Friday, May 03, 2013

Our seminar on 4K digitization

Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 3 May 2013.

A couple of years ago KAVA (Kansallinen audiovisuaalinen arkisto / National Audiovisual Archive / Finland) launched its programme of digitizing the national film heritage - in 4K.

It is an expensive programme, and in order for it to make sense KAVA has also recently bought the rights to the biggest part of the national film heritage - especially of the two biggest companies, Suomi-Filmi, and Suomen Filmiteollisuus.

Today we organized a seminar to present the project to the film industry, other film professionals, and the general audience. Despite the beautiful May weather the attendance was good.

Matti Lukkarila (Director) outlined the general strategy, Mikko Kuutti (Deputy Director) presented the digitization plan, and Pekka Tähtinen and Mikko Mäkeläinen gave a professional overview of the technical specifications of 4K digitization.

I was the chairman in the concluding panel discussion with Kalle Kinnunen (a top film critic, who has been systematically covering digitization) and Petteri Kalliomäki (a central figure from the film culture scene of Jyväskylä, who has followed the big change during the last seven years).

Major positions and critical points were covered, and the audience was active in the debate.

Digitization has revolutionized Finnish film distribution and enabled a commercial flourishing of domestic films onto a level not seen since forty years.

There are valid critical remarks about the current quality of digital cinematography and projection, but both keep getting better.

Big problems remain unsolved. What happens to the theatrical access to digital movies after their first run - after six months, that is? Most fatally, and best understood by information technology engineers, there is the question of the fundamental impermanence of digital information formats.

We in our screenings keep providing chances for a fair comparison between film and digital. A splendid chance will be provided next Wednesday, 8 May 2013, when we screen Käpy selän alla / [A Cone Under My Back] on 35 mm at 15.00 (free entry) and from a 4K DCP at 17.00. A true comparison requires watching a movie in its entirety in both formats and reflecting on the impact days and weeks afterwards. Sampling is necessary and useful but not enough.

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