New school or old school? Technologists versus traditionalists? Digital or film?
The debate over which medium will rule the future of motion pictures continues to rage, with events on both coasts propagating the controversy. Directors, cinematographers, and almost every other type of media professional flocked to the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City and the National Association of Broadcasters show in Las Vegas to see the latest advances in film technology.
This year’s TFF embodied the transition from the old standard to the new. Amateur documentarians and filmmakers abounded, with many making their debuts. But instead of all the new films or respective media, the most fascinating aspect of the festival was a debate during the Tribeca Talks panel ‘New Filmmaker in the Digital Age.’
The panel, moderated by Panavision’s Peter Brogna, featured directors and a producer in this years festival, including ‘Bluebird’ director Lance Edmands, ‘A Birder’s Guide to Everything’ director Rob Meyer, ‘The Pretty One’ director Jenee LaMarque, and ‘Run and Jump’ producer Tamara Anghie.
They focused on ‘Side by Side,’ a 2012 documentary produced by Keanu Reeves, that explores the transition from 35mm film to digital through interviews with major Hollywood directors and cinematographers. The panel weighed digital versus film by reflecting on ‘Side by Side’s’ use of digital, allowing a more fearless set, as opposed to film, which has the highest overhead.
Director Rob Meyer said film is too intimidating for young directors. “You can just hear the money burning,” Meyer said. However, director Jenee LaMarque, who ironically is a film (the medium) fan, seemed to deal film a fatal blow: “I think shooting on film would’ve lent a wonderful vintage quality to the film.”
Cue the 2013 NAB conference where the RED DRAGON 6K digital cinema camera premiered this year from RED Digital Cinema. Featuring a pixel array of 6144 x 3160, 16.5 stops of dynamic range and with variable frame rates up to 100 frames per second, the RED DRAGON is truly the camera of tomorrow.
With the body of the camera alone starting at $31,200, the future is surely expensive. But with digital cinematography cameras inching closer to the gold standard set decades ago by film, those who aspire to make motion pictures, without a monster Hollywood budget may see their work reach the big screen.
Film may be the name of the business, but it may not be the name of the medium for much longer.