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Video Killed the Fi-i-ilm Star

I know lots of people who can’t stand HD. I worked for an AC who would say, “I don’t care what the resolution is, it’s still video.”  Really, do you know anybody outside the business who can even tell the difference between HD and film, much less cares?

More pertinently, I had professors proclaim there is a discipline to working with film. You can’t just roll and roll and roll. Film costs too much.  Tapes (and now, memory cards) are cheap.  I’ve worked for some directors who never call, “Cut!” They’ll just say, “Do it again,” without giving anyone a break. It’s exhausting, for the actors, for the camera operators, for everyone.  I’ve heard of boom operators fainting under those conditions.

There’s bound to be irresponsible people misusing technology, but I figured this “film discipline” thing was just blather from Luddites fearing new-fangled gadgets.

Then, a few weeks ago, I caught myself doing it.

In school, I was given 1200 feet of film to shoot a short movie. The final product barely fit on a 400 foot reel. That’s a 3:1 shooting ratio. Not bad.

A few weeks ago, a shot three spec commercials on HD. At the end of the shoot, I asked my editor how much footage we had. He told me it was 80 minutes.

For a total screen time of 90 seconds.

For those of you too lazy to do the math, the shooting ratio was 53:1. That’s, um, pretty bad. Maybe my professor was right.

These are the kinds of lessons I want to remember when I become a real director. So many people forget what it was like when they were just starting out. This website is about not letting myself forget.

Or, if you’ve already forgotten, maybe it will remind you.

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6 Responses

  1. My Mom stopped watching ‘Guiding Light’ (a soap opera) because they switched to DV. She didn’t know that’s what they did but all she could describe was that it now looked like a home video. When I watched it with her over the holidays she was right. It looked terrible. Their ratings went way down and now the network has canceled the show after 72 years. Most soaps look like hell but at least they look slightly professional. ‘Guiding Light’ really shot themselves in the foot. If even my Mom can notice then there is definitely a problem.

    Long live film though (despite the obsession with the RED).

  2. I doubt that HD as we know it now (720p/1080p) will kill film, but 35mm is doomed, especially given what’s coming next (cf the RED camera).

  3. Really, do you know anybody outside the business who can even tell the difference between HD and film, much less cares?

    Actually, long before getting involved in film, I knew that Soap Operas looked different from “real” TV shows or movies. I didn’t know what the difference was at the time…I just knew that the Soaps looked like crap. I’m pretty sure that film isn’t dead just yet.

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