Saving private film: Kodak cuts film deal with major studios

Movies made on film may be down, but they're not out. Kodak has cut a deal with the 6 major Hollywood studios to continue to supply the venerable celluloid stock to film makers, such as the next James Bond movie. Analog forever!

Digital has taken Hollywood by storm. Almost all indie movies - those produced outside the big studios - are shot on digital cameras, such as the Red or Blackmagic cinema cameras. Offering 4k resolution and impressive dynamic range, these digital cameras offer capabilities rivaling traditional 35mm film.

Rival, yes, replace, no, according to such major directors such as Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino, and Christopher Nolan. If pressed, most film makers would admit that digital's big advantage is economic, not artistic.

Money talks. Simply put: hard drive capacity is a lot cheaper than film stock. And digital cameras are more economical as well, though the real expense is lenses, not sensors.

Some of the biggest films of 2015 are being shot on Kodak stock: Star Wars: Episode VII -The Force Awakens, Mission: Impossible 5, Batman v. Superman - Dawn of Justice, Jurassic World, Ant-Man, Cinderella, Entourage, and Trainwreck.

Most of these are franchise films, because film is expensive. But for those productions that can afford it, many directors prefer it. The last James Bond film, Skyfall, was shot in digital, but the next, Spectre, is being shot on film.

The Storage Bits take

Old media die hard. While we no longer keep accounting records on clay tablets, we still enjoy clay objects with impressed designs.

Film stock is the only modern medium with a demonstrated 100+ year life span. That puts it far ahead of almost all current digital media and their general 5 year life (M-disc is a notable exception). That's what makes the DOTS system interesting.

The loyalty exhibited by leading directors is what I find interesting. After all, film's 24 frames per second data rate is an artifact of economics, the human visual subsystem and technology.

Film is costly. The human eye needs 24fps to see smooth motion. Silver halide particles give film its distinctive - and often digitally imitated - grain.

So is the loyalty we see for film based on nostalgia for how we first experienced movies, or is it something deeper? Do the compromises we've made to make film "work" for us allow unconscious cognitive processes that enable us to fully suspend the disbelief that all narrative forms require?

I don't know. But I'm glad that film will still be available for those artists who see the need.

Comments welcome, as always. Film: do you care or not? Why?