Film Making Verses Video Making
Ever since the dawning of the video age of filmmaking, in the late 1980s and early 1990s, the face of filmmaking has changed. In fact, I guess I was a part of that revolution in that I helped to usher it along with my movie, Samurai Vampire Bikers from Hell; which was one of the first films, shot on video, to gain international distribution and to be shown in theaters. This being stated, there is large difference between filmmaking and video making. And, this is a fact that is lost to many of the new breed of video filmmakers.
In what has evolved into the digital age of video filmmaking, all anyone needs is a few dollars to buy and cheap video camera, a few dollars to buy some video tape, and a few more dollar to get a video editing program for their computer, and they can make a movie. As someone who was at the forefront of speaking about and teaching this technology, I think this is great. It allows people to be creative for a small amount of money. But, is it actual, “Filmmaking?” No, it is not. I know because I work on both film and video.
Something that many/most of the new breed of video filmmakers do not understand, as they never learned true filmmaking, is that the, “Film,” making process is very complicated and extremely expensive. For example, with a video camera, all you do is throw in the videotape. With film, first you must understand the differences between the various types of films, their ASA rating, and the appropriate amount of footage you must buy to load into your specific type of film magazine. Then, and most importantly, you must know how to load your camera -- as each and every film camera loads differently. An Aaton loads differently from an Arri. An Éclair loads differently than a Beaulieu. A Bolex loads differently than a Panavision, and so on. To be a true filmmaker, a true cinematography, you must possess this knowledge before you can even begin to shoot your movie. And, this is just the first step…
In filmmaking schools, and I know because I teach at them; one of the main prerequisites is classes in still photography -- using film based cameras. Why? Because film is very different from video. The way it is lighted, the way it works with its central subject, its depth of field, and so on. It is understood that for any filmmaker to actually make a film, they must have photography, with film, as a basis.
In time, this may change. But, as the majority of the high-production movies and televisions shows are still shot on film, this will not change for some time.
And, this is just the beginning. With a video camera, you have whatever lens is on your camera to work with, and that is that. In filmmaking, with film cameras, you must understand the various lenses, what they do, how they focus, how they frame a subject, and how to set the exposure on them.
Then there’s the audio... On a video camera all you have to do is plug in a microphone. For film, you have to have an off-board deck that can run at the same speed as your camera and somebody who knows how to operate it.
It terms of the post-production of film, this is also very complicated and very expensive. You must first have your film developed. Then you must sync your film and audio tapes. Then, depending on how you plan to edit your movie, you must either transfer the film to Work Prints, so you do not damage your original footage, or you must telecine it, and transfer it to Beta Masters so it can be acquired into an Avid or whatever other type of editing system you are using. Then, you must produce either a final Answer Print or a final Beta Master; depending on what is your deliver requirements.
So, for you video makers out there, who think that you are actually filmmakers, think again. You are moviemakers, not filmmakers. Your project may be good, it may be bad, but it has nothing to do with, “Film Making.” It is for this reason that many of the aficionados of the craft refuse to work on video.
These are important facts to keep in mind when you define yourself and your project…
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