The Bright Future of Film
General Manager of Worldwide Image Capture Products
Kodak Entertainment Imaging Division
Ingrid Goodyear is general manager of Worldwide Image Capture Products for the Entertainment Imaging Division of Eastman Kodak Company. In the following conversation, she answers questions about the evolution of film technology in response to the needs of the creative community. Goodyear stresses the company’s long-term commitment to film and hybrid technologies:
What motivated the development of the VISION3 platform?
From the dawn of the motion picture industry, people at Kodak have listened to filmmakers and have developed new technologies in response to their needs. We were told that there was a need for a new generation of films with a broader range of latitude and finer grain, and we responded. The feedback we’ve received about KODAK VISION3 5219/7219 500T color negative film, introduced in November 2007, has been overwhelmingly positive. KODAK VISION3 250D 5207/7207 film is the second product offering of this new family of films. It provides the creative community with a daylight-balanced film with the same extended range of latitude in highlight and shadow areas, and finer-grain images that provide more creative freedom in low keylight situations.
Are there other VISION3 films being developed?
Kodak’s commitment to film innovation that satisfies the needs of today’s and tomorrow’s filmmakers remains unwavering. The company continues to invest in film technology, and we are planning to introduce additional negative and postproduction films in the future.
What are the implications for the future of film?
We believe that the possibilities for an ongoing evolution of silver halide technology will continue to make film the gold standard. Film has been around for more than 100 years, and it remains the state-of-the-art image capture format available today. Furthermore, in all of that time, the evolution of film technology has never outdated the investments people have made in cameras and related equipment. With a fresh roll of film, a filmmaker is as technologically advanced today using cameras that were made 30 and 40 years ago. Some cinematographers have used hand-cranked cameras from the early 1920s to record breathtaking images with the resolution and color bit depth that is only possible with film.
If you want to put this issue into historical perspective, a 1956 headline on page one of the daily trade papers published in Hollywood announced, ‘Film Is Dead!’ The story predicted that the introduction of the first videotape system would make film obsolete within a year. More than 50 years later, it’s that videotape system that is dead. Film lives on.
What is your perspective on hybrid film production and digital video postproduction technologies?
Kodak has been a leader in the development of digital postproduction technology from the outset. Our scientists developed the sensor technology used in the earliest successful telecines. In 1991, Kodak scientists developed the Cineon Digital Film System, which was initially used for visual effects and film restoration applications. It later became the foundation for digital intermediate postproduction. Kodak has subsequently developed silver halide technology designed to enable digital workflows in postproduction. As digital post continues to help unlock film’s unlimited potential, we are committed to providing our customers with the option of choosing a hybrid workflow when that best serves their needs, and ensuring that these technologies work in tandem to help filmmakers bring their vision to the screen more faithfully, efficiently, and at the highest levels of performance.
Can you tell us about the archival benefits that film provides?
First, I would encourage anyone with a vested interest in storing and preserving their content to obtain a copy of The Digital Dilemma report, published in 2008 by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. This study thoroughly discusses and compares film and digital archiving, addressing both cost and longevity. The report summarizes the findings of interviews with some 70 archivists. They universally agreed that in addition to film being the only reliable archival medium, it costs considerably less to properly archive film, including outtakes and the final cut. I can’t stress how important that is because tomorrow’s needs are unpredictable. Who anticipated that yesterday’s out-takes would be valuable content for DVD re-releases of motion pictures, or that archival film of 40- and 50-year-old TV film programs would be re-mastered for airing in HD format?
Film-originated projects are ready for high-definition broadcast and distribution, and can be transferred into any format for new audiences anywhere in the world. The bottom line is that shooting on film today will reap financial benefits tomorrow.
What is the status of film production today?
I realize that there is a lot of hype about digital cameras, but the truth is that the significant majority of motion pictures that make it to cinema screens are produced on film. The same is true for dramatic programs produced for television and for national commercials. For example, 73 percent of the 67 commercials shown during the 2009 Super Bowl broadcast were shot on film because the sponsors, advertising agencies and producers understand that they are telling 30-second stories with images as well as words. They understand that producing their spots on film positions their brands in the best possible light for HD broadcast. The fact is that more than 80 video formats have come and gone since the mid-1950s, including investments made in cameras and postproduction equipment. Much of the content produced in those formats has been lost. At Kodak, we remain committed to on-going advances in film and hybrid postproduction technologies. With film, there is no compromise — no compromise on image quality, production values and efficiencies, the postproduction workflow, and the ability to repurpose content for the future. We say the future of film looks bright!