Saturday, 2 June 2012

Digital Cinema

As discussed in Episode 141 of the popular podcast Film Podcast Film in Focus cinema and film have undergone extensive changes through its short life. From cinemas humble beginnings of silent black and white, short films. To the first feature length film (Australian film Ned Kelly) To the introduction of sound, then colour, introduction of digital film and more recently with the controversy of Peter Jacksons The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey which has been canned for being filmed in 48 frames per second. Cinema is constantly changing and growing, and with each change there was new debate that sparks. Debate about the integrity of film, about the art and the ideas of gimmicks. When the first full length film was created, the studios thought they would lose money, that no one would sit through an hour long film. Now the standard length of a film is about two hours, films that aren't in shot in black and white and are filled with sound. That is the norm and is expected that every film would be in colour with sound. So much so, that when the black and white 2011 film The Artist was released, Plaza Cinema Croydon's competitor Village Cinema Knox had to put up flyers explaining how the film was different from their usual fair. If The Artist proved anything, it was that while people may love the norms that cinema has now, there is still some magic left in the old style of film. The cinema magic that many directors, producers are still holding on too.
Scan of actual flyer left in the Village Cinema Knox's foyer.

Even the changes to cinema that people believe were beneficial to film story telling, such as the introduction of sound were considered to be a blight on the art that is cinema. Legendary Director Alfred Hitchcock had is own reservations about the introduction of sound.

“The silent pictures were the purest form of cinema; the only thing they lacked was the sound of people talking and the noises. But this slight imperfection did not warrant the major changes that sound brought in. In Many of the films now being made, there is very little cinema. They are mostly what I call ‘photographs of people talking.’ When we tell a story in cinema, we should resort to dialogue only when it’s impossible to do otherwise. I always try first to tell a story in the cinematic way, through a succession of shots and bits of film in between… To me, one of the cardinal sins for a scriptwriter, when he runs into some difficulty, is to say ‘We can cover that by a line of dialogue.’ Dialogue should simply be a sound among sounds, just something that comes out of the mouths of people whose eyes tell the story in visual terms.”

If something as fundamental as sound in a film was considered controversial then it is no wonder that Digital Cinema and Film is being the newest controversy to hit the film world, and that there are cinemas, like Plaza Cinema Croydon that are holding back from introducing this new revolution to film.

What is Digital Cinema?

As discusses in ‘The Emergence of Digital Cinema’ written by Roger Wyatt, he explains Digital Cinema to be a term with several meanings. They describe different aspects of the task of generating computer based moving images. The first meaning related to the process. The hardware and software elements that make up the material structure of a moving image production system. The second is the ideas that inform the meaning. The theory.

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