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» Film-Tech Forum   » Operations   » Ground Level   » keeping 35mm and running digital (Page 1)

 
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Author Topic: keeping 35mm and running digital
Liz Coffey
Film Handler

Posts: 4
From: Roxbury, MA USA
Registered: Jun 2007


 - posted 05-07-2013 08:50 AM      Profile for Liz Coffey   Author's Homepage   Email Liz Coffey   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Hello out there,
I'm part of a group interested in keeping film alive alongside digital.

Although most theatres have already made the switch, we know there are a lot of smaller cinemas working on it now.

If you work for or own a theatre that hasn't yet made the switch and are interested in keeping film going, please get in touch with us.

Here's our main website, where you will find links to a survey, facebook, etc.

http://www.filmadvocacy.org/

Please take our survey!
http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/56DD278

Film will continue to be available for some time, whether through independent or archival releases, or via all those old prints that won't cease to exist, and we can help keep film alive by showing it.

(I'm not interested in turning this discussion into a film vs digital debate, by the way.)
thanks!

~Liz

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Mitchell Dvoskin
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1869
From: West Milford, NJ, USA
Registered: Jan 2001


 - posted 05-07-2013 11:59 AM      Profile for Mitchell Dvoskin   Email Mitchell Dvoskin   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Liz, does this mean that the HFA will now loan prints to outside venues such as The Landmark Loews Jersey?

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Robert E. Allen
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1078
From: Checotah, Oklahoma
Registered: Jul 2002


 - posted 05-07-2013 06:15 PM      Profile for Robert E. Allen   Email Robert E. Allen   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Careful Liz, there are techno-geeks on this site that will tell you you're nuts and film will be gone by the end of the year. BTW, I agree with you and support your cause but I no longer have a theatre.

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Mike Blakesley
Film God

Posts: 12767
From: Forsyth, Montana
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 05-07-2013 07:11 PM      Profile for Mike Blakesley   Author's Homepage   Email Mike Blakesley   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
If a theater has an audience for older movies AND can get those movies on 35mm then yes, there will be a place for film. If you have an audience that wants the new stuff, then you will be in big trouble.

Here in our little first-run house we haven't run any film at all since moving to digital. I insisted on keeping the 35mm gear in place "just in case," but it's basically just gathered dust since 2010.

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Brad Miller
Administrator

Posts: 17775
From: Plano, TX (36.2 miles NW of Rockwall)
Registered: May 99


 - posted 05-07-2013 09:48 PM      Profile for Brad Miller   Author's Homepage   Email Brad Miller       Edit/Delete Post 
Robert, the reason why film will be gone is because the last batches of print stock have already been made. When it runs out, that it! Supposedly this is expected to happen by the end of the year.

The existing archive prints are about to become extinct from rentals, meaning the prints they have are most probably the very last 35mm copies of those movies EVER TO BE MADE. Once you realize the severity of that thought, the concept of renting them out to anything but VERY large and particularly special shows becomes a firm "no way". Everyone on this board understands "it only takes one pass to destroy a print forever". It's just too much to gamble with the last 35mm copy of a movie.

That's why there is no sense in installing 35mm at this point.

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Dan Kessler
Film Handler

Posts: 10
From: Newport Beach, CA
Registered: Oct 2011


 - posted 05-07-2013 11:20 PM      Profile for Dan Kessler   Email Dan Kessler   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Brad, are you saying that Kodak is not going to manufacture anymore
print stock after this year? I've neither heard nor seen such
an announcement anywhere. They are most assuredly continuing the
production of camera stock. Can't imagine they would do that and not also produce print stock, even if its use by film distributors is no longer what it was. Are you sure about your information?

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Brad Miller
Administrator

Posts: 17775
From: Plano, TX (36.2 miles NW of Rockwall)
Registered: May 99


 - posted 05-08-2013 01:11 AM      Profile for Brad Miller   Author's Homepage   Email Brad Miller       Edit/Delete Post 
It is no longer economical to make bulk production runs of 35mm release print stock. Just think about it and do the math for yourself. Yes it will be available at a VERY premium price for a short while, but as far as the Hollywood releases go...when this batch is used up toward the end of this year, that's it. In NO WAY will Hollywood pay a premium for release print stock after this batch is used up just so the few lingering (and admittedly lowest grossing) locations can continue to run film. This has been a game of digital or die for some time now, and the finish line is in sight.

I do have a general question here regarding the "35mm will never die" camp. Did everyone fail math? We are past the point of theaters taking a stand. We are past the point of passion about film. It is at this point nothing more than raw, basic math.

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Leo Enticknap
Film God

Posts: 7474
From: Loma Linda, CA
Registered: Jul 2000


 - posted 05-08-2013 01:54 AM      Profile for Leo Enticknap   Author's Homepage   Email Leo Enticknap   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote: Brad Miller
I do have a general question here regarding the "35mm will never die" camp. Did everyone fail math? We are past the point of theaters taking a stand. We are past the point of passion about film. It is at this point nothing more than raw, basic math.
I couldn't agree more, and am finding myself getting increasingly frustrated with my colleagues in the archive world who are in serious denial over this. The infrastructure, machinery, consumables and expertise needed to manufacture tripack colour film emulsion is just such a complicated and expensive package that it is quite simply never going to be viable for it to be supported by a customer base that consists purely of archivists, artists and enthusiasts. When asked by curators from a London art gallery in October 2011 about this, the sales director of OrWo replied:

quote: Tate Gallery report
If you are able to produce an order for an amount over the size of two football fields (120 m long and 90 m wide) and have 2 Million Euros to spare for testing and are able to give us 2 years’ notice, we could look into this further
It may be possible to continue b/w production on a cottage industry basis in the long-term - after all, OrWo are managing to stay in business by doing so at present, and I believe that Tasma still makes one line of print stock too. But I can't see there being any 'vinyl revival' for colour film stock: it just costs far more to make and process than the remaining customer base will be able to pay.

The format fetishism by some archivists also defies rational argument in many ways. Example: when I was in California over Easter, Paul Rayton very kindly ran a reel of The Wages of Fear for me, which happened to be in the Egyptian's booth at the time. It was struck on colour stock, from a 2K DI, and with a cyan soundtrack. Now, one of the arguments sometimes used by archivists to support doing everything possible to continue the production and use of motion picture film is that it is the 'original' medium, and that watching content originated on film through another medium is fundamentally inauthentic.

Yet how was the experience of viewing that print in any way authentic? It was a b/w film printed on colour stock, and so had a slight purple tinge. It was derived from a digital file, which itself was derived from another film element, and so had gone through two changes of medium since the one that was created in the camera. If we'd been seeing a DCP, it would only have gone through one. I have actually seen a 1953, original (as in, created for the movie's initial release) 35mm print of that film, and my subjective impression is that the Criterion Bluray looks much closer to it in terms of contrast, mid-tone detail, definition, overall photographic 'look' and audio 'feel' than this print did. Yet some archivists and many film buffs will insist on what they regard as the authenticity of film. If asked what this consists of, a depressingly high number will cite things that are actually defects in the production or presentation of film prints (scratches, flicker, fluctuating contrast during a shot, that sort of stuff), ones which no visitor to a first run, top quality house would ever have seen anyway.

How many people would try to argue that listening to an MP3 download reissue of a recording of a Beethoven symphony is inauthentic, because they're not having to change the shellac records every four minutes?

It is important for archives to preserve film elements that embody evidence the original production process, both because they are easier and cheaper to preserve than data, and so that there is something to compare new, digital access copies against objectively. But in my view their priority should be to create circulating collections of decent quality, properly scanned and mastered DCPs of their more popular holdings and restorations, not trying to prevent something from happening that has pretty much already happened.

quote: Brad Miller
the last batches of print stock have already been made. When it runs out, that it! Supposedly this is expected to happen by the end of the year.
Do you have any hard information on this, or is it just an educated guess? Kodak claim to be offering a full line of print stock at the moment, but admittedly they're not telling us what lines are now down to special order only (2302 is, from what I've heard).

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Shawn M. Martin
Expert Film Handler

Posts: 175
From: Arlington, VA, USA
Registered: Feb 2012


 - posted 05-08-2013 02:43 AM      Profile for Shawn M. Martin     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Isn't it just Fuji that's expected to run out, since they shut down almost all of their motion picture stuff late last year?

I know a couple of distributors that printed on Fuji - Lionsgate and FilmDistrict - seem to have switched to Kodak in recent months.

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Scott Norwood
Film God

Posts: 8146
From: Boston, MA. USA (1774.21 miles northeast of Dallas)
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 05-08-2013 06:11 AM      Profile for Scott Norwood   Author's Homepage   Email Scott Norwood   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I thought that Kodak had a contract with some of the major distributors to cover release print stock through 2015. At least, there was a news item about this within the last year or so. If that is the case, the price (for them, at least) should be fixed for that time period.

I am not saying that mainstream color release prints will continue to be made during that time, just that the price for the print stock should be fixed.

Edit: this is true; see article here

Agreed with the prevailing wisdom that color print stock will be uneconomical to manufacture in small quantities.

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Liz Coffey
Film Handler

Posts: 4
From: Roxbury, MA USA
Registered: Jun 2007


 - posted 05-08-2013 08:31 AM      Profile for Liz Coffey   Author's Homepage   Email Liz Coffey   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Hi there, [Smile]
As some of you may know, film has been produced for over one hundred years! I think it's not unreasonable to think some theatre owners will have the opportunity to show film in the future.

What we are advocating, in part, is that if you have the opportunity, that you keep your equipment in place, working, and run film when you can.

I posted this here because this forum is for theatre owners and staff, right? You are the people making this decision. [beer]

Keep the faith, people, and please take our survey. [thumbsup]
~Liz

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Leo Enticknap
Film God

Posts: 7474
From: Loma Linda, CA
Registered: Jul 2000


 - posted 05-08-2013 09:00 AM      Profile for Leo Enticknap   Author's Homepage   Email Leo Enticknap   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Scott's link (and the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle page linked from it) don't mention print stock specifically: they simply talk about the 'supply of motion picture film to Hollywood'. I'm guessing this means mainly camera negative stock, plus smaller quantities of IN stock for DI burnouts.

I've lost track of what the majors are saying about the complete discontinuation of distribution on film: the last I knew, two of them (Warners and Disney, IIRC) had announced that this would happen as of the end of this year. The place to watch will be the labs that serve the archives and art/rep distributors (e.g. Cineric, Film Technology Co. and Cinema Arts in the US, PresTech in Britain). When their prices start to go through the ceiling and/or services are withdrawn, that's going to be the writing on the wall.

The only rate card I can find online for colour release printing is Colorlab's. For a straightforward, one-light 35mm release print (presumably contact printed from a timed interneg and track neg), their price is $0.92 a foot. I'm guessing that the other comparable labs all charge similar prices. So taking this as an example, after incidentals, set-up charges, shipping, tax etc., you're looking at $10k-ish for a single print of a two-hour feature. As Brad points out, all it takes is one booth accident and that investment is written off.

Already, you can have a 2K DCDM/DCP created from a timed interneg for about half that figure, which can then be copied without limit and for virtually nothing (e.g. $100 for another portable hard drive). While film printing is still just about possible, archives and smaller distributors have to decide which is the better way of spending the money they have available.

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Jock Blakley
Expert Film Handler

Posts: 218
From: Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Registered: Oct 2011


 - posted 05-08-2013 09:01 AM      Profile for Jock Blakley   Email Jock Blakley   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Unfortunately Kodak's manner is usually to stop making something and then announce it's discontinuation. When they officially discontinued Technical Pan Film 2415/4415/6415 in 2004 they freely admitted they hadn't actually made any since around 2001, and that in the intervening time they'd also discontinued the ESTAR-AH base on which it was coated. However, Kodak's massive production scales at the moment (minimum of 7000 ft x 70 inches in most cases, AFAIK) suggest to me that an end-of-this-year timeframe is not completely likely.

As to continued presentation of film: we installed 4K alongside our existing 35/70 installation in July 2011, but as a repertory cinema we didn't go into it with any expectation of continuing to receive new releases on film (off the top of my head, the last new prints we received were in mid-2012, possibly THE ARTIST).

I have to take a bit of a opposite tilt on the presentation of existing prints though. Of course prints are going to become increasingly rare in circulation, and that's a function just as much of the people controlling the purse-strings before you even consider the availability of stock.

On the other hand though - why have a print if not to present it? We cherish deeply our 35mm and 70mm holdings for that exact purpose.

Yes, one pass can ruin a print that's very shortly going to become irreplaceable. So can one pass ruin a print that's already irreplaceable - as could happen when we show BARAKA or BEN-HUR or THE RIGHT STUFF in 70mm mag or APOCALYPSE NOW REDUX or even FRANKENSTEIN MUST BE DESTROYED in Technicolor IB.

We show a print of CITIZEN KANE from the '70s that I'm told is one of the last to have been struck from that film's original elements. Should we hide it away until it vinegars into nothingness against the chance of malfunction destroying it?

In fact, with distributors in Australia being the way they are, damage during presentation is probably one of the least common ways for a print to be removed from circulation. We used to hold hundreds of prints that have since been junked not because they were unsuitable for presentation but because the distributor that purchased their rights in October 2011 didn't wish the hassle of them existing. A short selection of titles included:
GOLDFINGER (original IB)
THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY (restoration)
A BRIDGE TOO FAR
ANNIE HALL
THUNDERBIRDS ARE GO ('90s reprint)
RAGING BULL ('90s reprint, genuine B&W, four prints)
THE GREAT ESCAPE (2001 reprint)
THE APARTMENT (2002 reprint)
and on and on and on.

With that in mind I look at what we are able to show on film and rejoice! 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY in 70mm from 1996. PUBLIC ENEMY, 1996 print from 1976 elements. THE MISSION, original 70mm print. EL TOPO, new 35mm print. DIRTY HARRY, recent 35mm print. PARIS, TEXAS, breathtaking 1997 print. Branagh's HAMLET, original 70mm print. PINK FLOYD: THE WALL, original 70mm print.

Certainly, compared to making reliable consistent monopack colour negative film, making vinyl records is child's play. The comparison completely ignores reality.

But prints exist to be seen.

Other than that, our 35mm installation gets the majority of its work nowadays showing original 35mm trailers to digital re-releases.

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Louis Bornwasser
Film God

Posts: 4441
From: prospect ky usa
Registered: Mar 2005


 - posted 05-08-2013 09:48 AM      Profile for Louis Bornwasser   Author's Homepage   Email Louis Bornwasser   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Most discussion focuses on "what kodak will do." As a practical matter, I advised National Amusements to keep a few projectors in place just in case (four per site).

This was fine information 5 years ago.

Since that time, turnover in the cinemas has resulted in almost no one left who has ANY experience in projection. They don't even know to oil first! Dismissed employees are not usually willing to come back to help, depending upon their treatment when forced out. Service people have not touched the equipment in years, and indeed suppliers are shut down or have dumped their film projector inventory.

"The End Of Film" will come because of many factors; I don't think film itself will be the only one.

One positive note: video may not be the wonderful high quality thing it is made out to be, but in many cases, it delivers an acceptable presentation that is superior to film as it is delivered. Only a few film houses delivered "FILM-DONE-RIGHT" in the last 20 years; the professionals had died out/fired. Louis

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Aaron Garman
Phenomenal Film Handler

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From: Toledo, OH USA
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 - posted 05-08-2013 10:01 AM      Profile for Aaron Garman   Email Aaron Garman   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote: Jock Blakley
But prints exist to be seen.
This is why we really have a need for a true film museum that shows what prints are left. Digital is nice, but for a film shot and edited on film, there really is no comparison. Seeing an oil painting digitally printed at the highest quality is nice, but there is nothing like seeing it on canvas. To me, it's the same thing with motion pictures.

AJG

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