Re: [Frameworks] Quo Vadis Celluloid?

From: tina wasserman <>
Date: Thu, 25 Aug 2011 17:12:31 -0400

Actually, the property of something being "continuous" was not precisely my point, but thank you David for your information below. The distinction I'm trying to draw, is really more simple, perhaps solely semantic, but I believe important, nonetheless.

What I'm trying to say is that I've noticed over the past few years that the word 'analog' has generally come to mean both the analog image (constituted from electronic signals) and the emulsion-based image (constituted through photo-chemistry). I think it's a mistake to group these two distinct processes under one general term.

I guess I'm saying I don't know what 'analog celluloid film is" since every definition I've looked up for 'analog" connects it to a fundamentally electronic, not photo-chemical process. Yet I've heard many people refer to emulsion-based film as "analog."


On Aug 25, 2011, at 11:15 AM, David Tetzlaff wrote:

> Film is analog in the sense that the chemical change in the emulsion is analogous to the amount of light passing through it when it is exposed. I assume you are considering film to be 'non-continuous' because each individual particle in the emulsion winds up with a fixed tonal value? However, any analog recording medium has similar physical limits, a point where it's 'continuousness' breaks down based on the materiality of it's technology. The magnetic charge of the oxide particles in audio or video tape isn't absolutely continuous either. The wave in the groove of a phonograph record may indeed be continuous, but as the stylus tries to follow it, there will be numerous errors, which can be seen as breaking the continuity. Any conventional clock with hands and a dial is considered analog, even if the hands actually move around the face in a series of small clicks or jerks, rather than a true continuous sweep.
> In practice 'analog' and 'digital' are used as general terms, not with scientific precision. Digital recording is not analogous to the source in any way, everything is represented in binary code. Two features of this are high resistance to errors (the technology need only be able to distinguish zeros from ones) and the ability to make exact copies without degradation. There is no intermediate code in film. It gives the appearance, and in many cases the function, of 'continuous tone'. It is subject to the typical errors and damage of other analog media, and it degrades when copied. If one wants to split hairs, one might say it's not AS analog as some other technologies, but I fail to see a rationale for doing so. If there's a reason you think the difference makes a difference, please elaborate.
> On Aug 24, 2011, at 4:44 PM, tina wasserman wrote:
>> But wouldn't it be better to distinguish photo-chemical/emulsion based film from the word 'analog?' How exactly have they become the same thing? They have such different material properties and since this discussion is about the waning of emulsion-based celluloid film, wouldn't it be more historically accurate to distinguish it from both analog and digital technology. My (limited) understanding of analog technology is that it is constituted by continuous signals. I think we need to be very careful about terminology here, otherwise we risk conflating emulsion based work with analog video.
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Received on Thu Aug 25 2011 - 16:45:19 CDT