Film Fading to Black

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While the debate has raged over whether or not film is dead, ARRI, Panavision and Aaton have quietly ceased production of film cameras within the last year to focus exclusively on design and manufacture of digital cameras. That’s right: someone, somewhere in the world is now holding the last film camera ever to roll off the line.

via Creative COW.

There Are 16 Comments On This Article.

  1. wow, now I know how exciting it must have been to report on the hard times that fell upon carriage makers when the automobile was introduced into mass production


    • Hi Jim…. Do you really believe that the equipment is what is creating the oft rumored proliferation of ‘instant’ professionals? This is a sincere question. Thanks.

  2. Film is a left-brain dominated visual space medium which means it’s possible to maintain standards based on sequence. Linear sequences are logical and allow for the creation sets of technical rules that make mediums inaccessible to amateurs. These specialized rules require an industry filled with professionals to fill the role of photographer/cinematographer.

    Digital is a right brained dominated acoustic space medium which means it’s processes are non-linear and simultaneous. Standards cannot exist without sequence, so it is impossible to maintain (or judge) levels of technical proficiency and craftsmanship in a digital medium. Amateurs dominate mediums that lack linear standards and professionals get replaced by folk artists. Popularity is determined by the crowd, and folk artists are always more popular than fine artists.

    Film was a medium dominated by an elite group of fine artists/directors. Digital is a medium dominated by folk artists/amateurs. Folk artists consider it a badge of honor to work without any technical standard. In an absence of technical standards, the only way to judge work is by how popular it is with the crowd. So digital work will always be “dumbed down” in order to please the largest audience possible.

    • Huh…?
      If by “Digital” you mean user-based delivery paradigms like You Tube, then you may be right. The production pipelines for Digital Cinema are just as complex as those for film…3D even more so. While the “linear” aspect of film production has been usurped by the digital toolset for many years now. IE: nobody cuts their film on actual film anymore…it’s hard to even find a flat-table editor that actually works!

      And in a discussion of aesthetics, where Classical (many rules) vs. Romantic (NO rules) schools exist…the conundrum for the Romantic is that their “NO RULES” philosophy is STILL a rule, and a very big one.

    • Mike M: Well said! I can tell that somewhere in your background or lineage you have the genes of an historian. Excellent perspective and observation… (but a bit on the cynical side :-)

    • Great Post Mike M!

      You hit it on the nose, with the exception of the term “folk” artists – perhaps “pop”/amature or commercial artist would be more accurate to describe the endless amounts of slick illustrations and video manipulations of today.

  3. “That’s right: someone, somewhere in the world is now holding the last film camera ever to roll off the line.”

    Rubbish, unless you’re referring specifically to just Aari, Panavision or Aaton cameras. Plenty of film cameras still being produced.

  4. Is Bollywood still shooting film? What about Hong Kong and China? Is Russia still shooting film and making film motion picture cameras?

    • Definitely, as are even a few shows intended for television. Sometimes it is for archival reasons, as suggested in the article, though other times it has been for future migration (possible 4k home theater future, or higher). As noted in the article:

      “Aaton founder Jean-Pierre Beauviala notes why. “Almost nobody is buying new film cameras. Why buy a new one when there are so many used cameras around the world?” he says. “We wouldn’t survive in the film industry if we were not designing a digital camera.”

      It’s definitely become less important. Try to look for the Zacuto sponsored series on various digital systems in a shoot-out, and note the use of Kodak film in the tests. While an ARRI Alexa is an amazing camera, it’s far above the budget of many 5D and 7D DSLR video productions. Really, that is the bigger aspect, in that budgets are shrinking, and the lack of funds is pushing lesser gear. Even Panavision, Aaton, and ARRI sell far fewer digital cameras than the number of Canon DLSRs used out in the wild.

  5. Everyone knows the Russians don’t make good cameras! And I didn’t get everything Mike said, but I do think digital does eliminate a learning curve making it easier for one to get in the game, with so many getting in, it floods the industry with newcomers, people start charging less and pretty soon the whole industry sucks and people have to work more for less. Sorry to snowball, I know thats an argumentative fallacy, but just think about it.

    I do think film will always have a small place in the industry, albiet, a changing roll. Slowly becoming kitch. I still shoot film, fyi. Its what I learned on, I like how it produces and no matter what, chances are a lot of people with a 5d mkii couldn’t properly expose a slide.

    • Did you see Solaris (1972), shot by Vadim Yusov in 35mm using Sovscope (anamorphic). I saw a 70mm print and it was gorgeous. This movie wasn’t shot with junk cameras/lenses.

  6. I think there is a push by the digital side of things to bring a close to the film era. Yet there are many who will continue to use film especialy long time independants that produce films. It’s use, as a medium, will be by those who produce the motion and still content for arts sake.