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Out of the shadows, cinematographers debate

by Michael Phillips.

“It’s the death of shadows!” a gaffer, i.e., movie-set electrician, said to a Los Angeleno friend of mine. He was decrying how the digital filmmaking revolution had compromised the image quality (not to mention his own freelance employment) in feature filmmaking.

The death of shadows. That phrase, however hyperbolic, stuck with me. Could this be true? Is digital filmmaking really eliminating the sort of supple, evocative, high-contrast light and shadow we learned to take for granted on 35 mm film?

Though it’s too early to call the coroner, and though digital cameras improve by the hour, I do wonder what we’re losing as film rapidly recedes into our cultural memory, taking with it a richness of imagery digital may yet match.

Read the rest of this article from Chicago Tribune.

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  • JB January 31, 2012, 11:19 AM

    I’ve worked as a line producer and AD for over 25 years, and I see so many shoots now where the focus is just on getting the image, and the cinematography suffers. Digital Cameras are more forgiving, but that doesn’t mean that cinematography HAS to suffer – I am currently post supe on a film shot in Cambodia on a 5D by a brilliant Vietnamese cinematographer – and its beautiful. I’ve seen dozens of films shot on the vaunted RED that look like home movies. Overall, I do think the art has suffered.