An excellent article in the Hollywood Reporter: Film holds firm against digital at Sundance fest

[A] survey of the production formats used by the 200-plus movies unspooling at the festival this year reveals some surprising results.

Judging by the application forms filled out by filmmakers during the submission process, film remains the shooting medium of choice among independents, Sundance organizers said.

More than half of the chosen projects this year were shot on film — that’s a total of about 125 films, with roughly 75 captured on 35mm and 50 shot on 16mm or Super 16.

Digital video is the next most popular format, with 47 projects shot on mini-DV. Just 11 projects were shot on high-definition video, and six to seven were shot on standard-definition video.

About five projects used a hybrid of film and video, and 10 cited “other” media, such as Macromedia Flash, 2-D and/or 3-D animation.

Actually, the fact that it’s even-steven for digital to me seems like a win for digital. Film has lost market share very fast. With 24p mimicking the psychological effects of film, plus the budget factor — I don’t see this ratio holding steady in favor of film. Not that I’m eager to see the end of indies shot on film — but the stigma against digital seems to be fading and the budget factors seem to be finally ever-so-gently nudging us into the much ballyhooed digital revolution.

Although not all of the filmmakers queried by Sundance noted the type of camera they used during production, Panasonic’s DVX-100A mini-DV system cropped up a number of times among those who shot on mini-DV.

The DVX-100A projects include Steve Buscemi’s Dramatic Competition entry “Lonesome Jim” in addition to a number of films in the American Spectrum category: Ben Wolfinsohn’s “High School Record,” Jay Duplass’ “Puffy Chair,” William Greaves’ “Symbiopsychotaxiplasm: Take 2 1/2” (which also was shot in 16mm), Andrew Wagner’s “Talent Given Us” and Stephen Marshall’s “The Revolution,” which also was shot with a Sony PD-150 and uses mini-DV stock footage.

The popularity of the DVX-100A is likely attributable to the fact that it was the first DV camera to capture images in the 24p frame rate, which transfers relatively smoothly to the 24-frame-per-second cadence of film. Although the DVX-100A comes with a permanent mounted lens, it has a wide-angle zoom lens, which has proven relatively useful for filmmakers shooting on a dime.

In terms of exhibition presentation at the festival, so far about 110 films have opted to screen on 35mm film projectors, while 90 will skip a 35mm blowup and instead project digitally from HDCAM masters.

The festival began digitally projecting HDCAM masters in 2001, when it kicked off that effort with 11 projects. In 2002, 27 projects from HDCAM masters were digitally projected; 41 projects were digitally projected in HD in ’03, increasing to 58 last year.

[via Through a Glass]

UPDATE: Tech companies are certainly bullish on indies and digital at Sundance:

An annual high-tech invasion is under way in Park City, Utah, where the Sundance Film Festival is taking place. Sony, Hewlett-Packard, Intel and Adobe Systems will be among the big spenders this week in the small ski town, which for 10 days morphs into a geek wonderland.

[Via SciTech Daily]

UPDATE 2: More Sundance fun – reviews of movies, products and celebrity sightings – at Through a Glass.