September 17, 2013

Digital Cinema

Saw a neat documentary on digital movie making Side By Side, produced by the real (non-Matrix) Keanu Reeves. It was interesting to see Keanu interview dozens of well-known cinematographers and directors about the transformation of the movie-making ecosystem from celluloid to digital cinema. Only an hour or so long, it could have been a dozen different shows on film, lighting, aspect ratios, wide-screen, 3-D, animation, etc, etc. Still, a wonderful review of the revolution by the very people fighting the battles - both pro- and anti-digital. The producers did a very good job showing that the debate is still active, letting one person make a passionate argument on why something is better, then rebutting that with another expert talking head. (At one point, a new digital camera design is discussed with pride, followed by a cinematographer sarcastically noting that you have to remove the storage "magazine" before you can look at the take - most other digital cameras allow multiple output devices with live views). a DLP chip

I would have loved more of a discussion of the CMOS (whatever) chip technology business in contrast to the old school film companies (Fuji, Kodak, etc) with their alchemical formulas for emulsions and their artistic advocates who knew how to use that particular film to make a movie look great. The new digital tools are different indeed and it will still take some time to understand how lighting, atmosphere, sets and costumes look how you want them to look using a chip. On the other hand, they no longer have to reload the camera every 10 minutes with a new roll of stock.

The only lapse was not talking about projection and distribution. It's been an amazing journey and a confluence of technology to get not only an entire new universe of digital special effects, but to get the front end product made digitally, there's also the serendipitous rise of DLP projectors enabling theaters to show the movies correctly (and also to show special-event broadcasts (and targeted ads!)), and even home theater systems capable of high-definition display.

It's an amazing story, well told by the passionate people behind the camera.

Posted by netrc at September 17, 2013 01:48 PM