Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Obsolete Formats

We've been printing many of my films in 35mm this last month, for archival reasons, and checking the prints at the Fotokem lab in Burbank, in a screening room.

I'm always uncomfortable looking at my own work, but when I saw these prints at Fotokem I was shaken up a bit. Film looks SO GOOD, so totally different from any dvd or digital format. Geez! Animation! Cels! But only a handful of specialty labs are even printing film now, and in the years ahead all the studio releases will be coming out as digital only. (2014 already declared by studios as no film releases anywhere.) So if you have film negs think about printing them now.

Although my cartoon "Quasi at the Quackadero" was put on the National Film Registry list of films worthy of preservation, the list comes with no perks as to preservation (or even a piece of paper to frame and put on the wall!) In fact even the link to the pdf which came to me as official notification was a broken link!

Film is the latest obsolete format. wow! The world is becoming so damn virtual.

I've often wondered if the monster magnet from outer space really appeared what would happen to our collective culture? Then the Republican candidate I find most unappealing, (though it's hard to narrow that group down),Newt G, mentioned this in some recent debate as a real threat.

I'm going to write about my own computer history. I poured so much energy and YEARS into Flash, and before that into some other formats that also scream obsolete format.

Stay tuned.


Eric Knisley said...

I have to agree...film is just plain beautiful. I went to Home Movie Day in Raleigh, NC, a few weeks ago. The offerings included somebody's vacation footage shot near Lake Michigan, with the lake in the background--shot and projected on FILM. That blue was so deep it made me all swoony. As a digital media person, I'm resigned to the fact that digital has taken over--but I'm still shooting my photos on film!

Anonymous said...

I'm so out of the loop. Is Flash obsolete now? what are people using to create animations?

Linda Davick said...

I'll really enjoy reading about your computer history.

p.s. I hate to admit this, but I'm not sure I've seen enough movies to know the difference between digital and film. I wonder how I could see a movie on film? I'll find out. There've got to be plenty of opportunities in the bay area, right?

booda baby said...

It's almost ... necessary to get dispassionate about film and hope, hope, HOPE that the future will rediscover its unequaled beauty. (I think the same thing about books.)

Of course, I'm grateful for the digital tools that allowed me the chance to do what, otherwise, I couldn't have touch, but then, it was the digital age that made my writing career sort of redundant. So, it's a pretty bittersweet gratitude. :\ (It doesn't seem like that's something that even ought to exist, does it? Bittersweet gratitude. Hmm.)

Anyway, Adobe was preparing to dump Flash for the last couple of years - but only as a development tool. I really do like to remember that, as long as someone's animating at 30 fps (or prepared to render out individual pngs), Flash will survive as an animation tool. Funny. If only they'd stuck with that from the beginning, instead of giving it over to arrogant developers (and I will NOT take that back. Flash developers WERE arrogant. Way to pick a fight.)

booda baby said...

Jeeesh loueeesh. I just realized I didn't even say what I meant to, I got so busy yacking ...

I love your DVD and wish, wish, WISH I'd ever seen your work on film. What a treat (an expensive one, I'm sure) to have it all preserved.

Whew. Much better.

Sally said...

I enjoyed reading all these comments. Eric, I hear you about the swoony colors of film.

Flash is still the main way to make animation these days, but Adobe is not bothering to make it work on cell phones and you just get the feeling it's another software they're leaving by the side of the road. Exporting pngs is probably the safest way to preserve animation done in Flash.

I really want to write about my computer experiences but just don't have the enthusiasm right now to sort through all the stages: so many things I'd like to detail- I'll get around to it.

Meanwhile I've discovered extraordinary water colors made by MGraham- the colors are so intense. So much better than Windsor Newton. They use a honey base- wild!

Boodababy, so interesting that you'd planned a writing career at the outset- I sort of did too.

Linda, I was going to suggest taking a Bart ride over to Berkeley to the Pacific Film Archive, but knowing where you live that would be practically an overnight trip for you.

Eric Stefani said...

Very interesting talk. I loved reading every word here. My 10 minute animated video was never shot to film, I shot my cels into a computer. I regret to say I got stuck in the ditgital / Film transition. Love your work Sally. Thank for the inspiration.

Sally said...

Eric, Thanks so much for stopping by, and your comments. I'm honored.

RHSteeleOH said...

Hey Sally, good to see you posting again. Being an avid movie buff and all things analog I can see and feel the difference in digital vs. film.

Quinn said...

Hi Sally,
I LOVE your work! I've been a fan ever since Quasi.

I'm the Visual Arts managing editor at Virginia Tech's MFA online journal, Toad.

I'm looking for visual art, particularly short videos, to publish in Toad. Your aesthetic jives with Toad's and I would be thrilled if you would consider submitting.

Our website is: http://toadthejournal.com/

Quinn White
MFA poetry '14
Virginia Tech
Toad Visual Arts Managing Editor
Minnesota Review Poetry Editor

James Snyder said...

Hi Sally. I have to partially disagree with your comment about 'no perks as to preservation". I work for the Library of Congress division that preserves audiovisual works, and one of the 'perks' of the National Film Registry is your work is then targeted specifically for preservation permanently on film. You are correct about the virtual world, though. What gives us heartburn is how we will preserve motion pictures that were born digital and never saw a frame of film, or films when film is no longer available (which is still a ways off, but will come). THAT is the challenge we wrestle with every day. We're succeeding, currently, but the challenge is how to scale the process.

BTW: I first worked with your films 14 years ago when I did a project for Unity Motion where we played your films in HD via satellite. Unforgettable! I hope to see them in HD again someday.

Sally said...

James, please excuse my grumbly comments. So amazing that you work for Library of Congress AND were part of the Unity Motion HD experiment long ago. (Best check I ever got!)

Actually way back when they were still printing Technicolor I had YCM black and white separations made for Quasi at the Quackadero. I thought they were lost but discovered the Pacific Film Archive still has them.

The challenges of preservation in the digital age are scary. People are so naive thinking things are safe on a cd, or flash drive, or even in the "cloud."

Video and video installations are probably the worst for preservation- already all my 3/4" "masters" are scumbly and then there are other formats now almost forgotten, like 1" and d2. yikes!

Anyway, thanks so much for finding the blog and posting. I appreciate it.

The 13th said...

This post really touches home, or our cyber home, if you will.

I've been a longtime fan of the Quasi series. So thrilled to discover Sally's work with Sesame Street troupe as well.

Yet, like this article suggests, there is a silent remorse in watching such history wash ashore like flotsam during the digital era. I'm confident all will come back to balance. Otherwise very thankful - that despite the lousy online renditions, at least, I get to learn, share, enjoy all of these works.

All the best to the changes ahead.

Sally said...

Thanks, The 13th!