Film School Friday – How does film or digital impact production?

Film or Digital Episode Summary

In this weeks episode of Film School Friday, Corey and Bill are talking about all the different things to consider when deciding between shooting your next project on film or digital.

Film or Digital Episode Notes

In this weeks episode of Film School Friday, Corey and Bill are talking about all the different things to consider when deciding between shooting your next project on film or digital.

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Film or Digital Transcript

Corey Allen  00:06

Welcome to film school Friday, I’m Corey, I’m Bill, and together

Bill Cornelius  00:11

we host the in focus podcast.

Corey Allen  00:13

Film School Friday is our special bonus weekly episode, where we try to pass along maybe a little bit of our knowledge, our wisdom, some experience or expertise, pass it along,

Bill Cornelius  00:27

pay it forward. Yeah, we’re paying it forward with knowledge.

Corey Allen  00:30

And if you don’t want it

Bill Cornelius  00:31

Well, anyway, thanks

Corey Allen  00:33

anyways, for tuning in. do with it what you will? Yeah. Bill. Today, I would love to talk about a topic I feel like is maybe a little near and dear to my heart. And just going back to my photography roots a little bit. Yeah. And that’s like the the differences of film versus digital food, kind of the impact that has on a production like if you want to shoot a short film or anything really on film versus digital, like, what are some things to keep in mind?

Bill Cornelius  01:06

So I’m not going to get into the whole, there’s, there’s the I’m not gonna get into the whole argument about which one feels warmer. And, you know, like the vinyl versus authentic. This was this is authentic. Yeah, we’re not, we’re not going to get into that. I’m going to talk about just the practical aspects of each one. Okay.

And the monetary implications of each one very important. Yeah. So we’re gonna talk about these days, too. When I was in film, school, digital was not what it is now, right? Like it was it was, it looked digital, digital video looked very digital. This was right around the time 24 p took off, which was trying like, as we said, In a previous episode was attempting to simulate film.

Because film is the legendary medium, right like this, that’s where it all started. The hand crank cameras back in the day, like the getting an exposure, developing it and playing it back. That’s, that is the the point of origin for this, this entire industry that we talked about. And so digital has been trying in the last 20 years to recreate that last 30 years.

And so I think we finally gotten there, I’m not going to get into the argument about it, because I know people would be like, No, we haven’t filmed is still God. Like it’s like, that’s, that’s great. That’s fine. I like both Okay, let’s just get that out of the way don’t add him Don’t ask me about it. I enjoy both. It’s interchangeable in my mind, especially these days.

And so when it comes to logistics, though, things are quite a bit different between the two. And that has not changed in that one will not change film is a physical medium. I mean, it’s a it’s it’s actual film that’s that’s running through a camera at a certain rate of speed has to be exposed properly. And like I said, has to be developed and then put into a format where it can be viewed and you know, projectors that was the way back in the day.

But now we do tell us any which is moving that to a digital consumable format for editing and premiere or Final Cut or whatever it is later with with that. Yes, it’s it’s like exciting, because it’s film and it’s interesting, but it’s also terrifying. Because yes, you do have to worry about how you expose things when you shoot film, just like you would shooting on 35 millimeter still camera, right? Like you you always have to think about lighting when you shoot, but when you shoot on film, you are really thinking about lighting.

Corey Allen  03:44

If you’ve never used a meter talking about ratios, like all those things, yeah. becomes really important really quickly.

Bill Cornelius  03:50

Yeah, if you ever as a filmmaker, decide to shoot on film, you better make sure your dp is experienced there. Because that’s a whole nother set of skills. light meter, the whole the whole gamut, right video is whatever’s on your video, Asus monitor may not be what you’re exposing. Yeah, so there’s a lot of variables that are unknown, until you actually get that stuff developed.

That’s an entire process like taking it to the development house getting transferred to tell us any as mentioned before, so you can edit it. And then like sync is a big deal with film. You can’t record audio in camera. When you’re shooting film, you have to record it separately. When I shot on film, we used dat which is digital audio tape, I think is what it stands for. And that was something that you sync with a slate like an electronic slate.

You seen it with the timecode on it. Yep, that’s when the slate is incredibly important is when you’re shooting on film. In fact, if you don’t slate and you’re shooting on film, you’re kind of screwed when you get into post without a lot of extra Work? Yeah, because there is zero in camera audio, none. So there’s so many all of these extra steps go into shooting on film. And then the cost. It’s very expensive to shoot on film, The minute you start rolling that camera, those are dollars going through that game.

Yeah. And you think about it, every time you hit record on that camera, you just hear that touching, touching, touching just over and over again, which is one of the reasons why digital technology has fought so hard to simulate film is to cut down on that cost. Because it’s so much cheaper to shoot on digital, for obvious reasons. One being you don’t have to buy film, and you don’t have to pay to develop it and etc, etc, etc. And so that brings me to digital digital these days has finally been able to match film. very solidly.

Again, I’m not going to get into all the nuances in the arguments there. We’re shooting 8k, and up these days, and it looks pretty damn good. Yeah. And at any frame rate, you want anyone under the sun, it’s cheaper. The cameras aren’t cheaper. Sure, what the process is cheaper. Again, you’re not paying for film, you’re using harddrive space data.

That stuff is the more we get into the future, the cheaper it is to buy, you know SSD and, and storage space for for what you’re shooting. Yeah, you can let the camera roll and you’re not losing money. That’s honestly that’s one of the origins of the phrase time as money was because people were shooting on film. It wasn’t just about like, the amount of hours of the crew is on set. It was the money that was going through the camera.

And so when you shoot digital, you have a whole lot more room to get a little extra. Yeah. Don’t sweat it, you know, it’ll be camera rolling. It’ll be fun. Yeah, the process is much easier. You take it right out of the camera, stick it right into the whatever editing machine you’re using, you’re good to go. It’s just it’s a quicker process. It’s a cheaper process.

And it’s a less terrifying process. Because unlike film, what you do see on the videos, this monitor is oftentimes what you’re getting pretty close, pretty close with with a little bit of color variance here in there. But it’s it’s pretty close. It’s not a you know, people that are our age, remember disposable cameras, and you take them into Walgreens and be like well, we’ll see what it looks like.

Corey Allen  07:40

And you can pick this up in three days.

Bill Cornelius  07:42

Yeah. So then those three days you’re like, Did that cool shot I got of my driveway turnout. Oh, it’s a little brighter than I thought to have it. those are those are the big differences. I would say between the two. If you want that legendary thing if you want the if you got the money if you want to run the risk. If you if you if you’re an adrenaline junkie, and you like seeing your money run through a camera hoping it’s getting exposed. film. Yeah, go for it. Yeah, I

Corey Allen  08:11

know that there are a lot of I want to say a lot. There are a handful of shooters, just I know around Nashville that they do 16 millimeter,

Bill Cornelius  08:20

six, yes. 16. I will say that 16 is a lot cheaper than 35. For example,

Corey Allen  08:25

I think I’ve even seen a couple of Wojtowicz. eight millimeter projects. That’s even cheaper because like, B roll inner cut. Yeah, for creative purposes for music videos.

Bill Cornelius  08:35

Yeah, if it’s if it’s an artistic choice, go for it. I mean, you’re right, like it is used a lot and music videos for artistic reasons. Oftentimes, that is 16 and a half millimeter and those types of things because 3535 is very expensive. We had like one guy in our film school that shot on 35 because I guess he was independently wealthy.

But it was just like, Oof, be nice. Yeah. Like, that’s, that’s for context. That’s most of the films You see, coming out of Hollywood, at least prior to the digital advancements we have now were shot on 35 that’s just like that. It’s been the Hollywood standard for a long, long time.

Corey Allen  09:22

Yeah. Like what changes is how much of the film they use and in what direction three pair for PR all that stuff. So

Bill Cornelius  09:30

yeah, a lot of shows back in like that. Like prior to the to the 2000s were shot in on 16. I know specifically like Star Trek The Next Generation. One of my favorite shows from back in the day wish all shot on 16 millimeter Really? Yeah.

And so this is getting into more post stuff but a lot of times when these these old shows like that are then blown up for blu ray and for H For 4k releases, they’re able to do it pretty easily. Because film is a physical, again, it’s a physical medium, you can hold it. And they’re able to stretch that out and get the resolution at like blu ray level 4k level, and it doesn’t look

Corey Allen  10:18

like 35 millimeter like, today, some of the most popular digital cameras, they still shoot on a super 35. Which is true. Yeah, not a 35 millimeter. When it’s a super 35. That’s not like a super large 35 millimeter sensor. It’s actually significantly smaller than right traditional, like full frame 35 millimeter.

Bill Cornelius  10:40

Yeah. So it is true that resolution just because of the nature of physical media is like significantly higher. But you know, and it’s going to have that longevity where it can be remastered and blown up later. That’s why so many of these old films are so they look so great when they’re remastered in 4k,

Corey Allen  11:01

because there’s still so much information there. Yeah,

Bill Cornelius  11:03

exactly. Whereas, you know, some of the earlier digital films like do not hold up. They they don’t hold up. Great. Yeah, like, like one of the films I’m thinking of as collateral, the Michael Mann film, I love that movie. It was shot, I think on the city altar, like an early version of it. I think 2002 I think that movie came out one of the first feature films in Hollywood to be shot completely on a digital format.

The higher resolution it gets, the more banding you start to see. And would you ever expect to see banding? In a Hollywood film? that’s just that’s a consequence of digital, but you know, who knows where we’re going to go from here. Just keeps getting better.

Corey Allen  11:50

Yeah. Well, I felt at least a little smarter if I ever want to pick up a 16 millimeter and get a little artsy. Yeah, take that risk. or shoot up like a fan film. Star Trek. Next Generation on 16 mil.

Bill Cornelius  12:05

Good luck throwing your money away.

Corey Allen  12:09

Thanks. All right. For our listeners. Make sure you check us out on Instagram at @infocuspod if you haven’t already or online at And if you liked what you heard today, go ahead and subscribe. Maybe leave us a like or two. Maybe review who knows. And if you’re on Apple podcast, please leave us a rating. You would help us out a ton five stars.

Bill Cornelius  12:31

Five stars five stars.

Corey Allen  12:33

Until next time, feed your crew