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Five Things to Know About Digital Video vs. Traditional Film
The whirring film projector is quickly becoming obsolete, but that doesn’t mean film is dead. Read on to learn about some of the basic differences between digital and traditional film.
1. Almost everything about digital video is cheaper. Aside from the cost of celluloid, film must be captured, transported, processed, and reproduced reel by reel—all steps that require specific equipment and expertise. By comparison, digital video requires little more than a camera, a memory card, and a hard drive.
2. Digital film means clearer colors and crisper images—to a point. Traditional film can be grainy, but many viewers prefer its greater sense of depth and warmer texture to video. Because film captures actual light, not pixels, film can also capture subtle lighting effects that today’s digital technology can’t—at least not without CGI.
3. Instant gratification. One of the biggest advantages of video is that it’s instantaneous: a videographer can see exactly how a shot turned out as soon as it’s been taken. With film, a director must wait until it’s been processed to see if any shots were ruined by ghosts wandering on set.
4. One of them won’t last forever . . . and it’s video. Hard drives are almost guaranteed to fail eventually, so a video will inevitably be lost without a backup. A single reel of film, however, can effectively last forever if properly cared for.
5. Hollywood is the debate’s fiercest battleground. Of the A-list directors firmly on the side of film, Christopher Nolan is probably the most outspoken. He used to have an ally in Martin Scorsese, but the Goodfellas director made the switch to digital in order to make 2011’s Hugo—and stuck to it for 2013’s The Wolf of Wall Street.