The American Society of Cinematographers

Loyalty • Progress • Artistry
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Return to Table of Contents November 2012 Return to Table of Contents
The Master
Presidents Desk
Short Takes
DVD Playback
ASC Close-Up

We recently filled the ASC Clubhouse for a screening of the documentary Side by Side, which was covered in the September issue of this magazine. The filmmakers interviewed many of our members, as well as producers and directors, to explore the topic of two formats, digital and film, coexisting. Many directors and cinematographers have made the move to digital capture without much fuss. Others lament the pressure to do so, and worry that the photochemical process will expire. All moods, thoughts and anxieties are well represented in Side by Side, as it is a well-crafted documentary. We recommend you catch up with it.

We left the screening with deep concerns in at least two areas:  craft and preservation. On the craft side, we see some trends in the adoption of digital technology that undermine the collaborative process. For example, because digital dailies can be distributed to computers, the collective screening of dailies before production begins or after production wraps for the day has been abandoned. Directors, cinematographers, producers, production designers and editors often view dailies in separate locations and on different devices. The process of evolving a language for a given picture is best done when all members of the filmmaking team are seeing the same image at the same time on the same screen.

The lack of a universal archiving solution for digital data is also troubling. As Michael Goi, ASC observes in Side by Side, more than 80 video formats have come and gone, but none has proven as reliable for archiving motion pictures as a filmout to 35mm.

We note with great sadness that our friends at Fujifilm will no longer manufacture camera negative for motion-picture production. However, seeing the glass half full, we are pleased that the company will continue to manufacture stocks necessary for the archival process.

Viewing Side by Side, we are reminded that the Digital Cinema Initiative, in which the ASC participated, was undertaken to address the issue of costly film-print distribution. So, as is so often the case in the industry, it’s because of a financial imperative that we are all scrambling to make new cameras, workflows and on-set procedures work, perhaps before the time is entirely right. Our members will soldier on under these circumstances, and we will continue to create memorable images and help evolve the tools for doing so.


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