The Triumph of Digital Will Be the Death of Many Movies

Fascinating nuggets of information and commentary:

Digital formats can also become corrupted. Toy Story 2 was nearly lost when someone accidentally ran a computer command that began rapidly deleting the master copy of the film. This explains why the big studios still make analogue back-ups for their archives—even for films that were shot digitally and will never be shown to the public using a 35mm projector.

Meanwhile, portions of Marvel’s The Avengers (2012), which cost an estimated $220 million to make, were filmed on a Canon EOS 7D—an SLR camera that will fit in the palm of your hand and costs £900 to buy. It allowed the capture of “powerfully immersive and kaleidoscopic views of action scenes,” explained the cinematographer for the film, Seamus McGarvey. Shooting digitally also allows film-makers to review their work instantly and shots that don’t work can be re-shot quickly—potentially slashing principal photography costs.

However, photographers have a phrase—“spray and pray”—for the hyperactivity that “cheap” digital technologies inspire. Some argue that digital cameras can breed indiscipline on a film set. Why aim for one perfect take, when a flurry of ten or 20 won’t cost much more? By contrast, the whir of a film camera in action is the sound of money burning.

Digital might, in some instances, be more reliable but a director loses the serendipitous magic of film, Sarnoff argues. Moreover, not everything about it is cheaper. Post-production work can be much more expensive. Creative choices are often delayed because, with digital, they can be. You wonder whether this ability to rehash has added to Hollywood’s megaflop problem. Might it explain the less coherent action turkeys to have emerged in recent years?

Via New Republic

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