Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 2001/02/15

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Subject: Re: [Leica]S16mm Explanation
From: "Steve LeHuray" <>
Date: Thu, 15 Feb 2001 07:57:41 -0500

> Steve LeHuray jotted down the following:
>> It only takes 200' reels and is about half the size of an XTR Prod. And a
>> Prod package new is about $150,000. Plus if you look at them together the
>> A-Minama is very different.
> While I undertand chemical still photography, I don't understand why someone
> would be interested in shooting on 16mm film, rather than digital HDTV.
> What am I missing?
> M.

The 'buzz' on digital is by people who do not know any better.

I touched on this topic once before. To sum up from my Hollywood technical
insiders; the future of image capture for feature films will actually be
S16mm. The reason, in part, is that digital HD still does not measure up to
film. A few weeks ago I went to a screening at a theatre where the latest HD
digital (with film chip) was transferred to 35mm film by E-Film of Hollywood
and then projected on the big screen along with some 35mm film that
originated on 35mm film. In attendance were over 30 Directors of photography
and the verdict on the HD-to-film is 'not yet'.

My technical insiders say that the reason for the eventual switch to S16mm
from 35mm is part economics, partly the physical size of camera equipment
where 16mm cameras today are almost the equal of 35mm cameras and mostly the
HUGE behind-the-scenes infrastructure prefers to shoot on film.

A few years ago Barry Levinson was trying to decide on which format, S16 or
35 (digital was never even considered), to use for his new NBC TV series
'Homicide'. So what he did was go out and shoot side-by-side scenes on S16 &
35. Then blew the S16 up to 35 and had the different formats edited so they
intermingled then screened them on a big theatre screen to a professional
audience. Nobody could tell the difference between the S16 and 35.

We have all heard that in the future screenings in your local movie theatre
will be on digital, that will probably happen eventually, but before that
can happen tens of thousands of movie theatres around the WORLD will have to
be converted to digital. Considering the cost do not expect to see that
anytime soon.

In addition since the late 1980's there has been a significant improvement
in camera technology (image steadiness and quiteness) lenses are extremely
sharp today with Zeiss being the leader and most important film stock is
vastly improved (the film we use in our still cameras is the result of
motion picture development.

I could co on, but will sum up by saying that, Larry Thorpe, VP of HDTV at
Sony once told me that "35mm film IS HDTV."