Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Digital killed the Film Star

As independent filmmakers, we have benefited from the digital takeover - digital media has enabled the filmmaking and distribution processes much more affordable and accessible for us - but the digital revolution has a much broader effect than one might be aware of. Digital media is affecting everything from how you watch your favorite films at the movie theater to how you save your own work.

Say goodbye to film projection: digital projection is quickly sweeping over movie theaters worldwide. Roger Ebert posted a letter from Twentieth Century Fox, who stated that "within a year or two" they will stop sending out film prints. Digital distribution is more economic than distributing film prints to theaters, but the change to digital projectors is a costly move for theater owners. Many movies are now filmed digitally, and this year alone has seen over thirty 3D releases. Observations on film and art reports: "No technological development since 1930 has demanded such a top-to-bottom overhaul of theatres. Assuming a modest $75,000 cost for upgrading a single auditorium, the digital conversion of US screens has cost $1.5 billion."

And if you're a fan of "the film look" like I am, you might worry about how digital projection is changing your experience at the movie theater. Roger Ebert writes: "Film carries more color and tone gradations than the eye can perceive. It has characteristics such as a nearly imperceptible jiggle that I suspect makes deep areas of my brain more active in interpreting it. Those characteristics somehow make the movie seem to be going on instead of simply existing." Although one would argue that many digital transfers today do a good job at preserving some of the film grain and "look", they are simply two different media and they produce two different experiences.

Outside of the filmgoing experience, the digital revolution affects filmmakers - mainly independent filmmakers who rely on digital storage for their work. An article in Variety notes that "digital storage, be it on hard drives, DVDs or solid-state memory, simply isn't on a par for anything close to the 100-plus-year lifespan of film. The life of digital media is measured in years, not decades, and file formats can go obsolete in months, not years", making preserving our work very vulnerable. Considering the extended amount of time independent filmmakers experience for possible distribution, preserving work is big issue for us. (Read more on this particular issue here)

Get more in-depth on this film vs. digital issue with these great articles from Observations on Film and Art here and here.

How do you feel about the digital takeover in the industry? Is film truly dead?

DFM Screening FRIDAY

THIS FRIDAY! In the Gallery at 7pm. FREE FOOD! Begin networking with your fellow students!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

To Text or Not To Text?

We've all been in this situation: you're sitting in a dark theater, excitedly watching a film you've eagerly been waiting a long time to see, when all of sudden an bright flood of light in your peripheral vision distracts you from the action onscreen - someone in the theater is texting. OMG!

How do we define movie theater etiquette? Sure, we all silence our phones before a movie, but what about texting? How much of this does it actually take away from the movie-going experience? Texting in theaters has been the subject of a debate amongst movie theater owners - some argue that restricting use of text messaging during a film is excessive. IMAX Filmed Entertainment chief Greg Foster is in favor of allowing text messaging, saying "We want [youths] to pay $12 to $14 to come into an auditorium and watch a movie. But they’ve become accustomed to controlling their existence." As he sees it, banning text messaging might make them “feel a little handcuffed.” Read more about it here.

Conversely, a movie theater chain is imposing a strict ban on texting and talking: the Austin-based Alamo Drafthouse theater chain warns the audience that anyone in violation of their no-texting/talking ban will promptly be ejected from the theater. "Founder, Tim League, set out to make a theater for and by movie lovers, a place where the concept of "film as art" could exist without any of the usual snobbery. The movie houses have tables where guests can eat fine food and drink beers from local breweries while enjoying the film in front of them." Read more here.

What do you think? Is the banning of text messaging taking it too far? What other distractions take away from your movie-going experience?

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Feature Writing Workshop STARTS TOMORROW

Please be advised that the Feature Writing Workshop begins tomorrow!
The workshop will be in room 623 during the lunch break. E-mail Melanie Oram for participation at moram@aii.edu

Monday, July 23, 2012

Professional Student Guide

PSG 101 Entitlement - Part 2 - Entitlement was an issue we explored in our last PSG. We are expanding on that topic by discussing how students feel they know more about subject material and how instructors should teach. This is kind of a funny "educational paradox" where the student believes him or her self to know more than the instructor. Instructors are themselves industry professionals and not only teach but practice what they teach in the professional world. In fact, this is a requirement of the instructor’s employment. In order for a student to become a professional, a continuous cycle of listening and watching other professionals is crucial to success.

The teacher / student relationship is the most complicated lesson learned in college. The misunderstanding on the student end is the amount of work required of them. Observed, consumer culture is migrating into our education. Instead of the instructor explaining and guiding through the process of learning, students are demanding what they want to learn and how they want to receive that information. These demands stress the student/teacher relationship. How can a seasoned professional deliver their knowledge if the perception is that the person delivering the knowledge is unable to perform their job? The limited amount of time given to instructors to teach, what generally takes years to perfect, makes it impossible to cover everything. Four hours in the day and eleven weeks is just enough time to fully explain basic techniques or integrate details of creating a film, once. The majority of learning takes place outside of the classroom doing projects that practice what is taught in the classroom.

College learning is about mentorship and relationships. Students need to do much of their learning on their own under the guidance of the teacher. The teacher’s role is to say if the student is heading in the right direction. Making the leap from a high school style education to college education is difficult for some students. Students can not expect instructors to spoon feed them the information. What you are paying for in your continued education is the investment in yourself to be a professional. As students, we must learn to be a student and take charge of our education.

Advice – Always listen to someone who claims to be a professional in the field. Their accomplishments will speak to their expertise. 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Screenwriting Course

Attention Screenwriters!

These start Wednesday, July 25th (Week 3). If you're interested in participating, please email Melanie Oram at moram@aii.edu

*Alumni students who are interested in participating may do so by emailing both Melanie and Eve (gokupniak@aii.edu)

Consumer Vs. Professional

As many of you already know, Apple surprised us all last year by opting for a more consumer-friendly route with Final Cut Pro X - so it should come as no surprise that other companies, such as Avid and Adobe, are attempting to capitalize on the needs of the professional market. Avid has announced plans to focus more on their professional customers while divesting from its consumer businesses (Read about it here).  Many professionals in the production industry have already made the change; Bunim/Murray, the production company responsible for bringing you The Real World, The Bad Girls Club, and the ever delightful Keeping Up With The Kardashians, has announced their decision to drop Final Cut and in favor of Avid: http://www.macrumors.com/2012/01/04/reality-tv-producer-bunimmurray-drops-final-cut-for-avid/

Along with this move towards the professional market, Avid made sure not to leave the "prosumer" front empty-handed with the launch of Avid Studio, a mobile editing app for the iPad ($7.99/month) earlier this year.

Although editing on an iPad has its obvious limitations, the app is meant as a companion software for the desktop app: http://www.macrumors.com/2012/02/02/avid-takes-on-apples-imovie-with-avid-studio-for-ipad/

Meanwhile on the other side of the fence, Apple made a minor update to their Mac Pro, which was first quietly promoted on their site and then later removed (read about it here). Perhaps they were a bit overzealous to promote such a tiny update due to their current perceived missteps with FCP X? Who knows. Either way, one thing is clear: the divide between the consumer and the professional markets are growing considerably and its interesting to see which steps in either direction these companies will make.

We Want You!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Behind the Scenes: Breaking Bad Season 5

Yesterday was the season opener of my favorite show on TV, Breaking Bad. If you have never seen it, I recommend to start! Seasons 1-3 are on Netflix Instant. Season 4 is on DVD. There were several effects shots on the show both practical and CG. I have posted the video below to show you how different people on set make magic happen! Even though I know too much about production and post, I am still in awe how people problem solve and think creatively. Truly, we are magicians. Enjoy!

LAST DAY Drop / Add

Today at 5pm will be the deadline for dropping or adding a class. See Dave Nash or Eve Okupniak to change your schedule.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Discussion : 2D, 3D or 4D?

Just when you thought 2D wasn't enough. . .

Hollywood began experimenting with the 3D format in the mid 1950's with the famous red and blue glasses. The gimmick was used exactly how it is used today, a tactic by theaters to continuously bring an audience out to the movies. This was in response to the dawn of television. Theaters were afraid that audience participation would dwindle since people no longer had to go out to see movies. Other gimmicks during this time are as follows - CinemaScope, Smell O Vision, Tingler, Illusion O - Theses processes would site the movie going experience be far superior if experienced in a theater.  

Now, South Korea is pushing the next gimmick to bring audiences back to movie theaters. 4D! 4D is simply a combination of Smell O Vision, Tingler, and 3D. This is not a new phenomenon considering the technology is fifty years old and Universal Studios, Disney Parks have had theaters like this since the 1980s. The only significant difference is that where this technology was exclusive to theme parks, it may now be available in a theater near you. 

Critics for this process are divided into two camps - movie lovers and casual viewers. Blog critics and self proclaimed cinephiles flock to theaters, not with gimmicks, but with strict cinema rules - no texting, talking, or general disruption. Generally, all other casual viewers look at the theater experience as an expense not worth their money, considering they can get the same experience with cable television. When a gimmick is introduced, casual viewers are interested in experiencing the next best thing. Multi million dollar budget films rely on this population to make their production budget back.  

I'm curious to see what you guys think. Below is an article from the LA Times that reviews the efforts made in South Korea. Is it worth the price of admission? Leave a comment. 


Monday, July 2, 2012

Support Our Cage Folks!

Sign into Facebook, click on the link below and vote for Freddy and Chris's submission for the Django Unchained Contest! It's a great motion graphics piece! Below is the video and the link. Good Luck Freddy and Chris!!!