Is technology Making films worse?

Luke Edwards says technological advances are at the heart of great cinema and should be embraced But Stephen Graves argues that 3D and the arrival of 48fps will only dilute the magic of movies.

LE Technology improves films Star Wars, Jurassic Park and Gone with the Wind are genre redefining greats made famous by advances in technology. Look at Avatar, which birthed the smorgasbord of 3D TVs infiltrating homes the world over, And it doesn’t stop there. Thanks to IMAX, RED cameras and Sony and LG’s 4K tellies, soon pictures will be so clear that it’ll finally feel like being there.

SG But do we really want to feel like we’re there? Cinema shouldn’t aspire to replicate the real world in exacting detail; it’s a window to a fantasy world. The critics preview of 48fps footage of The Hobbit at CinemaCon went down like a lead balloon – it may look more realistic, but that extra realism only served to show up the artifice behind the costumes and sets.

That’s not to say that advances in tech aren’t welcome – we all want crisper, sharper pictures – but they have to be used intelligently.

LE Critics at a movie event slating it? Surely not! But 48fps is yet to be properly judged – and consider that 24p was once considered “too real” and is now commonplace.

Anyone today can pick up an SLR and shoot 24fps, 1080p footage – even parts of Hollywood actioner Act of Valor were shot on the Canon 5D Mark II,With each tech advance, directors can turn more and more ideas into films, often on the cheap. These days, anyone can make a film. All you need is creativity.

SG But it feels like creativity’s being trumped by commerce. Films are being used to sell technology, rather than tech serving the film. Thanks to the big 3D push – aimed at getting us to pay for 3D TVs – we are now awash with ropey 3D post – conversions of 2D films. New tech offers exciting opportunities for filmmakers – but only if it’s used correctly, not just shoehorned into films at the behest of the money men.

LE But without money you would’t have things like Dolby’s awesome 64 – speaker Atmos surround sound system. It’s been used for Pixar’s Brave and it’s going into the Odeon in London’s Leicester Square for Taken 2. Now, put how good it’s going to sound aside – the format it also easily adapted for use on smaller systems, so when it eventually filters down into our homes, audio mixers will actually have an easier job – giving them more time to make better films. Tech helps the industry once again.

SG Oh, I’m no luddite. I don’t go around smashing up digital cameras and demanding a return to 35mm. The best approach is to use new tech where it’s appropriate, mixing it with tried and tested methods for the best effect. Directors such as Christopher Nolan and Duncan jones combine CGI with practical effects to sell the reality of their films – that’s the approach we should apply. Filmmakers need to ask them seleves: “Am I using this just because it’s new, or does it change my film for the better?” Failing that, they could just convert it all to 3D after the fact. That works, right?

Leave a Reply