BTW in case you missed it Film is dead

R.I.P., the movie camera: 1888-2011 –

We might as well call it: Cinema as we knew it is dead.

An article at the moviemaking technology website Creative Cow reports that the three major manufacturers of motion picture film cameras — Aaton, ARRI and Panavision — have all ceased production of new cameras within the last year, and will only make digital movie cameras from now on.  As the article’s author, Debra Kaufman, poignantly puts it, “Someone, somewhere in the world is now holding the last film camera ever to roll off the line.”

What this means is that, even though purists may continue to shoot movies on film, film itself will may become increasingly hard to come by, use, develop and preserve. It also means that the film camera — invented in 1888 by Louis Augustin Le Prince — will become to cinema what typewriters are to literature. Anybody who still uses a Smith-Corona or IBM Selectric typewriter knows what that means: if your beloved machine breaks, you can’t just take it to the local repair shop, you have to track down some old hermit in another town who advertises on Craigslist and stockpiles spare parts in his basement.

As Aaton founder Jean-Pierre Beauviala told Kaufman: “Almost nobody is buying new film cameras. Why buy a new one when there are so many used cameras around the world? We wouldn’t survive in the film industry if we were not designing a digital camera.” Bill Russell, ARRI’s vice president of cameras, added that: “The demand for film cameras on a global basis has all but disappeared.”

Theaters, movies, moviegoing and other core components of what we once called “cinema” persist, and may endure.  But they’re not quite what they were in the analog cinema era. They’re something new, or something else — the next generation of technologies and rituals that had changed shockingly little between 1895 and the early aughts. We knew this day would come. Calling oneself a “film director” or “film editor” or “film buff” or a “film critic” has over the last decade started to seem a faintly nostalgic affectation; decades hence it may start to seem fanciful. It’s a vestigial word that increasingly refers to something that does not actually exist — rather like referring to the mass media as “the press.”

4 comments on “BTW in case you missed it Film is dead

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  1. I’vebeen mulling for a while a post aboutthe analagous issue w photography where film ahs been all butdead for quite while. With photog, things are possible w digital that either weren’t w film, or only at astronomical expense.

  2. and my late uncle was pretty angry when they switched to digital recording of music and adopted remarkably lax recording protocols that resulted in recordings that were less true to the original sound.

  3. that it is, miggs.

    but this stuff reminded me of what the they to punish me when they threw me out of typing class in junior high school.
    (they repeatedly caught me peeking at the keys when i should have been decently averting my eyes).

    I might have been one of the few 12 year olds trained in setting lead type during the 1960s.. i remember thinking how interesting it was that i was learning this vocational skill at the same time that my friends father was losing his job as a typesetter at the New York Times because the entire newspaper industry (and publishing industry as well) was abandoning the practice.

    I mentioned this the rather remarkably drunken teacher of the class and asked if perhaps i might be trained as a fletcher, but ….no

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