THE DIGITAL INTERMEDIATE - DIGITAL ACQUISITION
Predictions for the demise of film from digital technology have been greatly exaggerated. Film has continued to hold its own as an acquisition and presentation medium, it is also ultimately being returned too as backup. Hard drives and digital tape formats are all very well but what happens when a disk corrupts or the tape is chewed? Film inherently records single images, not a string of 1's and 0's, this allows for a far superior reliable archival material. We can still access and view million of reels from decades ago; will we be able to access these digital records in 85 years time?
Even with the advent of D-Cinema, the digital revolution has not fully halted the film juggernaut. Ultimately the cost of converting existing cinemas to fully digital operations is an expense that many independent cinemas cannot justify nationwide. It is still not viable to fully adopt an entirely digital philosophy and infrastructure, especially when we have a massive back catalogue that has not and will probably never be converted to the D-Cinema format.
The use of digital cameras for final output to film is growing. Ultimately they are popular because of their ease of operation: the results are instantly available on set, the equipment is lighter, plus your rushes do not need to go through a lab or additional telecine procedures; this has the potential to save in production, time and money. Digital capture is heralding a new wave of acquisition and presentation; which with the present incarnation of 4K cameras it seems that we are finally matching the generally accepted 4K pixel resolution, to match a fine grained negative.
Video Killed The Film as a Star (or did it?)
Video was hailed as the new medium for conservation and recording of images, however we now know tape deteriorates over time. Like film, its early incarnations are not fool proof. This degrading process, again like film is affected by many different factors. Including temperature, humidity, electro-magnetic interference plus radiation and ultimately wear and tear from normal playback or faulty playback equipment. Sounds familiar does it not?
Conservative estimates place a lifespan of around ten to fifteen years on magnetic tape before it begins to deteriorate. This could prove something of a surprise if twenty years after your wedding, you wanted to relive the memory and were presented with a screen full of static or a picture that was in poor colour. To counteract this, many of our new digital recorders now encode digitally to a static drive of some description.