Now this is a topic that has been argued for years. The argument ranges from which avenue is easiest for filmmaking all the way to which one looks more aesthetically pleasing. Now, while filmmaking is the field that I wish to enter, I’m not an expert on either of them. So all of my personal opinions are just that. Take from this what you can and be sure to leave a comment with your own opinions. I’d love to discuss differences and similarities in terms of film.
In terms of ease of use, it’s really hard to decide. Film can be much harder since it takes much longer to see the shot or the finished product, at least with my experience. If you need to get the film developed and you can’t find a person or place to do it for you, you might have to wait a while until you can figure that out though that should be figured out in pre-production, but sometimes things fall through. This might be the biggest reason why many flock to digital, since it’s instantaneous gratification. You can see the product once you stop recording. You can see if the boom dipped on Take 2 and reshoot until it’s perfect. Since they’re mostly saved to SD cards, running out of space means you can manually delete clips on camera or just use another SD card. Then, once you’re done, give the SD card to your editor and have them upload it to one of the millions of editing software out there. You can also, depending on the digital camera, film at some pretty crazy frame rates that make purchasing a low priced DSLR the smart choice.
In terms of look, nothing honestly beats the traditional look that film gives. Sure, digital is as crisp as a winter breeze, but the graininess of film is perfection. It’s obvious that film is the better of the two in this aspect since many digital filmmakers try to get that grainy, authentic look. It doesn’t usually work out since digital cameras and editing software can replicate the unpredictability of the look of film. I have heard horrible stories from professors and older filmmaking friends where their film or someone elses film burned on the projector. Which brings me to the next aspect.
Since digital film is saved on SD cards and then on computers, there are thousands of way to recover a film if something happens to one of the copies, unless you lose the SD card prior to uploading it to the computer. If you haven’t duplicated your film once it’s finished being cut, and something happens to it, you’re set back quite a ways. It’s a horror story either way, but it can be harder to happen with digital.
Price and finding a film camera for filmmaking can be difficult to pin down, but it’s no doubt harder to find and more expensive than digital cameras. A good DSLR can be purchased at most big box stores, websites and through friends. I personally have never seen a film camera at a big box store and the only cameras that I know of are quite expensive.
When it comes down to it, a film camera is quite a wonderful thing. It’s biggest issue is that in a world gone digital, it’s hard for a filmmaker to start out with it. In a perfect world, traditional filmmaking, you know with film, would last till the end of time. But the ease for digital filmmaking, especially for the beginning filmmaker can’t be denied. So don’t mistake me for a traditional film hater, I love the medium as a whole and film is the back bone of cinema, but everything evolves and filmmaking is no different.