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Digital Media: It?S Impact On The Film Industry Essay, Research Paper

Digital Media: It?s Impact on the Film Industry

The popularity of the Internet and home computing has had a dramatic effect on day-to-day life in America and the rest of the modern world. It has changed the way we work, play and even communicate. What was once only available to college students at large universities, and corporations, now is easily accessible by anyone.

The so-called Digital Revolution has had a profound impact on many industries, the Motion Picture Industry being among them. What years ago would have cost Hollywood billions of dollars, and thousands of man-hours, a single person can now achieve at a fraction of the cost. This is possible on either a Mac or a PC home computer. Recent advances in technology have combined the variables needed to bring movie making out of Hollywood, and onto your desktop.

Just as the PC has revolutionized the way we receive information and listen to music, the same is also true for watching movies. Through a fast Internet connection called broadband access you can watch streaming video live, or download it to your hard disk for later viewing. Factors that include low cost storage media and super fast processor speeds have made the home computer an ideal environment for watching movies on your computer. It can also be used for manipulating Digital video through nonlinear video editing.

Digital video can be stored directly on your computer hard drive or any digital storage device such as a compact disc (CD), digital video disc (DVD), or digital video tape. It is a sharper image than most analog recorders and can have up to twice the resolution of the typical home camcorder (VHS), and has a higher quality image than most analog recorders. Another advantage to digital video is that a copy of the original will be an exact duplicate of that original. You can watch, pause, rewind, and forward advance without losing any clarity or quality.

The new Apple G4 and many new PCs on the market come equipped with the FireWire / 1394 adapters. This is the compression standard. If your computer does not have this, you can upgrade this hardware by installing a video card. A low-end video card can be purchased for around $50.00 and will go up in price the higher the card is rated.

If you plan on buying a computer solely for digital video editing, you may want to consider looking into a ?Black Box?. A Black Box is a computer that has been bundled with software and hardware designed and configured to be used together as a package. This is a much more stable environment for working with digital video, and you will not have to worry about having an incompatibility issue. The main drawback with using a Black Box is that you cannot install new software or introduce any new hardware to the system.

On your home computer you can take your movie project from start to finish. There is screen-writing software called ?Sophocles? to aid you in dialog and script, in addition to the many web sites that offer screenplays and movie scripts that have been released into the public domain. Once your script is set, if your film lacks the budget for location footage you can check online for web pages that offer stock footage on many subjects that you can purchase.

Once you have your digital video ready, you can begin to insert your transitions and special effects. Some programs that are well suited for nonlinear video editing are Broadway Pro, and Adobe Premiere. Both programs have a wide variety of features and are relatively easy to use. These programs also take full advantage of the tools which nonlinear video can provide. For example, this means that if you are unhappy with the lighting in a particular shot, instead of having to go out and re-shoot the scene, you just edit in another light source. Or take away one of the existing light sources if that is what you would rather do. With add-on filters and special effects packages, one is only limited by their own imagination.

When your movie, or project is complete there are still more options to think about. There are a variety of different file formats you can save your film as. Some formats work better on certain computer systems. There are yet others that work better over the Internet. And still others that are best when they will be saved to some media for later viewing. You will need to decide what format is best for you and what target audience you wish to attract. Based on the format you choose, the distribution and advertising of your movie will have to be modified.

Independent film producer Jon Shear recently completed a full-length movie called ?Urbania?. The budget on this film was $300,000, it was shot in four months on super 16 film. Then transferred in its entirety to digital video for post production, finally being reconstituted to 35-millimeter film for release. Editing this film included changing the lighting, color, and saturation of every single frame.

If you plan on releasing your movie to be viewed over the Internet, I would suggest going to an online Film Festival Site. These sites will take submissions from independent film producers of all types and allow people to download, view, and sometimes even vote on these films. Some of the more popular sites include iFilm, movieflix.com, and D.Film. In fact, in 1999 the Cannes Film Festival gave an award to Independent Film Producers in the Digital Video Media, which was presented by D.Film.

One of the more popular Internet movies is ?405: The Movie?. This is a ?Short? movie (less than three minutes in length), made on a budget of under $300.00. It has been downloaded, or viewed over one million times. This is the exception rather than the rule. On iFilm over 400,000 people have viewed the second most popular film. And on another popular site, AtomFilms, several of the animated shorts have been viewed over one million times.

Another digital success story is ?The Blair Witch Project? by Haxan Films. This was another low budget, independent film that used the Internet mainly for advertising. This mockumentary was filmed on both analog and digital video cameras and then pieced together. It was made to look like actual footage of actual people (not actors) and the Internet was used to promote the authenticity of the footage. The facts were made up, and the audience was left wondering if what they saw was real or not. The Internet helped this film and the independent film industry immensely. It made the world look away from Hollywood, even if only for a moment.

Digital media has come a long way in a short time. It is changing more than just the film industry. There are music videos that can now be made by unsigned artists with small budgets. Also there is a growing library of documentaries and video biographies being made today that would never have been considered even a few years ago. The list goes on. It is an exciting time to be involved in the film industry, and because of these changes, you can be a part of it.


Sources Used

Printed Media

Final Cut Pro for Macintosh by Lisa Brennies

Peach Pit Press (http://www.peachpit.com)


Videography Magazine (http://www.videography.com)

Fall 2000 Issue

Camcorder & Computer Video Magazine (http://www.CandCV.com)

October 2000 Issue

Online Media

PC Magazine: Trends Online (http://www.zdnet.com/pcmag)

The Web Goes Hollywood ? May 7, 1999

USA Today (http://www.usatoday.com)

Filmmakers switch to fast lane ? October 13, 2000

CNN.COM (http://www.cnn.com)

Digital revolution comes to independents ? October 17, 2000

Web Sites

AtomFilms – http://www.atomfilms.com/ – Get Into Our Shorts

D. FILM – http://www.dfilm.com/ – Digital Film Festival

iFilm – http://www.ifilm.net/ – The Place for Internet Film

Sophocles – http://www.sophocles.net/ – Screenwriting Software


405: The Movie – http://www.405themovie.com

The Blair Witch Project – http://www.haxan.com

Urbania – http://www.urbaniamovie.com


Analog Video Video based on a continuous electrical signal such as that used by a television monitor.

Audio/Video Interleave (AVI) AVI is the dominant file format for video on PCs – it’s the file format used by Video for Windows, which is one of the three main video technologies for computers. Basically, AVI works by interleaving alternating chunks of video and audio.

Compression Compression is a central element in working with digital film, both in digitizing audio and video onto the computer, where sound and images are compressed so that they can be processed fast enough by the computer’s CPU and to minimize the amount of disc space the finished video and audio files take up. Compression is also essential for video on the web, to minimize the amount of bandwidth necessary to download a file.

Moving Pictures Experts Group(MPEG) MPEG is a standard for compressing sound and moving images. The MPEG-1 standard streams video and sound data at 150 kilobytes per second, the same rate as a single-speed CD-ROM drive. It works by setting key frames of video and changing only the areas that differ between frames.

Nonlinear editing Process of editing audio or video where the entire video is available at any given moment.

QuickTime Developed by Apple Computer, QuickTime is becoming the standard video technology for both Macs and PCs. QuickTime playback files have the extension .mov.

Streaming media Somewhat ambiguous term, which refers to network delivery of media. May refer to technologies that match the bandwidth of the media signal to the viewer’s connection, so that the media is always seen in realtime (”True Streaming”). Also used to mean media that may be viewed over a network prior to being fully downloaded (”HTTP Streaming” and “Progressive Download”).

VHS A ? inch videotape standard used by consumers throughout the world. VHS uses a helical spinning head to playback NTSC and PAL encoded analog video at resolutions significantly below broadcast quality.

Video for Windows (VFW) Video for Windows is the video technology that is part of Windows 95. VFW files have the extension .avi

Webcasting Term used to describe individuals and organizations that deliver media in a live broadcast format over the World Wide Web (WWW).

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