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August 2002, Week 5


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Leo Enticknap <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Fri, 30 Aug 2002 08:57:35 +0100
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Ian Grey writes:

>After writing this, and after all the research the piece necessitated, it
>seems clear that narrative film has about 5 to 9 years left before its
>complete integration into the media chain as a digital element of
>transnational information/advertising processing/synergy.

I haven't been able to look at the article, because I got an error message
when following your link.  So to a certain extent I'm guessing at the
issues it raises, but nevertheless would make the following comments.

Cinema exhibition is more than the hardware used to project the
picture.  Whilst I broadly agree that a 5 to 10 year timescale is probably
about right for 35mm polyester being replaced by a form of projection based
on digital data being rendered as pixels and then projected somehow (though
I'd put money on it not being any of the technologies for doing this which
are in current use, i.e. CRTs, LCDs and DLP), it does not necessarily
follow that 'narrative film' will go with it.

There are lots of other issues involved, most of them cultural.  Cinemas
are physical buildings designed for large gatherings of people to view
moving images in a very specific way (e.g. in silence and in a darkened
space).  They exist within (usually urban) communities and promote the
films they show among those communities.  Studios produce films
specifically to be shown in these buildings and consumed by audiences in
that way.  The buildings will still be there when 'film' in a literal sense
is not - in fact, the technologies being developed to replace film
projection are being intentionally designed to be compatible with existing
cinema infrastructure, both physical and cultural.

Just because the technology now exists to subvert the narrative processes
involved in a two-hour feature film (e.g. click here for an alternative
ending, click here to have the f-words removed, that sort of thing), that
doesn't mean to say that it will be accepted.  Video projectors have been
around since the Eidophor was first marketed in 1947.  In the UK, the Rank
Organisation put them in several London cinemas and tried to promote live
sports coverage (mainly as a way of reducing film rental costs).  It failed
miserably - people associated cinemas with fictional feature films.  For
watching a sports match, they wanted a light environment, to be able to
drink and smoke and to discuss the game with other people, all of which
(with the exception of smoking) cannot be done in a cinema.

So I agree that we're approaching the end of film in a literal sense, but
not necessarily in any other.


Dr. Leo Enticknap
Director, Northern Region Film and Television Archive
School of Arts and Media
University of Teesside
Middlesbrough  TS1 3BA
United Kingdom
Tel. +44-(0)1642 384022
Fax. +44-(0)1642 384099
Brainfryer: +44-(0)7710 417383

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