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Digital Technology & Its Impact on Filmmaking

by Rachel Levy SarfinUpdated September 22, 2017

Digital technology has changed the way we view films. New digital cameras capture sharper, clearer footage, and the technology has made special effects increasingly impressive. Digital technology has also become cheaper and more accessible.

History

The second half of the 20th century marked the advent of digital technology in film making. "Star Wars" was the first of its kind to use computer generated special effects. Disney's "Tron" in 1982 was the first movie to use high resolution imagery. Seven years later, director James Cameron used computer generated images (CGI) in his live action film "The Abyss." Ten years later, every scene in George Lucas' "The Phantom Menace" included CGI.

Image and Sound Quality

Digital cameras increase image resolution which created higher quality pictures. Footage filmed with a digital camera is also easier to edit. Unlike analog film, it does not lose any signals during the editing process. Digitally recorded sound also has a higher quality than analog-recorded audio. The resolution is higher, and the sound quality does not deteriorate.

Special Effects

In the early days of film making, special effects were achieved through camera tricks. Those effects looked amateurish, and sometimes proved to be more humorous than convincing. Digital technology can create dazzling special effects that appear realistic and natural, and engineers use computers to insert them into the films.

Impact on Plot

The advances in special effects have impacted how movies are made. However, some people argue that as special effects get better, movie plots become worse. Critics claim that directors exploit digital technology so much that they ignore a weak plot. The result is a technically spectacular movie with a insubstantial story.

The Democratization of Filmmaking

Digital technology has made the art of film making more accessible. Decent quality digital camcorders are available to anyone, and editing programs can be accessed on a home computer. Websites such as You Tube provide global exposure for budding filmmakers. Films that would not have been before digital technology can now be seen all over the world.

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