Side by Side Trailer: Keanu Reeves Examines the War Between Film and Digital Video

Okay, this looks awesome. I’m sure eyebrows might raise at the thought of a Keanu Reeves-produced documentary, but this subject matter is pretty irresistible to me. The film is called Side by Side: The Science, Art and Impact of Digital Cinema (directed by Christopher Kenneally) and it looks at the war between digital and analog filmmaking. Pretty relevant stuff considering the recent announcement that the Eastman Kodak Company has just filed for bankruptcy protection. Even though the digital revolution seems inevitable, there are a handful of filmmakers who refuse to go down without a fight, insisting that we’re acting too fast by replacing a tried and true format (film) with a technology (digital) that at this point, simply doesn’t compare in terms of the quality if the image. Here’s the synopsis:

The documentary investigates the history, process and workflow of both digital and photochemical film creation. We show what artists and filmmakers have been able to accomplish with both film and digital and how their needs and innovations have helped push filmmaking in new directions. Interviews with directors, cinematographers, colorists, scientists, engineers and artists reveal their experiences and feelings about working with film and digital–where we are now, how we got here and what the future may bring.

I have to say that I absolutely love Wally Pfister. His work is amazing and he’s refreshingly honest and outspoken about his stance on digital filmmaking (and his apparent hatred of 3D). Still, I think there are interesting arguments to be made on both sides, which is what makes this film so interesting. David Lynch, James Cameron, George Lucas and Steven Soderbergh all chime in as supporters of digital filmmaking. Each side has its share of supporters. As for docs, it seems film is even less relevant as it’s truly rare to see a non-fiction film shot on 16mm nowadays. I know I’m always excited when I hear about docs shot on film, but I guess it’s just too expensive when considering the digital alternative. It’s a truly a shame.

You can find more info on Side by Side here:

Originally posted on The Documentary Blog.

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  • Theman

    I’m so interested in this subject, this just got put on my list of must see for the year. I love Chris Nolan and Quentin Tarantino. But I think they need to get over it. Nolan used the Phantom Camera in Inception. To me its simply a purist thing.

    Red is doing amazing things, they’re working on a 28k sensor.

  • kyri

    There is a good reason why God did not allowed Film to be compatible with 3d. and there is an even better reason why God did not allowed your dick to be able to reach your asshole. .. James Cameron.
    3D fucks movies like a dick fucks an asshole.

  • Steve

    I am totally on board with this film. As for the debate, I fall on digital’s side, but I understand the reluctance to part with the old format. Film has an irreplaceable look and will always hold a special place in my heart, but as an editor the digital workflow is such a blessing. And Red footage (despite the bellyaching I hear from my DP friends) looks incredible and cuts a huge amount from the overheads.

  • Darksiders

    I don’t even know why this topic is still relevant to anyone except for the people that THINK they are directors and are really not. Both digital and film have their own sets of pros and cons as well as their own set of style points. Choose which format you use based on what your story, or budget, calls for. People that say they shoot on film only for the sake of it being “pure” are trying to make up for their lack of knowledge and experience on the subject.

    A movie shot on film does not mean it’s better nor more legitimate than a film shot digitally. The great story makes it legitimate.

  • Theman

    Do you feel that docs don’t look good on digital Jay? I mean say what you want about the flick inside job looks amazing. Will we get some discussion on we’re you stand now Cheel?

  • csidle

    @kyri, ah but if you base your argument on the existence of a deity, it is of little worth. Please try again.

  • kyri

    I know.. basically the second part of my argument collapsed as soon as I tried it. but
    are you saying it is a coincidence that 3d is not compatible with film?

    ..I don’t think so brother.

  • Theman

    @Kyri 3-D isn’t across the board bad. Is it being used to much? There is for sure an aurgument to be made there. But it all sucks and should never be used? I just don’t under stand that.

  • kyri

    I don’t mind 3d. I mind the glasses. If they find a way to make it work without glasses then I am in. otherwise it just doesn’t work. I happen to already wear glasses wearing two pairs of glasses is a constant reminder to me that I have a huge nose. I don’t like that. then I get terrible headaches because of that shit, so I get depressed and immersed in agonizing pain as well and the colors look like shit which makes the depression worse and in addition to all that the ticket costs more than what I make in a day. No wonder people felt the need to blow their brains out after seeing avatar.

  • 3D cinema existed long before digital cinema.

  • kyri

    yeah.. actually that is a fact. james cameron is so full of shit then.

  • Sean

    Phantom was used on Inception, but the DP got rid of it because it had many technical failures. All of the high speed was shot on PhotoSonics 35mm FILM!!!!!!!!! No Phantom shots were used in the film. Sorry Themen!