I think that modern technology has changed modern film making for the better. In the last few years, using the latest technologies has been paramount in the film making process. This has caused films to evolve over the years with each progressing idea, technology, and technique, allowing filmmakers to bring their vision to life more accurately and more convincingly to the big screen. Without these advances in video capture and computing many films such as 'Star Trek'(JJ Abrams, 2009) would not have been as successful. Film production has also become very fast to meet the growing demand for movies as the channel for distribution increase and audiences broaden. The development of technology has affected an extremely wide array of areas concerning film, including the production process, the way films are viewed, how the films are distributed, and even how they are promoted. These new innovations are advancing so quickly now that the traditional cinema-going experience may find itself having to compete with online streaming of filmed entertainment.
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2. The facts and opinions
Digital media is in-expensive and can be edited quickly and easily. Large Volumes of raw video are handled in a few days with sometimes only one person working on it, this is comparable to the older methods with film that took several weeks to process with teams going through each reel of film.
The first practical cinema device was made by two French brothers Louis and Auguste Lumiere, they called it the cinematograph. In 1894 the device and others like it began to be used in public buildings or halls (dubbed ‘nickelodeans' because it cost a nickel to watch the short animation). Through various advancements throughout the following years the recording and replaying methods became more powerful and much simpler. One of these advancements led to colour pictures and was used to obliterate mono-chrome movies for a short while. Films like ‘Schindler's List' - Steven Spielberg 1993 and ‘Clerks' - Kevin Smith 1994 show that monochrome can help make an atmosphere that colour can't.
An example of a movie with very little technology would be “No Country for Old Men” which relied on the atmosphere made by good acting and filming. It is argued that the lack of technology used in the making of the film and even in the setting, which was the early eighties, made for a more dramatic effect. But to contest that is the fact that the film was following the original novel by Cormic McCarthy, and that dramatic effect was made by very good acting, directing, back music and producing.
Computer Generated imagery has changed the way movie makers imagine and visualise the movie because they are not as restricted as they were 20 years ago. Some ‘get arounds' had to be made then due to lack of funds or until a technological solution was developed. The more simple ‘tricks' included stopping the camera but keeping it in position as an actor moved off set before continuing to give the effect that a character had suddenly vanished. Another trick would involve an artist painting some matching scenery around a sheet of glass and letting the camera film through that so it made the surrounding area look larger than it actually was.
Original animations were very tedious and labour intensive. To make the drawings ‘move' the cartoonist normally had to produce twenty-five to twenty-six drawings for every second of screen time. This resulted in ten-minute cartoon needing fourteen thousand, four hundred different drawings. ‘Gertie the Dinosaur' by Winsor McCay in 1909 was the first one of its kind. It was seven minutes long and needed ten thousand drawings.
Titan AE, this is an animated movie enhanced by computer to give a hybrid. This was a great success and is known for stunning visuals and brilliant voice acting. Normally an animated movie is screened at around twenty five frames per second which means that even the smallest movement on screen would require about sixty drawings. With the computer this be dramatically reduced and enhanced graphically.
Another movie “Monsters Inc. “ is completely computer generated. This gives the movie a cartoonish look and the class of a live film were the actions and motions are more fluid.
CGI allows directors to create an atmosphere that they would not be able to achieve with models or visual “trickery”.
George Lucas explains in “Star Wars A New Hope - Remastered DVD” In the scene where Luke Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi are speeding across the Desert in the “Speeder”(Hover Car), The production team originally put Vaseline on the camera lens in the area that the cars wheels would be. This of course left two black smudges under the car. Due to other problems and limitations Lucas had problem realising his vision for the movie. He created his own digital effects house (Industrial Light and Magic and sound companies ‘THX' and ‘Skywalker sound' because the things he wanted simply didn't exist. New techniques were thought up and tested. Although the film was highly successful, Lucas still was not happy and later remastered the film with more advanced graphics and sounds. With the improvements they added larger backgrounds to once disappointing sets and add extra characters. A cut scene was added because they could now add in a CG (computer generated) alien character that at the time didn't even have a puppet stand-in. Without the help of these special effects the film would not have done justice to Lucas' original vision for the movie.
For ‘The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring' (Peter Jackson, 2001) and ‘The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers' (Peter Jackson, 2002) programmer Stephen Regelous created ‘Massive' a special-effects program that allowed thousands of unique CG characters to have a mind of their own when thrown into combat for the battle scenes. “Gathering seventy-thousand or so tall, broad-shouldered extras, dressing them in elaborate armor and having them slaughtering each other was out of the question.
“Digital technology is a thing, a medium that makes film flourish as it never has before.” - George Lucas
Because of CGI, realistic Dinosaurs were seen in ‘Jurassic Park' (Steven Spielberg, 1993) and animals have charged down through a city street in ‘Jumanji' (Joe Johnston, 1995).
“The future of cinema lies in the power of the pixel. The injection of fresh ideas and methodologies will only serve to mix up the metaphorical gene pool and empower a new generation of filmmakers.” - Roger Corman
Both these movies have done very well in cinema through VHS and DVD sales. Examples of films that have been let down by special effects would be ‘Killer Flood'(Doug Campbell, 2003) and Deep Blue Sea(Renny Harlin, 1999) which did alright in viewings and even had very good acting and scripting but was let down by a few moments were the audience should have been amazed by the imagery but instead was disappointed by the poorly made imagery of the sharks.
Movies have also been influenced by Computer Games and some of the rendering techniques from games have been applied to the movie making process. One such method has a group of people wearing Skin tight clothing fitted with sensors on all the locations were movement is most noticeable and at joints. A computer then gathers the information to make a model on screen with the same movements of the person wearing the sensors.
Computer generated imagery has also helped reduce the cost of movie making. Large effects that normally cost thousands to make can be done with a decent computer and some editing software.
Because of the need of pre-processing is no longer required with digital video, clips can now be viewed on site instantly and mistakes can be found and changed or fixed unlike traditional 35mm film where errors would not be found for weeks until all the film had been processed. With cost effective production, more and more movies can be made and newer previously unknown directors appear with Box Office hit Films.
A recent box office hit “Zombieland” directed by Ruben Fleischer was the first feature film by him, without the low cost production methods available the movie may not have been made.
‘District 9' & ‘Zombieland' done well in cinema and have been made by first time directors.
‘District 9' Gross Profit $210,146,235
‘Zombieland' Gross Profit $90,081,556
The large profits of these films show that they have been a success and the filming budgets (average 30,000,000) show that studios are not afraid to stop a production half way. Before digital film these mock ups had to be made to view/preview the movie hence a higher cost.
Digital Video has been both the answer to cheap filming and the enemy of those in the film industry. With digital video large amounts of video can be moved and transferred easily rather than the trucks needed to move the reels of film. Increased memory capacity has aided this as well allowing very high quality images to be recorded. High definition video is an example of this as there are so many pixels per frame and so many frames the file sizes are enormous. Just 30 minutes of video can be two Gigabytes in size.
One of the first films to use digital video was ‘Westworld' in 1973.
Shortly before digital video came digital audio. With digital audio the same advantages apply, it is cheaper to store and easier to edit. One of the main advantages of digital audio is that tape is not needed to store it. Audio stored on tape was prone to distortion or deterioration from magnetic waves and moisture; it is also much harder to sync than with a piece of video like an animated character or sound effect.
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Recorders and Microphones have become very small and fitted inside the ear or in the collar of a jumper. They can record in very high quality which helps in the editing phase, if a character gets drowned out by another noise or their voice becomes muffled by another person in front of the microphone on the main floor . The better quality also creates a much better atmosphere for the audience. This may not make or break the film but bad audio can be worse than bad visuals in my own opinion.
With HD (High Definition) audio emerging, recording techniques and styles will evolve again. This will follow the adoption of Surround sound which is now common among home entertainment systems and some Cinemas or Movie Theatres. - Surround Sound uses multiple speakers placed around the audience and a special controller sends the right volume and sounds to each speaker to make it sound as though the audience is immersed in the movie.
Sound technicians now place the mic's around the set / scene to record the different sound levels at those spots in the room.
Not every new idea in cinema was successful enough to consider continuing at first, such as three-dimensional movies (3D), which required viewers to wear special glasses, and the “smells”, in which different scents were blown into theatres to accompany the images and sound. The system just didn't work well or subtly enough.
Now though 3D movies are at an all-time with 9 3D movies released in 2009 alone. With the new 3D technology using digital glasses and high frequency screens the poor effect on a viewer's eye-sight or balance has been removed.
3D Filming has for a long time been an attraction for creating stunning experiences. “Journey to the Centre of the Earth” was the first film to successfully deploy a live 3D experience. It grossed $241,995,151 in worldwide.
These changes seem to have been for the better, good profits for 3D films shows a fan base and market audience. The newest technologies used are proving their worth and may end up leading production to entirely 3d movies.
With advancements comes cheaper high end equipment this has led to a lot of fans and 'wanna be' producers making films or videos on the cheap. YouTube the greatest example of public film/video is well known and is full of fan made or home made movies. Some of these can be on par with full length feature films. Technology has advanced to let what used to be studio equipment be compacted and simplified for everyone.
A good example of the Fan- made movie is “The Hunt for Gollum” a prequel to “The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring” It has amassed over 1.5 Million views and maintains a 5 star rating( The highest available on YouTube). On another Note the Movie has been made in HD which shows the makers had access to good equipment.
Another intriguing thing to note is that technology on the whole can and has influenced films. Two older movies that are well known are ‘Wargames'(John Badham 1983) and ‘Hackers'(Iain Softley, 1995). One of the most notable is The ‘James Bond 007' series of films which has used technological possibilities to its fullest, were Bond is supplied with a massive range of gadgets some futuristic and some of the present times.
Movies at home are now a big part of the cinema experience. Large television sets and home cinema systems are very common. Small versions of the projectors used in the cinema are also common and provide a cinema like atmosphere to your home movies. Homes can even have computers that server video and audio content to the television.
With movies cheaply available to buy, sets of several DVDs available on a single Blu-ray disc and Online services such as the iTunes Store making digital downloads available, there is always a larger demand for movies and so the film industry will continue to make good films.
“With more channels of distribution there will be a greater demand for content but less money will be required to make it. The people who can create content the most cost effectively will have a clear cut advantage” - Roger Corman
The future of Cinema is greatly entwined with technological advancements. The effects of technology on cinema are quite clear, as long as the technologies are used in the right ways and are not abused for the sake of time or money then the quality of cinema will not die. Though there are movies were technology plays a minute roll it still seeps through from the camera used the sound recording equipment and the sets built. The cinema was built of technology and should continue to thrive and mature and technology does so.
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