Re: technology: report from the front

From: Mitsu Hadeishi (email suppressed)
Date: Mon Mar 06 2006 - 06:14:51 PST

Well, again, about 90% of the screenings I attend have poor projection
equipment and/or poor film transfers. A high quality projector should not
have obvious pixellation if you're sitting farther than 1.5x the width from
the screen. Of course, NTSC is inherently a low resolution format, so 16mm
is obviously going to suffer in the transition, which is why I think one
really has to compare 16mm to HD, where HD I think can do quite well, even
surpass 16mm in many ways. when done properly.

Regarding the "analog" flicker, dust, grain, etc. --- obviously one could add
these things to high resolution digital images, but I personally would think
this would be rather bizarre and "fake" so to speak. Sure, these things add
a particular quality but I can't say that I think the "digital" clarity of an
HD projector is in any real sense worse, it's just different, and obviously a
good artist can do something with a medium that doesn't have these things
introduced through the process of the technology itself. After all, we're
still filming the world which has plenty of dust in it already.


On Monday 06 March 2006 02:46, David Tetzlaff wrote:
> I hope my previous posts made clear my position on the whole distribution
> technology question has mostly to do with my work as a teacher, and with a
> kind of cultural politics, not my own taste...
> Went to a screening of experimental work the other night, trying to get
> this damn Frameworks discussion out of mind and concentrate on the work
> itself. I wasn't very succesful, unfortunately. On the program were:
> a clean 16mm print
> a badly scratched old 16mm print
> a work shot on film but finished and shown in NTSC video
> MY viewing experience was: the clean print was gorgeous, the scratched
> print sucked, the clean video sucked worse. The video projector seemed to
> lack a line doubler or I don't know what technology, but you could see
> every individual pixel in the raster. I found it totally annoying, and it
> strongly worked against me 'getting into' the piece. On the way out after
> the screening, though, I overheard some twentysomething members of the
> audience talking -- about the piece shown on video and what an emotional
> impact they thought it had. Go figure.
> Anyway, for myself I was thinking that, no, digital will never look like
> 16mm. I don't think 'film' has an essence, but I would say there is a
> definite character to a good 16mm print. I was trying to put my finger on
> it, and this is the best I can come up with. It has a measure of beauty
> from color fidelity and/or tonal range, combined with what I can only
> describe as a kind of fragility - a certain wave of the grain, the flicker
> (which people mention here), subtle imperfections like the occasional dust
> spot or small scratch that don't distract but may have some sublimal
> effect in creating a sense of character, and (this is my major thought
> that I'm not sure anyone has mentioned before) the subtle little shifts in
> registration, a sort of wobble that goes along with the flicker. Digital
> formats don't have either. The display is rock steady, which gives it, in
> one after another comparison anyway, a comparatively more industrial feel,
> maybe part of that psychological coldness some folks feel about
> 'electronic cinema'. In contrast, I was thinking that yes the particular
> combination of strengths and flaws (a balance and/or contrast of elements)
> is really appropriate for, and enhances the personal, artisanal aims of
> experimental cinema -- the flaws seeming more (am I being nostalgic?)
> well, natural, and human than the flaws of electronic images (like that
> visible pixel grid as an extreme example).
> I.e. with good prints, I think 16mm is really cool.
> (I also think 8mm and 35mm are different stories as they don't have that
> same balance. And I still think a good video projection (as elusive as
> that may be, but I've sure seen better than the one in question here) can
> be preferable to a print with a nasty green tramline scratch right down
> the middel of the imaqe for 80% of the film. And I still don't want to
> impose my aesthetics on people who may be tuned into content on a
> different level and not a give a shit about this stuff. And I still think,
> within the context of the historical moment, electronic diffusion of avant
> garde work ultimately draws more people into the cinemas than it keeps
> away...)
> ANYWAY, I'm wondering what anybody else things about 1) the wobble
> element, and 2) the broader 'balance' or 'contrast' thesis (beauty/flaw =
> authenticity???).
> __________________________________________________________________
> For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at <email suppressed>.

For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at <email suppressed>.