Hunger Games Series Elects To Use Film

Hunger Games Series Elects To Use Film

In recent news, the production team of the Hunger Games series tells all on their decision to use film over digital film-making. This news has been well received by creatives who still trust and love the quality of film. There have been several favorable comments that the look of "Catching Fire"was drastically improved from the 1st movie in the series "Hunger Games." For the second film, the production team brought in a new director, Francis Lawrence. He elected to go "old school" on the film using Panavision cameras and lenses from the 1960's. Hollywood has replaced "old school" film-making with digital film-making.  Bringing back this trusted approach made for an intimate and flawed experience.

"I think there's something very human about shooting with film," says director of photography Jo Willems. "It feels less machine-made … I find digital always a little bit clean." Willems also added that the grain structure and flawed appearance is one of the most beautiful things out there.

The choice of "old glass" lenses was intentional, meant to offset the super-modern look of Katniss Everdeen's journey, especially in the Capital.

"It's at times slightly flawed, it's not perfect, it's not super sharp. But it's all to kind of get away from the modern sterile look," Willems says.

"We were pretty intimate with the characters in all their scenes. There [were] no long lenses," notes Willems, who is already hard at work on "Mockingjay" Parts 1 and 2. "To shoot handheld, to be close to the actors, really gives it an intimate feel, and the audience will notice that. The audience will experience it that way rather than being in the back of a room with a long lens trying to record something."

Catching Fire will be available in stores  March 7th, 2014 on DVD and Blu-Ray if you want to check out the difference. The Mockingjay Part 1 is rumored to be in theaters November 2014.

[Via Yahoo Movies]


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Great to see the commitment to film. Hope it continues. I did not see the first movie, so I cant compare, but I did see the 2nd on the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum's 6 story screen. I thought it showed very well & story was interesting.

Catching Fire looked good, but I did notice a little bit of the "screen door" effect due to the digital projection. Of course I was looking for it and once the action got rolling I forgot about it.

Brendan James's picture

A lot of movies are still shot on film. I don't see why this is big deal.

David Vaughn's picture

The Walking Dead is shot on Super 16mm film :D

Film ain't dead yet!

No pun intended, huh?

David Vaughn's picture

Totally. I'm just nonchalantly witty like that. Ain't no big thang.

Yes! Very cool

Chris Kennedy's picture

And yet Mockingjay will/is shot digitally with the Arri Alexa

Spy Black's picture

Unless all the post is also done on film, and all the effects were optical/practical, this is a big load of crap. It's a digital film. It doesn't matter if it was SHOT on film.

This is a tired old tale. I'm all for keeping film alive as a medium, I still use it myself in still work, but crap raps like "there’s something very human about shooting with film" are nothing than mindless hot air hype.

It's film. There's really nothing all that magical about it. It's nice medium, and it's fine that they're shooting with it, but please don't try to make it bigger than life.

Patryk M's picture

Missing the point...

Spy Black's picture

No I didn't. Too much poetic waxing about nothing. And the whole hype of using the old cameras and old lenses for "that look". Um, no. You're not going to get "that look" unless you follow the production pipeline all the way through.

There are two reasons why Hollywood still shoots film.
1. Dynamic range. Digital is just not there yet.
2. The test of time. A roll of film can be chemically preserved for 600 years without any noticeable degradation. Digital may not last as long, as hard drives fail often. Everything shot on digital these days gets remastered into film reels for preservation anyway.

Whether the post is done in computer or not does not matter. They weren't trying to do special effects with film anyway. Film is used for other reasons.

Spy Black's picture

I wouldn't be that sure any more of film DR advantage. Film is also not as archival as people think. A good chunk of the work of early Hollywood is all lost. Even well known films like Metropolis have lost many scenes to rot. Mind you, these are black & white films, color is a lot more volatile than that. That film is more archival than digital is an illusion. Both need proper care to survive.

But neither of those reasons are what they're driving at here.

Greetings! Not to dissent here but this is kinda wrong.

1 - Cameras like the Arri Alexa offer a comparable DR to the film stock, and a good LUT will happily mimic the 'filmic' roll-off in the blacks.
2 - Most digital films are stored on dual copies of LTO tapes, not film stock.

I've not worked with video but I know when it comes to stills there is indeed a difference shooting with film even though from the capture forward I work all digitally. None of the film emulations are the same either. I would expect it's the same with film and it's not that it's better quality, it's just different.

everyone has something to say to their side of the story... haha

Should have shot it in 4k; I would be more impressed

Spy Black's picture

Really. People need to get over film as something gospel.

What is the native resolution of film? I thought 4k was the most detailed quality out on the current market....???

Spy Black's picture

Depends on the film and ISO. Years back (90s) Kodak told us the Ektachrome 64 Tungsten 8x10 and 11x14 film we used to use in Kodak LVT high resolution film recorders had 110 lines of resolution. That sounded rather overrated to us. That meant it was 220 res (an old system of measurement meaning lines-per-millimeter), We had LVTs that could output to 120 res, but we typically couldn't see any pixels above 40 res highly magnified. I may still have some film resolution docs around, I'll have to see.

Hmmm... Interesting. I would imagine the cost of production for film vs digital would be higher for film. I know 4x5 medium format film slides were the highest quality, back in the day before Canon 20D....

You do understand that film is higher than 4k right?

Spy Black's picture

Depends on the film stock. Fine grained film, yes, but not by much, at least at 35mm.

Super 8 film gives 4k resolution. Imagine what res gives 65(70)mm film.

Spy Black's picture

In your dreams.

What is the native resolution of film for movies?