Re: why we shoot film/contrast ratios and sensitivity

From: Mitsu Hadeishi (email suppressed)
Date: Sun Mar 05 2006 - 13:50:04 PST

On Sunday 05 March 2006 15:57, Freya wrote:
> But those aren't the only reasons that people like
> film! They might even be some of the least important
> reasons why people like film. Dynamic range is great
> of course, resolution is I'm sure, not as big of a
> deal as so many people seem to make out. I think it is
> mostly die hard video fans that are obssessed with
> resolution.

We have had a whole slew of posts from people who say their reason for loving
film has to do with the way it looks: the way it looks is dictated by its
responsiveness to light (which is essentially sensitivity and dynamic range,
because everything else can be simulated with postprocessing) and resolution.
Beyond this, some people are making environmental arguments (which I think
are a wash when it comes to film vs. video, frankly), and others have
mentioned simply liking the "smell" of film, etc. --- obviously one cannot
argue with something like that, but it's the sort of nostalgia which I
personally think has more to do with habit and conditioning than it has to do
with art. I mean, my father is an artist and I remember growing up with the
smell of paint thinner everywhere --- so even today I feel nostalgic when I
smell paint thinner --- but I recognize this is mere nostalgia and has very
little to do with the substance of either my father's art or with much of
anything else of enduring value to the human race.

> but film *is* about the art and not the technology,
> that is the thing!

I really don't know how to respond to this: if one talks about the
"experimental" part of "experimental film" then yes, that's about the art.
If we're obsessing about the "film" part of it, then that's by definition the

>I'm don't see what the problem is.

Neither do I.

> People don't neccesarily just watch films for a really
> good signal to noise ratio, or listen to music for the
> same reason (tho sometimes I wonder).

The reason we have an aesthetic preference for film over, say, watching TV, is
precisely because of these and other factors. I am just pointing out that HD
as a medium is getting very close to and in some ways surpassing already that
of at least 16mm film formats in many of the purely aesthetic areas. Unless
you happen to have simply an aversion to all things digital simply because
they are digital --- which I think is, again, a symptom of obsession with the
technique rather than the art.

> Well yeah but you make it sounds like video is what is
> available to them, when film is also available and
> people will do things with what is available to them,
> so it isn't really a problem.

I have never said anything of the sort --- my whole point is that film and
video and HD and so forth are all viable formats, and what's interesting
about experimental film is already inspiring young artists to make things,
and a lot of what they're making is video or HD, and I think that's perfectly

I mean, my father teaches art and he does still believe it is important to
teach drawing and so forth --- the fundamentals, even though his work is
abstract, etc. But he would never suggest that only one medium is valid for
making art for him --- he has worked in many media. Okay, so some people on
this list are wedded to just the one medium of film --- like I said, everyone
makes their choices. But in the future, people will continue to make great
creative and interesting work, and it might be in a digital format, and that
isn't going to be a tragedy. It's already happening and it's fine. That's
my only point --- experimental film is not dead and it won't die completely
even if the 16mm format entirely disappears.


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