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September 2003, Week 4


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"Sarah L. Higley" <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Fri, 26 Sep 2003 13:18:31 -0400
TEXT/PLAIN (52 lines)
On Thu, 25 Sep 2003, Lou Thompson wrote:

> I've noted some disparaging remarks here and there on the use of digital
> filming.  I was wondering if any of you could enlighten me about the
> pros and cons of traditional film vs. digital film.
> Thanks.

This is just off the cuff, but I always thought it had to do with the
perception of quality.  Celluloid will never entirely be replaced by
software in terms of detail because it is analog instead of digital:
images are literally "burned" into film.  I don't know much about digital
moving film, though, and what it's capable of.  I do know that many
professional still photographers have the same prejudices you describe.
The one is older technology, but both the tradition and the quality of
detail (and the expense--motion picture film is more expensive, I think)
weigh in as "superior."  The anthology I've edited with Jeffrey Weinstock
on The Blair Witch Project (due out in late October from Wayne State
Press) briefly examines a similar distinction, only with celluloid and
*video* technology: the one camera--the big expensive 16mm motion picture
camera that the students tote around--is considered superior to the video
camera they also use.  The film vacillates between grainy color and sharp
black and white.  The intended documentary, the "project" that never got
finished, was apparently supposed to have been filmed in 16 mm.  The
introductory scene they shoot (with Heather fulminating about the dead
children--"Legend tells a different story"--shot at the graveyard) is with
the 16mm.  But the video is perceived, interestingly, as less artful and
more genuine.  This idea is expressed in the dreadful sequel to The Blair
Witch Project, interesting in its stated assumptions about filming and
"truth."  I guess time will tell what status is eventually granted to
digital filming.  Does anybody know how it works, how (in)expensive it is,
where the trends are leading, what it can do?

S. Higley

Sarah L. Higley                            [log in to unmask]
                                           [log in to unmask]
Associate Professor of English                office:  (585) 275-9261
The University of Rochester                   fax:     (585) 442-5769
Rochester NY, 14627
Py dydwc glein / O erddygnawt vein?
"What brings a gem from a hard stone?"               Book of Taliesin

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