Monday, 14 April 2014

Side by Side (2012) Film V.S Digital

Directed and Written by Christopher Kenneally
99 Minutes
More Info here
Trailer here
 I demand that every cinephile, film buff and movie watcher sees this documentary, that looks at the medium of film, and how the digital revolution has affected cinema. This doc looks at the conversion of film (such as 35mm) to digital filming and projection, and both the innovations and pitfalls of this. The interviews are great, and for anyone who likes movies or technology it is fascinating to see the evolution of the camera, and how our society has changed so much with technology.

The people interviewed by Kenneally/Reeves were fantastic. We get interviews from directors including Martin Scorsese, David Lynch, Christopher Nolan, Danny Boyle, James Cameron, George Lucas and many more. We also get the voice of the cinematographers including Michael Chapman (Raging Bull, Taxi Driver) among others.

This documentary doesn't just inform us of the revolution of digital, and the fight over original film, but how movie watching has changed. Technologies like the mobile phone and the Internet have changed our social relations, and the way of viewing has changed. 60 years ago you could only see a film at a cinema. Then TV came along. Then VHS came along. Then mobile phones and laptops came along- viewing changed. People watch films wherever they are whether it is the car, the train or on their laptop curled up in bed.

To many film buffs and filmmakers, it is sad to think that films are being on so little a screen, because cinema had always been a medium that as seen on a large scale- it was something larger than life that took you on a journey. When I watch a movie I try to get watching it on big as a screen as I can- the way the filmmaker/director intended. Furthermore, it is just more immersive that way.

The issue of storage and preservation is also touched on in the film, though I wish they discussed it more. With movies and video footage being stored on hard disk drives, there is an issue of how well they work. When a hard drive is left too long without use, it may have trouble starting up and not come on, because you have to keep using it frequently. Using it at all, of course, lessens its life span- this it will break. The thing is, with both film and digital, preserving will always be an issue. Film can burn, get damaged, and decay away. Hard drives can have technical hardware faults- both are probable of loss. It is devastating to cineasts and filmmakers because it is the loss of something important in terms of art and creation.

DSLR cameras are discussed here also, with one cinematographer not liking the idea of cameras like the Canon 5D, 7D etc; for it is not 'good enough'. I myself use a Canon 600d for movie making and I believe in terms of low-budget filmmaking, size and handiness it is an excellent camera that really captures good depth-of-field. There are better cameras out there, but for indie filmmakers, DSLR's get my thumbs up.

Overall, I think this was an insightful documentary taking a look at the shift our culture has taken, and the poignancy of film being deteriorating from our world. Mark Kermode, film critic at The Guardian newspaper in the UK has an excellent book looking at the role of the projectionist, which touches upon the conversion of film to digital, really shows the impact it is having on the industry.

I would love to hear your thoughts on the topic of film to digital, so lets start a discussion!


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