• Star Wars Episode VII To Be Shot On Film, Not Digital

      SlashFilm reports Cinematographer Dan Mindel ASC, BSC will be re-teaming with JJ Abrams to shoot Star Wars Episode VII. That comes as no surprise as Mindel worked with Abrams on the Star Trek films and Mission: Impossible III. The big news is that Mindel says that Episode 7 will be shot on Kodak film stock 5219 film, NOT digital cameras like the last couple prequel movies. The Phantom Menace was the last Star Wars film to be shot with film cameras (although some trivia fanatics will note, the movie did include a digitally photographed shot).


      What does this mean? Here are a few things we can extrapolate from this information:

      • The movie will not be shot natively in 3D, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the film won’t be post converted (which is what happened with JJ’s Star Trek Into Darkness).
      • We also all know about JJ’s love for anamorphic lens flares, something not possible now with digital 3D camera rigs. So while film would allow him to use (or overuse?) this visual style, I’m guessing (and I could be wrong) that JJ will employ a look for Episode 7 more in line with the original trilogy.
      • Who knows what this means for IMAX, but JJ has shown an excitement for the company in addition to shooting a couple kew scenes of Star Trek Into Darkness with IMAX cameras. Disney has a deal with IMAX, so the movie will likely be released in IMAX theaters (what event movie would forgo the extra cash on the table?).

      Abrams had previously stated his preference for film vs. digital at the PRoduced By conference earlier this year:
      “I have not yet shot a movie digitally. Film is the thing I am most comfortable with. If film were to go away — and digital is challenging it— then the standard for the highest, best quality would go away.”
      Mindel is also known for his collaborations with Tony Scott on Enemy of the State, Spy Game and Domino, as well as Andrew Stanton’s John Carter and Oliver Stone’s Savages. Mindel just got done shooting The Amazing Spider-Man 2.
      The news comes from bobafettfanclub via TheFilmStage. Mindel reportedly confirmed this information today at an American Society of Cinematographers event in Los Angeles.
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      Comments 4 Comments
      1. bigbarada's Avatar
        bigbarada -
        This is good news on a technical side of things. While I do believe that digital is the future of photography, it's not because digital is superior to film. It's simply more convenient. If you want the highest quality images, then traditional film is the only way to go.
      1. Mr. JabbaJohnL's Avatar
        Mr. JabbaJohnL -
        People are reading an awful lot into this, saying it's a slap against Lucas or that they're excited to watch a 35mm film print. Really, it's just because Abrams likes and is more comfortable working with film. It will still have to be digitized for the effects to be added, and essentially all projection is digital these days.

        It is interesting that they're not shooting it in 3D, as they initially said they would be. I wonder if 3D's fading time in the sun is a factor here.

        Quote Originally Posted by bigbarada View Post
        This is good news on a technical side of things. While I do believe that digital is the future of photography, it's not because digital is superior to film. It's simply more convenient. If you want the highest quality images, then traditional film is the only way to go.
        To a point. Some of the digital cameras available nowadays, like the Red Epic, are capable of capturing incredible detail at up to 4K resolution. There will always be a matter of personal preference involved, but the quality is definitely there and will only keep getting better.
      1. bigbarada's Avatar
        bigbarada -
        Quote Originally Posted by Mr. JabbaJohnL View Post
        Some of the digital cameras available nowadays, like the Red Epic, are capable of capturing incredible detail at up to 4K resolution. There will always be a matter of personal preference involved, but the quality is definitely there and will only keep getting better.
        But that's just the thing, film cameras have no resolution. Resolution only comes into play when you digitize an image and break it down into pixels. With film, there is effectively infinite resolution. So, a 4K digital photograph is still nowhere near the level of quality that you can get from a professional-grade film camera.

        However, for the purposes of a low-resolution movie, digital images will suffice. Even when the movie is transferred to Blu-Ray, that format is still relatively low-res compared to print media. And print media is just a low quality version of a film image.
      1. JediTricks's Avatar
        JediTricks -
        4k isn't that great for cinema, my local theater has 4k projectors and I can see the space between the pixels from the 1/3rd seating. It's unacceptable for the prices requested, no better than the Episode I digital projection experiment in '99 really.

        That said, AOTC and ROTS didn't suffer because they were shot digitally, they suffered due to the flawed vision and creative choices made in their creation. The idea that digital cinematography must be inferior to film is a bit of a dubious choice, and when someone like JJ Abrams claims to use it exclusively, I think of them as hipsters using it ONLY to separate themselves from other moviemakers. Film handles light and detail better than digital, but has come such a long way in the last 15 years that a quality storyteller can use a myriad of tools to address those issues easily while gaining significant advantages in important areas such as turnaround and storage.
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