With the further advancement of digital technology, producers and filmmakers can now provide more technically competent productions even with decent finances. Filming and releasing a movie in digital format provide more practical workflows which further help lower the cost of production.
The high resolution of the HD format features the technical terms 1080p and 720p modes (1920 x 1080: with 1,080 lines of vertical resolution or 1,080 horizontal scan lines of display resolution; and 1280 x 720: with 720 pixels of vertical resolution or 720 horizontal scan lines of display resolution). The letter “p” stands for progressive scan (meaning the image is not interlaced as compared to the standard definition or SD format that is generally interlaced).
The mostly file-based filming in HD cameras makes it easier and faster for the footages to be utilized for post-production. There are still some HD cameras like the older Panasonic Varicam models which requires a DVCPRO HD tape and the Sony F900 which requires an HDCAM SR tape. And yet, capturing or digitizing them for editing work still provides impressive HD resolutions.
A resolution of 2K (2048 x 1080) or 4K (4096 x 2160) are now available for many digital cameras like the Arri D-21 and Red One. The 2K digital cinema technology is also referred to as “Full HD.” And a significant number of digital theaters worldwide already offer HD projections.
File-based systems in 2K and 4K resolutions and surround sound systems feature quality visuals and sound in par with what the standard 35mm film theaters can bring. And all these are not just beneficial to the producers and filmmakers but also to film theaters and cinema advertisers. With digital theaters, they don’t have to worry about the film scratches and noises due to wear and tear of a 35mm film print and there are no more possibilities for human error when rewinding and queuing up prints.
A feature film theatrically released in 35mm format normally has around four to six rolls of prints (that kind of positive film/print wound in a film spool which is usually carried by a projectionist while on his/her way to the theater). Each roll can accommodate around 20 minutes of the film’s running time; and so, a two-hour film would normally be composed of six rolls of prints.
Most feature films these days, both in Hollywood and other countries, either shoot on 35mm, 65mm or 70mm films and make release prints for standard 35mm film theaters. At the same time, most of them also produce HD releases for digital cinemas. Conversion to stereoscopic 3D is also becoming a trend in many films, especially the big-budgeted ones.
When utilizing the digital format, the programming of film releases can also be automated. And what the future can further bring to all filmmaking endeavors around the world includes the easier transporting/sending of the film, film trailer, and cinema advertisement files online, via satellite, through less bulky parcels, and other more convenient means instead of providing hundreds and thousands of expensive film prints showing in theaters nationwide or worldwide.
Just imagine how much producers can save for a film print costing around $185 per 2,000 ft. (20 minutes worth of the film, as of the Kodak’s Motion Picture Catalog updated March 9, 2009) times six for one movie theater showing a feature film. Multiply this with the number of theaters in a town, in a province, in a city, in a country. If the movie is released in one specific date worldwide, multiply the number of countries and how much demand for film prints for all possible places are there. Add up the expensive shipping and handling needed to get the film to all these places. Add up the subtitling requirements in various countries. Now, if everything is in HD, the most expensive cost would just be with the conversions and other technical requirements to make a film ready for HD projection. Releasing with subtitles in various languages also become a more practical and convenient process.