Is DSLR the terminator for super 8 and 16mm?

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CinemanUK
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Re: Is DSLR the terminator for super 8 and 16mm?

Post by CinemanUK » Sun Mar 20, 2011 12:10 am

A couple of additional points to take into account...

(1) Film cameras many years old tend not to suffer the consequences of giving up as a result of simply being used as manufacturers claimed they could be. As a consequence the "capital cost" of film cameras are, in reality, comparatively low over an extended life. Are failures of DRSLs and suchlike, which fail simply because their owners use them in a way they were led to believe they were designed to be used, going to be accepted as manufacturing/design issues by manufacturers so they carry the liability of putting them right, or are the manufactures going to deny responsibility and walk away from the problem, so leaving the owner to "buy another camera"? If DRSLs have such a short life simply because their owners use them, then their capital cost is high and this should be taken into account in looking at "costs".

(2) How long will it be before the next round of "development" results in obsolete digital cameras which manufacturers cease to support simply because their latest "development" happens to involve a change of format? It happened with Beta, VHS, 8mm (video), and Hi8 for starters, and how should one factor these losses into costs? It is surely quite amazing how easily users in the digital world seem happily to accept the concept of designed obsolescence.

Quality of image is a quite another issue...a subjective one, I guess.

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Re: Is DSLR the terminator for super 8 and 16mm?

Post by Tscan » Sun Mar 20, 2011 12:40 am

Camera life has no imact on the reason everyone in Portland (and lots of them) are using DSLR's for thier projects. All the artists and what not just get ahold of a camera and do it, with no cost or no hassle. Just compare the difference...

With a DSLR you get high quality 24P HD video that you just plug into your PC and ready to edit and output soon after your shoot. This has really affected the time frame in which projects are expected to be done. When you mention the process of using film, it's unfathomable to most of these people to invest in the money, time and hassles. You have to order the film to be shipped, shoot it with skill, send it to a lab through the mail at more cost and wait for a week, then send it to a transfer facility for another large sum of money and wait another week. You can't compete with the plug and play nature of the modern digital workflow. The only people using S8 are die hard fans of the format, and very few artists going for a certain feel.

As far as the whole DSLR thing goes. There are so many people doing projects with it, I can't stand to watch them anymore. Every project I see has the exact same look.
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Re: Is DSLR the terminator for super 8 and 16mm?

Post by carllooper » Sun Mar 20, 2011 1:36 am

beamascope wrote: I like to know what the hell I am supposed to be focusing on in a film instead of 30 ships buzzing around at once.
My bad as well. I misread your post. I think of the first Star Wars film as a great film. I was 15 at the time. My favourite shot is that one with the double suns setting over the sands of Tatooine. The second film was a great effort. By the third it had become a descent into stupidity, and the last three? Well I don't know if there are any words to actually describe how pointless they were.
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Re: Is DSLR the terminator for super 8 and 16mm?

Post by carllooper » Sun Mar 20, 2011 1:53 am

Tscan wrote:There are so many people doing projects with it, I can't stand to watch them anymore. Every project I see has the exact same look.
One day digital systems and associated work flows will become so good that you won't have to do anything at all. The cameras will make films all by themselves. And we won't even have to go to the cinema or watch TV to see them because the robots can do that as well.

:)

I saw a great installation once, years ago (early 1990s), in which someone had arranged an alternating set of cameras and projectors in a circle, each camera was capturing an image that had been produced by the previous projector in the loop, and in turn, each projector projecting an image from the previous camera. There was a delay of about a second between capture and subsequent projection. The result was this image slowly propogating around the circle.
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Re: Is DSLR the terminator for super 8 and 16mm?

Post by carllooper » Sun Mar 20, 2011 2:33 am

super8man wrote:PS - Watch out on buying a "used" DSLR in the future - most will probably be worn out if they had been used as a movie camera
CinemanUK wrote:Film cameras many years old tend not to suffer the consequences of giving up as a result of simply being used as manufacturers claimed they could be.
I was over at cinematography.com earlier today and this is what someone there said:
Super8 is simply an archaic format. The quality just isn't there and it's problematic. And then, what happens if it breaks on location? What's the fix?
Read more: http://www.cinematography.com/index.php ... z1H6ARhHVY
To which I replied (amongst other things), "what happens if a digital camera breaks on location?"

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Re: Is DSLR the terminator for super 8 and 16mm?

Post by carllooper » Sun Mar 20, 2011 3:14 am

I love it over at cinematography.com. You sometimes get these types who just wander into the Super8 forum and rubbish Super8 - feeling invincible in their digital armour - but then evaporate in their own stupidity.

I mentioned that the "wheel is archaic technology" to which he replied:
Yes it is, that's why we use alloy rims and steel belted, carbon re-enforced sidewall tires now and not rocks like on the Flintstones.
To which I replied:
My apologies. I didn't realize alloy rims, steel belted, carbon re-enforced sidewall tires were not wheels.
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Re: Is DSLR the terminator for super 8 and 16mm?

Post by LloydColeman » Sun Mar 20, 2011 6:33 am

PS - Watch out on buying a "used" DSLR in the future - most will probably be worn out if they had been used as a movie camera. Everytime I read about someone making a movie with one they typically state they ended up getting a new camera after wearing out the shutter. They are not designed to be used as movie cameras for anything serious/lengthy.
FYI - the mechanical shutter on a DSLR does not move for each frame of video. The mirror is locked up at the beginning of the scene and the 'shutter' is the sensor being controlled electronically, so there is very little mechanical shutter wear while shooting video.

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Re: Is DSLR the terminator for super 8 and 16mm?

Post by 8mm » Sun Mar 20, 2011 11:53 am

Without reading trough this whole discussion, I would just like to say a few things about digital vs. film: Digital film making is not cheep for amateurs.
The costs are just allocated on different thing. Ok, the film making itself does not cost anything if you shoot on a memory card or hard drive. But then you are going to need to by a new camera, a computer and editing software for it. All of this will get out of date quite soon and need constant upgrading which will cost money again. In the last ten years I have used one 8mm projector but are now on my third computer!

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Re: Is DSLR the terminator for super 8 and 16mm?

Post by CinemanUK » Sun Mar 20, 2011 12:50 pm

Tscan wrote:Camera life has no imact on the reason everyone in Portland (and lots of them) are using DSLR's for thier projects. All the artists and what not just get ahold of a camera and do it, with no cost or no hassle. Just compare the difference...
I hadn't appreciated that manufacturers were giving these things away. Can you inform me where these "no cost, no hassle" DSLR's can be obtained from. I might be tempted, but it sounds a little like "wonderland"!
8mm wrote:Without reading trough this whole discussion, I would just like to say a few things about digital vs. film: Digital film making is not cheep for amateurs.
The costs are just allocated on different thing. Ok, the film making itself does not cost anything if you shoot on a memory card or hard drive. But then you are going to need to by a new camera, a computer and editing software for it. All of this will get out of date quite soon and need constant upgrading which will cost money again. In the last ten years I have used one 8mm projector but are now on my third computer!
Exactly!

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Re: Is DSLR the terminator for super 8 and 16mm?

Post by Tscan » Sun Mar 20, 2011 4:02 pm

I hadn't appreciated that manufacturers were giving these things away. Can you inform me where these "no cost, no hassle" DSLR's can be obtained from. I might be tempted, but it sounds a little like "wonderland"!
Kind of like a wonderland. Artists always find a camera to borrow within the community. Trust me, I've responded to quite a few requests looking for shooters or cameras, and although they all love S8 and the look of it, any mention of the costs send them running. The budget is usually under $100. All I see now are DSLR projects.

i love shooting, spilcing and projecting the most. But that only accounts personal projects. Now days everything is Youtube, Vimeo ect... You can't share your work on projector to nearly the same amount of people.

With negative film and the digital age, You still end up needing a PC, edit software, capture device, external drives ect... all the same expensive hardware you would use on a digital project. With all that, I think it's high time Kodak put out a DIY scanner that can handle 16mm and S8mm neg and reversal. Even if it's slow, something you could plug into your PC and load your films. Studios and their house rates have taken a back seat to so much new technology out there. Just look at the music scene, or film scene... $200-$400 for 15 min worth of material isn't realistic in the DIY world.

Whether it's music or fim making, everyone wants the analog feel but can't afford it. Kodak needs to bridge the gap or small guage film will be dead much sooner.
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Re: Is DSLR the terminator for super 8 and 16mm?

Post by Pj » Sun Mar 20, 2011 5:37 pm

This is an interesting discussion, it’s complicated to answer the question of the original post - "Is DSLR the terminator for super 8 and 16mm?" Though in short I would say ‘no’, DSLR’s will not spell the end for Super 8 or 16mm.

In the past two decades the uses of Super 8 have changed from being an amateur format, which was developed and used primarily for capturing home movies. These days very few people use Super 8 to create their home movies with. In many ways Super 8 should have died out by the mid 1990’s, but a steadily growing number of people have started to use Super 8 for very different reasons. A lot of professionals use Super 8, usually to create visual effects or to add visual texture to an otherwise digital project, students and artists use Super 8 to tell visual stories and to experiment with.

In the same way the uses of 16mm may change rather than it just dying, though a lot of film and television still uses Super 16. There are many instances where 16mm television productions have switched to digital, but then there are many productions that have switched back to 16mm, it’s interesting that not many people tend to talk about that. 16mm is still used a lot.

The fact is that DSLR’s are a sort of new thing, they’re trendy, and they are very good as such they are becoming popular cultural trends. Manufacturers need us to believe it’s what a lot of people use, after all they need to sell them and a lot of us are buying them and when they become obsolete [I’m sure they will] many of us will rush out and buy what ever comes out next.

In my experience colleges & universities find it easier to buy DSLR gear. It’s easier to teach with DSLR’s, though not cheaper, my university has 16mm gear that is 30 years old, I doubt that the DSLRs will last as long, they have already replaced most of the original DSLRs because they aren’t as durable as Super 8 or 16mm cameras.

P

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Re: Is DSLR the terminator for super 8 and 16mm?

Post by carllooper » Sun Mar 20, 2011 8:32 pm

Pj wrote:This is an interesting discussion, it’s complicated to answer the question of the original post - "Is DSLR the terminator for super 8 and 16mm?" Though in short I would say ‘no’, DSLR’s will not spell the end for Super 8 or 16mm.
Really good points PJ.

I have a 16mm camera from the 1940s that still operates just as well today as it did in 1940. And a 1950s 16mm projector that doesn't look like it wants to give up the ghost anytime soon.

Film technology is really quite sturdy. With my digital camera I always feel like I need to handle it really really gently - with white gloves. That's probably a complete over-reaction on my part, but it's hard to shake.
FYI - the mechanical shutter on a DSLR does not move for each frame of video. The mirror is locked up at the beginning of the scene and the 'shutter' is the sensor being controlled electronically, so there is very little mechanical shutter wear while shooting video.
Regarding the mirror question. For shooting digital video through a DSLR, yes the mirror isn't an issue. It's disengaged. It's when using DSLRs to do animation work, or frame-by-frame transfers of film, that it becomes an issue. After thousands of frames the mirror will give up. I've had to confront this issue when using a DSLR for transferring film. The solution was to reprogram the camera to disengage the mirror during multiple frame capture. To use what is called "Live View" mode in which the camera acts like it does during video, but at full resolution, albeit at a lower frame speed, or frame-by-frame. Newer cameras, I believe, have a means of disengaging the mirror by simpler means. Or use a two way mirror so that there does not need to be any moving parts that can tire out.

With respect to shooting film. There are any number of reasons one can invent, imagine or otherwise theorise to shoot film, but whatever the reason the significant point is that there will be a reason (even if you don't really know what that is). Otherwise you wouldn't shoot film. I say this because I was recently asked why I shoot film when there are so many reasons not to shoot film (cost, hassle, etc).

Overtly or otherwise they want to suggest that the reason you shoot film is because you are a diehard or otherwise insane. But then I thought - they don't actually know why I or anyone else shoots film. But rather than asking a genuine question they invent a reason for you - that you are a diehard or insane. The problem is that you can end up thinking just that - especially if you haven't really thought through why you are shooting film. But then - why should you have to have a reason? Or rather - why should their reasons, for you shooting film, have anything whatsoever to do with your reasons.

We eventually reached an understanding. He asked the rhetorical question "why" and I decided to treat it as genuine question. I explained to him why I'm working in film and he decided to accept that. His fear (completely unfounded in my view) was that those new to film-making might be persuaded to do a feature film on Super8. But why not? I'd do that if I had a good enough idea for it. I didn't say that though because he was being conciliatory. His fear was that young people, new to film making, might not realize the obstacles involved and end up wasting time and money. And that appears to be a reasonable point. It's like a young person deciding to walk to the North Pole and failing to consider the lack of warmth there. They'll want to pack some warm clothes. However the traditional method (and the one I recommend) for learning film-making (or otherwise actually making films) is to start by making short films - a few minutes. You get to understand the obstacles (costs etc) quite quickly. You either continue with it or you don't. If you do continue then it means you will have worked through those issues and resolved them in one way or another. Or if you didn't then you will have moved on to something else instead.

The real question being asked of filmmakers shouldn't be why but how.

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Re: Is DSLR the terminator for super 8 and 16mm?

Post by jorgerondao » Sun Mar 20, 2011 11:21 pm

For me to shoot on Super 8 is like drinking a cup of tea in China, the ease with which you record in video is like asking a tea in a cafe or anything, it is served and you only drink, but my friends drink tea in China involves a whole ritual that takes time and preparation and the of ecstasy is reached at the time it is served with the whole ritual and certain drinks per order, as in super 8 film, after ordering,wait, filming, post, wait, edit on the moviola, and finally the ecstasy is reached at the time of projecting onto a screen and not on a television, and I guarantee my friends, the taste is very different.
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Re: Is DSLR the terminator for super 8 and 16mm?

Post by MovieStuff » Sun Mar 20, 2011 11:47 pm

This whole discussion about film versus digital reminds me of an age old argument about the work of Norman Rockwell. For decades, art critics derided Rockwell's work as incidental and too commercial to be of any real value as fine art. This went on for years. Then, finally, art critic Peter Schjeldahl wrote:

“Rockwell is terrific. It's become too tedious to pretend he isn't.”

I sort of feel the same about digital these days. I love film. But digital is terrific. It's become too tedious to pretend it isn't.

Roger

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Re: Is DSLR the terminator for super 8 and 16mm?

Post by etimh » Mon Mar 21, 2011 1:21 am

MovieStuff wrote:This whole discussion about film versus digital reminds me of an age old argument about the work of Norman Rockwell. For decades, art critics derided Rockwell's work as incidental and too commercial to be of any real value as fine art. This went on for years. Then, finally, art critic Peter Schjeldahl wrote:

“Rockwell is terrific. It's become too tedious to pretend he isn't.”

I sort of feel the same about digital these days. I love film. But digital is terrific. It's become too tedious to pretend it isn't.

Roger
Cute and clever comment from Schjeldahl re: Rockwell, to which I would heartily agree. But the analogy doesn't quite illustrate the parallel conflict between the two seperate technologies of film and digital.

The Rockwell debate concerned questions of individual style, market valuation, and institutional validation of a particular artist's mode of expression, not the "technology" (ie the medium) of his work.

And the question that you, or anyone else, have still failed to answer about digital is: WHAT EXACTLY IS SO "TERRIFIC" ABOUT IT? Artistically speaking, that is.

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