Is film a brand


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In 2000 George Lucas announced he wanted to make Episode 2 of the Star Wars Prequel Trilogy. It was going to be about 90% CGI so he wanted to shoot the live action sequences using video. It is said that as he had just had a very expensive divorce and needed some money which is why he embarked on making these prequels! Then there was no video cameras that were anywhere near as good as film, so he turned to Sony for help. Sony produced the HDW F900 which was the first video camera that produced ‘film like’ images and shot at 24 fps. It was built around a 2/3rd inch chip. With this new type of camera Sony was keen to market it to the rest of the film industry and they badged it ‘Cinealta’.
Now why did they call it ‘Cinealta’ with a logo that looked like a piece of curled film? Why not ‘Super Video, Videoalta or Ulta Video? Was it because the clever marketing men at Sony knew about the powerful brand of ‘film’
Marketing people know about the power of brands. Consider BMW, Disney, and Adidas. Have you ever thought how Adidas has succeeded to get people to pay money to wear their clothes with their advertising on them? People pay money to wear cloths advertising Adidas, or buy shirts with the BMW logo on them. People are buying into the brand and want to be seen has having that athletic life style, Adidias, or up market life style, BMW. Disney goes to extreme lengths to make sure that all their staff conforms to the Disney Brand.
How many times have you been on a ‘film’ shoot when really you are using a video camera? When you think of video what do you think of: Wedding Videos, News, Home Videos, and Low Budget programmes? But when you think of film what images to you get? Big budget, large crews, show bizz, film stars, glitz and glamour? In other words film has a high production image where as video has a cheap image lower quality. Sony knew this so badged their new video camera with a ‘film’ label
As technology improved and video cameras became more able to produce better pictures with almost the same exposure latitude as film and in HD, camera manufactures looked at the multi-million pound film industry and wanted to sell their cameras into this huge market. So they made their cameras appear more ‘film’ like and to appeal to those wanting to make a ‘film’ but without the cost of film stock etc. In their menus they talked about shutter angles, even though of course there are no shutters but it made ‘film’ people feel happy. They referred to the gammas as ‘film like’ or ‘cine’ all very filmic! Cameras became able to record in frame rates just like film as opposed to interlaced.
But of course there was the depth of field issue. After all, film cameras have a shallow depth of field because they have a larger image size compared to 2/3rd inch video cameras, so in order to get that ‘film’ look cameras have to have a large sensor size has well. To satisfy that demand Sony in 2008 brought out the F35 with a 35mm film sensor size and it had a PL lens mount. It recorded onto HDCAM-SR recorder…tape! This of course was expensive only Hollywood could afford these types of cameras!
As time went on and with the pressure on budgets and with technology improving there was a good reason to move to using video cameras instead of film. The savings on film costs, instant viewing of pictures on set, no waiting for rushes, and the huge cost savings by having no show prints as video projectors in cinemas became high quality and lower in price. All this hasten the reduce use of film.
Then ‘Red’ came out ‘4K’resolution and low price compared with other ‘film’ like video cameras, the market was shaken.
Then came Alexa, Epic, etc., and then the Sony F50 which is ‘better’ then 35mm film. But all these cameras are video cameras, not a sprocket hole in sight, no film grains, no chemicals, just pure electrons!
But we still go on film shoots with these cameras. We go to the cinemas to watch a ‘film’ not a video. In Hollywood there are still ‘film’ producers who will make their drama using a video camera, edit in video, and watch it on a video projector, but if they called themselves a Video Producer what image will that give them? Can you imagine the scene when a producer goes into a meeting with money men and says he wants to make a $200 million video! How about being a Digital Medium Producer if being a Video Producer feels too down market?
Now there are a many cameras with large format image sizes to fill the ‘demand of the programme maker’. But are these programme makers just buying into the’ film’ brand as people do when wearing shirts with Adidas on them? They will say there are shooting a ‘film’ but using a Sony F3 video camera.
There are people who will spend a huge amount of money on buying a Mulberry hand bags because they want to be seen as brand conscious, are people the same with ‘film’? You can buy a fake Mulberry and now you can make a ‘film’ on video and as with the handbag example most viewers won’t notice! Do the viewers care whether the programmes are made on video or film?
In the film ‘Citizen Kane’, said by some to be the best film ever made, the makers worked really hard to make everything in focus, deep 3 shots all in focus, just like video. So was this not the ‘film look’?
If technology has moved on with speed has people’s attitudes been left behind? I am looking forward to Film Producers re-branding themselves as Video Producers! But I think ‘film’ is a too powerful brand for that to happen. I expect that there are Brand Managers who wish they could own the ‘film’ brand, it must be worth millions!
Now when’s my next film shoot?!

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