and especially the DRM shit BluRay dsics and players have had over the years, I’m not so sure about playback of BluRay discs being supported 20 years from now, let alone a hundred.

    FYI, almost all my families old audio tape players no longer work. It turns out even the high end stereo deck tape to tape players made by Sony back in the 80’s were driven by cheap rubber belt drives whose rubber belts have failed over the years. It was a rude awakening when I went to transfer the old audio cassettes to digital format and found the players no longer worked.

    • to til hodet says:

      Rubber belts are easily replaced. Not a problem.

    • yankinwaoz says:

      I have a pile of old Iomega Jazz disks. I have a JAZZ drive. But I have no way of plugging it in to anything to get that old data off. I’m sure I have some digital photos I want on those disks.

      The Jazz drive has an old fashion SCSI interface… looks as large as a broom.

      I wonder how many others have piles of old media with content they can no longer retrieve?

      • Drive By Poster says:

        There’s almost certainly a USB connector for it somewhere. It may be pricey, but it almost certainly exists.

        Try looking at large electronics specialty sites like newegg, tigerdirect, or frys electronics. You may have to resort to using more than one connector in the loop, such as scsi->something else->USB.

      • CrankyGeeksFan says:

        yankinwaoz – There is a SCSI to parallel port adapter plug called the Jaz Traveller. It can still be bought used. Adaptec makes an internal PCI SCSI card for both Windows and Macintosh.

    • Thomas says:

      In general, celluloid does not have the shelf life you suggest. First and foremost, to even hope to come half way close to a 100 year shelf life, it must be stored properly and be a good quality stock. Storing film is not cheap and it can easily get lost (see my comment about Blade Runner in an earlier comment) and most films did not use the best stock. In fact, without digital, some films would have been lost forever (many have been) because they had been abandoned in a warehouse somewhere and degraded. This is true of many films up to about the mid-1980’s. Second, most films have to be remastered every so often because the physical material degrades even under ideal conditions. Popular films do get remastered. Less popular ones generally don’t. Ten years ago, my wife and I watched a reshowing of Conan from an original master. The quality was horrible because it had never been remastered onto newer stock. My DVD copy was clearer. Third, CDs, DVDs and Blu-ray have a shelf life of somewhere between 20-100 years depending on the type and quality of the disc and that’s only if stored in ideal conditions. Thus, CD/DVD/BD isn’t the end all storage mechanism.

      • Drive By Poster says:

        There’s a reason I specified Archival grade copies for deliberate archiving. What you describe is standard mass production prints that aren’t created to last being used for archiving and being stored in a haphazard way rather than creating a few intentional archival grade copies for safe keeping.

        Technicolor’s best process was inherently Archival grade on the chemical level as the chemicals were stable. The pics from the 50’s made using that process still have vivid color even without digital enhancement. At some point during the 50’s or 60’s, Hollywood largely switched to some other color process that was cheaper to print but simply didn’t hold colors all that well over time. It shows.

    • CrankyGeeksFan says:

      Drive by Poster – “Heck, I’ve come across a number of old video files on my computer that won’t play because the players can’t find the codecs to play them. Assuming the files aren’t damaged, I’m assuming that the codecs were early formats that nobody? bothers to provide support for any more. That’s like less than 2 decades ago.”

      Try using the VLC Media Player, it plays many formats and it’s free. I don’t think it needs any codecs.

      I needed to play MPEG-1 video files on a MacBook and the QuickTime player couldn’t handle it even though that’s a supported format. The source material was recorded on videotape and digitzed in the early 2000s. I installed the VLC Media Player and the file opened and played the first time.

  8. Skeptic says:

    … and just think on all the energy we are conserving doing it digitally. So simple, it’s beautiful.

  9. LibertyLover says:

    I’ve been thinking about this for the last year. In a few years there will probably not be anybody who knows how to develop pictures the old fashioned way either.

    I wonder if that is what caused the demise of the second rise of man. They simply forgot how to do the basic things and had to live in caves during the last ice age.

    • Olo Baggins of Bywater says:

      They simply forgot how to do the basic things

      That’s my guess.

  10. Higghawker says:

    One negative is small town theaters will disappear. I live in a town of 5000 and for our movie house to go digital, it will cost them $300,000. They are closing. SAD

    • msbpodcast says:

      Everybody in the town is getting a home HD screen.

      And I’m looking forward to home made porn to be made by real people with their real friends.

      There’s going to be a lot of, uh, adjustment around the ol’ PTA. 🙂

      • deowll says:

        Some of that sort of thing is already making its way on line because people are dumb enough to make pictures/video and stick it where Facebook or some other spy ware program has access to it. Of course some people just flat out and post it accidentally or other wise.

        Apple has a share feature for example that doesn’t even allow you to remove what is shared. I think that’s real cute.

    • jupiter says:

      Maybe they can turn them into live theatres and give the locals a chance to entertain?

  11. RBG says:

    Now that film has gone the way of the Dodo, so should film-snob support for 24 frames / second.

    RBG

    • Bryan P. Carney says:

      I’m curious why you think 24 fps ought to go away. Also, why do you think supporting it in analog NTSC through 3:2 pulldown or in any other contemporary or future technology, digitally, is throttling progress or inhibiting anything. The idea that it’s especially hard to telecine 24f/p is silly. Our HDTVs even do 24f/p to 120f/p with 6:4 pulldown. If not this than we will, at least, get better at motion interpolation.

      I’m not even speaking to the qualities of 24f/p here just the accessibility.

      • Bryan P. Carney says:

        F/P=F/S

        It’s late.

      • RBG says:

        24 f/s is a dinosaur from early last century. It’s only here because waaaay back then it was the lowest (cheapest) frame rate that still produced a decent quality sound track.

        But we continue now to be stuck with 24 fps mostly due to lingering “film-snobbery.” The film-set who like to look down their noses at anything video. Then there are those who would try to defend 24fps on the nonsensical basis that somehow 24fps just happens to coincide with the human eye’s own 24fps vision. (But they don’t explain why we then never see interference patterns with florescent lighting, CRTs, spinning wheels, etc.)

        As a result we are stuck with really annoying judder on camera pans. I just watched “Ides of March” tonight. The panning artifact is enough to make your eyes go buggy. Likewise, I have a problem watching 25 f/s British television for the perceptible flicker, especially on bright scenes. Technical excuses? None of this should be acceptable in this day & age. But we got used to it. Like happily viewing fuzzed-out TV with rabbit ear antennas in the ‘60s.

        Watch a Trumbull 60 f/s Showscan, if you can ever find it. It’s like a breath of fresh air. The clarity is stunning. But we’ve all mostly been conditioned to put up with this 24 fps stuff. It’s an effect some people seem to like. Like film grain. Where in life do you see like film grain?

        There was a time when audiences, especially directors and cinema cri-tiques rejected the advent of color from b&w because it just added too much realism and wasn’t artsy enough. Like color, people just need to get used to higher frame rates that reflect more realism.

        That’s my short answer.

        RBG

        • CrankyGeeksFan says:

          RBG – Great points. At 24 fps, “sound speed”, the shutter speed on the camera is a little less than 1/24 second. From still photography, that isn’t a particular fast shutter speed. It slightly blurs objects traveling quickly across a frame so as to look “less jarring” when projected.

          What many people don’t know is that on a film projector there is a shutter. It flashes each frame twice. The projector shows 48 flashed images per second; 24 frames/s x 2 flashes/frame. The human eye generally sees a continuous non-flickering light with flash rates greater than 50 flashes per second.

          MTV-style rapid-cut editing was designed for TV video to be seen on TV set-sized screens not on large film projector screens.

          • RBG says:

            Modern cinema (and video) cameras have the ability to custom change the shutter exposure time.

            From wikipedia: “With traditional shutter angle of 180° film is exposed for 1/48 second at 24 frame/s. To avoid effect of light interference when shooting under artificial lights or when shooting television screens and computer monitors, 1/50 s (172.8°) or 1/60 s (144°) shutter is often used.”

            Don’t know how MTV-style rapid-cut editing technically needs to be confined to TV. You could cut a different scene every 24th of a second in film (aka flash frames).

            I can think of “Psycho” for fast cuts on film, & opening credits for the original Hawaii 5-0 (edited on film? for TV) before MTV.

            RBG

          • CrankyGeeksFan says:

            RGB –
            “Don’t know how MTV-style rapid-cut editing technically needs to be confined to TV. You could cut a different scene every 24th of a second in film (aka flash frames).”

            A movie screen fills more of the “field of view” of an audience member than a TV screen. There are cases of motion sickness in an IMAX theater.

          • RBG says:

            CrankyGeeksFan: “A movie screen fills more of the “field of view” of an audience member than a TV screen. There are cases of motion sickness in an IMAX theater.”

            That hasn’t stopped Imax movies. Most of the motion sickness would be long takes of roller coaster, flying variety, not quick cuts.

            RBG

  12. Buzz Mega says:

    Run this in your head. Let’s say film never existed until someone found a way to fix images in -chemistry- last year. Until then, it had always been electronic only. Would it stand a chance in the marketplace?

    • bobbo, the evangelical anti-theist says:

      Excellent diagnostic tool–to be applied to many such subjects.

      Society is “pushing” digital in some areas: cookware for instance. Nice analogue bimetal temperature control works for 30 years. Now, its all digital and who knows why it stops working after 6 months?

  13. sargasso_c says:

    There will always be a niche for film. Science, engineering, forensic and legal professionals need verifiable image recording. A film negative is proof.

    • Thomas says:

      > A film negative is proof.
      Actually, that’s why we have digital signatures. I bet 99% film negatives are not introduced into evidence but rather a photo print itself. Perhaps that has changed recently?

      As far as science and engineering, I bet almost all fields have moved to digital because of the higher resolutions that are possible.

  14. Jambe says:

    Luddite detector pinging.

    I do appreciate film and papery books and so forth, but I’m fine with their digital variants.

    • LibertyLover says:

      Same here. My wife reads only on her iPhone. I tried it but I still like the book in my hand when reading for pleasure.

      I had a hard time coming to grips with electronic help files. There was no place to put the sticky notes or fold down the corners! I got over it, though.

  15. ROB WEST says:

    I moved to a small town, that has one movie theater. I thought it must be awful, the first movie I saw there was “The Social Network” well to my amazement it was Digital, not film. Absolutely beautiful, excellent sound and the kicker…..wait for it…….tickets $4. We get a new film every other week, many first run. Downside nothing to Arty. Most of the staff are voluntary, during the week only one show 7pm, weekends 2 showings. Currently “Money Ball”.

  16. What? says:

    I think “have sat” is grammatically incorrect. Just say “sat” or “have sit”.

    This is a trend that I’ve recently encountered by people saying “have ran”, instead of the correct “have run” or just “ran”.

    This new combination of words makes people sound ignorant to my ear.

    • RBG says:

      “By following this simple rule, you will never misuse these verbs again!

      EXAMPLE:
      Incorrect: I have set at my desk all afternoon.
      Correct: I have sat at my desk all afternoon.”

      West Virginia Department of Education
      http://tinyurl.com/3clmleq

      For whatever they might know.

      RBG

  17. cgp says:

    I just purchased the Sony Nex5. It was reduced in price due to
    newer versions.

    But what a revolution it is! A flat juicy sensor chip with the e-mount interchangible lenses. It does HD video.

    With these devices on peoples wrists maybe we’ll see that
    UFO in detail or that large earth-quake in motion (holly crap what was that- christchurch NZ).

  18. smartalix says:

    You guys are standing over the open grave debating if better diet and exercise would help.

  19. JimD says:

    Movie viewing is going the way of Music listening – a throw-away experience ! When “Entertainment” is commoditized, it is treated as such !!! It’s the triumph of the BEAN COUNTERS AND ATTORNEYS that control the Industry !!!

  20. Glenn E. says:

    I still (vaguely) remember in grade school, how we were given so many yards of exposed movie film (black). And the teacher bleached it clear. And we’d get to draw on each frame in ink, to make stick figures walk and dance. Once it was shown thru a projector. Thus we learned a bit of the mechanics of simple film making. But I don’t know what grade schoolers user now. iMacs?

    I suppose a digital camera and color strip printer, will replace those “6 snapshot” self-developing photo booths, that take people’s pictures at train stations.

  21. Glenn E. says:

    It was the invention of the motion picture camera, they killed the Kinetoscopes. Which used a belt of still pictures, flipping into view, as someone cranked the scope. But they didn’t work as projectors for crowd viewing. The Magic Lantern shows served that purpose. Which were just elaborate slide projectors, lit mostly by candles. Perhaps much later by arc lighting. Motion picture film eventually killed off all of that old technology. Just as camera phones and digital camera killed off the self-developing Polaroid film camera.

    It would be nice if they could design a 35mm digital image capture replacement, that fit into older cameras. In place of the film rolls. But the market now is mainly for a pocket camera. So you have buy an entire new camera. But it wouldn’t surprise me if there were a retro-fit kit of some kind. For serious camera buffs. To breathe new life into a favorite old Minolta or Olympus.

  22. Glenn E. says:

    One of the biggest problems with MP film was temperature control. Filming anything outdoors, usually effected the colors in the film. So a whole new technology of adjusting colors during the printing process, grew up to help correct for this. Early on, it wasn’t always successful. I remember the triple wide screen of “How the West Was Won” movie, had visible differences in colors between the three cameras they used. And fresh reels of unexposed film would start out cold, and warm up towards the end. So uncorrected, they’d go from dark to light, and suddenly back to dark again. Digital tech has done away with all that crap.

    Frame rates can be anything you want, not just 24 a second. Same for shutter speeds, if they still exist. I know analog VHS cameras had them. But electronic digital cameras don’t need a physical shutter. An image is stored and recorded, however fast is desired. I don’t know if slowing down a digital camera’s shutter speed, “burns in” an image. It may just take a rapid exposure and then stay off for the rest of the shutter time. Rather than accumulating light exposure, over the time of an open shutter. I’d be guessing how the new movie cameras simulate old film camera’s tricks. If they can.

  23. Ermete Ricci says:

    Hi I’m writing my dissertation on the subject. Would you please be so kind to indicate the source of your quote?

    “While the debate has raged over whether or not film is dead, ARRI, Panavision and Aaton have quietly ceased production of film cameras within the last year to focus exclusively on design and manufacture of digital cameras. That’s right: someone, somewhere in the world is now holding the last film camera ever to roll off the line.
    […]
    Beauviala believes that that stereoscopic 3D has “accelerated the demise of film.” He says, “It’s a nightmare to synchronize two film cameras.”
    […]
    Do camera manufacturers believe film will disappear? “Eventually it will,” says ARRI’s Russell.

    A quick answer would be much appreciated.

    Thank you


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