digital impact

– . – Digital Impact


Digital Impact

As new digital technology expands the frontiers of filmmaking and changes the viewing experience for audiences, just what impact is it having on multiplex and independent cinemas?

Cinema has always embraced new ways of seeing the world, recognising both the technical innovation and commercial potential of each fresh development. But, more than a century since the moving image first beguiled audiences, every change has been greeted with a combination of delight and intransigence.

The arrival of synchronised sound with The Jazz Singer in 1928 was a great leap forward by any measure, but some iconic filmmakers regarded it as a retrograde step for the artistry of the medium. Similarly, colour film fulfils a logical kind of destiny, though some have resisted. The late Fred Zinnemann (High Noon) explained to me, many years ago, that it was just another stylistic choice, another tool in the box to be used as appropriate. “I believe that you should use the medium in the way you feel you can express yourself best at any given time.”

He was not talking about 3D movies then, but he might as well have been, for this is the trend that is currently exercising critics—“3D, schmee-D,” opines Radio Five Live’s reviewer Mark Kermode—and driving an industry that is always looking for new ways to draw audiences to cinemas. It’s a subject that director James Cameron is well qualified to talk about, having developed the technology to bring Avatar to the screen last year, he then saw it smash all previous box-office records.

‘It has to be used in balance, with all of the other techniques of film as well,’ Cameron said at the time of Avatar’s release. “If you were to see Avatar in 2D it would still be beautifully acted, beautifully designed and beautifully photographed; it’s not like you’re suddenly left with 50 per cent of the experience. But if you do want to see it with that extra turbocharger of an experience and want to pay a little extra to do so, 3D is the way to go.”

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