It's become an epic debate among filmmakers as to whether one medium is really superior to the other. But while there are several fundamental differences, which I'll explain here, the fundamental factor between the two is cost.
Film is Expensive - Video is Not
Whereas film needs to be developed and have light shone through it in order to be projected, video is captured on magnetic tape and scanned back over a playhead. Whether the tape itself is analog or digital, the process of taping is fundamentally a digital thing, which means it can only reach a certain resolution before it starts to degrade in quality. Film, on the other hand, can become as large as the distance from projector to screen (determined somewhat by the strength of the projector) allows.
The average Joe Filmmaker doesn't use film because, well, it's expensive. If you're old enough you may remember the days before digital cameras became commonplace and you used to have to load rolls of 35mm film into your camera to take pictures. When the roll was done, you'd have to wind it back into its casing, take it out and get it developed.
Nowadays it seems like a foreign concept to have to wait to look at your pictures, doesn't it? A roll of camera film containing 24 or 36 exposures used to cost around $3-5 to buy and another $3-5 to develop.free filme
Now stop. Think about that for a second; think about a roll of 24 pictures of film costing even $2.
Using a film camera, 24 frames of film is one second of screen time. One. Second. Multiply $2 by 60, and then by 90. That's to say, if you roll camera and cut camera at the exact instant you start and end your scene, do only one take of each shot, and film a full-length 90-minute movie, that film alone at $2 a second costs you $10,800.
You probably don't have that much money to spend on even 90 minutes of film, let alone the amount of film it would actually take after you cut the outtakes, pre-roll, post-roll, and any deleted scenes or B-roll footage. If you do have that kind of cash, you're either incredibly rich, crazy, or you have investors who believe very strongly in your directing skills. So let's go with you using video instead of film.
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While cost plays a major role in the use of film vs. video, the most major bone of contention comes from the way each medium captures and displays imagery. Because film simply captures light waves its creating lines of depth and color, so it looks smooth and soft when its projected, even at large sizes.
Since a pixel (which, by the way, is short for 'picture element') is essentially a tiny square containing a single color, an increase an image's output size without actually changing the number of pixels it contains will result in pixelation - your eye will more easily recognize the presence of pixels in the image.
So while digital imagery is cheaper and easier to produce, manipulate, and control, it also has certain constraints. That's why High-Definition is such a huge advancement; HD video contains an insanely large number of pixels, meaning a higher resolution that can be displayed at larger sizes.
Jay Staudt has been producing, directing and editing videos and short films for a little over a decade. He's a graduate of George Mason University with a degree in Multimedia Studies, and currently works full-time as a professional Multimedia Developer for a nationally recognized architectural engineering firm.
In his spare time he produces short films with his video crew, the F4C. They produce a comedy series called Bachelor Pad
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