Film vs. Video

Film and video language evolved along seperate technologies. Film is primarily photography and grew up around sets, actors, sound, departments, studios. Video began in the TV studio with electronics the beast that wagged the dog. Much time was spent waiting for the technicians to tune the tools and then they shot live with no ability to edit out their mistakes. They were good. Camera operators pulled their own focus and zoom and pushed their own dollies. They had limitations though that kept their quality of imaging down. They needed a lot more light than film at the time. The camera were very heavy and couldn't be hand held and exterior locations gave lighting problems difficult for early video systems. Dealing with contrast was a constant problem.

Then came the portable video cameras and VTRs and finally the camcorder. The news people scrapped 16 mm and took up video. These news people were originally film people. That generation is mostly retired. The new cast of news people are electronically oriented. They shoot fast and don't worry much about backgrounds, performance, and other fine points. They are good at getting images under difficult conditions.

Film people have always looked down at video. Video countered with the "film look". Often "film look" demos were shot by technicians who didn't know much about photography. I still haven't seen much difference between film and video on TV other than how good the camera person knew his craft. Check out a copy of "Electronic Cinematography" by Harry Mathias and (Unfortunately, it is out of print and written around an old "film style" video camera that didn't make it.) But the points made are valid.

So where are we today. Film people who aren't working enough but have film skills should learn about video because Hi Def is breathing down our necks and Hi Def will need lots of product. People have seen all the old movies and will demand new product, but shot with smaller budgets. After the initial equipment costs, tape can be cheaper to shoot, but editing and distributing is still a big challenge.

Video people should learn some film style control that will make their product salable on the bigger TV screen. Film people should learn the new generation of video cameras that are truly amazing. Hi Def will need quality product and people to shoot it.

© Copyright 1999-2004 Ron Dexter. All Rights Reserved.