Film is superior to digital. Isn’t it?

Dreamworks is divided over the rollout of digital cinema, according to Variety…

Katzenberg says it’s not happening fast enough, whilst Spielberg is arguing that digital projection is inferior to 35mm film (for anything originating on film), and doesn’t want the latest Indiana Jones movie projected on digital screens.

But they’re both wrong:

On one hand, digital cinema just doesn’t offer any clear advantage to the consumer over film, which makes it difficult to build a case for adoption. But then on the other hand, film doesn’t really offer any clear advantage to the consumer in terms of quality over digital, even when you factor colour space conversion and digitisation. Sure there’s a loss from going from 35mm to digital in terms of colour, dynamic range, and resolution. But that also happens to some extent going from 1st generation film prints to 3rd, 4th and so on generations. There’s also the “second-hand” generation loss that we experience in the UK, where film that has been run through US projectors thousands of times then get debut screenings over here, covered in all manner of dust and scratches.

And as for the resolution and clarity issues, much like David Pogue once pointed out… no-one can really tell the difference anyway.

Posted: May 6th, 2008
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Comment from Chason - 5/5/2009 at 6:08 pm

What will be the deciding factor in the end is the trump card that ensures digital will almost always win out over traditional forms of media – cost. Since as you state there is no real difference for consumers, the cost savings that digital brings to the table for distributors and theaters is what will enable digital distribution to banish traditional 35mm prints to art houses.

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