Thursday, February 17, 2011
Film and video
In discussing differences of film and video the quality of the image itself as a recording medium is usually talked about--often it's a topic discussed practically to death--but not enough is said about the quality of projection. Somehow projection is taken for granted. And projection isn't just question of image quality, but a great deal of difference exists in the quality the light itself from a film projector versus that of the light from a video projector.
It is not unlike the difference between the quality of the light produced by an incandescent bulb versus the quality of the light from a florescent bulb. One gives off a warm intensity. The other, a diffused, sickly pallor.
While brightness seems to be the obsessive goal with video projection--ever and ever brighter as measured in vaster and vaster quantities of lumen--it seems a pity that the somewhat unpleasant quality of the light itself should be overlooked.
I recall a few years back seeing a screening at Anthology of High Definition video. I was very bothered by the light from the projector. The works themselves that screened that night seemed undermined by the hardness--the oppressive harshness--of the light.
A while after that there was a dance film showing at Anthology made by Physical TV. It had been shot in digital video and then transferred to 35mm film. It looked terrific. Of course, the fact that it looked so good had much to do with the production itself. But it also didn't have the appearance of having been produced in digital video, even if it didn't necessarily look like it had been shot on film either: much of this difference in the appearance of the work that was the result of projection; not the qualities of the recording medium. Perhaps everyone who shoots on film and transfers to video has it backwards? It would be better to shoot on video and transfer to film for projection purposes.
The candle, sunlight in wintertime, the incandescent bulb, the florescent light, all distinctive in the quality, the evocation, the feel, and the "texture" of light. And for the preeminent essay on the qualities of light, there is Jun'ichiro Tanizaki's In Praise of Shadows
Posted by Joel Schlemowitz