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Filming on Film September 12, 2019

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With 2020 right around the corner, you can’t help feel that it’s going to be a futuristic year of mind-boggling technology. I mean, it’s a new decade, right? But if 2020 is for the future, 2019 is about all things retro – where anything vintage is cool again. Vinyl records, Polaroid’s and movie film cameras are all for sale on the floor of Urban Outfitters. Digital Cut also was feeling nostalgic for the analog days. Having shelves of old film cameras on display, we decided to dust a few of them off, load up some film and see what happens.

Just for Fun

We started out with a test roll of black and white to make sure our vintage cameras worked. The expired film we used had been sitting on a shelf for over 30 years. Doesn’t sound like a recipe for success, but lo and behold it worked! It was a fun passion project and we learned a lot. We know that there are all kinds of filters and looks you can apply to digital video in post-production to get the film look, but you just can’t replicate the real thing. The contrast, grain and colors can’t be matched with digital.

A Lesson in Patience

Shooting film takes patience. In this world of instant results, it takes weeks before you ever see anything you shot. You have to send your film in the mail to a lab to be processed and scanned to digital. Having to wait makes it even more fun when you actually get to see what you shot.

Translating What We Learned

Sometimes you have to learn from the past to remake the future, but how could we apply what we learned to our modern workflow? While some Hollywood movies are still shot on 35mm or 70mm film, it doesn’t translate to commercial production too much anymore. Being a modern agency, we generally shoot with a 4.5K RED or similar 4K digital cinema camera and the quality is amazing. Yet, never one to miss the opportunity to stretch the creative muscles, Digital Cut’s Creative Director Kelsey Gibson came up with an idea of how we can shoot 8mm film for one of our productions. Stay tuned in the coming weeks when we share how we shot a 1960s dramatization on film (a fresh roll this time) and made it relevant to a modern client.

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John Oliva

John Oliva oversees day-to-day operations, video editing, cinematography and production for Digital Cut Productions.