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Sunday, October 20, 2013

Film Is Dead, Long Live Digital

The 110-year reign of 35mm film as the primary projection medium for motion pictures has come to an end.

The 35mm motion picture film format became the standard around 1903. The reason is that it is the best size for avoiding grainy visuals - smaller film sizes blown up to screen dimensions actually show the existence of the chemical crystals on the film surface, i.e. grain. Early nitrate (nitrocellulose) film stock was dangerously flammable and was replaced by fireproof acetate for X-rays in 1933 and for motion pictures in 1951. (Kodak launched production of cellulose triacetate base motion picture film in 1948.)

Sony's launch of 'electronic cinematography' in the 1980s was not a success. Better camera technology brought 'digital cinematography' into wide use starting in 1998. Editing droids, 'green screen' stages, C.G.I., and distribution hardware and software followed. The major studios decreed in 2012 that they would no longer issue new films on physical 35mm film by end of 2013, and the commercial film labs began converting to digital operations.

Physical 35mm film projectors were replaced over 2012 and 2013 with 2K digital projection capabilities, which includes digital delivery by internet or satellite; only ten percent of U.S. motion picture theaters are keeping their 35mm projector hardware for showing of archival prints. (Archives like Library of Congress, MoMA, and U.C.L.A. are expected not to give up the 35mm technology.)

So the motion picture distribution industry is in transition: the business of film exchanges now serves only the art house market, film labs are digital, projection at your local movie theater is digital, and new projectionists need not be trained in 35mm technology. The general movie patron will not notice the difference, but the observant cineaste will find that certain features like depth, clarity, and color appear degraded.

Well, too bad. Progress happens. Film Is Dead, Long Live Digital.

{For folks without the backgroundL When a king of Britain dies, the traditional announcement takes the form of 'The King is dead, long live the King', which is a transfer of allegiance by the speaker to the successor.}
Copyright 2013 by G.E. Nordell, all rights reserved

Monday, October 14, 2013

October 2013 News Factoids

September: New Mexico House Speaker Ken Martinez announced a new initiative that the B.N.S.F. Railroad will soon undertake: their locomotives will start using natural gas, instead of diesel. Not only will this help the environment but it is a resource that New Mexico has an abundance of.

September: Did anyone else notice that the pumpkin harvest was three to four weeks before Halowe'en this year? Giant displays at Home Depot and on the back of trucks in vacant lots in my area showed up *before* October First.

How many incontinent senior citizens does it take to change a light bulb?
Well, that depends...

The historic first-ever departure of a bulk-cargo ship from Vancouver, BC to Finland via the Arctic Sea took place on September 17th; the Nordic Orion carried 73,500 tons of coal (a 25% increase because not restricted by depth of the Panama Canal). Meanwhile, both the Russian and Canadian governments are beefing up ports and coastal police & rescue units in the Northwest Passage due to expectations of increased traffic – one of the few positive benefits of Global Warming/Climate Change.

Economic Policy Institute introduced a new monthly economic indicator in October that more accurately gauges the weakness of the labor market; the new 'missing worker' tool accounts for potential workers who are neither employed nor actively seeking work – workers that are therefore not included in the official unemployment rate. If these nearly 5 million missing workers had been seeking work and thus counted as unemployed, the unemployment rate in August would have been a staggering 10.1 percent instead of 7.3 percent.

"The world’s richest one percent have $52.8 trillion [in assets] — about 40 percent of the world’s wealth." ~~ Joel S. Hirschhorn
Copyright 2013 by G.E. Nordell, all rights reserved