"When we were shooting Prison Break, the producers wanted to shoot digital. They’re like, ‘Oh, it’s faster, it’s cheaper.’ It’s not faster and it’s not cheaper."
Brett Ratner, Director/Producer

 

"There was a time when more people were shooting HD just to try it, because it was the in vogue thing... and many, many people have gone back to film. There are all sorts of reasons for that. Number one, digital is not cheaper, number two, it’s more cumbersome."
Stefan Sonnenfeld,
Colorist/President, Company 3

 

Film provides many cost-saving advantages.

 

Film delivers exceptional pictures with less critical lighting — insurance against an unacceptable image that cannot be recovered in postproduction. Consider the value of a medium so reliable that it consumes almost no time for technical attention on the set or location, so dependable that setup and maintenance are nonissues, so unobtrusive that it permits total concentration on the artistic and creative effort.

 

"Shooting film helped us because we could dig deep into the shadows and still maintain the highlights. We were able to move fast too."
Vanja Černjul, Cinematographer

"The amount of detail retained in the highlights is beyond anything we can even conceive of in digital. It’s not just that film is better than digital is now. It’s that it’s more effective at capturing the quality that you’ve created on set than anything that we can conceive of digitally."
Bill Dill, ASC,
Cinematographer/Professor

"One of the biggest advantages of the DI is that it’s where you’re proving all your production values. That’s where it all gets realized — when you’ve got all these raw assets and then they get turned into, you know, the sparkling film. And so capturing the highest quality image is going to aid that process so much more."
Ben Baker, Head of Digital Lab, Framestore

 

Film’s 14 stops of dynamic range translate into cost savings on set and in postproduction.

 

Unrivaled dynamic range — tangible benefits on set.
Film’s unrivaled dynamic range allows you to capture quickly and efficiently. You can record detail in the brightly lit and deep shadows simultaneously without the need for elaborate lighting. The benefit is less equipment and less set-up time during production, which translates to real cost savings. All without compromising your image.

Unrivaled dynamic range — tangible benefits in post.
Capturing more detail during production means you have more information to work with in post. That means less time trying to extract or synthesize information that simply hasn’t been captured when shooting with other formats. And, in digital post, when you extract more information from the extremes of exposure, there is less risk of introducing color imbalance and image artifacts, which take time and money to attempt to correct.

 

"I’ve actually heard it’s more expensive to shoot HD. For me it was, just because I’ve got an army of people doing stuff... I needed technicians to help me do it."
Sam Bayer,
Director/Cinematographer

 

A cast of thousands behind the scenes.

 

With film, there are no cable wars on set. Your valuable production day is not lost through elaborate setups, or by dragging around messy tangles of wires. High-end productions shot with professional video equipment often require a cast of thousands to operate the gear. Recording video images at high resolution requires computer equipment that is sizeable and awkward to move around. Don’t forget the DAT and the DIT, the back-up drives and the LTO tapes. Add up the costs and compare these to a film production. You may save on film stock and processing, but this will be offset by other costs that you don’t have to deal with when you shoot film. Best of all, you don’t have to compromise your image.

 

"There is a notion of some that digital is cheap. There are lots of downstream costs"
Bill Dill, ASC,
Cinematographer/Professor

"Cheap is good until anything goes wrong. We’ve had digital disasters like a dropped pixel or someone stepping on wires"
Ben Baker, Head of Digital Lab, Framestore

 

Fix it in post. You hope. At what cost?

 

There is a misconception that you can “fix it in post” but you can’t fix something that hasn’t been captured in the first place. You cannot recover information lost in the extremes of exposure. It costs money to correct dropped frames and dead pixels — issues inherent with digital capture. So when budgeting, consider the potential for your costs to blow out, only to end up with a compromised end product.

 

"When a project is proposed to me as an HD project, the first and really only relevant question is ‘why’. If that answer leads me to be curious about helping, then great. But if it’s because it’s supposed to be faster, or cheaper, or it helps in the post, then I question it."
Adam Kimmel, Cinematographer

 

Just keep shooting. Do you have enough budgeted for postproduction blowouts?

 

Film brings with it a production discipline that preserves shooting ratios at a far more manageable level. Reduced editing time leads to less time in post and a far more efficient production that can help save you money. Add to this the sheer cost of storing digital data during postproduction as well as after completion and you may end up with an unexpected budgeting dilemma on your hands.

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