SIDE BY SIDE is a documentary narrated by Keanu Reeves. It’s about the transition in the movie industry, primarily over the last twenty years, from celluloid film to digital imaging: capture, storage, projection–and archiving. It’s streaming on Netflix.

I think this is a very fascinating doc for people who are interested in this subject, or who make films. It is filled with interviews with top directors and top cinematographers, most notably, Lucas, Scorsese, Soderbergh, and Nolan. Vilmos Zsigmond (who died this year), the cinematographer for CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND is interviewed, which was great bonus for me.

This is a really good documentary that has a historical perpective on the film-based technology of moviemaking, and also the timeless artform of visual storytelling. (I think sometimes the artists who create films are so enamored with storytelling that they connect that with the tools of their craft, which in the past were celluloid, and in the future will be largely digital.)

Color timing, dynamic range, grain, resolution, and the improvements that have been made and that will be made in these areas in digital, are dealt with extensively.

At the end, it all gets a bit sad as the film practitioners talk about the death of film as if they were talking about the death of a loved one (they are).

I recommend this doc strongly for people who are fascinated by the aesthetic and technological differences between shooting on film and shooting on digital cameras (at all price levels), and the way that filmic digital images, and to a lesser extent, film images, will provide the object of our movie watching experience in the future.

Curtis Smale

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