What capture media is used for creating most motion pictures?

With digital cameras like the Vision Research Phantom Flex and the RED, which, if measured by hype alone would seem to account for every music video, TV show, and motion picture made today (although its credits are far more modest), many people are surprised that the majority of motion pictures that play in theatres are shot on film.

In fact, The Hurt Locker was nominated in 2010 for the Oscar for best cinematography and it was shot on Super-16mm film.

For 2011, the nominees for the Oscar for best cinematography were mostly shot on film:

  • Black Swan — mostly super-16 Fuji film with some Digital SLR
  • Inception — mostly 35mm film with some 65mm all by Kodak
  • The King’s Speech — Fuji 35mm film
  • True Grit — shot on Kodak 35mm film
  • The Social Network — shot on RED digital cameras

You can watch a demo reel of Fuji’s Eterna Vivid stocks.

Obviously, in the near future, all films will be shot digitally, but it is interesting to see that a majority of the films nominated for Best Cinematography in 2011 were still shot on film.

Kodachrome’s back

Actually not really. But, I got my developed roll of 16mm Kodachrome 7270 back from Dwayne’s. I hauled my 16mm projector out and we watched it. Color was great. The Bolex was sharp and its registration (steadiness of one frame in the gate relative to the next) was spot-on. The whole process shooting, processing, and projecting was fun. I find myself wondering, should I super-16 the gate on the Bolex (make the camera HD format)?

Dilbert solves our budget woes

Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert comic strip had an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal which gave some fantasy scenarios to solve the budget problems. I have one of my own, which is very similar to Adams’ ‘shared pain’. It’s called, cut the budget, raise taxes slightly, and make taxes flat. People don’t like the idea of a flat tax but wealthy people are able to hire tax accountants and lawyers to navigate their way through the tax code which means as a percentage of income, they pay far less than their nominal rate would imply. People who pay no taxes have no ‘ownership’ in paying taxes and don’t have any incentive in voting in ways to make the system more efficient. Take for example, Ford Motor. The Ford family owns approximately 3.5% of Ford stock and controls 40% of its voting power. They sit on the board. At its nadir, their ownership was about $170 million dollars. Today, it’s at least 10 times that amount, even with the stock falling back. If the people who sat on the board didn’t have their $$$ on the line like they did, Ford easily could have gone bankrupt like GM or Chrysler.

Kodachrome Coda

The last day to process Kodachrome was last Thursday. Kodachrome was a special film. Most of the slides I shot in the 90s were Kodachrome. Examples I really liked Kodachrome 200, even though it was grainy, and K64 exposed at EI80. Nothing beat the Kodachrome reds, and the shadow detail. Kodachrome images are quite dense and early scanning equipment could not scan it properly. E-6 film superseded Kodachrome in image quality and color, but never beat Kodachrome in longetivity. There are Kodachrome images and films from WWII which have no appreciable fading. Will you have a compact flash reader 60 years from now to read your digital images?

Kodachrome was not just a slide film, it was a movie film as well. In fact, the first Kodachrome product was a 16mm movie film. Many historic events, probably the most famous of which is the Zapruder film, were shot on Kodachrome. I dug my last roll of Kodachrome 7270 16mm movie film from the fridge (expiration 11/1998). I guess I could have sold the roll on Ebay for a small fortune but I had another idea. I forget where I bought the roll, but when I bought that roll, I was a college student, and while not carefree, I had much less responsibility than I do now. I remember sticking that roll in the fridge 12 years ago and it seems just like yesterday.

Kodachrome 7270 was balanced for 3400K rather than 5600K (daylight) and appears blue when exposed in daylight unless you use an orange filter. I dug around and found an 85 filter, which is not the right filter, but close enough, put it in the filter slot, and loaded the Kodachrome into my Bolex. It’s been quite a while since I used my Bolex, and when I was in the dark trying to load the reel, I realized I was fuzzy on how to load the thing. I put the film back in the box and found a video on youtube which explained the process. I’d show you pictures of me loading the thing, but I had to do it in complete darkness, so they’d be kind of boring. After that, it was good, although I forgot how heavy the thing was. I haven’t had the Bolex overhauled since 2001 but I haven’t used it very much either, so here’s hoping.

My dad drove us to Dealy Plaza and I tried to find where Zapruder stood. I shot some more feet of my family, and that was about it. A kid (guy in his early 20s) asked what my camera was and said he had never seen anything like it. An older man remarked that the Bolex was a ‘classic’.

I used the coat trick, where you put a coat over the camera and put the arms on backwards to act as a mini darkroom which amused my sister to no end, and after I unloaded the film, we FedExed it to Dwayne’s. It’s been in the freezer for 12 years so the color should not have faded too bad. I’ll post some scans when I get it back. Unlike every other news article and blog posting about Kodachrome, I won’t close with Paul Simon’s song.

Dubrovnik