Outlook on Side by Side

Digital technology is replacing film by creating and sharing motion pictures. In the documentary Side by Side, Keanu Reeves explains to numerous Hollywood professionals in the production industry on how film has changed. He states, “It’s a documentary about the science, art, and impact of digital cinema”.

Throughout the documentary, Reeves interviews several Hollywood directors, cinematographers, producers, editors, technologists, and film students. With the knowledge from those professionals, Side by Side provides you with an examination of filmmaking and every aspect of it. It helped me get a better understanding of the difference between film and digital cinema.

I’m a firm believer in quality over quantity. Based on statements given in the documentary, it would be more expensive and complicated to accomplish work in film using the tools done with digital cinema. With that being said, I feel as though if you really invest your time, money, and effort it can be done. It would take more time but once you get the hang of it, you will become more efficient because you will be familiar with the equipment.

Just think about the results and that should motivate you enough. The quality of the product would be immaculate. Some cinematographers believe that film taught a discipline and that we probably have lost something going to digital cinema; while others believe it’s better because we would be able to view and make any necessary changes immediately.

The argument however is that digital may change your performance; at the same time, it will provide you with more creativity. Digital camera does not use film; it has an electronic censor made up of pixels. Once the light hits the lens, it picks up the pixels and represents the image. You cannot explain the level of craftsmanship. You have to be knowledgeable of the equipment you are using. The Director of Photography (DP) looks at the color and composition of an image so that person becomes responsible for what equipment is needed. The DP needs to know the live action piece from acquisition to exhibition. Digital is inexpensive and is said that it enhances film.

Film is covered in a motion. Early editing used to literally be cutting out frames and putting them together. It was always more physical. In 1969, George E. Smith created CCD technology at Bell Laboratories, with help from Willard S. Boyle. They changed the game. With this newfound technology, professionals were able to transform light into electronic signals. Sony ended up investing in the CCD chip and small standard cameras began recording digitally in the ‘90s.

In the documentary, a Visual Effects Supervisor (VFX) said, “you have to be an artist and a technician at the same time”. When it comes to film and television production, I’m beginning to see why the science and art of things impacts digital media. Film may be a 19th century product, but I always say never forget your roots. You should always refer back to the basics to get a better understanding of things you are unsure of. With the advancement in technology, we must move forward especially since the “Digital camera is the new aesthetic that’s coming to cinema”.


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