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AMIA-L  August 2003

AMIA-L August 2003

Subject:

Re: The end of motion picture film manufacture???

From:

Dominic Case <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Association of Moving Image Archivists <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Wed, 27 Aug 2003 12:13:01 +1000

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (71 lines)

>It's "common knowledge" in the archive community, the film
>distribution community, and the film exhibition community that
>"Kodak intends imminently to permanently stop the manufacture
>of motion picture film."

I'm gobsmacked to read this.

I don't work for Kodak, and here in Sydney, am I at not at all close to
their manufacturing decision-makers. I do work for a film laboratory that
has a digital department, so I don't have any particular barrow to push,
except that of accuracy.

So far as I can tell, most people believe that the eventual swing to digital
distribution and exhibition will take far, far longer than the digital
champions predicted. Boeing and Technicolor Digital Cinema have both stalled
- only this week Qualcomm sold its share of the Technicolor Digital Cinema
division, having installed only 34 of the predicted 1000 projector systems.
Meanwhile, 35mm print orders continue to rise at a healthy rate. Kodak
invested $$$$ in their new stock manufacturing plant and the major labs are
renovating and extending their printing facilities around the world. I don't
think "imminent" is the word.

As long as release printing continues on this path, it will be economically
viable for labs to run front-end operations (i.e. negative processing
facilities) as well as specialist archival and duplication facilities. Also
it will be economically viable for Kodak to continue to manufacture
pre-print film materials.

So far, although there has been a partial swing towards digital production
for TV in some parts of the world, and also to non-TV content where the
portabiility of miniDV is an advantage, mainstream features remain
overwhelmingly on film at least as far as capture is concerned. That won't
be the case for ever, but once again, reports of film's death (or imminent
death) are exaggerated.

Intermediate, post production and duplicating processes are swinging to
digital technologies much faster, simply because they work better that way,
if done properly.  Digital is a fantastic (though still expensive) method
for restoration (but NOT of course for archiving).

Kodak's announced discontinuation of double perf 16mm film is insignificant.
Modern film transports don't need to transport film on both edges, so single
perf presents no obstacles except for very old equipment: and in any case
special perforation runs will be available apparently 9albeit at a cost, of
course).  I guess in part Kodak have recognised that the USA has at long
last caught up with the rest of the world in discovering the Super 16
format.

At most stages of the process, including preservation, digital technologies
have a long way to go to catch up with some of the better properties of
film: but it's a young technology and I'm convinced that by the time it's
all digital, we will have ways of seeing and preserving the triumphs of
photographic film  in all its glory,using a digital display technology, or
equivalent. And that will be because of the diligence of all members of the
archival community in arguing for their standards in the developing digital
context.

But the 1956 Variety headline "film is dead" still ain't right.

________________________________
Dominic Case
Atlab Australia
________________________________



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