The struggle for film and film technology in the motion picture industry has been slowly giving way to the digital spectrum for nearly 20 years. Actually, video formats were said to be the way of the future as far back as 40 years ago. But, like a faithful canine companion, film has managed to stay its ground in the industry much longer than anyone expected, and we are just now seeing the “new kid in town” gaining the reigns.
In regards to still photography, I think it is safe to say that the battle between digital and film has been over for some time. Even up until 10 years ago, I could remember bringing my film to a processor more often than using a digital format. However, the business of photo processing has all but disappeared over the past decade. A once booming industry now only caters to the nostalgic interest of hobbyists and diehard enthusiasts. However, in the motion picture realm, though the cost efficiencies of shooting on a digital format are generally cheaper, the quality had always been the point of contention and the largest reason to opt for 35mm motion picture film in a production. With the development of cameras like the RED One, ARRI Alexa, Sony F65 and other large format, high resolution digital cinema cameras however, the motion picture industry too is finally giving way to the digital takeover.
Undoubtedly. the consumer still photography market collapse is likely the largest culprit, but the compound effects of loosing out on motion picture stock and printing as well, might be the death knell for the longtime champion of the celluloid image. According to an article released this past Wednesday from The Wall Street Journal, Kodak is preparing to seek bankruptcy protection as it continues to struggle with finding buyers for parts of its patent portfolio.
With the recent appointment of Laura Quatela as co-president, it seems that the company is trying to do its best to stay above water. Yet, even with the possibility of major restructuring, the long gold standard for what Kodak produced, still and moving image film, will likely not continue to be the focus from a corporate standpoint.
It hurts to see an industry giant die, especially when it is one that gave us as many memories as Kodak. We all were given the medium to capture our family and life moments, see places we may never have the opportunity to travel or images of people long dead before we were born because of this company. Furthermore, many of the movies over the past 100 years that have brought us laughter, joy, romance, anger, excitement and tears were captured because of the product that this company built as its foundation. Long on lists of companies that will likely soon become insolvent, I guess it was only a matter of time before these drastic measures were on the table. I will say, however, that I feel the world will be a little less bright without the magic of a “Kodak Moment.”