Monday, August 20, 2012

Side by Side

US © 2012 Company Films, LLC. P: Keanu Reeves, Justin Szlasa. D+SC: Chris Kenneally. DP: Chris Cassidy. AN: Noisy Neighbor Productions, Anthony Kraus, Charles Floyd. M: Brendan Ryan, Billy Ryan. S: Alex Soto, Tom Ryan, Max Greene, Wen Tseng. ED: Mike Long, Malcolm Hearn. Narrator and interviewer: Keanu Reeves.

Featuring: David Lynch, Martin Scorsese, Christopher Nolan, James Cameron, George Lucas, Steven Soderbergh, David Fincher, Michael Chapman, John Mathieson, Vittorio Storaro, David Stump, Reed Morano, Bradford Young, Dick Pope, Sandi Sissel, Donald McAlpine, Robert Rodriguez, David Tattersall, Phil Meheux, Charles Herzfeld, Joel Schumacher, Geoff Boyle, Alec Shapiro, Lars von Trier, Anthony Dod Mantle, Jason von Kliet, Geoffrey Gilmore, Ellen Kuras, Gary Winick, Caroline Kaplan, Darnell Martin, John Malkovich, Greta Gerwig, Richard Linklater, Danny Boyle, Tom Rothman, Craig Wood, Walter Murch, Derek Ambrosi, Anne Coates, Chris Lebenzon, Lorenzo di Bonaventura, John Knoll, Tim Webber, Dennis Muren, Adam Valdez, Jonathan Fawkner, Lana & Andy Wachowski, David Stump, Geoff Boyle, Alec Shapiro, David Tattersall, Don Ciana, Terry Haggar, Andrzej Bartkowiak, Stefan Sonnenfield, Jill Bogdanovicz, Tim Stipan, Ellen Kuras, Michael Ballhaus, Jost Vacano, Dion Beebe, Bob Harvey, Wally Pfister, Jim Jannard, Ted Schlitzowitz, Vilmos Zsigmond, Ari Presler, Vincent Pace, Glenn Kennel, Tom Rothman, Barry Levinson, Greta Gerwig, Lena Dunham, Donald McAlpine, Shurti Ganguly, Bill Russell, Michael Goi, Gary Einhaus, Ed Stratmann.

99 min on PAL dvd. Screener dvd viewed at home, Helsinki, 20 August 2012.

A documentary movie about film and digital, about the digital transition in the cinema. I like the sober and balanced way in which Chris Kenneally and Keanu Reeves deal with the biggest change in the history of the cinema since Lumière. Martin Scorsese: "It's exciting because it's the re-invention of the movies".

Side by Side would be ideal for teaching purposes because it is an introduction to all aspects of the cinema and how they are affected by the digital transition: cinematography, workflow, laboratory work, the principal production, editing, special effects, visual effects and computer generated images (CGI), the development of digital cameras, colour timing, manipulation in post-production, digital projection in cinema theatres, 3D, the democratization of movie making with cheap digital cameras (do it yourself), and archiving.

The state of the art is represented by ARRI Alexa and RED Epic. High profile movies still get shot on film: The Artist, Moneyball, Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol, Tree of Life, War Horse, Hunger Games, The Dark Knight Rises.

Thomas Vinterberg's Festen was the breakthrough theatrically released movie shot on a DV camera. Slumdog Millionaire won the Academy Award for cinematography: the first time for a movie almost entirely shot on digital cameras.

Side by Side is a good movie for someone who is getting acquainted with the film vs. digital dilemma for the first time. Its dozens of interviews and sharply presented facts offer fresh ideas also for professionals.

I have been a critical but very interested observer of the digital transformation since its early expressions in music videos and special effects, and early feature films such as Toy Story and Final Fantasy. I have been chronically disappointed with the 2K level of digital projection, but Side by Side provides fresh evidence that we are still in an early phase of the digital transformation. There is for the moment no serious solution for the preservation of digital information, only solemn decisions that the problem will be solved. The current solutions for digital are much more expensive than the ones needed for analogue preservation. At least unconsciously it seems we are living like there is no tomorrow. 
Rough notes:

Keanu Reeves

A collage of remarks

Scorsese: "It's exciting because it's the re-invention of the movies".

The cinematographer's work, The camera, the film process, silver halide crystals, the film lab process documented, the dailies

A digital camera, the electronic sensor = the chip, pixels, electronic charges, digital data,

Bell Laboratories invention of the chip in the early 1970s, Sony 1980s: CCD Camcorders

1980s Dogma 95: Festen (1998) was the first movie shot with a modern DV camera, The Idiots, Mifune - rethinking the technical side, Julien the Donkey Boy, Chuck & Buck
with lower budgets more freedom

video, presence in a room

Personal Velocity, Tradpole
"this isn't cinema"
a production aesthetics
slapped around
Trier: another way for working with actors
shoot as much as I wanted
Lynch: 40 minutes, start over, talk to the actors
Malkovich: the momentum, as fast as you can go back you can start again
money running into the camera
Linklater: it's almost like athletics
Boyle: now we don't have to stop
After The Beach I saw Festen
I got in touch with the guy who shot it
28 Days Later
"I'll never get an Oscar"
We would not have been able to shoot it on film because of the traffic
I love that freedom
masses of material for the editor

film editing electronically
the floppy disk
Editdroid 1980
"can I think that fast"
digital unbelievably malleable
sculptors of images and sound

CGI - computer generated images
special effects
visual effects
crude digital shots in Star Wars
didn't feel like there were a lot of rules
completely digital effects: Young Sherlock Holmes
James Cameron: The Abyss
The Fifth Element, Starship Troopers, The Matrix

George Lucas: film is cumbersome
went to Sony, help you build a digital camera

early digital capture
resolution: for example, the number of pixel
SD 720
Sony F900
HD 1920, almost 2K

2002 Attack of the Clones: first movie shot in HD
a really polarizing time in Hollywood
digital cameras looked like a threat

Once Upon a Time in Mexico
the image was not as good but it allowed me to do things
Sin City

colour timing
black and white, colour
determining the look
colour balance red - green - blue - brightness
digital colour correction for commercials and music videos
da vinci
DI colorizing
O Brother Where Art Thou?
every single frame with visual effects
Ellen Kuras
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
anybody can manipulate the image
Michael Ballhaus
Gangs of New York, we didn't have to have the DI
in a special story DI can be great

in every theater it's different
Scorsese: the projectionist
different projector lights
not sharp, no snap, shaky, dirty
the quality of film is terrible in the theatre
struggle to get quality in theaters
Lucas: digital: brilliant
digital projection: Star Wars Episode 1

new HD cameras
Thompson Viper 2000
Dion Beebe
supposed to look exactly the way it looked
at night you don't see black
the only way to capture that was digitally

Christopher Nolan: for me it's still video

2005 Panavision, a serious push into digital
a film camera that takes tape
Panavision Genesis
new lenses
took Panavision lenses
Superman Returns, 2006
pretty good images
the transition would be easy
Dean Semler: Apocalypto
Miami Vice, 2006, shot on digital
dynamic range is vital, more important than anything
Das Boot, 1981, shot on film

digital was not as good as film
4096 - 4K

Che, 2008, Soderbergh
no holds barred
The Social Network
never before: immediate call and response
Slumdog Millionaire - Academy Award for cinematography - first time for a movie almost entirely shot on digital cameras

Silicon Imaging SI-2K

Public Enemies (Sony F29), District 9 (Sony F23), Tetro (Sony F900), The Informant! (RED One), Avatar (Sony F950),

James Cameron: the future of 3D is digital
two cameras
everything duplicates down the chain
Alice in Wonderland, How To Train Your Dragon

James Cameron: when was it ever real?
Speed Racer
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
The Two Towers
Pirates of the Caribbean: At the World's End
Clash of the Titans

doubles everything in every two years

RED, Arri, Sony, constantly developing
the development of the dynamic range in RED Epic, ARRI Alexa (2010)

the new RED, 5120, 5K

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Amazing Spider-Man, The Hobbit: RED Epic

digital delivery

not copied but cloned

digital projection has come a long way

Chapman: cinema was the church of the 20th century

huge image, beyond your everyday life

Trier: fuck film school, just do it yourself
Scorsese: some kids are really good at it
5D cameras
Lynch: everybody has access to a piece of paper, but how many great stories have been written?
the end of film? Scorsese: it is still a choice

Shot on film: The Artist, Moneyball, Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol, Tree of Life, War Horse, Hunger Games, The Dark Knight Rises

Zsigmond: film is not dead, it has a beautiful look
Chapman: who cares
Pfister: I will be the last guy to shoot on film.
Film production peaked in 2007

Film cameras can last for decades, but the manufacturers have ceased their development, and they no longer make them.

Archiving, storing. Nobody takes it seriously. Since the 1950s there have been 80 formats of video. Most of them cannot be played anymore. Because machines simply don't exist. David Fincher: I have archived tapes of commercials and music videos I made in the 1980s, and there are no machines that can play them. Scorsese: the only option, interestingly enough, is [celluloid].

Film will never be format obsolete. Soderbergh: all digital solutions are better scenarios than film. Lucas: there is too much digital information not to figure out a foolproof way to store forever.

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