The inevitable death of film in the wake of the digital revolution - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 94 Old 06-18-2011, 01:56 PM - Thread Starter
 
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This has been mentioned on many different threads, but I wanted to introduce something new to the conversation.

A couple years ago, Canon introduced the 5D mark II DSLR camera with a bradn new feature to these photography cameras -- video mode. These cameras have HUGE sensors (24 mp) compared to the video cameras in the prosumer market. The game-changing aspect of this became readily apparent when Vincent Laforet released the first short film ever made on a DSLR, "Reverie"



It may not seem like much now, but consider that for $3000, you were now able to produce an image on par with many $20-$50k cameras. Consider that now you had the capability to produce amazingly shallow depth of field, something again typically only possible on much more expensive equipment. As you might imagine, this triggered a revolution in the industry. Canon wised up and added new features to the 5D specifically for video, and eventually released cheaper models with more video-specific features that had a cropped sensor (18mp instead of 24mp). Other DSLR manufacturers did the same and soon you had a whole new market of prosumer video-capable DLSRs capable of producing film-quality images for as cheap as $700! Here is an example of an amateur short film shot entirely on a $700 Canon t2i and $1500 Canon 7D:



The low-light sensitivity, color accuracy and reproduction, and image quality combined with the depth of field capabilities all for a fraction of the both the form factor size and cost of most "professional" video cameras has thrown the industry on it's head. More and more profressional projects are taking advantage of these types of cameras. Some examples that are shot entirely or mostly on video DSLRs are

- TV show "House" (the 2010 season finale, shot entirely on 5DmkII's and they now use them regularly)
- TV show intro to "Saturday Night Live"
- Film "Corpse Bride" by Tim Burton
- Film "Tiny Furniture" by Lena Dunham
- Film "Like Crazy" by Drake Doremus
- TV show BBC's "Shelfstackers"
- TV show BBC's "The Road to Coronation Street"
- Documentary "Hell and Back Again" by photojournalist Danfung Dennis
- Film "Act of Valor" by Mike McCoy & Scott Waugh

Just to name a few. Additionally there are many shows\\films that use the video DSLRs as secondary cameras or to shoot specific scenes or sequences. Also, many music videos are now being shot on them. Here is an image from over a year ago of Robert Rodriguze shooting one:



A year ago a company called Zacuto wanted to put these new revolutionary cameras up against the big dogs.. film cameras. They conducted a huge collection of stress tests to really see what the differences were between these cheap DSLRs with huge digital sensors, and the professional cameras with film stock. Then they played the results on a cinema screen for a large gathering of industry professionals (licensed cinematographers, filmmakers, lighting guys, editors, directors of photography, and more. If you'r even the slightest bit intrigued I urge you to watch their fascinating, Emmy-winning documentary of it all "The Great Camera Shoot-out 2010"; trailer below:



You can catch the whole 3-part series here.

They've also made a new one for this year where they let the industry pros design and administer the tests themselves, and it's much more scientific. Part 1 was released this week, and is probably what prompted me to make this post. In the 2011 shootout they also included the new Sony F35 and Arri Alexa cameras, which are a step up from the DSLRs and are really giving film a run for it's money. Here is the trailer for the 2011 shootout:



You can catch part 1 here.

Anyway, the point is that digital has come so far in the past few years. It used to be that you could immediately tell when something wasn't film (Mann's recent "Public Enemies" comes immediately to mind). Now, digital is even fooling hardened professionals within the film industry who work on this stuff day in and day out. I'm sure many here will still say "I can tell!", but I'd wager that more often than not, you really can't. Especially when the camera and lighting is in the hands of the professionals.

While these digital cameras come with many advantages; the most obvious is the cost. The invisible barrier that prevented so many from being able to make their films has now been erased. With the combination of these cameras, consumer editing suites like Adobe CS5 and Final Cut Pro, and digital content distribution it really is an open market for anyone to make their presence known. For example, a couple years ago a guy made a short film on Youtube on a $300 budget and ended up getting signed to make a film produced by Sam Raimi.

Additionally, there is no longer the huge cost of recording on expensive film. You can now take a handful of CF or SD cards and record and dump footage at your leisure. Archiving is as simple as backing up to an external drive. Editing is as simple as organizing files on a timeline (generalization there). Beyond that, you don't even have to print your movie to film for theatrical release anymore. Thanks to the Digital Cinema Distribution System you can now deliver your compliant digital movie files via USB drive.

So, to conclude this longer-than-anticipated-post-that-has-turned-into-an-article, film is on it's last legs. It's already all-but-dead in the world of photography and that is spreading to the world of film as well. Whether you like it or hate it (or don't really care), we should all at least be optimistic about the potential opportunities it has opened to our cinematic experience.

UPDATE 10/13/11: The top 3 motion picture film camera manufacturers -- Panavision, Aaton, and ARRI -- have ceased production on new cameras.
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post #2 of 94 Old 06-18-2011, 02:25 PM
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Heck, for a really short project, I'd rather just shoot it to film, rather than attempt to emulate it via digital. And I guess motion-picture film will be around until Eastman and Fuji shuts down those divisions (maybe within 10 or so years).

"I knew you'd say that"...*BLAM!*
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post #3 of 94 Old 06-18-2011, 02:42 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rezzy View Post

Heck, for a really short project, I'd rather just shoot it to film, rather than attempt to emulate it via digital. And I guess motion-picture film will be around until Eastman and Fuji shuts down those divisions (maybe within 10 or so years).

Why? When I can shoot the same project for under $2,000 in equipment (not to mention renting instead of purchasing), versus $20-$50k.
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post #4 of 94 Old 06-18-2011, 02:56 PM
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I mean I'd probably do that really short project to super16mm and not have to worry if it looked like film or not. Anything much longer than that, I would have to consider digital, even though digital (to myself) isn't totally foolproof at this time.

"I knew you'd say that"...*BLAM!*
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post #5 of 94 Old 06-18-2011, 03:27 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rezzy View Post

I mean I'd probably do that really short project to super16mm and not have to worry if it looked like film or not. Anything much longer than that, I would have to consider digital, even though digital (to myself) isn't totally foolproof at this time.

You don't have to make your digital look like film, but the point is that you can. Cheaper and more efficiently.
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post #6 of 94 Old 06-18-2011, 03:36 PM
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Too bad REVERIE isn't on YouTube in HD. Low rez 360p is a slap in the face of that great little short.

Since January I have shot five short films. Three on Super 8mm and two with Canon DSLR's (7D and 60D).

There is not doubt that film is film and can't be beat by a camera that is designed for stills and costs under 3 grand. However, the results of DSLR shooting can be quite pleasing to the eye, as long as you understand the problems that go along with shooting the format. A friend of mine shot an entire feature on a T2i for 41 grand and it looks very nice. But they were in the Philippines, where that money a long way.

Personally, I would have preferred shooting my short films on 16mm or Super16 (which I have used before and love), but costs for film, film development and scanning to 2k (or just 1080p HD) is crazy high.

Doing Super 8mm was both a trade-off and an artistic move and one that still busted my bank because I shot with negative stock, which can only be scanned at a few places for stupid high money. I am actually going to sell my beloved Nikon R10 this month because with the upcoming move overseas, I will no longer have acess to Super 8mm film stock, nor the means to develop and scan it.

I'm buying either a 7D or a 60D this summer, plus a couple L lenses. You can get good results and I will use it for shooting behind the scenes footage, shorts or for scouting videos. I might even be industrious and shoot a very low budget feature in SE Asia.

Below is a link to a pre-color graded scene from a short film I shot in January. The first I shot with a DSLR. Dialog is taken from the camera audio, so it sounds so-so (not the final product by any means. Why sync everything before editing when you can use in camera audio, then just sync audio to the takes you end up using? ).

To me, DSLR looks like candy. It's kind of sugary sweet. Too clean. Lens choice is crucial and for the love of God, don't pan left or right! The jello effect is puke worthy. Low light performance is impressive, but you need the right lens and the correct settings or you will get noise. Few can do it right.

LINK: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qbhBYtlzdcY Sorry, I couldn't figure out how to do get it playing here, like in the above posts. Watch in HD, please.

I think in about three years the industry will be almost completely digital. The competition to create a sub 5k camera that can create images that look near 35mm is is heating up and we are close to seeing it happen. When it does, goodbye Super16 and 16mm.

Vimeo is the home of the Super8 Shooter...
http://vimeo.com/super8shooter
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post #7 of 94 Old 06-18-2011, 04:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Matt_Stevens View Post

Sorry, I couldn't figure out how to do get it playing here, like in the above posts. Watch in HD, please

Matt...Matt...Matt.!!!!! there you go lol:



just put the youtube ID between tags and that's it
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post #8 of 94 Old 06-18-2011, 06:47 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Matt, next time just quote the post with the video shown in it, and you can see how the tags are done

Btw, I have a 60D myself and I love it.
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post #9 of 94 Old 06-19-2011, 07:38 AM
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D'OH!

When people buy a DSLR and think they can just go and shoot video with the kit lens, well, they can, but the results won't be movie like. DSLR lenses are insanely expensive compared to the camera body. Most I know in NYC who own a 5D or 7D rent lenses for their gigs.

Vimeo is the home of the Super8 Shooter...
http://vimeo.com/super8shooter
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post #10 of 94 Old 06-23-2011, 07:40 AM
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The best digital movie I have seen is Zombieland, shot with a Panavision Genesis camera, which is basically a single chip design used to produce a film like image. It had great colors and I had no idea it was not shot on film until I read about it later. I hate the Red One at 2k, but it looks good if used at 4k. The Red is another DSLR type pro movie camera that now costs 25k. The Red One at 2k can't do trees and the colors are washed out. It makes trees look like they are made of wax.

I recently saw Woody Allen's You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger and loved it. The colors were full and perfect and it was a great DVD transfer. I am sure it was film. Digital can equal film if they do everything right, but many directors get lazy or do not have the money to do it correctly. Cameras are getting better at a speed that film will become extinct fairly soon.

You can find allot of interesting articles on digital movie cameras at:

http://www.fdtimes.com/news/
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post #11 of 94 Old 10-14-2011, 09:41 AM - Thread Starter
 
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post #12 of 94 Old 10-14-2011, 04:48 PM
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Allow me to interject the viewpoint of a movie patron of long standing - as in I have enjoyed movies and television for over 50 years.

The PROBLEM I am having today is that there is so many poorly conceived, poorly written, and poorly edited movies. That such movies are now easy and cheap to make by what used to be called "film students" is not anything I can appreciate - I am drowning in dreck.

I'm the first to admit that there were problems with the old Hollywood apprentice system, and that it often mattered more who you knew than what you knew. But now we have hundreds of satellite channels, and more movies and TV shows than I can even hope to consider, much less view.

There appear to me to be about the same number of GOOD movies and TV shows that I want to see now - and they are accompanied by a lot more of the dreck. I occaisionally find a gem of an Indie Film or a TV show that I never heard of before - and it's several years old, long off the air or out of theatrical distribution, and now available streaming.

Competently shot scenes and cheap CGI don't begin to compensate for poorly written scripts, directors unable to get the finest performance an actor is capable of, and productions (good or bad) that get released with zero budgets for publicity and distribution.

I'm not enjoying the death of film and the advent of digital productions. There was an element of Darwinism in the old Hollywood system that is missing now, and we the viewers are suffering for the lack of it.

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post #13 of 94 Old 10-15-2011, 11:39 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lwright84 View Post

Film is officially dead.

Not quite. When the day comes that celluloid can no longer be purchased, we can call it.

"I knew you'd say that"...*BLAM!*
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post #14 of 94 Old 10-15-2011, 12:14 PM
 
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October 1, 2011

The Big Picture


Quote:


By many accounts more than half of the movie screens in the United States have converted to digital cinema. The critical issue now is the fate of the remaining twenty thousand or so screens.

http://www.digitalcinemareport.com/
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post #15 of 94 Old 10-15-2011, 01:04 PM
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And the venue for many independent films is now streaming such as Vudu and Netflix. I was even unaware that John Sayles had a new film out and it played only briefly in the Bay Area and not at the Cinearts nearby. Many of the art houses have gone out of business. Mark Cuban has picked up a lot of independent titles and licenses them out even pre-theater release VOD.

Digital was felt to be a boon to the indies because they didn't have to make prints available. Landmark years back installed digital projectors for that very reason in many of the Bay Area art houses.

The bad part of digital is many theaters who have all digital are booking too many 3D attractions just for the money and smaller films aren't playing there as they used to.
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post #16 of 94 Old 10-15-2011, 01:36 PM
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I treasure my movie collection originally shot on film.
Not for the sake of the medium originally used, but for the wonderful cinematic experience they impart....the stories, the performances, the dialog, the images captured.

Film is finite.
Without extraordinary and expensive preservation, it degrades with time.

We live in a digital age.
Our displays, optical disks, surround processors, etc. are digital.
Digital is the future...there is no doubt.

The death of film, as a medium for movie-making, is just fine with me.

No, I am not going to get in to a discussion of the "look" of film vs. current digital technology.

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post #17 of 94 Old 10-15-2011, 04:27 PM - Thread Starter
 
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An excellent article for those feeling nostalgic: The Joy of Celluloid

This quote, by Keanu Reeves of all people, feels particularly relevant:

The biggest difference I have found when working photochemically versus digitally on motion pictures is the length of time the takes can last. Broadly, a 1,000ft roll of 35mm film lasts around nine-and-a-half minutes before running out, while a digital tape or recording card or hard drive can last from 40 minutes to over an hour and a half. This translates to a very different rhythm on the floor; the pressure to "cut" to save film is alleviated.

Archiving digital images is a technological dilemma. The idea of that discovered shoebox of pictures, or wedding album, will not exist digitally in your camera or on your computer or in a "cloud": you should print them. I often feel a photochemical image contains the mass of the subject and dimension; a digital image often feels as if it is mass-less. This could be nostalgia or simply how I learned to see. Others will not have this learning: they will probably never experience a photochemical image. Is this loss a tragedy, a revolution, an evolution? What have we lost, and what have we gained?

I will miss walking on to a photochemical film set. It has a magic to me. When the director says: "Action", and the film is rolling, it feels like something is at stake. It feels important and intense. In a way, death is present in the rolling of that film – we live, right now – and the director says: "Cut". And that moment in time is captured on film, really.
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post #18 of 94 Old 10-16-2011, 10:49 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lwright84 View Post

This quote, by Keanu Reeves of all people, feels particularly relevant...

Wow, that gives me a whole new respect for him...
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post #19 of 94 Old 10-16-2011, 01:11 PM
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I got so used to digital which is what the nearby theater has that when I went to watch a movie at Cinearts on film a couple years ago found the scratches and the credits running off into a scratchy noisy bad piece of leader annoying. OTOH, I've needed to get out my seat and go to the lobby at the digital theater when something was off with the server and the film didn't start on time. One time I had waited 10 minutes and it still hadn't started. One time there was a power outage and when the power came back the film started 20 minutes of scenes earlier than it should have.

And let's not forget that "cigarette burns" are a thing of the past with digital.
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post #20 of 94 Old 10-16-2011, 01:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian Conrad View Post

I got so used to digital which is what the nearby theater has that when I went to watch a movie at Cinearts on film a couple years ago found the scratches and the credits running off into a scratchy noisy bad piece of leader annoying. ...

+1

I never used to notice gate jitter and weave but find it really irritating now.
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post #21 of 94 Old 10-16-2011, 03:21 PM
 
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Digital will become a revolution when they move to 48/60 FPS and film will be looked at as "quaint."
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post #22 of 94 Old 10-16-2011, 10:27 PM
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Quote:
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Digital will become a revolution when they move to 48/60 FPS and film will be looked at as "quaint."

You're probably right.

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post #23 of 94 Old 10-17-2011, 09:16 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lee Stewart View Post

Digital will become a revolution when they move to 48/60 FPS and film will be looked at as "quaint."

I agree. What's finally happening to film is the same thing that happened almost 30 years ago for music - it's moving to a digital medium that's capable of flawless and improved reproduction. And, just like the revolution in music, the majority will appreciate these benefits while a minority pine for a return to the "good old days".

Still, it's a bit of a sad feeling - kind of like lamenting lost youth...
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post #24 of 94 Old 10-17-2011, 11:11 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sean Nelson View Post

I agree. What's finally happening to film is the same thing that happened almost 30 years ago for music - it's moving to a digital medium that's capable of flawless and improved reproduction. And, just like the revolution in music, the majority will appreciate these benefits while a minority pine for a return to the "good old days".

Still, it's a bit of a sad feeling - kind of like lamenting lost youth...

Great, I can't wait for the video equivalent of autotuning.

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post #25 of 94 Old 10-17-2011, 12:16 PM
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Most theater film projectors have a 3 blade shutter which means the frame is illuminated 3 times. And film chains at TV stations had 5 blade shutters to convert 24 fps to 60 fields.

Regarding DSLR which this thread began with, I watched "Road to Nowhere" a couple weeks back and was a little dismayed with some scenes. It was as if the film was being done Dogma style by just using what kit they got at the store. There were definitely some scenes where they could have used different lenses including some outdoor scenes that need greater depth of field. But the real disappointment was the sound. There was an outdoor scene that was obviously ADR'd but with no mix to make it sound like they were outdoors, it sounded like they were in a room.
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post #26 of 94 Old 10-17-2011, 04:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian Conrad View Post

-snip-
Regarding DSLR which this thread began with, I watched "Road to Nowhere" a couple weeks back and was a little dismayed with some scenes. It was as if the film was being done Dogma style by just using what kit they got at the store. There were definitely some scenes where they could have used different lenses including some outdoor scenes that need greater depth of field. But the real disappointment was the sound. There was an outdoor scene that was obviously ADR'd but with no mix to make it sound like they were outdoors, it sounded like they were in a room.

Very true - "moviemaking" is a distinct set of skills, the least of which is becoming adept at operating the equipment. The new digital age not only makes it possible to produce movies cheaply, it almost guarantees that not enough people are hired, the shooting schedule is very tight, and money is skimped in post-production. Color me unimpressed, making a GOOD movie is still expensive in money and effort.

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post #27 of 94 Old 10-17-2011, 05:30 PM
 
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The biggest benefit of shooting digital is the ability to review shot footage immediately after shooting, as opposed to having to ship shot film to a lab to be processed then reviewing the next day. This insures that the desired shot is captured and results in a huge savings of time. And nowheres is the statement; "time is money" more true then the shooting of a movie which can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars per minute when principal cinematography is going on.

The second biggest benefit (IMO) is that MTF doesn't exist so the audience sees what the Director and DP saw, not some fraction of it as far as resolution. This results in a more enjoyable movie viewing experience - more like what people see when they switch from watching SDTV to HDTV in their homes.
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IMAX Licenses Exclusive Right to Kodak's Next-Generation Laser Projection Technology

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In-Vision Introduces New Generation of 4K Digital Cinema Lenses

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post #30 of 94 Old 10-18-2011, 05:25 AM
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Location: San Jose, California, USA
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YES I agree that digital technology is a valuable advance in the field of moviemaking which enables skilled people to produce a movie with less time and money. But it also enables less skilled people to make much less impressive efforts on a shoestring budget.

Add the fact that the end of film leaves many people in Hollywood unemployed - people who worked niche jobs for decades, and were actually technicians with specific limited skills. Now with video games and cable channels, they have distribution channels for less impressive end product. I see fewer and fewer big Hollywood productions in the classic manner, and loads of less impressive dreck. For the movie consumer, this is not so impressive a change. I seldom felt like I wanted two hours of my life back under the old Hollywood system, now that feeling is unfortunately very common.

Gary McCoy
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