Movie film era draws to a close

Movie film era draws to a close

Summary: Fujifilm recently announced that it was ending production of its most popular line of motion picture film products. The more than 100 year reign of the modern storage medium is slowly ending.

TOPICS: Storage

Fujifilm announced that it has ceased production of most of its movie film products as of last month. With Kodak on very shaky ground and the continuing rapid improvements in digital cinema cameras, it is only a matter of time until the oldest modern storage medium ceases to be in production.

The culprit  

What is killing the film market is not that more directors are shooting digitally. It's the fact that movie theaters are converting from film to digital projection.

While a major Hollywood film might shoot a few hundred thousand feet of film stock, the real payoff for film vendors is when several thousand copies are made for physical distribution to movie theaters around the world.

Fujifilm will continue to make some recording film for uses such as long-term archiving, but they have discontinued their color positive film, color negative film, black-and-white positive and negative film, intermediate film, sound recording film, high contrast panchromatic films and, in Japan only, the chemicals needed to produce and develop these films.

What about cameras?  

Film cameras are also going out of production, but this is a much less serious problem. Film cameras are built like tanks and last for decades. 

The most costly item in pro shops is neither camera or film, but lenses. They don't wear out and can be adapted to digital, so the cost of moving to digital is lower than you might think.

The Storage Bits take  

It may be that someone will stockpile the manufacturing equipment and chemicals required to make motion picture film, as they have for Polaroid film. That equipment will be very cheap, and as long as the chemicals are still available, probably not that difficult to produce.

But we are seeing the end of an era: The first modern storage medium to become obsolete. Digital cameras will only continue to improve, and there will be less and less reason to use film going forward.

Film-loving purists will complain for decades to come, but for the rest of us, it is the story, not the technology, that counts. Digital makes 3D video much simpler than film, as well. 

Comments welcome, as always. 

Topic: Storage

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  • Not sure what a "major Hollywood Phone" is

    "While a major Hollywood phone might shoot a few hundred thousand feet of film stock"
    William Farrel
    • Maybe it's the new iPhone!

      Just need for everyone to go ballistic!
    • Oops!

      Dictation error. Fixed.

      Thanks for the catch!

      R Harris
  • Digital Archive future

    The challenge for the future will be in digital preservation. As we have seen already, formats come and go for storage and the future film (digital) archivist will be dependent upon electrons for preserving the data of generations of media production. True, today they face challenges with preservation of the physical medium, but just as film can burn in a archive accident, in only seconds can digital files be rendered useless by system failure or negligence. It will take mountains of "clouds" of data -- are the future archivists discussing standards for the digital film age? would love to hear more on that than the death of Fuji or Kodak film.
    • Regarding digital archiving -- check into the Mormon Church.

      One practice of Mormonism is baptizing dead ancestors of someone who converts to Mormonism. As a result, for decades (possibly over 100 years, I don't know) they have recorded and archived all sorts of records. For a long time it was done on microfilm but they are now converting that. They estimate they create about 15 TERABYTES PER DAY of new digital records data. They write their own backup software, etc., and even have a massive underground storage facility. (I think it's inside a mountain but, again, I'm not sure about the mountain.)
      • Mormon records repository

        In the Wasatch mountain range southeast of Salt Lake. Supposedly Cheyenne mountain-class nuclear survive-ability. Called Granite Mountain.