There are mainly three parts when it comes to the impact of technology on the film industry.
The first part is how the new tools has benefited or harmed the film industry. These tools include the camera technology, video editing software, adding special effects etc.
The second part is how technology has affected the marketing and the audience of the film makers. How the rise of social networks and Web 2.0 world has affected the communication, advertising and distribution of their products with their audience. This will also include the new HD media distribution methods like Blu Ray and HD-DVD that provide better quality for their audience.
The third part is about how technology has actually hurt the film industry. The main focus of this area will be about how different technologies have violated the copyright laws.
The film industry has benefited a lot from the ever growing new technology. With the rise of digital filmmaking over the years motion pictures are once again going through a reinvention.
One of the biggest benefits the film industry has had with technology is camera technology. With the cheap digital cameras available these days it has been relatively easier for small film companies to produce films. Also more films are produced these days because it is faster to produce films.
Now it is also easier and less expensive these days to communicate and share media with the audience with the rise of multimedia mobile phones. Also the audience feedback is given faster and easier.
Another biggest benefit of new technology is that it has saved a lot of time in making documentaries and movies. This is because of the new compact digital cameras with ample space.
The internet has also had a very big effect on the film industry. Web 2.0 sites like YouTube and other video sites have enabled film makers to interact with their audience more easily. This has also enhanced the relationship with the audience.
Article Cited From: (How Digital Technology has Changed)
Plan of action
My primary medium of research will be the internet. I think there is a plenty research material available on the internet that will be helpful in my research. There will be several case studies that will focus on how technology has helped the film industry.
One of the leading case studies will be of recently released movie by James Cameron – Avatar. This film is entirely based on animation and special effects.
Next I plan on contacting some of the animation and small film businesses and find out their views on how new technology has affected how they produce films.
Media Distribution Methods
In the past media distribution methods were limited to video tapes and cassettes where the quality of the video was not as good as today and they used random access. This meant that it was not possible to skip directly to a scene.
The most common media distribution method currently is the DVD. New technologies like Blu-ray and HD-DVD are also becoming famous. DVD’s are one of the cheapest ways to distribute films and the this has been the standard distribution method for films for quite some time.
Over the past year Blu-Ray and HD-DVD are becoming more famous and could soon replace the older method like DVD. The reason they are becoming more famous is because of the quality they offer. Users can now enjoy movies on very high definition which is upto 1080p, the highest definition available.
The introduction to these new media distribution methods has had both, a good and a bad effect. The advantage the film industry had with this is that they were to charge a premium price for higher quality movies compared to standard quality DVD’s and this, in many cases, resulted more profits for them.
On the other hand, since people now have access to high quality movies from the comfort of their homes, visit the cinemas less often.
Film Animation Tools
Autodesk Maya And Film
The leading animation software today comes from Autodesk. The two very famous softwares they make are Autodesk Maya and Autodesk 3ds Max. These two have been used in numerous movies to edit and animate characters. Some animated movies like “Monsters Vs Aliens” and Avatar.
The latest development in digital camera and computer graphics (CG), stereoscopy, is becoming more famous in films these days. Stereoscopic technology uses the characteristics of the human vision which can make characters or objects appear at the front or behind the cinema screen. This creates an illusion of depth.
Autodesk Maya enables users to view, create and edit stereoscopic content and enables film makers to uses stereo as a powerful way to help in story telling.
The advantage this has is that the audience were drawn more deeply into the movie experience because of the new standards it sets in stereoscopic 3D production using Autodesk tools.
(Autodesk – Film – AVATAR)
Fully Featured Animated Film Using Autodesk – 9
On 9th September 2009, the movie ‘9’ was released. This was a fully featured animated film with every frame featuring Computer generated inages and characters. All this was matched up with multilayered computer generated images and advanced 3D lighting and camera effects.
This whole animated film was made using Autodesk Maya animation software and Autodesk mudbox – a sculpting software. With these two tools, all the creative and technical demands this animated 3D film had were met.
Autodesk To The Rescue
During the making of this movie, animators faced quite a few challenges. The very first challenge faced by the animation team was the timeframe that the work had to be completed in. 14 months. This included everything from start to finish – the way the characters looked, the storyline itself, how they would move and the animatics. For the team this seemed an impossible task within the timeframe given and the level of detail and complexity required.
During the movie there were a lot of scenes where the characters that dynamically interacted with each other at the same time. There were a lot of virtual stunts done in the movie with characters that had very fine, stretchy burlap mesh with a rigid zipper in front and visible stitching.
These mesh textures were really a challenge for the animation team, especially when the characters moved and the animation was difficult. It was a challenge but Autodesk Maya had the capability to accomplish these tasks although it did put Maya to test.
All these challenges were met by both Autodesk Maya and Autodesk MudBox. Maya handled most of the challenges like the asset creation, virtual camera and the multilayered 3D animation and all the effects. MudBox helped alongside with Maya to make the highly detailed shapes and models and the ground texture.
Animation software like Autodesk Maya has helped the film industry to create movies like these. Without the use of such software, making of such movies would have been impossible.
One of the members of the team, Adams, said that “Maya is a very robust, fast and it has enabled us to make highly complex 3D structures, a lot of camera moves, explosions and lighting effects.” He also states that Autodesk Maya was the best solution that they could have used to make a movie such as 9.
(Autodesk – Starz Animation)
Case Study: The Technology behind The Making Of Avatar
While CGI (Computer Generated Imagery) and motion capture is not very new to the film industry, performance capture is something that was just recently invented specially for this movie. As mentioned earlier that Motion Capture is done by placing reflecting markers all over an actor’s body and these are then interpreted by the computer and converted into CGI. However the difference between a real human expression and computer generated is quite noticeable. Performance capture is something different. In performance capture actors are supposed to wear special head gear which has a camera attached to it which records each and every muscle movement and converts them into digital media.
Stereoscopic 3D Fusion Camera System
After seven years of research and hard work James Cameron, the director of Avatar, along with his partner, Vince Pace, came up with the most advanced 3D lightweight camera that can shoot both in 2D and 3D mode. Before this invention 3D camera’s were very big and weighed about 450 pounds.
For this movie the digital animation was done by Peter Jackson’s company, Weta Digital. Very professional artists turned the basic renderings into photo-real images using new breakthrough techniques in lighting and shading.
Virtual Camera/Simul Camera
For this movie two new kinds of camera’s were also invented. The virtual camera and the simul camera which work together. The virtual camera isn’t a real camera at all but it stimulates another camera that was transmitted computer generated images by super computers. What the simul camera did what fed real time computer generated images to the 3D fusion camera system.
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Use of Autodesk Digital Entertainment Creation Tools
For this movie, James Cameron and his team developed a new way to develop innovative visual effects using advanced virtual cinematography techniques. Using the software a virtual stage was created in which the performance of actors would be captured, applied to computer generated characters and also the ability to view the results in real time.
The “uncanny valley”, which is the noticeable difference between real life human characters and computer generated characters, was overcome by using advanced performance capture and visual
Source: (Avatar Behind The Scenes)
Motion Capture has been used in the film industry very often. The most basic definition of motion capture is recording the movement and translating that movement into a digital model.
To achieve this actors in movies wear reflective markers all over their body which are then interpreted by a computer and turned into digital 3D models.
Advantages Of Motion Capture
Very fast and it is possible to achieve real time results. Because of this the cost of keyframe animation can be reduced.
Very complex movements can be recreated.
The amount of animation data that can be gathered is very large. This saves a lot of time.
Disadvantages Of Motion Capture
Special hardware and software is needed to execute motion capture
Movements that do not follow the law of physics can generally not be captured.
Film Industry and Web 2.0
The amount of users using the Internet these days have grown dramatically over the past years. This has allowed the film industry to reach their audience more easily through online advertising and by the use of social networks such as Facebook, YouTube.
The internet revolves around Google. The term “search online” these days means using one of the major search engines. These are either Google, Yahoo or Bing.
Search engines also have an impact on the film industry. New movies coming out have their own websites and these are found mostly by search engines showing the relevant results and showing the movie website when users search online for it through search engines.
This is the way the relevant websites of movies are found and they reach wider audience.
With over 500 million users on Facebook, this has become an enormous platform to advertise on for film makers of their latest upcoming movies. One of the main reasons Facebook is a huge marketing advantage for film makers is because of the ability for information to be spread virally on it. Facebook groups and fan pages are liked by thousands of Facebook users daily and these are very viral in nature. It is not very uncommon to see a Facebook Fan Page having liked by millions of Facebook users.
The above mentioned marketing methods are in fact free and it doesn’t cost anything for film makers to create a these pages and they eventually become viral. Facebook also has a paid advertising program that can be used to market just about anything.
Fanpages are a great way to know your audience better. Facebook is all about conversation and interaction with people which is why film makers can interact with their audience more easily, ask for their opinions and get to know what they want.
There is one main advantage to why paid advertising on Facebook is the best. The reason is because you one can get ultra-targeted audience from Facebook due to all the information that users put on their profile.
Above is a screen shot of information from a Facebook user’s profile. All the information put is put here by the user itself and it contains information about the user’s location, college/school, sex, martial status, their likes and interests and hobbies.
Facebook use’s this information to target the right audience through their advertising program. Whenever an advertiser wishes to create an advertising campaign with Facebook he/she is presented with a number of targeting options. These options include the following:
Education And Work
Likes And Interests
Advertisers on Facebook can target their audience based on all of these above criteria which enables them to target only the kind of people that might be interested in what they are advertising, which in this case are movies.
Now owned by Google, YouTube is the most famous video sharing site on the Internet. YouTube has both good and bad effects on the film industry. According to the stats from YouTube.com itself and other sites like website-monitoring.com YouTube exceeds 2 billion views per day.
An estimated number of 24 hours of video is uploaded to YouTube every single minute and an average person spends about 15 minutes per day on YouTube. Film Makers know this and have had an enormous marketing advantage and have reached a more wider audience because of this.
YouTube has made a separate page especially for movie trailers where they can be uploaded and then made public.
YouTube, like most other Web 2.0 sites engages conversation among the viewers and visitors that come and watch videos and movie trailers. This is yet another advantage to the film industry as they can know the opinions of their viewers and get their feedback.
Another great feature of YouTube is it’s ability to share the video virally on other social network sites like Facebook MySpace and others. An estimated number of 46.2 years of video is watched a day from Facebook itself.
One important aspect of these Web 2.0 sites is that most of them are interlinked. For example you can use your Facebook account of sign in to several Web 2.0 sites. This makes information on the internet very viral in nature which is a benefit for advertisers.
The disadvantage of YouTube is that currently there are about 7,000 hours of movies and TV shows that are put up on YouTube for users to watch for free. Some of these videos uploaded do break the copyright law. These videos are continuously being uploaded on YouTube and there is little that can be done about this.
This is just one of the several video sharing sites. There are also others like Vimeo also where copyrighted material are being uploaded every single day by users.
Social bookmarking is when users bookmark a certain website or web page that they have found interesting and this is then publically viewable to all the other users on that social bookmarking website. Two of the very famous social bookmarking websites online today are Digg and Delicious.
These social bookmarking websites are again a great way for information on movies, film to go viral and reach a lot of people. It is again possible to sign into most of these social networks using your Facebook account. One such social bookmarking site is Digg.
Disadvantages Of Web 2.0
Ever since broadband internet was introduced, internet users have been able to enjoy higher speeds in downloads and uploads. This has given a rise in piracy. It is said that one inn four people have illegally downloaded a film.
The film studios say that piracy on the net has cost them billions of dollars in losses. The estimated figure as of the year 2006 is $20 billion.
It is said that film piracy is going to increase as more people shift to broadband and can download files at higher speeds.
(Online Film Piracy Set To Rise)
(Film Piracy Cost The Economy $20 billion)
File Sharing Sites
The main disadvantages when it comes to the internet and Web 2.0 are copyright issues. Since digital data can be easily copied it is very common to see movies being shared on File sharing sites and discussion boards.
A lot of these file sharing sites have their servers off-shore, in some other countries where copyright laws don’t apply to them. This means that it is possible for them to have lot of copyrighted material on them and users from anywhere in the world is able to download them simply with the click of a mouse button.
Peer 2 Peer Networks
P2P and torrent sites have become a very common way to share files on the internet. All that is needed is a small piece of software installed on a computer that allows a user to share files directly from their computer.
This way millions of users can openly share whatever is on their hard drive with other users on the peer to peer network. This makes it very easy to share pirated movies across the internet.
File Sharing Message Boards
The term “Warez” refers to copyrighted material being shared for free and this term is very famous on the internet. A lot of forums and message boards are specially made for this purpose and millions of users download movies and tons of other copyrighted material for free which does a significant harm to the film industry.
Portable Digital Camera’s
Recent portable digital cameras and camcorders have given a rise to piracy. It is now very easy for users to take a portable camcorder or camera into a cinema and record the movie during the runtime. This recording is then sold on DVD’s and/or uploaded on file sharing sites and/or peer to peer networks.
Conclusion And Evaluation
The leap in Digital Animation software has helped the film industry in making more detailed, 3D animated films.
Web 2.0 has played a major part in the success of the booming film industry that is present today. With the help of social networks and its viral features, the marketing of new movies have become very easy and also cost effective.
Although film piracy is on the rise and more people are using camcorders in theatres and copying off DVD’s and posting them on the internet, the film industry has shown a significant amount of growth. Film piracy has cost them millions of dollars but yet film revenue’s have tripled over the last 25 years.
Newly developed CG techniques like performance capture have started a new era to the film industry which is going to lead them into making more better films.
It is clear from the above information presented that the advantages of what then new technological advancements have done for the film industry clearly outweigh the disadvantages. 3D camera’s and state of the art animation and editing have lead today’s movies to be more enjoyable and fun to watch.
(The Fact And Fiction Of Camcorder Piracy)
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