Is the ‘Digital Revolution’ Dying or Dead?

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    • #40237

      I’ve noticed over the last 10 years the production industry has undergone a significant upheaval. Prior to the middle ’90’s, if you wanted to work in the production industry you had to work for an established house, a network or affiliate, or go into major debt to start your own company. Since ’96, the technology changed with the advent of DV, MiniDV, the breaking of AVID/Apple’s stranglehold on Non-linear Editing and the perfection of the Sony Handycam. Fast-forward to ’99 and suddenly not only were professional grade or (prosumer) cameras available (and affordable), hoards of software companies rushed to release new NLE software to the general public so they could do the unthinkable; make their own movies!

      In the following 10 years, we’ve seen the ‘guerilla filmmaker’ movement evolve into the current’independent filmmaker’ movement. But with Hollywood having taken over the moniker of ‘Independent Film’ (c’mon, how the hellare Mel Gibson or Robert Redford ‘Independent’?) by calling financed films independent and with the rising costs of once affordable production gear, is the Digital Revolution dying or is it dead?

    • #172944


      well first, I think the cost of equipment is going down not up —

      2nd, you can give anyone the same tools as a master carpenter but does that make them a master carpenter? They are the same tools, but the outcome is very different

      Hollywood still has lots that the average public stil dont have — #1 MONEY. #2 STARPOWER

      doesnt matter if you can make the best movie, someones got to promote it, advertising, getting it in front of the mainstream

      3rd over the years, film producers used film. it was physically cut and patched back together. this was the norm for like 50 years and some editors became masters at it.

      now, you’ve got DV Software updates coming out every few months and noone can keep up so its much harder to become masterful at the craft when the bar is constantly being raised — again the only way to combat that is throw money at it. hire the programmers and feild of editors necessary to get through the masses of footage that are used in the making of a feature film and pump them out.

      you really need a machine – machine made up by a team of talented individuals – not only from a technical standpoint but marketing as well, PR etc, its all encompassing.

      I wouldn’t worry about June Cleaver and her handy cam just yet ;~)

      Im just holding off on hardware updates till everything goes solid state – enough of these spinning disks already ;~)

      best, Phil

    • #172945

      Actually, gear is going up. There was a period between 2002 and 07 where the major prosumer rigs (now considered pro) prices held around $3-$5k. Now you will be hard pressed to find the same range of cameras for less than $4.5k and upwards to $8k. Not worried about ‘June’ either, but for these ‘fashionably filthy’ filmmaker wannabe’s (as illustrated in the mac commercials) coming out of college and filmschool those are astronomical prices. Not to mention, a laptop or desktop (mac or pc) with the minimum capacity to do movies run in excess of $3k for a pre-built system. That’s without software. On top of all of that, then there’s all the support gear and software to go with it. All that stuff adds up to a significant investment and is a major wet blanket on the whole, ‘hey gang let’s make a movie!’

      You are right, you do need a machine to get films from the idea stage and into the hands of a prospective audience. I’ve found that the biggest expense of filmmaking is marketing. To grow a film’s profile high enough to get attention takes money and time. Word of mouth has changed with the advent of social networking sites, but budding filmmakers are still going to have to toss buckets of cash if they want to get into film festivals these days (good luck with that BTW.) Much as I love producing, marketing is the most boring and agonizing portion of filmmaking. When you get opportunities to promote your film, that’s cool. All the marketing horsehockey behind the scenes just to get there is a major pain.

      Far as the ‘revolution’ goes, I believe it’s over but evolving into something else. The reason I think it’s over is because of what you accurately stated, “Hollywood’s MONEY and STARPOWER”. Now since hollywood has ‘Bogarted’ the independent film scene, audiences expect everything to look exactly like what hollywood makes. That’s a killer prospect when it comes to getting distribution. Most distributors figure, ‘no stars’ = ‘no money’ = ‘no deal’. Which is lame (anyone remember ‘Blair Witch Project’?) Fortunately, the internet is finally starting to live up to it’s promise and now there are ‘independent’ distributors popping up like mushrooms. We’ll see how long that lasts before hollywood and the other big corp’s let that ride.

    • #172946

      I’m thinking the time is coming when Hollywood’s money and starpower are gonna die like everything else.

      I have a dream that someday, my friends and family are not going to have to put up with the porn, immorality, violence and bad language Hollywood puts out. Or put up with the bad magazines in the checkout aisles at Walmart. I think Youtube, Vimeo, Google Video and the rest are only going to get better, but there might be something new that comes along.

      People really don’t care too much about video and audio quality, especially not as much as we video makers think they shouldor do. Why are the badly made movies on youtube so popular, or the cell phone movie that your friend Joe Green put on his Facebook page?

      As I read in a book, Welcome to the 4th screen.

      The first screen was cinema/movies. The main thing is the Story. The second screen was TV. The main thing is Character. The 3rd screen was the Computer/Internet. The main thingis Distribution. The 4th screen is the cell phone/handheld palm pilot, etc. The main thing seems to be Personalization. A few years from now, a 5th screen might be on the rise. I don’t know what it is, but we need to be ready. A lot of software seem to be supporting 3GP format which I think is cell phone video. If people can make movies with their cell phones that get a lot of hits on Youtube, Hollywood needs to watch out.

    • #172947

      I hate to tell you Chris, but folks are already making films via cellphone technology. So far it’s mad crappy, but sooner or later someone with some skills will whip out something memorable.

      You’re dead on with ‘the screen changing’. When I first started in this biz, I was all about film. That was until I tried to do the work on my own and saw how much it cost to do! In my job, I could run through thousands of feet of footage no prob (’cause I didn’t have to pay for it!) When the transition to video came I was onboard and again, because of my work I could run through broadcast quality tape with no prob (still wasn’t paying.) But then, the ‘revolution’ came and you could shoot quality stuff on hi-8 (Pro Hi-8 was awesome and cheap!) Then, MiniDV hit and it was on! Even pro grade tape was cheap! Now, solid state is the new wave and a good one (but it aint cheap!) And now the company’s making cameras are forcing everyone to go solid state and removing the option of tape.

      So now we’re at the same place film weenies were when digital was supplanting film only now it’s tape weenies whining. Truthfully, I don’t mind the process of capturing footage. It’s reminicient of oldschool A ‘n B-roll editing by which you had to ‘eyeball’ the footage to see what was good footage and what wasn’t. That and it’s a nice rite of passage for a budding filmmaker to have to do some ‘dirty work’ on their way to becoming an experienced pro. Yeah, it is nice though being able to get the shot, look at it immediately and then just do a data dump into a bin on the NLE. The change is fine I guess, I just like having options (if you can fork over the cash, you can still shoot film.)

      Personally, I love the porn, immorality, violence and bad language hollywood puts out. Just long as it’s presence is an integral story device. If you’re telling a crime story concerning reprehensible characters, please write them as such in context to the story. That was what drew me to becoming a filmmaker during the intial years of the revolution. With a solid script and some resolve, effort and resources you could make ‘your film’ the way you saw fit. That’s getting much tougher with gear prices rising and an economy currently ‘circling the drain’. Looks like all filmmakers pros and wannabes are headed for a few rounds of ‘survival of the fittest.’

    • #172948

      IMHO it doesn’t really matter.

      I remember some 15 years ago, give or take, I so desperately wanted quality equipment to videotape, edit and produce quality audio and visuals. I remember settling for VHS, then early Panasonic consumer S-Video models, then finding the funds (desperately going into hock anyway I could) to obtain a pair of AG-450s, then AG-456s, thinking THAT might help the audio/visual quality (not the creative, the image and sound). Nada, not really. Then finding the funds (desperately going into hock anyway I could – DID I WRITE THAT ALREADY?) to get funky Videonics editing system, then some AG-1960 decks, then an A-B roll edit system, then a computer controlled A-B roll system, then a pair of Canon XL1 digitals, then the Amiga Toaster/Flyer, then Mac & FCP…

      …what I’m saying is the stuff I REALLY wanted, the big “professional” Sony cameras, decks and editing equipment, (not to mention professional film equipment) called for an investment point starting at $100K and up. For me it was incomprehensible that I’d EVER have access to the resources/money needed to invest in THAT kind of equipment. Over time, however, today the technology is relatively affordable, though it might be getting MORE expensive again. Expensive compared to WHAT?

      Well, compared to what it would have cost me 15 or so years ago to get the equivalency of today’s production quality systems and software, today’s production tools are overwhelmingly affordable. Sure, you can’t go into WalMart and purchase top of the line, front-runner, technology for few hundred dollars, but if you use your determination, skills and knowedge, you education, your contacts, your resources, your noodle…

      …you can find a way to obtain the tools you need to be a producer/editor, and know that the tools you do invest in will help you deliver quality higher than what you could have afforded not so long ago.

      I read constantly about the breakthroughs people accomplish in production, in independent releases, in getting eyeballs, in selling their idea/film/video/creative talent, achieving distribution, finding alternate ways to succeed. I am even enjoying some of the fruits of the possibilities that exist myself.

      So, whether the digital revolution is dead or dying is actually not relevant to me. I can achieve something for myself, deliver on SOME of my dreams, even at my age, with the bounty of affordable tools and resources available to me. Nobody ever said it would be easy, but you’d have a tough time convincing some of us among this production uptick that it’s all THAT tough. Or that the revolution is no mas.

      There’s SOME kind of revolution going on, digital or not.

    • #172949

      Some good points and some problems.

      First, Chris: like composite1 said, tou are totally right about the “scren changing.”

      Second, composite1: While I am not at all surprised, I am always disappointed when people condone evil in light of its “context”:

      “Personally, I love the porn, immorality, violence and bad language hollywood puts out. Just long as it’s presence is an integral story device. If you’re telling a crime story concerning reprehensible characters, please write them as such in context to the story.”

      This would make it acceptable to graphically represent anything and everythingfrom pedophilia to bestiality as long as it was “an integral story device.” Unfortunately, it is this kind of reasoning that is leading to the moral collapse of this country. The kind of portrayals that you “love”are some of the leading causes of the corruption of today’s youth and adults alike.

      It would be nice to see the rise of “independant filmmaking” be used as a tool for what’s right; not another method of propagating immorality.


    • #172950

      Opinions are one thing, censorship would be another. Like anything else “available” to humankind, if you don’t like it or approve, you don’t have to watch, read or hear it.

      According to the Bible Jesus was tempted by the devil and didn’t succumb. Seems people have the right to decide for themselves whether they personally want to partake of these temptations, or not partake.

      So far nobody forces us to do illegal, improper or immoral things. I agree that a LOT of people do not HAVE to be forced to partake, but we all will eventually learn that choices have consequences. Until then, live and let live.

      I do not agree with ANYONE who would impose their beliefs, censorship, ethnic or personal values on me, nor do I expect to have sway over yours. I am not answering for C1. I am answering for myself because the primary thing I have against a LOT of “people of faith, or morality types” is their willingness to judge others, but lack of ability to comprehend that freedom (be it religion, politics, opinion, etc.) goes both ways.

      Moral “high ground” can prove a precarious perch.

    • #172951

      We are seeing all types of good new media hitting the Internet from tutorials to full episodes of new shows, some even jumping over to television. I think the next big star could be the guy down the street shooting a sci fi thriller in his garage.

      As it is now people are just as likely to sit down in front of their computer and watch a show as they are to watch television. So I’d say the revolution is ongoing and will probably split at some point where the utubers and sloppy stuff will fall away and the good stuff will shine.

      I see UTube and such as a fad that will probably die in a few years. As more technology is available and people can acheive more with it, it will no longer be cool to just dump video on the net. Utube type videos will end up with just friends watching each others daily video. It will not even be in the same place as the good stuff. Venues will surface as they are today that will feature the good stuff. The trash will self destruct on its own.

      People are already growing tired of the crap on the net and its becoming eaiser to make better stuff. The “cool” factor will become how good can you make it rather than how fast can you make it. There will be more incentive to think before you press record and make something entertaining or informative, not just another video of your cat. People don’t want to be “that guy” that makes stupid videos. I think there already is a push to learn how to make better video by those who want to take the time to do it.

      Is there a revolution? Yes, and it’s marching toward better stuff. πŸ™‚


    • #172952

      “today the technology is relatively affordable, though it might be getting MORE expensive again. Expensive compared to WHAT?”

      As always it’s nice to read your comments Earl,

      You are correct in that prices for gear are relatively affordable. However, I’ve noticed with the change from tape based cameras to solid state not only are the camera prices rising, the blank media prices have risen exponentially. At least when Panasonic came out with the P2 card cameras, they left you the option of using inexpensive tape ($4.50 – $9 MiniDV or HDV) vice the $2k you would spend for the initial 8GB card. Though solid state cameras are using far less expensive flash memory cards, but most of those cards start at $150 for 8GB! Yes, that’s much less than the current price of a 16GB P2 card, but that adds up when you figure how many you’ll need on a shoot. You’re also correct in that people make breakthroughs and ‘deliver on their dreams’. I myself faced a similar and daunting problem when I ventured out on my own into this business (tons of experience, no connections, very little money and no resources.) Still though, I slogged it out and put together enough work on my own to get a sponsorship that paved the way for me to make my first feature film. After that, it was all me despite no change in circumstances. What made the difference form me was I was doing this as the revolution was well underway and the fact that you could build a whole studio for less than what one broadcast or one hollywood studio camera cost. The digital revolution is what made it possible for most of us participating in these posts to do what we do. My concern is for the ‘newbies’ coming into the biz. With the economy undergoing it’s sisemic shift and gear manufacturers taking away inexpensive options, how much tougher will it be for them to ‘deliver on their dreams?’

      “While I am not at all surprised, I am always disappointed when people condone evil in light of its “context”

      I am sorry you feel disappointment Film814, but I don’t need any ‘defense’ for my view on this topic. Earl is correct about his thoughts on censorship so I won’t elaborate on them. However as an artist it is my responsibility to tell a story in context. If said context takes the audience into ‘a place of evil’, I’ll make my best efforts to do so within the context of the story. I don’t believe in violence, nudity, foul language and so on just to have it in there. Audiences (despite what hollywood thinks) are pretty smart and can easily tell when you’re throwing in something as a gimmick. Movie making is just like painting or creating music. The brushstrokes or notes when placed in context of the piece will make it memorable, whereas gimmicks are forgettable. Far as ‘Evil’ is concerned, my years in service and working with law enforcement has exposed me to the worst and best of the human condition and character. To not tell those stories in context ‘is evil’. You mentioned pedophilia being portrayed being taboo, but you forget the film ‘Lolita’ in both it’s incarnations. The 1960’s version was watered down by censorship to the point of making it ‘titilating’. The 2000’s version ‘went there’ and showed irrefutably how such a situation is reprehensible and must be guarded against. Also, why must people continue to insist that our films and television have caused ‘moral decay’ in this country? To borrow Earl’s line, ‘decay from what?’ I don’t think the movie ‘Wall Street’ inspired the current situation we now face. I do agree that there has been a breakdown of traditional family in the last 40 years, but the movies didn’t do that. All films do is reflect the times.

      Lastly, I agree with you Aspy in that YouTube is a mega-pain. Yet, I don’t see it going away. The great benefit/side effect of the digital revolution has been the ‘democratization’ of media creation. We pros complain (and rightfully so) about the ‘crap’ that gets put on the ‘Tube’, but that’s based upon our training, experience and critical eye. YouTube is the electronic version of the ‘Polaroid’ or ‘happy snap’ disposable camera. The attitude then and now is; all you need to make movies is have a camera and an internet connection. Unfortunately, people have accepted this and now as Chris mentioned ‘we have a new screen’ crap and all. I do hope you are correct that the revolution still lives and ‘it’s marching toward better stuff. I figure I’ll need to ‘pull my wader’s up higher’ in order to get to it.

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