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Friday, March 17, 2006

Time Mag weighs in on the digital cinema revolution

On the flight back from ShoWest last night, I read this piece by Richard Corliss, which covers most of the major changes happening in the motion picture industry, and includes comments from folks like Robert Rodriguez, Kevin Smith, George Lucas, M. Night Shyamalan, Steven Spielberg, Michael Mann, and National CineMedia chief Kurt Hall, who says that "digital cinema is probably a lot further away than most people would think."


Corliss writes:


    We are at the bright dawn of the movies' digital age, but the Hollywood establishment still has its shades drawn. In the Oscar show at the Kodak Theatre (named after a company that is crucially invested in the film-stock status quo), the most popular live-action digital movie in history, George Lucas' Star Wars: Episode III--Revenge of the Sith, won no awards, not even one for technical achievement. The year's boldest, most innovative digital experiment, Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller's Sin City, got no nominations at all.


    The Oscar revelers seemed unaware that movies have two big problems: the way they're made and the way they're shown.


    It has often been noted that if Henry Ford were to come back today, he would wonder why no one had come up with a better idea than the internal combustion engine. A similar thought may occur to any visitor to a movie shoot. Dozens, maybe hundreds of technicians adjust the lights, apply the makeup and dress the set, much the way it was done almost 100 years ago. And as in D.W. Griffith's day, the film still runs through a camera, then is processed, reproduced many times and sent to theaters.


    The addiction to doing things that way baffles Lucas. "Do you still use a typewriter?" he asks a TIME movie critic. "Do you go to a library and consult books for most of your research? Is your story set in type, letter by letter? No. Your business takes advantage of technological advances. Why shouldn't my business?"

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