Re: [Frameworks] Letter to other Filmmaker Artists

From: Sam Wells (email suppressed)
Date: Wed Jul 21 2010 - 17:46:10 PDT

Doug this screed contains so many generalizations, biases, and
opinions passed off as facts it's impossible to reply to all of it.

More to the point perhaps, 'pure celluloid' is the _practice_ of very
few filmmakers.

I could make a rhetorical argument, if I should like, that film and
'digital' are far more alike than theyare different.

The physics and mathematical physics of film capture and digital
capture are not at all disimilar - it's fine for you if you want to
generalize a difference between a number and a grain but the quantum
exchange of photon to electron (electron hole w/ potential) is not
really very different; you could say CMOS or CCD device gives greater
quantum efficiency but silver halide based film, (in it's favor
currently) allows for a logarithmic collection of photon events as
opposed to the well in a CMOS photosite being a sum.

> the phenomenon of “persistence of vision” the human eye cannot see this and interprets the projected images as continuous motion.

This is flat out incorrect. Moreover I suggest the neurophysiology we
know is only begining to describe movies' mechanism of motion
illusion; and certainly you _cannot_ claim any unique psycho-physical
process for film projection itself !

Both mediums are abstractions of light in my view, **never** more than
approximate to *anything* encountered in the world - how can you
priviledge one over the other on the basis of some kind of purity ?
(in fact I would _critique_ high resolution high quality digital for
being TOO aproximate to the human visual system's contrast & contour
processing in the visual cortex (as signaled by the LGN visual
pathwaybased on retinal 'data') - anyway, how can you claim some kind
of 'high ground of purity' here escapes me

skipping the analogies.....

> . To me the more valid and creative ambition of digital art would be the goal of creating looks and techniques and experiences that Film has never achieved and could never achieve.

This is the first thing you've said that I agree with.

>>And I believe digital should not foolishly try to copy any of these unique looks in a hopeless attempt to look the same as film as if there was only one kind of simplistic look that film has –

Why not copy them - as Kodak reduces it's product line to the exact
same thing you object to !

> In the second place, regarding this purely technical way of simplistically comparing "visual information storage" - that is, picture “quality”, “resolution”, “sharpness” and “acutance”, “contrast”, and the amount of “visual data” recorded by film, as opposed to digital,

Please cite the information theory and physical formalism to support
the assertion that these qualities cannot be represented as data or

no form of digital video has even come close to large-format film
stocks like 70MM and IMAX. A 70MM film like BARAKA and an IMAX film
like CHRONOS contain unparalleled images that are spectacular,
beautiful, and powerful.
> But much more importantly to me, even if a form of digital motion pictures could come close to 70MM and IMAX as far as this simplistic technical comparison of “visual information storage” goes, there are so many different kinds of irreplaceably unique artistic qualities and aesthetic effects of film stock, qualities that no other medium or process can have, no matter how hard they try to mimic and copy it.

 Have you ever seen film scanned worked with in digital and written
back out to film ???

Have you seen IMAX and 65/70 scanned at 8K and digitally projected at 4K ??

blah blah blah. Enough for now. I agree with you on 1 or 2 aspects of
motion signature differences but certainly not on slo-mo (have you
seen Von Trier's "Antichrist ? or any work done with Phantom 65 ?)

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