Re: [Frameworks] Quo Vadis Celluloid?

From: Anna Biller <>
Date: Sat, 20 Aug 2011 00:16:03 -0700


I did not mean to suggest that you were bigoted, and I apologize if it sounded that way. What I object to is your saying that one "shouldn't" have attachments that one may in fact have, and that it's necessary to justify one's interest in one's choice of medium over another medium, which I don't really understand the point of. Anyway I was trying to support the food analogy which I thought was an accurate one.

I don't think I'm guilty of numerous expressions of dislike for video. I only said that it doesn't have the dynamic range of film and that it's often used differently and sometimes makes me ill, which are facts and not expressions of dislike. I do think that people look better on film, and I can't explain that technically. But film seems to me to be more flattering than video and I do love the way faces look on film. All of this is of course personal. I never claimed to speak for any larger issue. But it seemed to me that you were suggesting that for people to insist on using film is somehow not justified by any qualities of the medium itself, which I thought odd at the very least for someone of your background.

If you are sincerely asking why people think video may still be inferior to film when in fact video images can be so high-quality and breathtaking, then my answer would be that it's true that high-quality video is beautiful, but not in the same way as film. So we're back to goat's milk and buttermilk.

On Aug 19, 2011, at 10:51 PM, Fred Camper wrote:

> Quoting Anna Biller <>:
>> ...He suggests through these questions and through his statement: "I
>> don't think we should have mystical, or fetishistic, attachments to
>> any particular media," that people who insist on working with film
>> are closed-minded luddites.
> That was not at all my intent, and is an interpretation that is, I
> think, completely unsupported by what I wrote. I do NOT appreciate
> being accused of a bigotry I do not possess. Anna's post, however,
> alternates between attempts seem even-handed and numerous expressions
> of personal dislike for video. ("I much prefer how people look on
> film" -- what does that even mean? Which people, in which settings, in
> which kinds of imagery, with which editing, in which kinds of works?)
> I might point out that 26 years ago I wrote an article against
> transferring film to video, arguing that they were fundamentally
> different, and that what was great about a great film did not
> translate to video. (It's at
> ) This article, too, was misunderstood and mocked. It was said to be
> evidence that I "hated" video.
> That article was, however, written in the days of VHS and the CRT. And
> this is my problem with some of the responses thus far. "Video" is not
> one thing anymore, and some forms of video don't seem to me to be as
> different from film as video used to be. I would suggest that the
> difference between even a DVD seen on a CRT screen and a high quality
> HD file run off a hard drive on a very high quality projector is
> greater than, oh, say, the difference between super-8 and 35mm. I
> didn't pose my question thinking of the old opposition between film
> and "video." I wanted to know what it was about film that made HD
> digital projected in the highest quality way any of you (making your
> own judgements of quality) have seen such an inadequate, even if
> different, alternative as to set the list to moaning and wailing every
> time film seems threatened. Personal anecdotes about motion sickness
> and lost video might explain one person's view, but don't really speak
> to the larger issue. I don't get sick from video, and suspect most
> others don't either, and I am not the only filmmaker or former
> filmmaker who has had irreplaceable original footage totally ruined by
> a lab.
> Many of the things said about the awfulness of digital video are
> similar to what I felt, and still feel, about the switch from 3200 K
> incandescent lamps (on portable 16mm projectors) and carbon arc light
> sources (on 35mm theater projectors) to sealed arcs that started, I
> believe, in the 1960s. Carbon arcs have the color temperature and
> spectral distribution of the sun. For naturalness, richness, and
> intensity, they cannot be beat. The loss was (and is) particularly
> noticeable for black and white film, which has never looked the same
> to me. Even those old too-warm 3200 K lamps have a light that feels
> organic and natural compared to sealed arcs, whose spectral
> distribution is in fact uneven, with notable spikes. Yet who ever
> complains about this?
> I should make clear that I *do* believe that film might be the only
> way for some projects. I just wonder how true that is for how many.
> There is a difference between "liking" the "look" of film while
> having, perhaps, not fully explored video for oneself, and finding in
> celluloid some fundamental qualities essential to one's work.
> Fred Camper
> Chicago
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Received on Sat Aug 20 2011 - 00:16:28 CDT