By Craig Singleton (Wigan, England)
side-by-side

 

This documentary is one of the most intriguing stories as a film fanatic, I’ve ever watched. Directed by Christopher Kenneally, it shows that after more than a hundred years of films being shot on celluloid, digital film-making has begun to surface. The film examines the birth of the digital age and perhaps the demise of the film age. Presented and narrated by actor Keanu Reeves over the course of around two years, he talks to quite a few big names in Hollywood such as James Cameron, David Lynch, Christopher Nolan and Robert Rodriguez.

Film was created in the late 19th century and has entertained people from all over the world, but things in the last fifteen years have changed. A lot of film-makers today are choosing to shoot their films using digital cameras. The reason is mainly that it is cheaper than shooting with film and has a few advantages such as you can shoot continuously without stopping and can create a different look with regards to colors and effects.

Keanu Reeves has a great influence in this film as it affects himself as an actor. Having been on film sets for a long time, the last few films he’s been involved with have used digital and he became fascinated with what this would mean for the future of film. He presents to the viewer as if it was an educational video so people can learn about how film is shot and what goes into creating the pictures from the director, to the cinematographer, editor and much more. The pacing is incredible as his voice-overs are straight to the point, informative and mentally absorbing. He doesn’t necessarily give his opinion on which is better in the debate of what the film is mainly about, he lets the film-makers give their views on the subject.

In an even match for displaying the pros and cons of both film and digital, I myself think both are superior and inferior to each other in different ways. Film visually looks a lot better as they have a higher resolution and higher dynamic range. Digital however, can make night scenes shot outside look more realistic and can show the color tints the sky has. This is talked about in the film regarding the film Collateral. Also it allows more time and freedom to the cast and crew with the camera’s memory chip having space for hours of shooting.

Each director use what they believe is best to shoot with. Christopher Nolan believes that digital doesn’t have nowhere near the picture quality as film so believes that the industry is going backwards. Robert Rodriguez doesn’t dispute this, but could use digital to create his film Sin City that wasn’t possible to make on film. It has a very rich look with it green-screened, the environments are created by a computer and the colors are manipulated to make the blacks more black and different colors being selected to appear at different times throughout the film such as red for blood.

The film makes you believe that film is on the way out, but even though it has decreased in use recently, I believe that it will still live on. A lot of manufacturers have stopped making film cameras, however Kodak, one of the first companies in film distribution is still continuing on so that celluloid can still exist. Hopefully both art forms can co-exist so that film-makers can have a choice.

Although there are a few errors in the film like which film was shot on what camera, it is a very insightful watch that sheds light on the different roles people have in creating the films people love. You not only see the directors and actors, you get to see the editing studios and digital color artists at work which did nothing but increase my love for cinema.

My score for the film is 95%. Lowest mark for soundtrack, highest for writing/story. One of my favorite documentaries, highlighting that technology always changes. It could be good, could be bad, but this film can help people create their own opinion on the information that is given to them. It could have had a duration of three hours and I still would want more.

 

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