Where Philippe Rousselot, AFC, ASC, speaks about digital and future

par Philippe Rousselot

The discussion is far from over. According to Philippe Rousselot, AFC, ASC, it has yet to begin in France. Two of the AFC’s most distinguished Cinematographers have added their observations to the digital debate following the compilations of interviews by the British journalist Madelyn Most. Philippe Rousselot, AFC, ASC, and Bruno Delbonnel, AFC, ASC, have contributed to the “We need to talk about the Future” article which appears on the Imago web site.

If there was ever a real debate about Digital versus Film (on shooting feature films), I must have missed it. But what I have heard is the type of discourse that presents “digital dameras” as one necessary step in the way of progress, as if progress was always moving in a linear way, and only conditioned by an increase in technological sophistication.
Technological sophistication is therefore deemed a sign of progress, necessary, unstoppable and anything preceding it, must be abandoned and relegated to the history books. Refusing the march of progress is always frowned upon, and it’s always hard to oppose any kind of resistance, especially when new technologies offer opportunities for individuals to reaffirm expertise and increase power in the work place.

If the development of digital cameras has been good for one thing, it has been the reviving of a dying market, (mostly for still cameras), and in the flooding of shops with a vast array of new and appealing products. This is what our mercantile society is good at, constantly reinventing and developing new products, products rapidly out of date, with an ever-diminishing life span, programmed into quick obsolescence.

Have the best interests of filmmakers been taken into account ? Are digital cameras giving the filmmaker better results ? I doubt it, not having seen any real benefit in this new technology when applied to features. Contrary to the publicity forced down our throats, shooting features digitally, is neither easier nor faster ; it’s less reliable, and in the end the picture quality is far from being convincing.
The financial savings are elusive, and when film will be gone for good, along with the competition its presence still offers, the price of this new technology will most probably rise without limits. Therefore, I find it impossible to have a debate on the merits of one technology versus the other, without a reflection on the economic forces at work and their influence on the debaters themselves.

My very best, and thanks for initiating a much needed debate.