Saturday, November 15, 2008

Red articles

Two cool articles, one and two, about RED and its founder.
"I had been thinking about this project for a long time," Jannard says. "As a camera fanatic and a product builder, this was something I seemed destined to do." When businesspeople talk destiny, it can sound like bullshit. But at Oakley, Jannard not only ran the company, he personally shot one of its two TV spots and all of its print ads from 1975 to 1995. He owns more than 1,000 cameras, both still and motion picture, several dating back almost a century. "I have a Bolex, Aaton, Arriflex, Eyemo, Filmo, Mitchell, Photosonic, Beaulieu, Keystone—just about every movie camera you can think of."

People like this are interesting, Jannard and Steve Jobs and any number of prominent personalities: who accomplish great things despite, or because, money is a secondary consideration. Or tertiary, or not even considered except as a means to a greater end.

"Even so, traditionalists cling to film's reliability. Film is tangible. Hard drives crash; files get corrupted. "You put film in a can and stick it on a shelf, and it costs $1,000 a year to store," says Stephen Lighthill, who teaches cinematography at the American Film Institute. "With a project that starts as data, you have it on a hard drive, which has to be nursed and upgraded. It's an electronic, mechanical device that can't be left unplugged." Preserving a 4K digital master of a feature film would cost $12,000 a year, according to a report by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences."

Whu? A hard disk can't be unplugged? $12,000 a year? That has to be total BS. You back it up on a couple of different media in a couple of different places, and you're done. If you wish, you make a physical master print on film also. Simple.

There are some interesting points about film. Did you know that each (big, expensive) projection copy of a film has to be taken in to be cleaned/restored after a few dozen screenings? Incredible.
What form digital projectors will take in the future is interesting though. It'll be hard to make them so they won't be outdated very soon.
But I find it interesting to think about how clumsy and expensive it is to distribute the huge film canisters. Today I can download HD movies to my Apple TV... as fast as I can watch them! And that is essentially the same resolution as the "2K" digital projectors they use in some theaters. So even though they may want a bit bigger resolution, they wouldn't even need a special pipeline to get movies delivered fully digitally, only an ordinary commercial Internet connection, and some security measures.
This is cool: Brits are planning use of the economical nature of digital distribution to get more UK-made out to the public. Much as I like Hollywood movies, it's excellent that both digital production and distribution will allow for a much lower entry level and thus much more choice for movie audiences in the future.

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