The Film Camera: Left Behind?

Someone, somewhere in the world is now holding the last film camera ever to roll off the line.

Over at my fav film-centric site Creative Cow, I’ve found some troubling news. Apparently, over the last year, ARRI, Panavision  and Aaton have each quietly shifted their focus from producing film cameras to the design and production of digital cameras. New film cameras will be coming forth no more.

Aaton founder Jean-Pierre Beauviala is bluntly honest about the situation facing the heavy-hitter camera manufacturers. Beauviala says; “Almost nobody is buying new film cameras. Why buy a new one when there are so many used cameras around the world?. We wouldn’t survive in the film industry if we were not designing a digital camera.”

ARRI VP of Cameras, Bill Russell has this to say; “In two or three years, it could be 85 percent digital and 15 percent film. But the date of the complete disappearance of film? No one knows.” As a side note, ARRI hasn’t been stocking shelves with cameras since 2009, instead preferring to build on-order for new rigs.

Geoffrey Cheshire’, author of “Death of Film/Decay of Cinema“ predicted (with uncanny accuracy) the scenario in which we find ourselves  today;

“Camera, projector, celluloid,the basic technology hasn’t changed in over a century. Sure, as a form of expression, film underwent a radical alteration with the addition of sound, but that and other developments – color, widescreen, stereo, etc.–were simply embellishments to a technical paradigm that has held true since photographic likenesses began to move, and that everyone in the world has thought of as “the movies” – until this summer. […] For the time being, most movies will still be shot on film, primarily because audiences are used to the look, but everything else about the process will be, in effect, television – from the transmission by satellite to the projection, which for all intents and purposes is simply a glorified version of a home video projection system.”

Check Cheshire’s article for a glimpse  into the past as Cheshire looks to the future- and he’s right for the most part. Matt Zoller Seitz has a great read on, too. It would behoove you to pay him a visit while wiping your tears.

With the gear-changing goings-on with Aaton, ARRI and the Panavision, film labs great and small (and of course, film manufacturers) are pressed to make ends meet  in the near future. Debra Kaufman’s article on Creative Cow covers the conversation from both the manufacturers and the end users.

Tree shaking? Surely. Let’s see where this thing goes, shall we?    -M

Creative Cow