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Christopher Nolan talks Interstellar and how digital isn't as good as film

Mar. 27, 2014by: Jesse Giroux

During a lunch at CinemaCon for Christopher Nolan, the director talked a little about his highly anticipated new film INTERSTELLAR. Nolan (of course) didn't reveal any plot details, however he did share a few interesting things about his movie, and talked about how shooting with film is still better than working with new digital technologies.

Nolan on the tone for INTERSTELLAR:

"I grew up in an era that was a golden age of the blockbuster, when something we might call a family film could have universal appeal. That's something I want to see again. In terms of the tone of the film, it looks at where we are as a people and has a universality about human experience."

Nolan talking about Matthew McConaughey's character, and how MUD convinced the director McConaughey was the right man for the job:

"[Mud] showed me a side of Matthew's capabilities that I never knew was there. It was a transformative performance. From when I first saw it, I had an inside track on how great he could be...I needed someone who is very much an everyman, someone the audience could experience the story with. He's just a phenomenal, charismatic presence in the movie. His performance is shaping up to be extraordinary."

On Michael Caine being his lucky charm:

"He comes so prepared and he is just so good with such a minimal effort. I cast him in every film just as an example to everyone else. He's just a lovely guy to be around. He jokes that he's my lucky charm. It was a very good strategy on his part."

On how film is still superior to digital:

"Film is the best way to capture an image and project that image. It just is, hands down. That's based on my assessment of what I'm seeing as a filmmaker...As far as innovation and experimentation, I'm in favor of any technological innovation, but it will always have to exceed what came before. None of the new technologies have done that."

On how he is one of the few directors who actually watches his films in movie theaters:

"I've gone to movie theaters and watched [my films]. Not enough filmmakers do that. And not enough people in our industry spend enough time in theaters and see the end result."

On why he prefers practical locations instead of using CGI:

"I want to capture as much in camera as possible," he said "It's a much higher quality than if you shoot on a green screen."

According to THR, Nolan "built the interior of a space shuttle for some scenes, and placed actual images outside the windows so that the actors could see what their characters would see," for INTERSTELLAR.

Nolan was also asked if he would ever be interested in directing something for television:

"I would never say never, but I just really like movies. There's a lot of great stuff happening in TV, but we're not here to talk about TV."

Nolan goes on to say he hasn't decided what he wants to work on next after INTERSTELLAR:

"I have always viewed every film as the last film I'm going to do. I've always done that because I want to put everything into it. I might get hit by a bus at the end of production."

I'm usually the type of person who loves spoilers, but I'm glad I know almost nothing about INTERSTELLAR. With Nolan behind the camera and an amazing cast, many have high hopes for his next film, and I'm sure INTERSTELLAR will be another fantastic flick from the director.

INTERSTELLAR also stars Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Matt Damon, Casey Affleck, Topher Grace, John Lithgow, Wes Bentley, Mackenzie Foy and Bill Irwin, and will be released on November 7th, 2014.

Source: THRVariety

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2:09PM on 03/29/2014
Now THAT is a director. He puts out trailers that give little to nothing about the story which is incredibly refreshing. He doesn't reveal the plots to his movies ahead of time and actually takes the time to watch what he's put out as a product. If only we could get more directors to act that way! Film is still better than digital and real locations and practical effects AUGMENTED by CGI is the way to go. Creating the locations and effects in a green screen environment leaves much to be
Now THAT is a director. He puts out trailers that give little to nothing about the story which is incredibly refreshing. He doesn't reveal the plots to his movies ahead of time and actually takes the time to watch what he's put out as a product. If only we could get more directors to act that way! Film is still better than digital and real locations and practical effects AUGMENTED by CGI is the way to go. Creating the locations and effects in a green screen environment leaves much to be desired. CGI should only be used to augment an effect not to detract from it. Case in point: The Hobbit movies. All filmed in front of a green screen and not a single world we see ever feels "real"... it all feels like they used half pillars here, some real stairs there, and green spackled all over the place.
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9:09PM on 03/27/2014
Like or hate his films, Nolan is the definition of a true professional and someone who is simply passionate about his craft.
Like or hate his films, Nolan is the definition of a true professional and someone who is simply passionate about his craft.
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2:10PM on 03/29/2014
He's this generation's version of Steven Spielberg. There I said it.
He's this generation's version of Steven Spielberg. There I said it.
7:17PM on 03/27/2014
While I agree with Nolan that film is still better than digital in terms of resolution, projection, and archival purposes, not every projectionist is a perfectionist like Nolan and it's why digital is winning.
While I agree with Nolan that film is still better than digital in terms of resolution, projection, and archival purposes, not every projectionist is a perfectionist like Nolan and it's why digital is winning.
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8:40PM on 03/27/2014
But most theaters flip on smooth motion, and it makes their digital projection look like ass. It looks like a cheap PBS soap opera. There are 4 major theaters where I live, and only one of them doesn't use smooth motion
But most theaters flip on smooth motion, and it makes their digital projection look like ass. It looks like a cheap PBS soap opera. There are 4 major theaters where I live, and only one of them doesn't use smooth motion
+4
5:00PM on 03/27/2014
When did Matt Damon get added to this? Missed that, even better. Say what you want about Nolan but his films (less Batman) are top shelf quality experiences and remind me of what films use to be. Also, he was right about IMAX - it's the future.
When did Matt Damon get added to this? Missed that, even better. Say what you want about Nolan but his films (less Batman) are top shelf quality experiences and remind me of what films use to be. Also, he was right about IMAX - it's the future.
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3:22PM on 03/27/2014
I understand his thoughts on digital, but we've come a long way. I agree film still has some advantages, but digital also has advantages, my personal favorite being nocturnal shoots. Night comes alive in digital.
I understand his thoughts on digital, but we've come a long way. I agree film still has some advantages, but digital also has advantages, my personal favorite being nocturnal shoots. Night comes alive in digital.
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1:50PM on 03/27/2014
A class act in every way. Hollywood is lucky to still have filmmakers like this working today. I will say, I would love to hear his explanation of why he thinks film is better than digital. I mean, I agree with him, but I want to hear the master's reasoning.
A class act in every way. Hollywood is lucky to still have filmmakers like this working today. I will say, I would love to hear his explanation of why he thinks film is better than digital. I mean, I agree with him, but I want to hear the master's reasoning.
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2:48PM on 03/27/2014
He has explained multiple times that film celluloid IS the highest definition you can get to seeing something other than with your own eyes. I responded to a poster down below as to why.
He has explained multiple times that film celluloid IS the highest definition you can get to seeing something other than with your own eyes. I responded to a poster down below as to why.
11:51AM on 03/27/2014
Nolan nailed it with his comments on CGI. These days too many filmmakers use CGI as a crutch. It's not always their fault because the VFX houses pressure filmmakers & studios into using CGI for everything (they try to milk as much money from a production as possible). CGI should always be a "last resort" tool. It should be used sparingly. Too much CGI looks like a cartoon, and too many films today remind me of Roger Rabbit.
Nolan nailed it with his comments on CGI. These days too many filmmakers use CGI as a crutch. It's not always their fault because the VFX houses pressure filmmakers & studios into using CGI for everything (they try to milk as much money from a production as possible). CGI should always be a "last resort" tool. It should be used sparingly. Too much CGI looks like a cartoon, and too many films today remind me of Roger Rabbit.
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10:53AM on 03/27/2014

I love when Nolan speaks

Every time I read an interview with Nolan or watch a behind-the-scenes segment, he just sounds so professional and a man who truly believes in his craft. I'm hoping Interstellar exceeds my expectations.
Every time I read an interview with Nolan or watch a behind-the-scenes segment, he just sounds so professional and a man who truly believes in his craft. I'm hoping Interstellar exceeds my expectations.
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+9
10:33AM on 03/27/2014
IMAX film has no equal, or anything close to being an equal. In terms of resolution, digital is only half way there. In terms of color depth & contrast (which is more important than resolution), digital doesn't come close. Even the heaviest of color grading wouldn't compare.
IMAX film has no equal, or anything close to being an equal. In terms of resolution, digital is only half way there. In terms of color depth & contrast (which is more important than resolution), digital doesn't come close. Even the heaviest of color grading wouldn't compare.
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10:18AM on 03/27/2014
Everything Christopher Nolan touches turns into gold. I trust in his judgment. Regarding Michael Caine, he is a good actor in any role. He was superb in the original Sleuth and proves to us that he's still got it in Harry Brown.
Everything Christopher Nolan touches turns into gold. I trust in his judgment. Regarding Michael Caine, he is a good actor in any role. He was superb in the original Sleuth and proves to us that he's still got it in Harry Brown.
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10:13AM on 03/27/2014
I remember Rocksteady Studios mentioning that they're always thinking about the game their making are thought as their last one, and Nolan thinks the same. What they have in common is Batman. I love that philosophy.
I remember Rocksteady Studios mentioning that they're always thinking about the game their making are thought as their last one, and Nolan thinks the same. What they have in common is Batman. I love that philosophy.
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9:47AM on 03/27/2014

Really curious to see how this turns out

I'm a big Nolan fan, and I have all the confidence in the world this will be a great flick.

Just for shits & giggles, I read the old Interstellar script that was written a few years back. Now, I know they said about 60% of that old script has been re-written. But if the final film is ANYTHING like that script, this truly will be unlike ANYTHING Nolan has ever done. Without giving anything away, Interstellar will basically be his "2001," "Star Wars" & "Twilight Zone" all wrapped into one.
I'm a big Nolan fan, and I have all the confidence in the world this will be a great flick.

Just for shits & giggles, I read the old Interstellar script that was written a few years back. Now, I know they said about 60% of that old script has been re-written. But if the final film is ANYTHING like that script, this truly will be unlike ANYTHING Nolan has ever done. Without giving anything away, Interstellar will basically be his "2001," "Star Wars" & "Twilight Zone" all wrapped into one. Ought to be VERY interesting.

In terms of his comments on digital, here's my thought: Digital cameras just keep getting better and better every day (see "House of Cards," "Skyfall" & "Oblivion" for instance). I'd bet that within 5-10 years, digital cameras will have IMAX-quality resolution. That will only improve upon the theater going experience, and allow for unique looking films to keep being produced. Film will always be "film," but what I think is really cool about digital is that it allows you to do unique things that you just can't do with film. The smaller cameras, low-light capability & the editing process are all ways digital keep film making progressing. Film, unfortunately, has reached its peak. Digital certainly hasn't.
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10:54AM on 03/27/2014
The fact that when you shoot Film you are directly capturing the image as it is happening with very clear depth of field and details both small & large as they appear. Shooting digital you will always be capturing things through digital means and depending on the processor of what you're shooting on the image can be distorted. And when you go into post and you have to create a huge digital file so it can be distributed things might get lost in the process. He'll Steven Spielberg still cuts his
The fact that when you shoot Film you are directly capturing the image as it is happening with very clear depth of field and details both small & large as they appear. Shooting digital you will always be capturing things through digital means and depending on the processor of what you're shooting on the image can be distorted. And when you go into post and you have to create a huge digital file so it can be distributed things might get lost in the process. He'll Steven Spielberg still cuts his own film in his film room on a slab.
9:46AM on 03/27/2014
One of the issues is that a lot of labs are closing down. But yes, film is infinitely superior to that of digital. Even seeing the commercials for Sabatoge and Captain America 2 - they just don't look like what I would describe as cinema
One of the issues is that a lot of labs are closing down. But yes, film is infinitely superior to that of digital. Even seeing the commercials for Sabatoge and Captain America 2 - they just don't look like what I would describe as cinema
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9:29AM on 03/27/2014
Nolan has very good intuition. Matthew McConaughy is going to be great in this film. No doubt.
Nolan has very good intuition. Matthew McConaughy is going to be great in this film. No doubt.
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9:21AM on 03/27/2014
I personally prefer film, but is it a generational thing? For me film always has a better aesthetic. I think digital always looks too clean and sharp.
I personally prefer film, but is it a generational thing? For me film always has a better aesthetic. I think digital always looks too clean and sharp.
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8:39AM on 03/27/2014
Im in favor of film but why cant we have it both ways? When Photoshop came around, painters didnt exactly throw out their paints and burn their canvases
Im in favor of film but why cant we have it both ways? When Photoshop came around, painters didnt exactly throw out their paints and burn their canvases
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8:30AM on 03/27/2014

Best of the Best


Interstellar : my most anticiped movie of 2014.
Concerning digital vs film, I agree with Jimthe Pariah.
Does somebody know if Interstellar will be released in 3D ? Reading those lines, I don't think so, but maybe the studio will force him for a 3D conversion, I hope Nolan will have enough strengh against the studio

Interstellar : my most anticiped movie of 2014.
Concerning digital vs film, I agree with Jimthe Pariah.
Does somebody know if Interstellar will be released in 3D ? Reading those lines, I don't think so, but maybe the studio will force him for a 3D conversion, I hope Nolan will have enough strengh against the studio
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10:49AM on 03/27/2014
No I don't think so, no 3D as far as I've heard. Nolan has some serious pull, if they try to go behind his back to post-convert than Paramount & WB will have a strained relationship with him.
No I don't think so, no 3D as far as I've heard. Nolan has some serious pull, if they try to go behind his back to post-convert than Paramount & WB will have a strained relationship with him.
8:24AM on 03/27/2014
I understand his comments about digital vs. film, but the latest digital films have looked fine. Great even. We're a long ways from the crappy digital cameras of Public Enemies.
I understand his comments about digital vs. film, but the latest digital films have looked fine. Great even. We're a long ways from the crappy digital cameras of Public Enemies.
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10:47AM on 03/27/2014
I love the look of the Sony Thompson Viper cameras. collateral is one of my all-time favorite films and it was shot with a Viper.
I love the look of the Sony Thompson Viper cameras. collateral is one of my all-time favorite films and it was shot with a Viper.
8:22AM on 03/27/2014

Classy guy. Agreed with everything said but.......

Not every up and coming filmaker has the opportunity to shoot on film. Paul Thomas Anderson, Steven Spielberg, Quintin Tarantino, and Christopher Nolan are really the only people that shoot on film. Some director gets a budget for a movie and wants to shoot it on celluloid, it's eventually going to come out of their pocket, it's too costly to shoot with film by trial and error. There's only like 20-25 schools in the US who even have an actual "film" program everything else is digital, that's
Not every up and coming filmaker has the opportunity to shoot on film. Paul Thomas Anderson, Steven Spielberg, Quintin Tarantino, and Christopher Nolan are really the only people that shoot on film. Some director gets a budget for a movie and wants to shoot it on celluloid, it's eventually going to come out of their pocket, it's too costly to shoot with film by trial and error. There's only like 20-25 schools in the US who even have an actual "film" program everything else is digital, that's all kids that want to be a director are being brought up with is shooting digital. Hell these found footage movies aren't helping either in the grand scheme of things, fucking go pros, iPhones, DSLR's are just showing kids "hey want to make a movie? these are all that you need". It's a shame, but it's a business also.
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9:01AM on 03/27/2014
I totally agree that film has a look that is undeniably genuine looking. When you watch films on celluloid, they just look like movies. If you shoot on digital and you don't light right, it looks like you're shooting with a camcorder, or it looks like a BBC show when you shoot 48FPS. But the problem is, as JimThePariah stated, not everyone can afford to shoot on film. It's extremely expensive, so to independant filmmakers like myself, it's just more economical to shoot digital. I can make a
I totally agree that film has a look that is undeniably genuine looking. When you watch films on celluloid, they just look like movies. If you shoot on digital and you don't light right, it looks like you're shooting with a camcorder, or it looks like a BBC show when you shoot 48FPS. But the problem is, as JimThePariah stated, not everyone can afford to shoot on film. It's extremely expensive, so to independant filmmakers like myself, it's just more economical to shoot digital. I can make a film that costs $100,000 on film, for $10,000, if I shoot digital. It's the sad truth.
11:53AM on 03/27/2014
Great fucking post. Completely agreed.
Great fucking post. Completely agreed.
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