Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Film production: Plenary Notes

The effects of digital technology on the process of film production:
  • as a cultural product, films are more or less unchanged since the early c20th - they are still primarily narratives running at around 100min.
  • David Puttnam's concept of the 'digital sandwich' - top layer of production: analog celluloid film + middle 'filling' of digital distribution and marketing + bottom layer of still mostly analog projection equipment in cinemas (athough this is now changing as more and more film-makers use digital cameras as a matter of course and more cinemas invest in digital projectors)
  • At the low-budget end of things, cheap technology allows for 'guerilla' film-making. These have tiny distribution compared to mainstream industry and so probably a minimal impact, except that there may be a growing 'long tail' effect. See 'Sweding'.
  • Low-budget fan movies, e.g. Troops and Browncoats: Redemption. Yes, these are geeky, but that's one of the defining features of 'We-Think'.
  • At the expensive mainstream end of things, mostly the effect of digital technology has been to drive up costs. CGI, for example, demands a highly skilled workforce (an experienced digital compositor's salary can be £50k - £60k). Look at how much 'Avatar' cost to make.
  • For big budget films the cost of film stock and processing is a marginal percentage of the overall costs, which are mostly made up of 'above-the-line' wages.
  • Some advantages are that while on set a monitor can allow the director to see the actual footage which has been captured, rather than having to wait for it to be developed. Digital technology tends, on the whole, to be smaller and more portable. There is no need to change reels of film so actual 'filming' can be faster, and back-ups can be saved for security against loss or damage. Footage can be uploaded to post-production facilities (editing, VFX, sound etc) while principal shooting is underway, which means that production and post-production may actually be happening at the same time rather than one after the other.

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