Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Where's the film in filmmaking?

I've just read an article in this months photography that explains about video disks, and the filming on small portable hard disks. A lot of productions do this already as a time saver since most production house edit on non-linear editing decks. The tape is used usually as a back-up in case there is a problem with the hard disk. With the coming of blu-tooth technology more and more video can now be transposed onto a hard disk, or several disks. In the article the author re-examines the various different disk technologies around the world. For instance I had no idea that China is a big market for video CD technology. It seems that 75 million players were sold in China alone, and so there is a significant market out there that plays it's movies on this technology. Most of the world has converted to the DVD standard, but there still remains a lot of different technologies out there that consumers posses. Several weeks ago I heard Kodak was laying off over 900 workers from in Rochester plant. This was due to the effect digital storage has done to the photographic department of Kodak. So is film dead? I say not, but it's close to extinction. Why spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on filmstock when digital media is cheaper. Soon this will impact the movie market, and then once it becomes more cost efficient to go digital film will go the way of the dodo.

I'm an avid fan of film, and it's beauty, but even I have to wake up and smell the coffee. Film has a great latitude, and it is true that right now film does have an advantage, but the gap is closing. Digital will exceed film in clarity and depth soon. More and more manufactures of DV cameras are now making them with bigger color chips inside. This will give an image it's clarity, and depth that video lacks. Already a lot of film production houses are shooting episodic TV digitally. The compression rate will be the last wall that falls for digital, and when this happens and we no longer have compression rates such as 4:1:1:1, and instead have them at 4:4:4:4 more artists will begin to use digital.

I would ordinary say this is bad, but I can nolonger say that. More and more artists work with digital, and the final product looks better if not the same as if it were shot on film. As the filmmaking process becomes more and more democratic, and more and more people start using DV the more product the consumer will see. Some very bad, and some really extraordinary products will surface. It's like the early 80's with the advent of the VCR. There was a hunger for product out there because the consumer wanted movies to see, so all sorts of movies were quickly transferred to video, and marketed as new. Now with the advent of DV and HDTV they'll be more films to choose from, and a lot of product will become available to the consumer. It is a dawn of another era. The era of personal filmmaking & marketing. Hollywood will be playing catch up with the new technology that is arising, and movie making will become less about Hollywood and more about filmmaking as an art.

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