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Author:  Meredith McMinn <[log in to unmask]>
Date:    12/14/94 8:30 PM
 
[Editor's note:  This message was submitted to SCREEN-L by the "Author" noted
above, and not by Jeremy Butler ([log in to unmask]).]
 
 On Dec 3, Gene Stavis wrote, in part:
But one aspect disturbs me and that is
> the seeming reliance on the computer to expose students to films.
> It seems to me that the increasing use of low-quality video to show films is
> a disaster. One of the most interesting and significant things about film is
> its resolution. By downgrading films to video reproduction, students are
> deprived of understanding how powerful and effective these images can be in
> an atmosphere in which they are not under the control of the viewer.
> The size and quality of the image in a theater is an essential element in
> understanding the medium. The psychological value of being in an audience and
> not being able to manipulate the experience is totally lost with electronic
> methods. Projecting images electronically, at least at the present state of
> the art, reduces the great works of cinema to the level of just
another music
> video or commercial -- a disposable part of the information slag which
> represents the current situation. It would be like teaching art history with
> xeroxes of the great paintings or learning about music with a kazoo.
 
Although I heartily agree with Gene in general and in principle, I think
there are extenuating circumstances.
1.  I didn't find anything in Emily Zants's post that indicated that the
computer was the students' initial exposure to the films they were
studying.  Once the student has experienced the film "on the big screen",
various electronic forms are useful for assorted kinds of study.
2.  The type or focus of the class has some bearing on the use of
electronic media.  I teach classes in film analysis and have several uses
for videotape, laserdisc and computer technology in breaking down films and
demonstrating principles of film analysis.  The students are required to
see at least one full screening in class first.
3.  More often than not, the equipment and prints available to an
educational
institution and other factors are a far cry from the conditions in which a
film is meant to
be seen, anyway.  For instance, we have rear projection, 16mm equipment
for film in the standard format and some very old, multiply spliced and
scratched, mostly faded prints in our film library.  Rental films are
seldom better, usually worse.  Our
anamorphic projectors have not worked properly for years.  Students watch
these films in a classroom with lights partially up so they can take
notes.  At least with
laserdisc (letterboxed and also rear projected), I can show the entire
wide-screen image of a film like _2001_ or _The Graduate_ with full
color and clear, skipless sound, which, at
least in some cases, is the next best thing to "the real thing."  I'd
like nothing better than to have good prints in a real theatre with
state-of-the-art equipment, etc. etc.  Wouldn't we all.
For that matter, I'd like more time, too! :-)
Meredith McMinn
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