Another article I picked up from Kodak’s Facebook page. I like what John Schwartzman has to say about digital intermediates and making a direct optical print photochemically. If you go directly from the negative to a print for projection, you retain a lot more of the color that is lost when a negative is scanned digitally, and projected, there is a much greater sense of depth in the image, better contrast, you can see so much deeper into the shadows. Even digital images look better when projected on 35mm film!
Now, when I moved to Colorado a little over four years ago, pretty much all the theaters in my area had switched over to digital projection already. The small theater in Woodland Park (which is the closest to me) switched over sometime in 2010, so really I had gotten quite reconciled to digital projection (in fact, I never thought about it one way or the other), but then sometime in the 2nd half of 2011 I saw Tree of Life in a small indie theater in Colorado Springs and was blown away by what I saw. This theater, Kimball’s, was the last holdout still showing 35mm prints in my area. Sadly, the mandate came down from The Studios that they weren’t going to pay to ship out film prints much longer (especially Fox Searchlight, which is where Kimball’s got most of their prints) so while I got to see a few last film prints, sadly now there is no theater anywhere near me that shows 35mm film prints anymore. Kimball’s survived and switched their last screen over to digital early in 2013. I saw Inside Llewyn Davis there just last week, but the magic just isn’t there anymore and going to the theater has become a somewhat disappointing experience.
Back in 2006 I made a 4-hour trip to Lexington, KY just to see Tideland on the big screen (sadly, we were the only ones there), so I hope that proves my dedication at least in some ways (mainly to Terry Gilliam) – Denver is only 2 hours away from me, so if I want to see something bad enough to drive to Denver, I can still see an occasional film print (maybe Zero Theorem?) but really, the theater just isn’t what it once was and I’ve kind of been sapped of my enthusiasm to go back. There’s absolutely nothing the theater gives me anymore in the way of an experience that I can’t have at home. With the next gen video game systems here, now’s probably the time to get myself a Playstation 3 and start delving (at long last) into the world of Blu-ray.
When Schwartzman talks about optical 35mm prints, about how Kaminski, Nolan and Pfister insist on doing it that way, I have to wonder where the hell I’m going to have to go to see one of those prints. As it is, 95% of the people who saw the latest Spielberg or Nolan film saw it digitally projected anyway, so are the studios going to pay to make and ship any 35mm prints again? I wish there was a bit more information out there to help people find where these are being shown, but it doesn’t seem that many people care about that sort of thing these days. Sad.