Martin Scorsese abandons film for digital – permanently

Don’t ask me why, but it seems like every time I post something technical, it sparks the most heated debates. The Hobbit/48 fps opinion round-up was drawing new comments for weeks, and people seem to get extra heated about film vs. digital. For what it’s worth, it now seems Martin Scorsese has made the permanent switch from film to digital. To me it just seems like a smart decision. Have you seen those eyebrows? With Marty, there’s ALWAYS hair in the gate.

“It would appear that we’ve lost the battle,” said Thelma Schoonmaker, the director’s long-time editor. Talking to Empire’s Damon Wise after a film restoration panel at the Edinburgh Film Festival, she confirmed that Scorsese’s next film,The Wolf Of Wall Street would stick with digital, albeit in 2D. “I think Marty just feels it’s unfortunately over, and there’s been no bigger champion of film than him.”

Schoonmaker revealed that while Hugo’s warm tones had delighted the director and persuaded him to embrace the format, there’s much melancholy at the passing of an era. “It’s a very bittersweet thing to be watching films with him now that are on film. We’re cherishing every moment of it. The number of prints that are now being made for release has just gone down, and it would appear that the theatres have converted so quickly to digital.” [Empire]

I don’t have strong opinions on film vs. digital, and I’m red-green colorblind, so I probably miss out on a lot of debates about tone anyway. I never saw Hugo, but I thought all the trailer footage looked amazing. Public Enemies looked crappy in digital, but I think that was more about composition than format. In general, it seems like artist matters more than medium. Obviously, with film, there’s something about a chemical process that seems more “magical” than bits and binary code, but it’s not like most of us actually really understand either. My expert analysis is that one seems “chemistryish,” while the other is more “mathy.” Take your pick. What’s going to happen is that a lot of fruity liberal arts majors like us are going to continue to learn just enough about the engineering process to keep making pretty pictures about our hearts and wieners. “So the electrons pass through the Sherman hose and get converted to lumens by the spacklinator? Well that’s all well and good, but what happens when the Valens rod over-torques the whole limbic system? I mean what happens then? Where will I put the flim-flam? And please, answer in the form of a poem.”