Do you think technology has eroded the craft of film storytelling (is spectacle more important than a solid narrative)?
My short answer is no, but with a caveat or two. Technology is continually evolving, and the big film producers have the capital to not only use the latest technology, but also to adapt technology so that they can use it (underwater cameras in Titanic), or create their own (Vitaphone sound and Technicolour from the early days of film, to the development of compact 3D cameras). The hunger for something new and never-ending satisfaction of filmmakers and viewers make the narrative world go round. Technology is changing and growing daily, and movie makers need to keep up. If technology can be used to enhance storytelling, it should be used. New technologies are part of the movie hype – movies such as Avatar use the new technology as part of their marketing campaign, while Gravity downplayed their technology to make the story feel more real.
Some technology has become a minimum requirement. Films are recorded digitally. This allows for much more detailed editing, and makes distribution and storage more convenient. Editing is done on computer, as are animated films. Computers and films have become so intertwined that computer games have spawned a number of full length movies (Warcraft, Tomb Raider, Resident Evil, Hitman, to name a few).
There has been a backlash from viewers regarding unnecessary use of CGI. In the movie John Wick they spent thousands creating some CGI dog poop that only featured for a second or two. While CGI is commonly used in films, some directors are still using older technologies to get the same effects. The movie Need for Speed with Director Scott Waugh used no computer graphics at all. Instead they relied on old fashioned filming with creative camera angles and the destruction of some very expensive cars to get the same effect.
My caveat is this – special effects and technology should only be used to further the plot of the film, not just for WOW factor. Poor CGI or bad special effects will definitely erode the quality of your viewing experience.
‘’When you go to the movies, and you go sit in that seat, you are asking someone to take you somewhere, and probably somewhere you can’t go by yourself’’ – Dr Cady Coleman, NASA astronaut and consultant on Gravity
As a summary; by all means special effects should continue to advance, but by no means should the effects be a distraction from the art of story-telling.
As a filmmaker, how would you use technologies to immerse your audience? Are they considered older or more recent technologies?
It depends on the story. You can tell a story quite simply by not using any CGI or special effects. To do that, you can use special editing techniques, camera equipment, creative camera angles etc. You don’t have to use the newest technology to tell a story.
I use digital media (digital cameras, computer editing) to record and edit movies instead of traditional film. Having grown up in the digital age, I am comfortable with technology. In addition, using film has now become much more difficult. Film processing laboratories have all but ceased to exist, and there are few companies actually still producing film. Film cameras are no longer made. Older, used cameras are available cheaply, but servicing and spares have become impossible to source. Some technology we can choose to use – some technology is non-negotiable.