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Author Topic: Celluloid vs digital: what are the REAL differences?  (Read 5811 times)

superboyac

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Celluloid vs digital: what are the REAL differences?
« on: July 31, 2014, 09:42:19 AM »
I've been reading a little about this celluloid issue in film recently.  One of my favorite directors is Tarentino, and he is very vocal about his preference for celluloid.  But I don't *quite* understand what the complaint is.  It doesn't sound like a technical complaint...that is, it doesn't sound like there's anything you can do with celluloid that you can't accomplish more easily with digitial.  And the way he explains it doesn't sound like that's what it is either.

Some claim there's a look to celluloid that digital can't do.  But I don't know if I buy that either.

At some point, it sounded to me like it was more of a complaint of accessibility.  Like, he just prefers that the process is more tedious and difficult so that it won't be so easy to make a film.  That's really what it sounds like to me, but I can't tell.  And if that's what it is, what's the complaint there?  That there will be a lot of mediocre films being made?  I don't really get it.

40hz

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Re: Celluloid vs digital: what are the REAL differences?
« Reply #1 on: July 31, 2014, 12:37:53 PM »
There's a tongue-in-cheek heavy metal rant that hits on much of the problem with digital - it's too tempting to abandon discipline and education and just let the technology drive the art form. With the result that a lot of "projects" make it to the screen which have technically advanced production values - but are very poor movies nonetheless.

Here's the rant I mentioned previously. It's about music, and metal, and it's over the top both in both the pronouncements made - and the language used to make them. (NSFW! You have been warned.) But it's spot on once you see the joke and read between the lines to get to what's really being said. I think it applies equally to movie making...or most other art forms.

Check it out:

« Last Edit: July 31, 2014, 12:48:16 PM by 40hz »

superboyac

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Re: Celluloid vs digital: what are the REAL differences?
« Reply #2 on: July 31, 2014, 01:10:14 PM »
There's a tongue-in-cheek heavy metal rant that hits on much of the problem with digital - it's too tempting to abandon discipline and education and just let the technology drive the art form. With the result that a lot of "projects" make it to the screen which have technically advanced production values - but are very poor movies nonetheless.

Here's the rant I mentioned previously. It's about music, and metal, and it's over the top both in both the pronouncements made - and the language used to make them. (NSFW! You have been warned.) But it's spot on once you see the joke and read between the lines to get to what's really being said. I think it applies equally to movie making...or most other art forms.

Check it out:


That was excellent!!
So it IS an issue of accessibility and not what I was thinking, which was some kind of technical limitation of digital compared to film.  This is a people problem...as in because the tech has made things easier, we maybe aren't as anal throughout the process as we used to be.  I get it, but again, that's not the problem of the technology.

I guess what I'm a little sensitive about is this attitude that technology is "bad" because it has made things easier.  And every time I look into the issue, it's not the technology that's the problem, but the way it's being used.  And really, ultimately, i don't really care.  So what if hundreds of people are making bad movies.  I don't care.  I will find the good one, whether I'm in 1950 or 2014.  I suppose this makes it more like finding the needle in the haystack...but before, we wouldn't even know there was a needle in the haystack...because the haystack was smaller and pretty satisfying.  So whatever.


MilesAhead

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Re: Celluloid vs digital: what are the REAL differences?
« Reply #3 on: July 31, 2014, 01:26:49 PM »
That video was cool.  The "lowering the ante to get in the game is a bad thing" argument was also made about PCs.  With an affordable machine on your own desk rather than renting computer time, and compilers that only cost a few hundred bucks, just about any schmuck can get into the Computer Programming game.  The old timers lament that this brings the going rate way down etc..

I suggested to a fellow street dweller that an Associate's Degree should be required for homeless people.  That would help keep the pretenders out of the racket.  The food lines are getting longer.  I see more and more new people walking along all dirty.  Some with shirttails and no pants.  We must raise the standard before it all goes to hell.  :)


MilesAhead

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Re: Celluloid vs digital: what are the REAL differences?
« Reply #4 on: July 31, 2014, 01:32:17 PM »
On the film thing, I wonder if directors like Q.T. don't like digital because the money men will pressure him to use it to hold down costs.  Also I wonder if it's possible that there are known formulas with film to get certain looks without experimenting.

In other words if Q.T. has to switch to digital will his standard bag of tricks no longer work without laboriously relearning how to get the effects?  I'm just speculating.

40hz

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Re: Celluloid vs digital: what are the REAL differences?
« Reply #5 on: July 31, 2014, 02:21:18 PM »
In other words if Q.T. has to switch to digital will his standard bag of tricks no longer work without laboriously relearning how to get the effects?  I'm just speculating.

There's that too. Certain effects and looks are easier (or possible) to achieve with silver vs digital - and vice versa.

I'd guess it's somewhat similar to coding. Experienced professionals have their bag of tricks they're loathe to abandon when shifting from one type of media to another.



tomos

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Re: Celluloid vs digital: what are the REAL differences?
« Reply #6 on: July 31, 2014, 02:36:00 PM »
I guess what I'm a little sensitive about is this attitude that technology is "bad" because it has made things easier.  And every time I look into the issue, it's not the technology that's the problem, but the way it's being used.  And really, ultimately, i don't really care.  So what if hundreds of people are making bad movies.  I don't care.  I will find the good one, whether I'm in 1950 or 2014.

^ this sounds good to me :)
Tom

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Re: Celluloid vs digital: what are the REAL differences?
« Reply #7 on: July 31, 2014, 02:36:50 PM »
With photography you hear about certain film 'types' where digital attempts to reproduce the celluloid version. The colouring of an image can vary a lot between cameras. Every camera has it's weakness's and strengths. I think digital in general does have weakness's too (especially with reds) - I have no idea if film was better that way or not.
Tom

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Re: Celluloid vs digital: what are the REAL differences?
« Reply #8 on: July 31, 2014, 04:51:14 PM »
You can ask the same question:

cylinder vs 78rpm vs 45rpm vs LP vs CD
or
vacuum tube vs transistor
or
landline vs cellphone

Perception knows............ like The Shadow knows................. ahh, yes

superboyac

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Re: Celluloid vs digital: what are the REAL differences?
« Reply #9 on: August 05, 2014, 03:33:53 PM »
http://www.engadget....lm-cinema/#continued
Here's another article.  This time, Scorsese is also talking about the importance of film.

Once again, however, the issue is less about the technical characteristics of the medium, and more about the process.  That is, it sounds like the celluloid process naturally will result in films that look different than digital.  But it's not that digital CAN'T do that, it just doesn't do it naturally.  You probably have to do it with the end goal of making it look like celluloid.

I agree with the historical value of celluloid.  It should be preserved and encouraged as an art form.  But it shouldn't be used as a criticism against digital.  I really dislike that.

40hz

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Re: Celluloid vs digital: what are the REAL differences?
« Reply #10 on: August 05, 2014, 09:18:49 PM »
I agree with the historical value of celluloid.  It should be preserved and encouraged as an art form.  But it shouldn't be used as a criticism against digital.  I really dislike that.

My feeling is why chose one or the other when you can have both?

Like analog vs digital - or tube vs solid state - in music technology. Just mix and match for the results you're shooting for and enjoy the best of both worlds.

Edvard

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Re: Celluloid vs digital: what are the REAL differences?
« Reply #11 on: August 06, 2014, 02:37:42 AM »
Pointless meanderings about technology in music
RE: the heavy metal rant video:
I used to have a rant down pat about the damaging effects of vinyl vs. CD on the music 'scene' in general.  It was a rather similar argument that basically more mediocre bands could be signed and make money for the record company because CD technology was dirt cheap but cost fans half again what they would pay previously for tape and vinyl.  It used to be that when a record company signed a band and put out a record, they were taking a risk that damn well had to pay off, or people would be fired and bands would get dropped.  After CD technology became the norm, the risk factor ceased to be an effective 'talent filter' and the quality of music in general went down (to my ears, anyway).

A similar thing going on in his rant, that basically bedroom jukebox heroes can take up a few plugins and a DAW and become superstars overnight, with the corollary lack of talent and experience suddenly being the technology's responsibility.  I don't think (and neither does the guy in the video) that bedroom production is generally bad (I do this myself, without the 'overnight superstar' part  :-[), but he's right that if someone or group of someones has the audacity to call themselves 'musicians' they had better well be able to pay off the risk to fans buying tickets or paying cover charge, and entertain the folks who bothered to show up.  If you're dashingly interesting or laudably skillful you'll be probably do well.  If you need your bedroom get-up to do anything at all, you're not 'there' yet (IMHO).  

The bottom line is, talent (whether the abundance or lack thereof) will shine through no matter the medium.  Ginger Baker will never need time-sync, whether on tape or bits (though he's probably good enough he'll be accused of it), and the average bedroom finger-drummer with 24-bit stereo samples will be exposed the first time he gets handed the hickory and skins.  

Quote
Technology has taken the place of quality
Yep, I believe it.  I remember the 'demo tape' days of the '80s when a jam session recorded on a boombox in the middle of the basement practice space would be enough to get attention if the band was good enough.  Not so much as a 'click track' to be found, but the talent was still glaringly obvious.  Seems these days, "plugins covereth a multitude of sins"  ;)

Quote
they are fantastic writing tools
Yes.  I first started recording myself when I got a Tascam Porta-05 cassette 4-track at a pawn shop in 1991.  I must have written about 25 or more songs in the 4 years after.  However, no way would any of those tracks see the light of day without an accompanying band and proper studio treatment.  I feel the same way today even with my modern DAW, finely-coded plugins, and carefully-chosen amp and speaker simulations.  I'm even excited about projects like LANDR that seek to automate the mastering process.  Polished though it may turn out to be, I had better have the talent and chops to back up the polish that modern tools allow me to aspire to before I release a single note.

Quote
would autotune make bohemian rhapsody better?
Queen was at the top of their game with plenty of steam left when they made that track, and it sounds like the recording process was the result of top talent struggling with technological limitations as well: http://www.soundonso...les/oct95/queen.html
Modern recording techniques would have made it cleaner perhaps, but then it would have lost much of it's charm, 'grit' and what-have-you that made it such a landmark production of it's time.  Put a mediocre talent, inexperienced, modern 'artist' in front of the raw tape and live backing they had back then, and it would fall apart quickly.

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machines push sound. people make music
An echo of my sentiment when replying to somebody pointing out the potential technical difficulties of using Linux as a digital recording platform: "I will ALWAYS say, however, use what works for you.  Killer tracks are made by people, not operating systems. ;)"

BACK ON TOPIC:
The argument can be said much the same about film vs. digital


There are supremely talented photographers out there plying their craft using DSLRs and Photoshop, and there are visionless shutterbugs thinking that real film has some sort of 'magic' that will transmogrify their flat, underexposed snapshots into timeless classics.  The argument used to be pixel density vs. film grain, but with gigapixel cameras in the lowliest of feature phones, that's gone out the window.  I agree with the basic premise that there is no longer an argument of which technology is inherently 'better', all that is left to judge upon is the talent showcased in it's use.

superboyac

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Re: Celluloid vs digital: what are the REAL differences?
« Reply #12 on: August 06, 2014, 09:06:12 AM »
, all that is left to judge upon is the talent showcased in it's use.
I like that.  :up:

Renegade

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Re: Celluloid vs digital: what are the REAL differences?
« Reply #13 on: August 08, 2014, 08:23:19 AM »
Check it out:



I LOVED that! :D

At first I'm thinking of a specific song as a stellar example of great playing & audio engineering, then the first band he plays - same band! :D

(I loved the Brittany jabs!)

But on a bit more meta level, abstracting out a bit, the core of this boils down to the ability of humans to be imperfect in interesting ways.

Here's an example of combining that high tech stuff with that more fluid human "groove" (also NSFW):



Right at the start in the melody line (cello), you can hear a slow down in the tempo -- like a "stagger" -- but it still keeps the beat. That's done by a human playing to start - it's not programming. But, it's still all done electronically.

It gets to the point of homogeneity or uniformity or conformity or predictability - I hope I've sort of made the point. I don't feel like typing an essay.

The same principle goes on and on for many other things.

People often crave predictability like junkies crave heroin. Sometimes there is little to distinguish humans from much lower lifeforms.

Digital delivers predictability in ways that analog doesn't.

For video vs. audio, I think there is a very big difference. Our visual environment is much more constant than our audio environment, so the predictability in video (visuals) is less of a "jarring" experience when digital. Sound on the other hand isn't predictable like visuals are. Things enter our field of vision more gradually than sounds do. (Usually.)

But, as mentioned above, the right tools for the right job to create the right product/experience. They're only tools for the artist.

There are engineers out there that can actually not abuse the b'jeez out of digital technology, or than can really make it work much harder.

Here is an example. Here's the original song:



And a "cover":



Now to illustrate a bit there, 2 screenshots:

Screenshot - 2014_08_08 , 11_08_55 PM.png

Screenshot - 2014_08_08 , 11_08_14 PM.png

The guys doing the original have a TRUCKLOAD of better equipment and professional audio engineers -- they have massive production behind them. The fellow doing the cover doesn't. He's just a dude at home doing cool stuff.

What you can see in the cover though is that Zhou Tong uses a far wider dynamic range and manages to build tension far better than the original.

Look for the slope in the waveforms.

In the original it's relatively flat. That's what commercial audio engineers do.

In the cover, it builds and builds much more. That's what artists do.

Check that same tactic out with a LOT of classical music. You'll see the same thing. They know how to build tension to rouse emotion.

The clinical approaches in a lot of what happens today are stale, dead, lifeless -- they're trapped in a sterile corporate culture of lifelessness fueled by LCD - the lowest common denominator. That's what buddy in the video 40hz was going on about - the lack of life.

It's not the tools. It's the artist.
Slow Down Music - Where I commit thought crimes...

Freedom is the right to be wrong, not the right to do wrong. - John Diefenbaker

40hz

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Re: Celluloid vs digital: what are the REAL differences?
« Reply #14 on: August 08, 2014, 03:58:17 PM »
The clinical approaches in a lot of what happens today are stale, dead, lifeless -- they're trapped in a sterile corporate culture of lifelessness fueled by LCD - the lowest common denominator. That's what buddy in the video 40hz was going on about - the lack of life.

Unless, of course, you actually like that sort of thing. No accounting for taste, but far be it from me to tell somebody what they should be listening to or watching.

Quote
It's not the tools. It's the artist.

It's also the audience. If you do your art purely for art's sake, there's no need to publish it. You just do it for yourself. Like Emily Dickenson.

But if you want somebody else to experience it, it's a little more complicated. The audience has rights too. It's not all about the artist once you take it public.


Edvard

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Re: Celluloid vs digital: what are the REAL differences?
« Reply #15 on: August 08, 2014, 05:31:04 PM »
Quote
It's not the tools. It's the artist.
But when the artist depends on the tools to make up for lack of talent/creativity/hubris/etc. or the artist is schooled by the engineer that "that's what the listener wants to hear", you get things like the "Loudness Wars" and artificial aliasing added to master recordings because we now have a generation of music fans acoustically weaned on 128k mp3s  :-\


40hz

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Re: Celluloid vs digital: what are the REAL differences?
« Reply #16 on: August 08, 2014, 05:40:03 PM »
...we now have a generation of music fans acoustically weaned on 128k mp3s  :-\

This! :Thmbsup:

And because of that, so much of what I was trained to strive for just went out the door. Because you'll never be able to hear it with most modern music reproduction tech.

Which is why I think live performance attendance is at an all time high. You can still hear the difference there. And the audiences can tell the difference even if they don't have the knowledge and vocabulary to say exactly what the difference is.

But they don't need. to. They can hear it. ;)


Renegade

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Re: Celluloid vs digital: what are the REAL differences?
« Reply #17 on: August 08, 2014, 09:47:42 PM »
Unless, of course, you actually like that sort of thing. No accounting for taste, but far be it from me to tell somebody what they should be listening to or watching.

Yes. But...

But if you want somebody else to experience it, it's a little more complicated.

Yes. Much more so. But...

The audience has rights too.

Which are to stay or go now. :)

The audience has no rights beyond deciding whether or not to be a part of the audience. They have no right to dictate what an artist does, or how an artist does it. We have a word for forced labour - slavery. ;)

They have a vote with their money & feet. Artists that want money from their audience are aware and will cater to that.

It's not all about the artist once you take it public.

Yes.

Successful artists can be true to themselves and still deliver something that many people will want. They can find a part of themselves (or a skill within themselves) that they can put out there for others to either appreciate, or not.

Some artists can even make the audience a part of the performance. (And no... I don't mean sing-a-long for a chorus, but yes - that counts superficially.) Stage magicians and the like do this all the time with varying degrees of involvement/success. Street performers do a lot of this as well. Stand up comics are a great example. We often expect heckling there, and the comics are expected to respond.

But the degree to which the artist involves the audience is up to the artist (stand up comics are a notable exception - heckling). In the broadest sense, this is measured by how broadly the artist appeals to people - how large their audience is. (Throwing rotten vegetables at a vaudeville show might qualify though... :) )

e.g. Satanic death metal appeals to a relatively small audience, while techno-pop has a much broader appeal and larger audience. But the techno-pop audience has no real influence on Satanic death metal artists, and vice versa.
Slow Down Music - Where I commit thought crimes...

Freedom is the right to be wrong, not the right to do wrong. - John Diefenbaker

Edvard

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Re: Celluloid vs digital: what are the REAL differences?
« Reply #18 on: August 09, 2014, 12:15:40 AM »
e.g. Satanic death metal appeals to a relatively small audience, while techno-pop has a much broader appeal and larger audience. But the techno-pop audience has no real influence on Satanic death metal artists, and vice versa.

Ummm... you haven't been listening to any Satanic Death Metal lately, have you?  "Bass drops" and "Dubstep Breakdowns" are getting to be the norm in those circles.  I'm not kidding.   :(

Renegade

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Re: Celluloid vs digital: what are the REAL differences?
« Reply #19 on: August 09, 2014, 12:18:37 AM »
e.g. Satanic death metal appeals to a relatively small audience, while techno-pop has a much broader appeal and larger audience. But the techno-pop audience has no real influence on Satanic death metal artists, and vice versa.

Ummm... you haven't been listening to any Satanic Death Metal lately, have you?  "Bass drops" and "Dubstep Breakdowns" are getting to be the norm in those circles.  I'm not kidding.   :(

Hahaha! :D

Ok, Old skool Satanic death metal then? :D

And yes - I've been out of touch with modern Satanic death metal lately. :)
Slow Down Music - Where I commit thought crimes...

Freedom is the right to be wrong, not the right to do wrong. - John Diefenbaker

40hz

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Re: Celluloid vs digital: what are the REAL differences?
« Reply #20 on: August 09, 2014, 04:05:16 PM »
And yes - I've been out of touch with modern Satanic death metal lately. :)

Why you poor thing! You've missed sooooo much... :P


man_dance_with_devil.gif

Edvard

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Re: Celluloid vs digital: what are the REAL differences?
« Reply #21 on: August 09, 2014, 04:52:52 PM »
 ;D ;D ;D

Actually I haven't had much to do with the "dark side" for a few years now, but then something catches your eye on youtube and...  :o