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MATT ZOLLER SEITZ: R.I.P., the movie camera: 1888-2011

by Matthew Seitz
October 13, 2011 10:22 AM
1 Comment
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Major manufacturers have ceased production of new motion picture film cameras; cinema as we once knew it is dead.

By Matt Zoller Seitz
Press Play Contributor

We might as well call it: Cinema as we knew it is dead.

An article at the moviemaking technology website Creative Cow reports that the three major manufacturers of motion picture film cameras — Aaton, ARRI and Panavision — have all ceased production of new cameras within the last year, and will only make digital movie cameras from now on. As the article’s author, Debra Kaufman, poignantly puts it, “Someone, somewhere in the world is now holding the last film camera ever to roll off the line.”

What this means is that, even though purists may continue to shoot movies on film, film itself will may become increasingly hard to come by, use, develop and preserve. It also means that the film camera — invented in 1888 by Louis Augustin Le Prince — will become to cinema what typewriters are to literature. Anybody who still uses a Smith-Corona or IBM Selectric typewriter knows what that means: if your beloved machine breaks, you can’t just take it to the local repair shop, you have to track down some old hermit in another town who advertises on Craigslist and stockpiles spare parts in his basement.

As Aaton founder Jean-Pierre Beauviala told Kaufman: “Almost nobody is buying new film cameras. Why buy a new one when there are so many used cameras around the world? We wouldn’t survive in the film industry if we were not designing a digital camera.” Bill Russell, ARRI’s vice president of cameras, added that: “The demand for film cameras on a global basis has all but disappeared.”

You can read the rest of Matt's piece here at Salon.

A critic, journalist and filmmaker, Matt Zoller Seitz is the staff TV columnist for Salon.com and the founder of Press Play.

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1 Comment

  • B S Kumar | October 22, 2011 6:22 AMReply

    I could not wait for this day. I have had just about enough with the so called celluloid buffs telling us all that there is nothing like film. Thank God for evolution. Still, many thanks to all these makers for their wonderful innovations and years of cinema before digital cameras came about. Salutations!

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