This is an ever-evolving story of a girl writer and her two greatest loves, the movies and travel. As she hikes the trenches of Hollywood, you're brought along for the ride.

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Touch. The Feel. Of Film.

It's nearing the end. The lights are on. The magic is gone. Movies on a flash drive, digitized and pixelated. This is where we've arrived. I knew this day would come, but I didn't know exactly how or when.

I remember when we painstakingly cleaned the 8mm family movies my grandfather had shot. We sprayed a chemical on it and carefully brushed away the dust, dirt and fingerprints. We did this frame-by-frame, reel-by-reel. The process gave me a respect for film and respect for my family's past--long before I even existed. I learned that film was to be treasured and preserved--not cast aside and neglected. In actuality, there may be no way to screen these films in the future.

In past few years, theaters have been disposing their film projectors in favor of digital projectors. This is the future, as much as I hate to admit it. Digital projectors go for upwards of $150,000 or more while an industry film projector will set you back about $35,000-$50,000. That figure's probably less now that theaters are unloading their 35mm projectors to anyone who will take them. It makes me angry and sad. The lifespan of a film projector used to be 30-40 years, but rumor has it that some theaters have apparently even resorted to selling them for scrap. In contrast, digital projectors may last you ten years, but we all know that technology will advance and those digital projectors you buy today will be obsolete tomorrow.

I admit; I'm attached to film. I'm attached to its texture, its richness, its depth, its majesticness, and ultimately, its fragility. With film, every frame-- like every moment of our lives-- flickers only briefly. Moments matter. They make up our past and determine our future.

From beginning to end, film sputters and spools its way to the screen. It works hard to put on a show: running 24 frames per second, 16 frames per foot, and 90 feet per minute. Digital is robotic. Point and click. Hit start. It does what you tell it to do. No emotion. No connection. Functional, it is. Beautiful, it is not.

Traditional studio prints are about $1500. Digital? Not much more than the cost of a flash drive. Although, the upfront cost for digital (projectors) is higher for exhibitors, it's cheaper in the long-term for everyone. Cheaper to shoot. Cheaper to distribute. Cheaper to exhibit. I'm glad that digital filmmaking has brought costs down especially for the independent filmmaker. And the quality of digital is getting better and better. However, there's no question that something has been lost... Cinema Paradiso.

© 2011 by KLiedle

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