Looking Back on the 'Film to Digital' Revolution

Posted by Mark Hedengren on

It’s been 10 years since the RED ONE in 2007 was released and changed filmmaking forever so I think it’s a good time to look at what has happened.

I feel the core difference between the digital era and the film era is that with much less money you can get the same tools that $100 million productions use.  35mm color film costs about $1,000 for every 10 minutes once you factor in processing etc. Now you can rent a RED Dragon (the same camera that shot The Hobbit 1, 2, 3, and many other films) for $395 a day. That’s a whole day of shooting for less than the price of 5 minutes of film.

I’ve noticed younger filmmakers who were in Junior High in 2007 don’t remember the days of trying to scrape money together to get 16mm film or miss gating film, flashing film, being shocked by a $3,000 processing bill for your 7-minute short film.

Also, maybe less noticeable, but there has been a revolution in post production as well, made possible with digital capture. I noticed the film Dead Pool was edited with Adobe Premiere Pro CC. That means, for $50 a month you can get access to many of the same post-production tools available to the editors on Dead Pool. That’s pretty astonishing.

Of course, with YouTube and Vimeo we gained distribution capability that allowed us to compete with the big boys. In a way, HBO NOW is nothing more than a branded YouTube channel with a paywall.

Everyone in film should see Keanu Reaves documentary, Side By Side, which you can stream on Netflix.

Some of my other favorite film productions are The Cutting Edge, Cinematographer Style, and Visions of Light: The Art of Cinematography. Though it’s more about changes in tech in recorded music Sound City by Dave Grohl (Nirvana/Foo Fighters) is an excellent film about digital to analog transition.

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