We are standing at a bleak crossroads of film history where Film in its purest form, that which is dubbed “Celluloid”, even though it has not been Celluloid for decades, with polyester and other materials taking it’s place, has all but lost it’s battle with DLP  or Digital Light Projection.

And with this technical revolution has come the demise of the people who have spent decades physically and skilfully putting these beloved and reviled movies on to the pearl screen.

Digital may streamline presentations with almost every aspect of the show being taken out of the cinema’s hands but it is almost as cold to the audience as simply pressing play on DVD remote.

16mm showing chemical deterioration of the print with age. (nEoPOL)

There is no-one presenting this film to us, just a computer and a light bulb. Before this revolution men, and I presume women, where preparing, cutting, splicing, loading and guiding film through a projector for the runtime of the movie; changing projectors as the reels ended, repairing broken film and replacing blown lamps.

In other words, this was a full time job. But surly, based on that, is not Digital a great and welcome innovation? Well, yes, of course. It will soon evolve into a sharper, crisper and more vibrant and versatile image format than it is now and will continue to supplant film in time, but not quite yet.

And yes, if it takes a team of projectionists to nurse a fragile film through a projector compared to simply pressing go then from a business viewpoint, there is not much of  case to answer.

But let us just put the issue of projectionist’s jobs going down the drain on the back burner for the time being as to put it bluntly, that is the unfortunate side effect of progress. Tragic though this clearly is.

But these guys LOVE film. They love to nursemaid it through the projector, taking pride in their showmanship, their resourcefulness and the quality of their movies. The debate on whether film is better digital will rage on for ever, as it does with Vinyl vs. CD but both are good and both are bad.

Both are flawed and both are wonderful in equal measure and I would say the same about film and digital.

I have grown up around Cine at home all my life with my Dad having several projectors and a Super 8  and 16mm film collection which he is still building today. I spent several of teenage years doing the same and love handling film and presenting what is now known as Analogue film through a projector.

We would build screens, improvise sound sync with silent projectors and old stereos, the works. So I am looking at this from a the middle ground. I want it all. But at home, I too have gone digital as millions have had no choice but to do so.

I have a DLP 3D projector and huge DVD/Blu-ray collection. But I still enjoy running film through a projector but more as a hobby and I think that this is exactly where professional film projectors are going too. Used by film fans for film shows, whilst the average movie goer will be quite happy to enjoy a state of art digital show.

And why not.

Here is an interesting short documentary on the subject which you might find interesting. I did.

Film to Digital: The Demise of the Projectionist


Photography by ©nEoPOL 2016 All rights reserved


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