Why Sidney Lumet defended the abandonment of shooting films on film


Sidney Lumet, the director of “12 Angry Men”, “Dog Day Afternoon”, “Network”, “The Wiz”, “The Verdict” and many other notable classics, was very supportive of the switch to digital cinema. In a 2007 interview with DGA QuarterlyLumet announced quite proudly that he was an early adopter of digital cameras and that the revolution was already well underway.

In 2007, it should be noted that digital features were already quite common. In addition to two “Star Wars” blockbusters, a growing number of acclaimed indie dramas have already been shot with digital cameras; Lars Von Trier’s ‘Dogville’, Michael Mann’s ‘Collateral’, Robert Rodriguez’s ‘Spy Kids’ and Steven Soderbergh’s ‘Bubble’ all proved that a new cinematic aesthetic was forming and that skilled filmmakers would use it. . It would be 2008 when a mostly digitally shot film – “Slumdog Millionaire” – would win an Oscar for Best Cinematography for the first time.

Lumet wanted to tackle the widespread metaphorical spin that purists had done during technological change. When asked if image quality and fidelity were an issue, Lumet brushed off the question, saying:

“It’s this eternal fear of something new. Not only can you get great image quality – although I have to say I would love to see the pixels go up, but it’s a very simple adjustment and, even now it’s certainly passable. But there are some things that are already so superior to film. Your focal depth – just no comparison.

Lumet had just digitally filmed “Before the Devil Knows Your Dead” with cinematographer Ron Fortunato.

The image quality issue was based on the fact that 2K digital cameras could not capture as much visual information like a 35mm film. The 4K digital projection, by the way, contained a lot more information than a 35mm film.


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