Film or HD what’s the story??

Since moving to Seattle three years ago and jumping head long into the Indie film scene I have noticed that like everywhere else Seattle is split into two camps. Film or Video. This is a war that will wage for a long time. Seattle is a technology hub in the USA thus people are drawn to the latest and greatest. HD has a powerful grip on the minds of many producers and directors. New cameras are small and give amazing results. With a guerrilla crew people can capture stunning images and instantly access/edit/share them around the world potentially reaching millions of people in a matter of hours.

Film can present the story in regal colors that HD just can’t match. An ineffable quality that reaches the audience and pulls them in from the moment they see the sun shining through the leaves. Film also gives the director/producer the street credit that can part the waters in a city where many projects are funded or flounder from the pockets of the maker.

In the next few years as technology grows so will both Film and HD. The question is less about what you shoot but how it is shot. Understanding the aesthetics and limitations of each format is crucial to telling the story powerfully on screen. Knowing that HD doesn’t handle low light as well as people think. Understanding HD like other video formats requires more care in lighting to make sure that detail is captured. When working with film the cinematographer has more room to create lighting plots with more latitude. Film has the ability to reach into both dark and light areas and still maintain an image. This gives the director the freedom to set set the scenes in more dynamic places drawing all of the emotion out of a script.

At the end of the day everything boils down to story. If you are trying to show sweeping vistas in Monument Valley then low grade video will hardly capture the grandeur. On the other hand if the story calls for cramped tight spaces then widescreen Film isn’t going to fit. Many people have this idea that Film speaks best with a narrative story whilst HD is best for a documentary or reality. Neither is true.

The director and cinematographer need to make choices together that works best for the story at hand and what will illustrate it best. As a cinematographer I try to build the imagery of a story and working with the director to make the best choices to further the narrative. When a director approaches me I feel very confident that I can bring an understanding of both film and HD to the table to get the results on screen that will best forward the story.

You can link to this article as published in here: Media Inc Magazine

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