The use of 16 mm in filmmaking has dwindled significantly. It is no longer seen as the only acceptable alternative to shooting on 35 mm. As cinematographers, it is about choosing the right texture to tell a story. Most recently, 16 mm is being selected for aesthetic reasons much as an artist may choose watercolour over oil paint, or cotton canvas over linen canvas. While the digital empire has attacked 35 mm by trying to emulate it in every way possible, few digital cameras are out to emulate the look of 16 mm. A number of cinematographers, including myself, have worked with hand-cranked 16 mm Bolexes or Filmos and have been quite successful in utilizing these cameras to add a dimension of film to a dominantly digital era. Independent films, documentaries, and even network television series are embracing the small format film. The freedom of 16 mm allows cinematographers limitless opportunity to create a world of artistic expression. Superimpositions, cross-processed gritty textures, organic light leaks, and dust specks are all part of this emotional medium. 16 mm: it is in a world of its own.
Ryan Donowho in Cook County. Photo Credit: Paul Armstrong.
Justin Lovell, an associate CSC member, runs www.Framediscreet.com, a collective of cinematographers and studio specializing in 2K data scans of 8/16 mm and online colour grading.
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