Film Industry Is Affected by Digital Media

The term digital media refers to any type of media that is in an electronic or digital format for the convenience and entertainment of consumers. It includes anything that is presented in an audio (sound) or video (visual) form that can be seen and heard by others. Information can reside on a local device (CD, DVD, hard drive), or remote location (website). Examples include music files, such as MP3, Midi, or WMA files; video feeds found on the Internet at popular video websites; and animated Flash or graphic design files and images used to create interactive websites and games.

Digital media nowadays are multimedia. It can be termed as the use of several different types of media (e.g. text, audio, graphics, animation, video and interactivity) to convey information. It can include a range of formats from a simple PowerPoint slide show to a complex interactive simulation presented. There are certain characteristics and technologies that assist in creating an interactive environment, some of these include mouse input, touch screens, voice commands, video capture and real-time interaction.

Pete Roberts, a multimedia technician, tries to highlight the various areas of filmmaking that are affected by digitial media and to forecast the future role of digitisation in the industry.
The most obvious change to filmmaking as a result of digitisation is the shift to a digital film stock. And the positives are numerous; faster processing times, first-grade image quality regardless of age, and easy manipulation make the switch to digital video inevitable. Cinematographer John Alonzo (Chinatown) is sure There are things that cant be done in a film lab, things that mathematics cant do, but digital can. You can isolate a frame or change the color and have the results right there to see. The traditional 35mm film can be damaged, particularly during the distribution process so digital media open the door for a more efficient and safer digital distribution system. Studios are able to send their films to theatres as data instead of as a collection of film reels.
Testament to the appeal of digital filmmaking is director George Lucas decision to shoot one of the most anticipated films in cinema history, Attack Of The Clones, entirely in digital form. As Lucas declares, digital opened up that whole field in a way that you couldnt think of doing optically with the photochemical process. In other words, the digitisation of film formats have allowed Lucas to save a huge amount of time and effort as well as being able to become more ambitious with the special effects and experiments, pushing the boundaries of digital filmmaking even further.

The biggest drawback of the digital format, and possibly the only factor holding it back from becoming the film stock of choice, is the issue of exhibition. The cinemas are currently the last link in the industry chain to embrace the introduction of digital technology. The moment cinemas totally convert to the new format of exhibition we will undoubtedly see even more changes to the film industry than at present.

Interactivity is another concept brought to the forefront by digital media. One of the areas that most excited filmmakers when digital technology burst onto the mainstream scene was the notion of interactive narrative..something which will let cinema tell its stories in a new way. Several forays have already been made into the emerging world of interactive movies, although the majority have failed. The concept of Thinkies, movies that are said to thoughtfully engage the viewer in a non-linear, interactive environment, has become a major talking point among modern filmmakers. Lee Morgenroth, supposed creator of the Thinkie states, One of the things that is really difficult to do in a linear medium is to get your viewer to actively think while experiencing the story. With interactivity I can let the viewer do some very interesting things. We are now shifting away from traditional, linear, non-interactive movies dominating film culture and moving more towards a more participatory film structure.

Digital media have also brought about many changes to film production. Both the shooting and editing stages of filmmaking have been greatly influenced by the introduction of new technologies. No longer are editing and special effects separate processes necessary to reach the final product. In turn, production has also been influenced by the filmmakers realisation of what can be done later in the editing room. Shot footage is no longer the final point. In short, the production becomes just the first stage of post-production.

Possibly the most interesting topic brought about by the increasing use of digital media is the introduction of digital characters. Films such as The Phantom Menace and Toy Story have introduced audiences to characters made entirely from digital sources. In Lord Of The Rings trilogy, directed by Peter Jackson, so much effort has been put in to ensure the world of Middle Earth is as detailed as the original novels. Digital media are giving directors the chance to be more believable in creating their digital characters.

Then we had Final Fantasy, the first entirely computer generated film using realistic characters, although the makers of the film admit that a CG movie could not yet look absolutely real. It seems that a new phase in Hollywood is beginning to emerge; a digital genre, just like the disaster movies and teen slashers of the past.

The possibility of creating real characters entirely through computers has sparked intense debate as to whether this will spell the end for the human actor. While there will definitely be an increase in the number and quality of digital films hitting the movie screens, the concern is largely premature. Instead, digital films and effects will serve to complement the use of live action, either by creating more convincing scenes or merely increasing the range of movies available to the public.
With the rise of 3D technology in filmmaking, many aspects of film production and film viewing are changing. Special effects artists, cinematographers, editors and of course directors all have new techniques to learn. Besides, 3D is bringing in the role of stereographer. The stereographer works with the cinematographer to make sure that camera shots, angles, movement, and so on will transfer comfortably into a 3D format. Comfortably does not mean a figurative comfort or smoothness alone (though it does include that) but a literal physical comfort, as poorly shot or edited 3D can cause strain on the eyes, especially when there are many fast cuts involved.

As Peter Guber, who has been working for Columbia Pictures and Sony Pictures for years states, the idea of the Internet, smart phone technology and other digital media is to collapse the distance between the Eureka of the artists and the Wow of the audience.

Exercise 52. True or False?

1. Digital information cannot be stored on local devices.

2. Simulation is a form of multimedia.

3. Film production has undergone significant changes due to digital media.

4. The 35mm film is always damaged during the distribution process.

5. If George Lucas hadnt made Attack Of The Clones in digital form, he would have had to spend much more time on it.

6. Distribution was the first link to welcome digital technology.

7. Interactivity was absolutely impossible before the introduction of digital media.

8. There hadnt been any entirely computer generated films before Final Fantasy.

9. The stereographer is someone who helps the cinematographer feel comfortable while shooting.


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