Movies On Film Quickly Dying

By 2013, it's quite possible that movies will no longer be made using the traditional 35mm film that has been around for over one hundred years. I think we have probably been aware that some kind of transition is taking place, as we see references to digital screens and so on, but it's a little shocking to realize that a whole era of cinema may be near it's end.

There are aesthetic and financial considerations to be made on both sides of the camera. Digital movie making is less expensive to produce (quality film stock is expensive), but theaters need to upgrade their projection equipment to show it, if they have not already - at $60,000 to $75,000 per screen. Digital movie making can also be more accessible to those with a story to tell, because of the cheaper cost of production - but then does ease of access mean a decrease in quality of the final product?

Up till now, you have probably already seen many movies that were shot digitally, and most actually strive to look "like film" - Slumdog Millionaire, The Muppets, Superman Returns. In the next couple of years, that comfort zone may be encroached upon by improved technology, allowing faster frame rates to be recorded and projected, resulting in a "non-film" look that might take some getting used to.

The most anticipated effort to be shot with faster frame rates is December's release of the first episode of The Hobbit, from Peter Jackson. It can and will be projected at 48 frames per second (fps) in theaters that can support it, and at the traditional 24 fps in others. Some early viewings of Hobbit footage met with mixed reactions, because the effect was reportedly more like watching HDTV than a movie. The higher frame rate reduces blur in panning shots and so on and also should make the 3D experience better (yes, it will be in 3D also).

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