It’s beginning to feel strange calling the Film Industry, the Film industry when we are shooting less and less on film. Digital has become the new standard. And why is that? How is that? How has the “Gold Standard” of film been dethroned? It is actually very complicated if you think about it.
Your knee jerk reaction might be to blame it on money. Digital is cheaper, that is true. But in an age where your big block buster movies, have an almost limitless budget, and yet they are also shooting on digital, then it can’t just be about money. There has to be something more to it.
Film has limits. Film can only be so sensitive. It can only realistically be so big, so it can only be so good in low light. And that’s where digital has it beat. Where film has stopped evolving, digital can always be improved. Sensors can be made more sensitive, photosites can be redesigned to capture light better. They can be made smaller to pack more onto a sensor and thus making them higher resolution. The dynamic range can be improved upon, which has already surpassed film. In fact we have surpassed film in a few areas. If you could measure super35mm film in video resolution, it would be around 3.2k. Clearly we have passed that limit.
Where digital has yet to best film is in color and fine detail and highlight and shadow roll-off. And those things are what separates film from digital. That’s what gives film it’s “filmic look and digital it’s “digital” look.
That is why some directors still cling on and shoot on film. But it’s only a matter of time before digital is able to replicate the those aspects as well. And that’s why digital is revolutionizing the film industry, because it can still be improved upon, it has yet to reach its limit.