The Persistence of National Visions, Ebeltoft, Denmark, 2000 ...
Training for the Next Century<br />The Ebeltoft Congress<br />September 1-8, 1997<br />The European Film College<br />Ebeltoft, Denmark<br />CONFERENCE PRESENTATIONS<br />edited by Henry Breitrose<br />CILECT, 8 rue Thérésienne, 1000 Brussels, Belgium<br />CONTENTSFrom the EditorHenry Breitrose………………………………………………………………………………….….3From the Conference OrganizerSharon Springel………………………………………………………………………………….…4Keynote Address Sir David Puttnam……………………………………………………………………………….…6The Digitization of Conventional Production A.J. (Mitch) Mitchell………………………………………………………………………….…….14The Evolving ProcessWalter Murch……………………………………………………………………………………….21Emerging Digital Culture In Audiovisual Production: A Case Study Of The Media Program Of Universite du Quebec a MontrealPhilippe Menard………………………………………………………………………………….…34New and Hybrid Forms of Drama - 1Chris Hales………………………………………………………………………………………….38New and Hybrid Forms of Drama - 2Uncharted Interactive Cinema: Simulation, Power, and Language Games Hilary Kapan…………………………………………………………………………………….….41New and Hybrid Forms of DocumentaryMichael Murtaugh…………………………………………………………………………….…….47Some Short Notes on Developing a Digital CurriculumJohn Collette ……………………………………………………………………………………….51Project Report: Curricular Consequences of the Digital DomainRod Bishop………………………………………………………………………………………….59The Teaching of “New Media” in a School of Film and Television Robert Rosen……………………………………………………………………………………..64<br />From the Editor<br />Henry Breitrose<br />CILECT Vice-President for Research and Publications<br />In early September of 1997, 110 delegates from 70 member schools met at the European Film College in Ebeltoft, Denmark for CILECT’s Biennial Congress. The centerpiece of the congress was an international conference, “Training for the Next Century” that brought specialists from industry and film and television training institutions together to discuss the nature and future of digital technologies in film and television, and the ramifications for teaching.<br />This document presents edited versions of the lectures that were presented at the Ebeltoft conference. CILECT, being concerned with film and television, and the presenters, most of whom were deeply involved in various aspects of digital technologies, are fundamentally audio-visual, and the written word is inadequate to present the conference with any degree of adequacy. Most of the presentations were relatively informal, sometimes interacting with the audience, and they were usually richly illustrated with moving images and sounds. Speakers typically worked from notes, or when there was a fully prepared text they felt free to revise their remarks as required. This presented certain challenges to the editor, who worked from transcripts of audiotape recordings of the conference proceedings. <br />Professional translators frequently differentiate between “translation” which is about the conversion of words from one language to another and “interpretation” which transcends translation and attempts the conversion of meaning from one language to another. In some cases I’ve tried a cross-medium interpretation, attempting to convert the multi-sensory and multi-media presentations of the conference speakers to the single medium of text on paper, while preserving the meaning. No one is more aware of the impossibility of the task than I, and I offer the speakers and the readers apologies for all that was inevitably lost in the translation. There was one presentation which consisted wholly of audio-visual presentations of digital special effects with explanatory comments, and this was not included in the conference report. As we used to say in my home town of Brooklyn, “ya’ really shudd’a been there yourself.”<br />The procedure that was followed consisted of initial transcription of the audiocassettes by students at Loyola-Marymount University, working under the direction of CILECT Vice-president for Finance Don Zirpola, editing of the texts by me, and submission of the edited texts to the speakers. Most of the speakers returned the edited texts and their revisions were included in the final texts that appear here. <br />The Executive Board of CILECT acknowledges our gratitude to the administration and staff of the European Film College in Ebeltoft, Denmark for their assistance, patience, and unfailing good humor.<br />From the Conference Organizer<br />Sharon Springel<br />Chair, Conference Project<br />The title of this conference is “Training for the Next Century”, but it could just as easily be “How are digital and communications technologies impacting the moving images industry and what ought we be doing about it”. Like it or not, these technologies are affecting our art and industries in profound and irreversible ways, which should come as no surprise to anyone.<br />The only surprise is how long it has taken for the fundamentals of moving image production, which have remained essentially the same for more than seventy years now, to have undergone any significant change. Film technology has been extraordinarily stable. The basic mechanism of the motion picture camera and the broad outlines of film today’s photochemistry would be recognizable to any film maker of fifty years ago. Even in the case of video, despite the change from chemistry to electronics, the final product is much the same. <br />The one significant area of change has been broadcast television, which has had a profound effect on society. But has it had an equally profound effect on the approach to training within CILECT member schools, or do most treat it as simply another delivery mechanism for essentially the same sorts of product?<br />We are now on the verge of a new wave of technology, one which will arguably have an even more important impact on the ways in which audiences receive, and indeed interact with moving image media. This is of course being driven by the rapid developments in digital and communications technology, the pace of which is astonishing even by the standards of the late 20th century. ‘Moore’s Law’, a commonly quoted predictor of change proposed by semiconductor pioneer Gordon Moore, states that computational power increases by up to 100% every 18 months, with network technologies roughly keeping pace, and real costs remaining constant. What this means is that our graduates now face a rapidly changing world, brimming with many new and evolving audio-visual possibilities. <br />The relationship of the audience to the image is also set to change dramatically by the introduction of choice through interaction. This opens a future which may well include active participation with the material, as Michael Murtaugh, one of the speakers whom you will be hearing from later on puts it, “a co-construction of meaning” in which the audience member actively participates in determining the sense of what is on the screen, and ultimately, even to a form of drama based on the audience member becoming an actual protagonist in the story, rather than someone who passively identifies.<br />The configuration of the audience is also changing, from the current model of ‘one to many’ (through either a large cinema audience or to an even larger home television audience), to a ‘many to many’ model based on the vast expansion of internet enabled audio-visual programme possibilities, (including the emergence of individual publisher/broadcasters).<br />Within this chaos of change there is both an intoxicatingly rich array of possibilities, as well as an ever-increasing confusion of meaningless rubbish. That is the nature of art. As ever, the success or failure of any piece will be based on the quality of the fundamental idea at its heart and the artistry with which that idea realized. In a very real sense, the core skills taught by CILECT member schools are now more important than ever in infusing meaning into this maelstrom of raw technological potential. Character, dramaturgy, basic visual grammar are the fundamental qualities that these new possibilities are crying out for. <br />The conference programme which we have prepared will explore these subjects in two stages; firstly through an examination of how conventional forms of film and television are being effected by the impact of digital tools from fundamental non-linear approaches to programme construction, through to the future implications of synthetic character and virtual set technologies. The second part of the programme will progress into an examination of the new forms of audio-visual languages which are emerging, and how basic forms of both drama and documentary are beginning to evolve as a result. It is our hope that you the membership will find these explorations to be thought provoking and, most importantly, that they will stimulate a constructive dialogue through which CILECT can begin to ready itself for the challenges of the 21st century, the interactive media century.<br />Keynote Address <br />Sir David Puttnam <br />David Puttnam is Chairman of Enigma Productions and has been an independent film producer since 1971. He was Chairman and Chief executive of Columbia Pictures between 1986-1988. He was a Founding Member of the European Film Academy in 1989, and the Club of European Producers in 1993. In 1995 he was awarded a knighthood for his services to the British film industry. He was also honored in France by appointment as Officier de l’ordre des Arts et des Lettres..<br />We're here over the next few days to discuss developments affecting the future of the moving image. But I'd like to begin by casting to the past, indeed right back to the very origins of cinema.<br />When one of the medium's founding fathers Louis Lumiere hired Felix Mesguich as a cameraman he warned him; "
You know, Mesguich, we're not offering a job with much in the way of prospects, it's more of a fairground job; it may last six months, a year, perhaps more, perhaps less."
<br />As it turned out, Lumiere was fairly accurate about Mesguich's job prospects but spectacularly wrong about cinema itself. It's worth remembering men like Denmark's Ole Olsen, who created the film giant Nordisk and helped turn cinema into a truly international form of entertainment. But even he surely would have been surprised to know that the 'fairground' job has, one hundred years later become one of the most influential industries in the world. What's really paradoxical is that despite all the<br />evidence around us, I still sense that we haven't quite got our heads around the extraordinary significance of our medium.<br />We boldly proclaim to just about anyone who will listen that we are standing at the threshold of a multimedia age in which the moving image will unquestionably become the world's dominant form of communication, entertainment and education. <br />But I suspect that many of us aren't entirely sure what that might come to mean and some of us may even have a sneaking suspicion that it doesn't mean anything very much at all! There is still an uneasy feeling that a great deal of information technology may prove to be, in its own way, just another fairground attraction lots of bright lights and promises but, in the long run, not all that much substance. Well, this evening I'd like to look beyond the hype and the bright lights and unpack some of the opportunities which are likely to be opened up by these developments in the world of the moving image.<br />As the distinctions between film, television, video, telecommunications and computer software evaporate in the face of the digital revolution, whole new industries are being created. Forty years ago the symbols of national wealth and progress in Northern Europe were things like steel and shipbuilding, or companies producing exportable consumer goods.<br />Now, the rising and dominant corporate symbols of success are, almost without exception, related to information: media companies, telco’s, entertainment companies, software houses. The initial convergence between the film industry and the interests of telephone and electrical giants that occurred in the 1920s when the Warner Brothers screened their first talkies, finds itself being repeated, but this time on an infinitely bigger scale. The dominance of the written word as our primary means of interpreting the world around us is giving way to a more diffuse, visual culture whose final shape is, as yet, impossible to accurately foresee.<br />If you're still not convinced, just take a look at some of the predictions about growth in our sector: The European Commission predicts that its audiovisual sector will grow by some 70% in the ten years from 19952005, and that this will be complemented by a 55% growth in the income earned by producers.<br />What Is clear is that as money and commodities are able to move around the globe with ever greater ease, the distinguishing characteristic of any nation or community today lies in the quality of its intellectual property; in other words, the ability of its people to use information and intelligence creatively, to add substance and value to global economic activity, rather than just quantity. We are on the threshold of what has come to be called the Information Society. As Professor Charles Handy of the London Business School has succinctly put it, “Intelligence is the new form of property.” It's now commonplace to assert that the audiovisual industry is America's second greatest export. In fact, it would probably be more accurate to say that the number one position is now occupied by the "
intellectual property industry,” of which films, television programming and other audiovisual software represent a massive and still growing share.<br />All this new technology, particularly digital technology about which we'll be hearing a good deal over the next couple of days means that film and television are now simply two components, albeit extremely important components, of a much larger industry. Movies are part of a new industrial sector which as the European Commission's 1993 White Paper on jobs, Competitivity and Growth pointed out, has the potential to generate literally millions of highly skilled and highly productive jobs.<br />With more than 18 million Europeans out of work, that is a dimension which cannot politically, socially, culturally or economically be ignored. All of us in this room are part of an industry that has the potential in some cases already realised to deliver an astonishing and rapidly multiplying range of services which includes banking, retailing, news, leisure services, public information and, crucially in my view, high quality education and training.<br />Of course, such innovations have marked the whole history of the moving image. Some of them have changed the very nature of filmmaking and some have disappeared without trace: 3D, Cinerama, circlorama and a host of other revolutionary innovations are all, apparently, as dead as the brontosaurus. Some have even been seen as terminal threats to filmmaking. <br />Here's what Charlie Chaplin had to say about his first visit to a sound stage in the 1920s: "
Men dressed like warriors from Mars, sat with earphones while the actors performed with microphones hovering over them like fishing rods. It was all very complicated and depressing. How could anyone be creative with all that junk around them?"
<br />From a distance, this multimedia revolution may look like just another process of technological change but we do well to remind ourselves that however it may seem, the technology is simply what makes the revolution possible. It is not the revolution itself. As the seminal report produced for the European Commission by Martin Bangemann put it, the “Information Society"
is about new ways of "
living and working together."
It is not, fundamentally, about new ways of transmitting or storing information. And unless we are start thinking actively and continuously about those issues of social change we are likely to be idly seduced into the belief that the technology is the driving force. Worse than that, we may allow technology to become the driving force without any clear idea of where it may be taking us.<br />This obsession with technology for its own sake recalls an observation I came across recently when someone asked "
Will computers make films one day?"
came the reply. "
And other computers will go to see them."
<br />Once again the early history of cinema offers some instructive lessons as to what happens if you allow technology to become the driving force pulling everything behind it. Earlier this year I completed a book about the history of cinema, and for me, looking at those early days was a real eye opener. Almost from the very start many of those responsible for helping to create our industry failed to fully capitalise on the immense economic potential offered by the medium they had created, preoccupied as they were with technology. For instance, the famous screening held in Paris by the Lumiere Brothers in December 1895 attended by just 35 people! is now universally hailed as the official birth of cinema as public spectacle. But what's possibly less well known is that the Lumiere Brothers themselves didn't even bother to show up. They were too busy with their photographic research.<br />Even a few days after that screening, with crowds queuing around the block to see his new invention, Louis Lumiere, effectively the father of cinema, confidently (if ruefully!) proclaimed "
The cinema is an invention without any commercial future. For years<br />he continued to cling to the belief that cinema was, for the most part, a scientific curiosity, at best a minor branch of photography.<br />In Europe, much of the development of cinema was left largely in the hands of scientists, inventors and magicians. In those early days, cinema was principally seen either as a scientific tool or a device for producing mind-boggling visual tricks the forerunner of today's special effects movies. In fact, it took quite a long time for cinema to realise its potential as a wholly distinct form of art and entertainment. Not for the first time, it was the public that provided the answer. They soon grew tired of socalled novelty films, of the seemingly endless stream of dancing beam, boxing kangaroos and exploding policeman that passed for entertainment. They wanted stories bigger and better stories. That's something we'd do well to ponder over the next day or two and I know it's one of the issues that Henning Camre and others have been preoccupied with in planning for this conference.<br />But the truly remarkable thing about the growth in the field of moving images is not that entertainment has simply become one element among many but that it is fast becoming the driving force for the whole information society, top to bottom be it education, marketing, or even, to the disquiet of many, the news. In fact, in my view the new hybrid, multimedia sectors contain a potential for growth which already makes them far more important, and in my view even more interesting than the traditional feature film industry, certainly as most of have known it.<br />What all of this means is that the skills and techniques of the entertainment industry the stories, the music, the characters, the special effects are now essential components for success in every one of these fast multiplying new services. It's become almost a truism to acknowledge that what matters in this "
is not the hardware but the software, and this software is as dependent as ever on the abilities of writers, designers, actors, musicians, artists, cinematographers, animators and a host of other creative professionals.<br />As Terry Semel, the Chairman of Warner Bros. has succinctly put it: "
When we consider the future of our industry as a whole there is only thing of which we can be absolutely sure he who controls the software, controls the future.'! <br />However, it would be overly complacent to believe that creativity and control are necessarily synonymous; in many cases, those who create the software will not be those who end up distributing it.<br />But to me the most significant development in the Information Society is the increasing convergence between entertainment and education. When resources that have traditionally been associated with the best in entertainment are applied to education and training, genuinely surprising results begin to flow. Anyone who has tried to learn a foreign language will know that to be able to see and hear people speak with the help of an imaginatively constructed piece of software is a lot more effective than sitting alone with a textbook.<br />The educational potential of the medium has long been recognised-even it not realised. In case that sounds like an overconvenient claim, let me give you a couple of examples. In the early days of cinema, Thomas Edison predicted its primary and most valuable use would be as an educational tool. As he put it "
It may seem curious, but the money end of the movies never hit me the hardest. The feature that did appeal to me about the whole thing was the educational some glowing dreams about what the camera could be made to do and ought to do in teaching the world things it needed to know teaching it in a more vivid, direct way."
<br />The way in which CDROMs, the Internet and other new media products are now being used in classrooms around the world suggests to me that Edison's vision is finally about to be fulfilled.<br />In the UK, the British Film Institute was originally created with the simple aim of encouraging teachers to realise the educational potential of film and thereby bring about closer cooperation between the UK's education system and the film industry. Now it seems that moving images are assuming an increasingly central role in educational systems around the world.<br />As information technology becomes more and more essential to the functioning of our education system, the need for software and support materials is going to grow at a prodigious rate. If we are ever to harness the multi-media revolution to the needs of our education systems we cannot afford the luxury of treating it as "
just another teaching aid.<br />We need to develop new approaches to learning and teaching which will be relevant to, and can flourish in, an age of interactive technology which gives ready access to ever greater quantities of information. Interactivity now offers the prospect of personally tailored teaching by means of online and offline services, to any student, at home as well as at school, however remote their geographical location, and however advanced or obscure their interest. The possibilities this creates to revolutionise learning, and teaching, are almost incalculable.<br />More than twenty years ago an early pioneer of virtual reality in the United States wrote that "
A display connected to a digital computer gives us a chance to gain familiarity with concepts not realisable in the physical world. It provides us with a looking glass into a mathematical wonderland."
<br />As a child at school, it never occurred to me for a moment that mathematics might be any kind of wonderland. To me, and I suspect most of my classmates, it was not much more than a confusing nightmare. To end that dismal situation schoolchildren would be of no small consequence to society.<br />Indeed, whether we like it or not, education is, in every respect, a fast-growing global business. Together with training it accounts for about 15 per cent of the European Union's total GDP. Not only does this proportion look certain to continue rising across the developed world, but bear in mind that the demand for education in the developing countries is also increasing at an exponential rate. The United Nations Development Agency estimates that over the next thirty years as many people will be seeking some kind of formal educational qualification as have done since the dawn of civilisation. If Europe's disparate education systems ever really decide to take on board the possibilities of audiovisual technology, they would, almost overnight, create the potential for a world lead in possibly the most valuable growth industry of all.<br />One senior Hollywood executive recently told me a couple of years ago that in his opinion the bestknown names and the highest earning stars of 2005 and 2010 would not be traditional movie stars at all, but a stilltoemerge generation of teachers and educational superstars who would dominate the world's TV channels, CDROM, cable, Internet and a myriad of other delivery platforms still yet to be born.<br />Looked at in this light, the balance of resources between the USA and the rest of the world is at least for the present, very unlike the imbalance that exists in the traditional entertainment movie business. Take the example I know best, Great Britain.<br />In the UK we are lucky enough to have some of the world's finest talent in television and film production, in educational publishing, in animation and even in the authoring of electronic games. We have a unique range of relevant institutions, including the BBC, the world's premier public service broadcasting organisation, and the Open University, probably the world's most experienced distance learning institution.<br />Perhaps most important of all, for the moment we enjoy cultural ownership of the language which much of that world uses and ever more want to learn, the language in which 80 per cent of all electronic information happens to be stored. As a senior computer companies executive recently put it, Britain truly has the potential to become the “Hollywood of Education”.<br />Unlike many other countries, particularly the United States, Britain has one of the most effectively 'rigged' education markets in the world. We have a sizeable national school system with a national curriculum, with policy driven from the centre so one would assume it would be relatively easy to implement a strategic plan to exploit our many natural advantages. <br />By contrast, in the United States education is largely organised on a states right basis, which means that the market remains highly fragmented and a centrally coordinated plan for bringing together information technology and education is for the time being that much harder to implement.<br />What's likely to happen if Britain and other nations around the world fail to grasp the opportunity that's there to be seized? If you accept that it was the enormous size of its domestic market that generated growth and uniquely benefited the US entertainment industry over the last 100 years, and if you accept that technologybased learning as a global reality is something of an inevitability, then we are left with a very simple choice: do we, most particularly in Europe, manufacture our own multimedia resources for education, training and retraining at all levels, or do we sit back, wait, and eventually import them from the US and the Pacific Rim? Are we going to be foolish enough to hand over this new, potentially massive business, with all of its likely cultural, let alone commercial, implications to the US in exactly the same way as we have handed over effective control of our movie industry?<br />It seems to me that thinking in these terms is justifiably sobering but not unreasonably alarmist, 1995 was the first year on record in which Britain ran a deficit on its international trade in learning materials; previously a significant source of export earnings.<br />But of course, the multimedia revolution raises a host of other issues which are already affecting the lives of millions of people across the world. Later this week I understand we'll be hearing something about the rich possibilities which are opening up for the world of moving images as a result of the Internet. Of course, this a subject which I can hardly avoid in a talk of this kind even if, for me, logging onto the Net seems immensely complicated. I'm not a natural techhead so believe me, I'm praying for it to become far easier to use!<br />There's absolutely no doubt at all that the Net Is changing the way that people view and receive information.. It's also beginning to beg colossal questions that need real and urgent answers at the moment it's like a child whose mind is still being formed.<br />Seriously important issues such as those in the complex field of international copyright are going to have to be resolved over the next few years. <br />If there's no accrued financial value for the creator in putting something on the Net, it's unlikely anyone will be able to afford the luxury of spending five years working on their next project. And, in the end, this is likely to stifle rather than encourage creativity. The irony is that the Net, a fantastic medium for the dissemination of information, could begin to close down knowledge unless there is an organised commercial respect for intellectual copyright. Obviously, all this needs to be worked out in a way that makes good long-term sense to both the user and the creator.<br />And while it may be worth running promos on the Net to advertise a movie, there's not a lot of point in putting the movie itself up there since there isn't as yet any reliable means of charging for the viewing.<br />But what's absolutely certain is that we won't be awe to grasp any of these opportunities unless we place training right at the heart of our approach to the new technologies. Indeed, without doubt the most striking paradox that now confronts our industry concerns the quality and quantity of our workforce. It can be summed up as "
too many and not enough"
too many technicians with skills and working practices which have been marginalised or simply by-passed by the pace of technological change; too few writers, directors and producers with a sound instinct for the needs of the marketplace.<br />In my view it is beyond question that the broader the talent base within the industry, the more costeffective and efficient it is likely to become - good training has as great an impact on costs as it has on quality and, of course, on the job satisfaction from training. We are already wrestling with the consequences of skills shortages in the digital and non-linear areas. This in turn carries with it all the dangers to creative freedom and risktaking that flow from spiralling wage inflation. Unless we in the industry think more sensibly about our future, and invest massively in training the present boom in will inevitably turn to bust.<br />I'd like now to return specifically to the cinema. Fifteen years ago cinema box office revenue accounted for more than 95% of total revenues generated by the industry world-wide. It's my belief that by 2010 some 95% of revenues will come from what used to be termed "
markets such as TV, video, satellite and cable. As the variety of delivery systems grows, so this socalled "
will rapidly become the dominant market. It would be foolish to believe that the film industry is destined to become simply subordinated to the dangling array of possibilities opened up by these new multimedia offerings.<br />Although cinema boxoffice is, in itself, of relatively declining commercial significance, the big screen remains the most desirable shopwindow for the movingimage industries as a whole. The best and most ambitious creative talents of the age both in front of the camera and behind it still see the cinema as the true focus of their energies, and, to that extent, they set he agenda for much of the overall communications business. In a very real sense, movies are a locomotive pulling much of the entertainment and multimedia industries in its wake. It's this that makes them crucially important.<br />Almost snce cinema began it has been dominated by the United States. Why? Because unlike their European counterparts, the early pioneers of the American film industry were not, by and large, filmmakers, but film exhibitors. They understood that their primary task was to fill their theatres and in consequence they developed a close and thoroughly healthy respect for their audience.<br />They took them seriously not by pandering to them but by careful observation and systematic research, by the efficient and imaginative exploitation of each new advance in relevant technology, by telling good stories, and for the most part telling them well, by attempting to challenge as well as please their audiences. These are lessons that we must learn to apply across the board if we are ever to have the chance of competing with the United States.<br />In 1957, Andre Bazin, one of the wisest and most perceptive them all, observed that:<br />"
The American cinema is a classical art. Why not then admire in it what is most admirable not only the talent of this or that filmmaker, but the genius of the entire system."
<br />It was the genius of the system that fed and sustained the strength of the Hollywood industry and has kept it the dominant force in our global industry for so long a system which has benefited from having a consistent commercial strategy, a system which has developed as an industry and a system that has paid attention to development, marketing and training as component that are every bit as essential as individual genius.<br />In the teeth of such organised and powerful determination, the rest of us must stop regarding ourselves as cultural treasures and start acknowledging our responsibility as a strategic industry.<br />To accept that argument requires that we seek out and discover that intangible quality of confidence. If we can develop sufficient confidence in our future, then we are that much more likely to summon up the necessary energy to re organise, retrain and re orientate ourselves. And the more we have the energy to do that. the more likely we are to recognise new opportunities, and grab them. The more we see and take the opportunities the more confidence we are likely to acquire and so on. We can, in this way, create something approaching a truly virtuous circle.<br />Another lesson we can learn from cinema concerns the vital importance of building effective distribution networks. Europe and many other park of the world have traditionally concentrated nearly all of their energies on one part of the film industry production and in doing so have largely ignored changes to those marketing, distribution and exhibition networks which could possibly have put more homeproduced films on our screens, and thus achieve higher levels of boxoffice popularity. We've allowed production, distribution to become fatally divorced. The result is a series of cottage industries instead of a modern fully integrated business. Now the task of creating effective marketing and distribution for our cinema products has become all the more urgent and all the more possible in the wake of the development of the new technologies which will undoubtedly create huge new markets.<br />The problem is that over time in a truly competitive sense we have crucially damaged our ability to fully exploit even the best our movies, simply because those of us in the industry outside the United States we have proved unable to deliver the right kind of product in sufficient volume, and on a consistent basis. The Americans, by contrast, have developed a marketing machine which is capable of successfully turning its hand to delivering just about any kind of entertainment.<br />As a producer, I can make the most thrilling or challenging movie imaginable, with the best crew and the most talented cast, but unless I have a well-thoughtout arrangement with an effective world-wide distribution resource, one which understands how to simultaneously market a film in different countries and when necessary to different audiences, I am, to a great extent, wasting my time.<br />In my view, it would be an act of madness to make the same mistake with the new media. In this environment, 'distribution' will come to mean less and less the physical distribution of film and videotape and will more and more become a question of disseminating electronic impulses in a myriad of interactive configurations through a variety of addressable cable and wireless systems And one thing is certain in whatever form these products do eventually materialise, in the end it will be those companies in possession of substantial software catalogues who will reap the real rewards of the multimedia revolution.<br />Never forget it's the catalogues of films which the US studios built up from the 1930s onwards which account for much of the profits, and most of the overwhelming security of the U.S. studios. For what those libraries represent and have always represented is a treasure trove of product which can be freshly exploited each and every time a new technology emerges. So when television arrived, they licensed giant packages of films, when video came along, those same films were marketed to that medium, and so on<br />Now with cable, payTV, laser discs, CDI and other new technologies, the studios are set to clean up once again and they'll go on doing so, just so long as people remain enthralled by beautifully stories like It's a Wonderful Life, Casablanca and Red River. In fairness it should always be remembered that these libraries came into being not as the result of any deep strategic thinking or visionary inspiration, but just an extraordinary, and quite accidental byproduct of the decision to store the films in case they could be re released at the cinema at some future date. During the thirties and forties each film title was valued on the books at $1 against just such an unlikely eventuality! <br />Most other film industries around the world have failed to build up film libraries of any comparable size, principally because they didn't develop the kind of large, wellcapitalised companies capable of producing, marketing and retaining the rights to a consistent stream of films over a number of years. That's why we need to devise mechanisms which will allow us to retain control over the intellectual property rights of these new products, ensuring that the benefits flow directly into the national economy. But amid all these developments, let's not forget the power and influence of storytelling. Stories and images are among the principal means by which human sol has always transmitted its values and beliefs, from generation to generation and community to community. Movies, along with all the other activities driven by stories, images and the characters that flow from them, are now at the very heart of the way we run our economies and live our lives. If we fail to use them responsibly and creatively, if we treat them simply as so many consumer industries rather than as complex cultural phenomena, then we are likely to irreversibly damage the health and vitality of our own society. <br />In his wonderful book The Secret Language of Film, the great French screenwriter JeanClaude Carriere who as you know also happens to be president of FEMIS warns us that:<br />"
Cinema is an art on the move, a hurried art, a ceaselessly jostled and dislocated art. This wealth of invention, which film has known since its beginnings, this apparently unlimited extension of the language's instruments (although not of the language itself, which keeps on running up against the same barriers) often engenders a kind of intoxication which once again leads us to mistake technique for thought, technique for emotion, technique for knowledge. We mistake the outward sign of change for the underlying essence of film. Constantly dazzled by technical progress, we filmmakers tend to forget substance and meaning which are true and rare and see only the same routines in the latest technological disguise."
<br />At the same time, Carriere reminds us that the actual language of moving images can change extremely fast so much so that in the days before television, newly released prisoners who had seen no films for a decade or so frequently had difficulty following newly released pictures the films simply moved too fast for them.<br />But like it or not, the crucial social outcomes affecting the movies will be won or lost in the arena of global commerce. It's thirty years since the French media entrepreneur JeanJacques Servan Schreiber published his seminal book The American Challenge, which analysed Europe's economic decline in the face of the overwhelming penetration of American goods and ideas. "
The confrontation of civilisations will now take place in the battlefield of technology, science and management,' he concluded. 'The war we face will be an industrial one.'<br />That war has already begun. Already the Americans have managed to secure a free trade agreement on information technology and, once again, the Hollywood studios will be key players in the debate. They are broadening their spheres of activity, keenly aware that a video game can gross more than a blockbuster movie. Just as they've always done since the First World War, when it comes to international trade the studios are likely to put aside their narrow commercial differences to maintain unity on key issues, arguing free access to international end to unilateral taxes and subsidies wherever they find them commercially inhibiting.<br />All of us in this room have the opportunity to influence that struggle all of us can help create a programming, software and informationbased industry capable of competing at the leading edge of what may well turn out to be the twentyfirst century's most exciting, profitable and influential industrial and cultural sector. Surely we should be developing strategies which will encourage the intelligent, and dare I say sensitive exploitation of these vast assets, both for own benefit and for the benefit of the world as a whole.<br />Of one thing we can be absolutely sure. Whatever predictions we make about the impact of all these new technologies are bound to contain much that is wrong, in the same way that the Victorians got it wrong whether they declared themselves wholly in favour of steam and progress or whether they thought railways spelt the end of civilisation and social order as they know it We get it wrong because we can only describe the new and unknown in terms of what is already familiar to us. <br />The American writer Henry Thoreau once complained of the folly of building a telegraph line from Texas to Maine without first establishing whether there was anybody, in either place, who had anything useful they wanted to communicate. <br />The intervening century and a half has proved beyond any shadow of a doubt that the lack of anything substantial to say is no bar to developing ever more sophisticated forms of communication especially if they can carry advertising. <br />CILECT has the opportunity to fulfil an important role in all of this. As an organisation it has always played an invaluable role in bringing together educators and curriculum designers from around the world to discuss developments in the film and television industries. Now it is beginning to cast its net much wider, to embrace new technologies and the new opportunities and responsibilities that come with them. We have to rethink who and what we are as an industry and who and what we truly represent. Your deliberations over the next few days are in my view a timely and important step in that direction.<br />The Digitization of Conventional Production <br />A.J. (Mitch) Mitchell<br />A. J. (Mitch) Mitchell, BA, FRPS, FBKS, is director of special effects at The Moving Picture Company in London, UK. He started in BBC television and moved to The Moving Picture Company as a director/cameraman. He helped design the first commercially available digital edit suite, collaborated on the design of a digital video-to-film transfer system and was one of the first exponents of creating video/digital effects work in post- production rather than live at the time of photography.<br />We're here to talk about motion pictures, digital production, now. It has been referred to it as the "
digital revolution, I think the reason that it's "
is a past-tense reason rather than a future projection, in that digital technology has stealthily crept up on motion pictures and the revolution has happened. Good heavens, the revolution is almost over, although most people aren't aware of it and the media report it as if it is actually happening ! <br />Motion pictures have become almost totally dominated by digital technology. I must explain that for motion picture I mean all things that are to do with moving pictures. So I include in that description film and cinema: film as the acquisition format, cinema as the presentational method that uses chemicals and mechanics, as well as include video and television, where video is an acquisitional and manipulative medium, and television is the broadcast format for getting it into people's homes. The broadcasting isn't totally digital yet, but by the end of the century, most places in the world will have some form of digital television. <br />When I say digital technology, I refer not just to computers as such but also to imbedded computer technology, that is to say, computers which are miniaturized and put into things that you don't recognize as having to do with digital technology. Thus you could even say that where production facilities have new refrigerators that have microchips in them, I mean they're computerized without even knowing it, even if it's just a guarantee that the Coca-Cola bottles are kept cold ! That's probably not what you think of as the digital revolution in film, but sometimes I think that most film crews are more worried about the coolness of their Coca-Cola than the coolness of the images they photograph. <br />Digital technology is affecting every aspect of motion pictures; not just production, not just the economics, and it's not just an enabling technology - something to make things cheaper or more efficiently - it also makes possible certain kinds of creative functions, and I will come back to that. <br />Most people think of digital technology, as producing horribly surreal sorts of imagery, or brightly colored pictures with lots of flashing effects, the sort of thing you get in MTV, or in effects-laden films. These are mostly easily recognizable and quite often featured in the trailers posters for movies and the promotional announcements for television programs. But digital technology and computers are now used in every conceivable stage of the motion picture process, from the very first word and thought to the last customer leaving the cinema or the television transmitter shutting down for the night. <br />The first creative stage in the making of a television drama or the production of a feature film is the creation of the story - it may come from a play, it may come from a novel, it may be an original screenplay that's written for the production. But any of these are always written on a word processor. Very few writers still use pen and paper and so, in a way, the electronic molding of the story starts right back there at the beginning. Of course, a number of writers have argued that what you produce with a word processor is often very different from what you produce with a pen. If you write with a pen, then modifications usually involve wholesale rewrites, and when copied out, lots of things are subject to change because total rewriting it forces you to go through the material as you're rewriting it. Writing on a word processor, if there's errors and faults, like spelling errors, they are picked up by spelling checker, and you just fix them. If you were doing a manuscript by hand you'd have to rewrite it because crossing out and correcting would get too messy. Even at that very simple level a word processor starts to influence what you do. The digital word processor enables writers to electronically "
cut and paste"
- they shift words, characters, scenes, around easily, although even with hand-written manuscripts, people sometimes literally cut them up and paste them. <br />The film editing process, can begin when a person who may not even be interested in films writes a novel, which is then bought by a studio, re-written by several hands, cut and re-cut, pasted and re-pasted to make a script, and that's then re-cut and re-pasted in the editing room to make the film. The editing process, the ability to cut and paste, goes all the way through production and the method by which the cutting and pasting is accomplished has profound effect on the creative process. <br />In television news, of course, events are electronically filed into the news room, and so this cut and paste element goes even further - the journalists out on location produce their material that is submitted electronically. It goes into the database at the newsroom, and the editors edit it without it ever being printed out. Many newsrooms are now electronic, and the digitized news goes to all the interested parties directly, to monitors for the floor managers to see what' s happening, to a text display for the gallery or control room where the director sits, and may never be printed out at all, at any stage ! <br />So right at the very beginning there is a digital electronic impact on the creative process. As we go further into production, there is the communication between the writers and the producer, often these days e-mail, but certainly word-processed, even in the form of letters backwards and forwards. Sometimes they even speak to each other but decreasingly so. These letters and e-mails are all put through computers, which leads to the stage of contracts. Contracts used to be quite simple, but they have become increasingly complex. Some people have described them as "
contracts from hell"
. Actors' contracts may be 40 pages long because, again, the cut and paste technique is used to put in every clause imaginable. On the basis of legal experiences, their own or other's, lawyers or accountants will now continually add clauses and build these contracts up until they appear to be completely insane. <br />Having made the contracts, producers begin serious budgeting using computer spreadsheets. Very few budgeting people do it by hand anymore - they may still sometimes have hand-drawn charts on the wall, but they always have spreadsheets of some sort. Scheduling and planning logistics contact lists are also on computer frequently using purpose-built software, especially designed for film and video production. <br />The next stage in the production process is the storyboarding standard procedure on large productions. Test scenes are often made using small lightweight digital cameras these days. Casting is always done on video. Location hunting nowadays uses small Walkman-sized DV cameras, small digital cameras that can photograph as well as still . Some location managers use digital still cameras. In the past, many location managers would produce large panoramic pictures, by taking many still pictures of the from slightly different angles and overlapping the prints, but these have always had bad joins. The exposure varies slightly because we start off on the buildings and then the next picture's got some sky in it, and the lab prints it slightly darker. Then the next one's got the buildings on the other side, and it's slightly lighter and they don't all quite fit together. Today, many location managers make multiple digital exposures, and use a picture editing program like Photoshop, joining the images together so they'll match, and outputting them as a single print with a big panoramic picture - altogether a much more sensible procedure. <br />The art department quite often pre-visualizes on computers. They use CAD (Computer Assisted Design) systems to design their sets. CAD also allows them to do mock camera angles so that the director may see what the sets will look like before a single nail is hammered. Costume design, model building, all other functions of the art department are increasingly using computers at some stage. <br />CAD has given rise to a version of what some people call the "
of movie making. This is where, let's say you start off with storyboards, you film the storyboards, you edit the storyboards with a scratch soundtrack that you make. using your workmates or family to play the parts. This is edited together to give a vague form or template for the film that you're making. As you proceed to doing tests with actors you replace all the scenes, and as you get into the composing you produce the final soundtrack, and add. Gradually, shot by shot, it's massaged and replaced, and - some directors go off and shoot rehearsals with the actors, again on these small DV hand held cameras. These are gradually put into the film. Some directors even make the film on video and then gradually replace the shots with the film shots. This is a very economical way of working because you can shoot miles and miles of tape, edit it for months and months and months, and then when you come to make a film you only have to shoot exactly the shots that you need. Very efficient, but I don't know how much it really helps the creative process because shooting with hand-held video cameras is very different from and gives a different feel from, say, anamorphic, large screen cinematography. But this scratch method had been the subject of experiment, and was used in part by some directors, with but it is fully enabled now, by digital technology. <br />In the actual production process, film cameras are covered with digital bits and pieces now. The main mechanism is still mechanical - pulling the film down frame-by-frame, and so on - but all the enhancements that have been added in terms of exposure, frame rates, stability, are governed by digital gizmos, and many cameras, such as the latest Arriflexes , allow you to plug in a portable computer in and do diagnostics on the camera, and all sorts of other clever tricks, such as changing the shutter angle in the opposite direction to the aperture while maintaining the same exposure - very clever stuff. <br />Video cameras, of course, are a very simple matter. The latest video cameras are in fact digital cameras anyway. They use solid state censors, CCD's, and they record onto digital formats such as DV or digital Betacam, or even to D1 format. As for the actual equipment that's used for setting the pictures - there are digital light meters, digital consoles that control the lighting, all sorts of gizmos for synchronizing. Almost all Directors of Photography (D.P.'s) , carry portable computers these days, even if only pocket ones, which, have got things such as moon, sun, and tidal information that can be searched in databases. Wherever they are in the world they can tell precisely what moment the sun is supposed to appear. If there's cloud cover and you're shooting to get a particular exposure, then of course that information is still very useful. Even though you can't see the sun, you can know where it is in the sky and what effect it's going to have on the light. <br />The motion picture industry is not a large industry in terms of industrial products, so there are not that many professional film cameras and video cameras made. I mean that if you compare the production of Arriflex to Ford, you're looking at very different orders of magnitude. Over the years the amount of design that's gone into film technology can hardly be described as massive. Cinematography has produced relatively few designs : the Bell & Howell camera, then the Mitchell camera, then Panavision, then other cameras like Moviecam and so on, there are only a few manufacturers, and a limited number of models. But because of digital design, small companies can now afford to continually upgrade and innovate and so, we're actually, getting much more product and a more rapid turnover of new products and enhancements , even on the old style mechanical systems. <br />A particular example is in lenses. The quality of lenses is phenomenal, compared with what they were, because of computer design. It's no longer a craft of grinding bits of glass and seeing what the effect is. Obviously, theoretical designs can be drawn up , but the aspheric lenses that give a completely flat image wouldn't be possible without computers because they are used to simulate how a virtually infinite array of points of light go through the actual glass, and so we can have accurate T-stops and wide angle lenses that give flat images, and you can have f. 1.2 lenses with phenomenal resolution. Most people are not fully aware of the impact of computers on lenses and the aesthetic possibilities of modern cinematography. <br />Sound has gone completely digital in most instances. It is often recorded on DAT, time-code controlled digital audiotape. The synchronization between the cameras and the recorders is absolute, thanks to digital timecode. I recently worked on a job where there were cameras and soundmen all over the place on a racing track, with lots of noise. It wasn't possible to have hard connections among the recorders and cameras, so from time to time the sound recordist would sort of wander up to the camera operator of the "
, the one that served as the reference for all others, and say to the operator "
my computer needs to talk to yours."
He'd plug his little plug into the camera and pull it out again all synched up. It didn't need to be connected anymore, and he could wander off to a safe distance from the racers, rather than lying on the racetrack next to the cameraman. <br />Those are all the less obvious things. Now for the obvious ones. There are repeating or motion-control camera heads, with which the camera operator physically pans the camera, and sensors precisely record the move. The cameraman can then press a button, and the camera will make precisely the same move again, as many times as required, enabling multiple passes exactly mimicking the original movement. Then there is full motion control which is obviously a more complicated version of that, where the entire camera moves about on a crane rig and can be made to repeat that move, theoretically, for an infinite number of times, but in practice the repeats tended to become increasingly imprecise to the point where one might as well have hand-held the camera. But now that digital technology enables us to fix the problem, nobody uses motion control anymore. They want to hand-hold it the camera and then fix any problems in digital post production. Some may conclude that the term "
which we're all familiar with,(Director of Photography with the "
somehow missing) now stands for Digital Photographer. <br />The Director he benefits from digital technology on the studio floor. Digital communications are used all the time - cell phones, for example, radio feeds of the sound being recorded by the audio crew, the video tap on film cameras that allows the director to have wonderful color pictures of what the camera is seeing, because CCD's, (charge-coupled diodes) are light sensitive computer chips. These images are recorded to enable instant access to the frames that the director might want to see from previous takes. Although they sometimes still record it onto u-matic or VHS, I've been very surprised that, a lot of the video tap crews that go out now actually have hard disks that can record compressed video pictures as well, which provides amazing creative possibilities for testing transitions between shots, and making practical judgments. <br />On the set or location, there is the production secretary, who does continuity notes and such. They tend to use computers these days, because it is really convenient to be able to go back up and down production notes, make changes, and cut and paste. <br />I wish to discuss what has become the contentious issue of video rushes. Most D.P.'s will tell you this is one of the down-sides of the digital world. Nowadays, many shoots order rushes, prints directly from the original negative. If you're working on the stages at a big studio, then you may be able to see material well-projected on a proper screen, but the majority of the time we get video rushes, which is nightmarish for the cameraman. Who knows where the telecine operator, the person who supervises the conversion of the image from negative film to positive video has set his settings. Imagine, if you will, a cameraman doing a horror film, trying to make everything green. <br />In the old days, the lab had a sympathy for these things, and the people in the lab looked at the notes, understood the intention, and made accurate, if green, rushes. But nowadays video rushes are done by trainees at two o'clock in the morning and they may have a dodgy eye or they may not have any interest and therefore aren't reading the notes and or not understanding them, so that everything shot green, is corrected to a proper flesh-tone. They look at the tapes and the director says, "
But this is supposed to be a horror film, why does it look like a musical?"
The cameraman doesn't know where he is! What does he shoot today? He doesn't know what it looks like. There are tools being developed by a number of companies to try and help that, but again, digital technology can come to the rescue, and some cinematographers, not that many yet, but a substantial number all the same, around the world, are trying experiments such as using small digital cameras and a laptop and color printer, and in the lunchbreak or whenever, they shove these pictures in, they take shots of all their setups, and they tweak the color using something like Photoshop and then they make a small print and keep printing it out until they get it looking the way they want. They send that with the can of film, as a reference for the facilities house or wherever the video rushes are being made, They can see roughly the colors he wants, and so at least it's in the right ball park, and they understand that the while the gray scale is gray, the shots after it are all green. So this is a major creative element. <br />Even the telecine , in which film images are transferred to video, is becoming in many respects an extension of the shooting There is a new type of telecine called Spirit an all digital system - the sensors and optics are designed by Kodak with the colorimetry of film in mind. It has a much higher resolution than the standard television, so it allows you to digitally reframe the image and zoom in an awfully long way. Of course, television has a much lower resolution than film, and so you can zoom deep into a 35 mm frame if the end use is television presentation. Of course, most of these things could have been done n the past with film opticals in the past, but at an impossible cost. Digital special effects, especially in re-composing shots is a place where this technology has an influence. <br />Images can originate in places other than the studio floor. There is, for example, computer graphics, which is analogous to the normal shooting method. You have the modeling, which is equivalent perhaps to building the sets; animating, which is like directing the actors; then lighting, which is…like… lighting; and rendering, which is the equivalent of the shooting process - making decisions about the lens angle, the height of the camera, where it's placed and so on. The computer graphics, of course, are completely post-produced digitally because, well, they're digital in the first place. <br />Traditional animation, has been slower to change, but all the large studios such as Disney are now using computer graphics of some sort. Some of them are even using 3-D, but there are other systems such as Animo and Toons which are coming along that make possible, at the very least, in-betweening, paint and trace, and many studios, although they actually draw in the traditional method, put the drawings into digital form so that computers can do automated paint and trace. <br />Much stop-frame animation for television use and even for large scale cinema production is done with digital electronic cameras. Instead of putting latex or rubber over wire armatures, they're putting sensors on them. The sensors feed computers and the computers control computer models which are much more flexible, can easily be altered, and don't suffer some of the mechanical problems common to physical armatures in the past. This method was used on Lost World and Jurassic Park. It allowed the traditional techniques to be used, but under computer control, and with digital precision. <br />These days, time-lapse cameras are controlled by computer chips as well. The combination of live action and CGI is the area of motion capture in which a number of experiments are currently being conducted, from many different approaches. <br />Of all aspects of film and television production, post-production is the one that we almost take for granted as digital, because of the nature of computers and data. The impact of digital technologies started off with post-production because the data quantities are very small and made possible early experiments with comparatively primitive equipment. Audio has gone almost completely digital now because it has the smallest data needs of all. A home computer can edit and mix digital audio in highly sophisticated ways. <br />Television follows next because the information in its frames, even compressed, is greater than audio, but very soon that threshold of price against power (processor speed) and against the amount of data involved (compression algorithm) and the expense of holding it (RAM and disk storage) will be crossed and television is the next to fall. Post-production of feature film requires much higher resolution, especially if the digital image is to be written back to film for theatrical projection. <br />In television, effects are almost entirely done digitally now and many stations are converting to full digital production. Audio and Video compression allows us to move down into the lower cost levels, the few places where digital technology hasn't been used, and still lower production cost . Compression allows more information to put more on the same amount of disk or tape, allows it to be moved faster, and allows everything to be done more economically. <br />In editing there are a number of purpose-built digital machines, the Avid, Lightworks and others.- I'm sure you all know about them so it isn't worth spending a lot of time on. <br />Digital audio post-production in film, or sound editing, takes on a new dimension with digital technology. Considerable music composing is now done with samplers, with synthesizers, with digital systems of one sort or another. There's Automatic Dialogue Replacement using sound systems that squeeze it and slice it and cut it and expand it, and there's effects tracks and post synching of films, all of which are made much easier on a computer. <br />At the level of manipulating and distributing the film images, digital technology has profound impact. A 35mm film frame can store and display some 40 to 50 times the amount of information of a video frame, but as computers get more powerful, and computer memory's get bigger, and as the prices keep going down, down we have reached a point where now, as with television, the film special effects rely on digital technology. The photographic image is scanned into a digital format from the camera original, then the digital processing takes place, using a fast and very powerful computer. The result is scanned back to film using laser or electronic beam recorders. <br />At the exhibition level there is digital broadcasting and DVD which gives much better quality than previous methods of transmission. Exhibitors want to go the whole hog and digitally transmit feature films in motion picture resolution from satellites or down fiber optics under the street to the cinema which for electronic projection, thus saving print costs, shipping charges and associated labour, but that is the least developed area. <br />There are some excellent large-screen digital projectors available, but it will be some time before electronically produced images can match film images in quality. <br />In the commercial environment of film and television, all of the technology ultimately is about the acceptance and approval by the audience. Here we find digital technology deeply involved in computerized booking systems in theaters, and the subsequent analysis of box office performance or television rating, which finds its way to us in the digitally composed pages of the trade papers. <br />I've intentionally attempted to steer clear of the traditional area of "
I want to stress the fact that all production in film and television has embedded within it a very large amount of digital technology, and we should be aware of it and how it impacts production and creative decisions. Special effects like go-motion and blue screen and difference matting and digital projection, image stabilization, virtual sets - all of the techniques basic to the effects in the action picture, are currently being used to perpetuate a fashion and a fad, just like all the other ones there have been through the cinema. <br />There was a previous fad in the 1950's for action and special effects films, just as there have been fads for cowboy films, film noir in the 40's, cinema verité in the 50's and 60's. There have been all sorts of fashions in movies and television style and content. Effects laden films are one of these fashions, probably enabled by the fact that, well you can do it, so let's experiment with it. <br />But the real revolution is what underlies this, which is for the whole of production to use these technologies to be more efficient and more creative. The best example of how far this has gone is in the UK, in advertising where 70% of the advertisements on television been digitally fiddled with in some way or another, and the majority of these are seemingly ordinary looking films. They had the money, the time and the will to adopt this technology and so it's pretty well completely in use now. They use it for salvaging, they use it for fixing the image, correcting the imperfections of the real world, if you will, and for making multiple versions where they want different labels, for pack replacements, for creating synthetic images, or for fiddling with the color. <br />An example of it this in Britain has to do with car number plates, which have a letter on the end of them from which you can tell in what year the car was made. Cars are not redesigned annually, but every August a new number plate comes out, and we are told that people are psychologically affected by this. In a TV commercial if they see a car with the previous year's letter on the number plate people - in their subconscious - think "
Oh, this is an old car"
so if the General Motors car has the previous year number plate and the Ford has this year's version, there is a fear that people will buy Ford cars because subconsciously they think, "
Oh well the other guys are selling old cars and Ford is selling new ones"
. The problem could be fixed by having the word "
where the number plate belongs, as they do in the car sales room, but that's unacceptable as well, so the psychologists say, because people think, "
Ah, well you can't believe the commercial because it's not a real car, it's a special one that's been made for the commercial and the one you get would be different"
, even though you only see it in long shots. So when they make the commercials, they have the most current number plate and when August comes along, all the special effects houses shut their doors to everybody else for two weeks while they digitally replace all the number plates on all the car commercials to and them the new year's number plate. That is the sort of invidious and hidden thing that goes on. <br />Then there is Coca-Cola. They make global commercials and ads but the packaging differs from country to country. Some countries have bottles, some countries have cans, sometimes it's called "
and sometimes "
It varies and so they make generic commercials and the packs are replaced digitally, sometimes by the hundreds. <br />The final thing to be said about digital technology and film is that digital will become a kind of electronic intermediate in the not-too-distant future, and what we'll do is put everything, whether it's got effects or not, into computers so that it can then be post-produced, scanned out, and any number of virtual "
negatives can be made. So the prints that you will see in the cinemas will be all struck off original negatives and not off dupes or printing masters or interpositives or internegatives as they are now. The whole quality of projected cinema will improve thanks to digital manipulation. <br />Digital technology has crept up on the movie industry and is already an important item in the craft tool set, one that is there to stay. It can only become more powerful and more important, and will change how things are done, forever. In the areas of sound, still photography and television it has already become a major creative and technical resource. <br />Film is only lagging behind television and audio in the digital world because of its much greater appetite for data and the need for technology to efficiently handle the data. - This constriction is relaxing every minute that goes by. One day the whole process will be digital from image capture to exhibition. You had better believe it, and start training the generation who will have to depend on this technology. In ten years time there will be nothing else! <br />The Evolving Process<br />Walter Murch<br />Walter Murch is a sound designer, editor, screenwriter, and director. He earned his undergraduate degree at Johns Hopkins University and is a graduate of the School of Film and Television at USC. He has been a longtime collaborator of filmmakers Francis Ford Coppola, and his USC film school classmate George Lucas. Murch played an important role in the creation of some of the most important films of the 1970s including American Graffiti (1973), The Godfather Part II (1974), and Apocalypse Now (1979). His sound editing was central to the artistic success of Coppola's The Conversation, which earned him an Academy Award. He won the Oscar for Best Sound for the sound design of Coppola’s Apocalypse Now (1979) and he was nominated for Oscars for film editing for Fred Zinnemann's Julia (1977), Apocalypse Now (1979), Jerry Zucker's Ghost (1990), and The Godfather Part III (1990).<br />In 1996 he won the Academy Award for Best Achievement in Editing, and the Academy Award for Best Achievement in Sound Anthony for Minghella's The English Patient .<br />Walter Murch has been a guest teacher and lecturer at a number of CILECT schools, among which are AFTRS-Sydney, DFS-Copenhagen, UCLA, and Stanford University.<br />Thank you. It’s wonderful to be back in Denmark. I first came here as a teenager in 1960, then returned for a symposium on film sound at the National Film School in 1980, and returned again in 1986 to teach for a couple of weeks, so I feel very much at home. <br />In the late 1960’s, Francis Coppola had become dissatisfied with life and work in Hollywood and was anxious to find another way of making films. He wound up in Copenhagen after the première of one of his early features at Cannes, and stayed for a couple of months at a film commune called Lanterna Magica. Anyone remember it? Yes? Anyway, it was located in an old house just outside the city. Lanterna was using all of the new technology of the time, and there was something about the whole setup that really got Francis excited. He came back to the United States determined to see if he could recreate the spirit of Lanterna, so he (and George Lucas and I and all our families), moved up to San Francisco in 1969 to start a new production company. And as an homage he called this company American Zoetrope, which was his version of Lanterna Magica. <br />I think as you can tell from what Mitch said in the previous lecture, we’re in a period of transition. It is going so fast right now that the transition might be complete in a couple of years, but at the moment things are still in flux. We cannot yet dispense with film, which is the medium that photographs the image in the first place and which eventually takes the images and sounds into the theaters. As an intermediate step between shooting and exhibition, though, film is rapidly becoming anachronistic. In some ways, the situation is similar to the state-of-affairs with domestic lighting around the turn of the 19th century. In 1905 you would have seen chandeliers that had both gas and electricity in them. The electricity was new, it was exciting, it produced a more brilliant light, but it was also not quite as dependable as it should have been, and so there would also be gas - romantic, dangerous, inefficient, but dependable. And so, especially in film editing and sound mixing, we’re in a similar hybrid phase where we have to deal with both - with film as a sprocketed, photographic, material medium; and with the electronic image as a digital, virtual, immaterial medium. Somehow we have to find the most effective way to combine the two and not trip over our own shoelaces in the process.<br />The central question that has brought us all here is: Is Digital Non-Linear Editing a Help or Hindrance? The short answer is Yes. But we should be careful not to oversell digital’s advantages, nor to disregard the more “mechanical” means of dealing with all the problems of editing a film.<br />To begin, one of the things that I’d like to emphasize is the astronomical number of ways that images can be combined. This has always been true, and is true no matter what system you use. If a scene is covered with only two shots - one take each from two different camera positions (A and B) you can choose one or the other or some combination of them both. As a result you have four ways of using these two images: A, B, AB, BA. However, once the number gets larger than two - and an average scene might have twenty-five shots - the number of possible combinations quickly becomes astronomical. <br />It turns out there is a formula for this: C = (e • n!) - 1. C is the number of different ways a scene can be assembled, “n” is the number of shots the director has taken to cover that scene - say, twenty-five; “e” is the transcendental number 2.71828...., one of those constants (like π) which you might remember from high school. And the exclamation point after the “n” (the one instance of mathematics becoming emotional!) stands for ‘factorial,’ which means the product of all integers up to and including the number in question. <br />For instance, 4! = 1x2x3x4 = 24. 6! = 1x2x3x4x5x6 = 720, so you see the numbers get big pretty fast. The factorial of 25 is a very large number, something like 1.5 billion billion million - 1.5 followed by 25 zeros. Multiply by that “e” and you get 4 followed by 25 zeros. Minus one! So a scene made up of only 25 shots can be edited in approximately 40,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 different ways. This is roughly the distance in miles from Earth to the edge of the observable universe.<br />If you had 59 shots for a scene, which is not at all unusual, you would theoretically have as many possible versions of that scene as there are subatomic particles in the entire universe! Some action sequences I have edited, though, have had upwards of 250 shots, so you can imagine the kind of numbers we would be talking about: 8.8 followed by a solid page of zeros - 392 of them. Now the vast majority of these versions would be complete junk. Like the old chestnut of a million chimpanzees typing randomly - most of what they write would not make any sense at all. On the other hand, even such a ‘small’ number as 4 followed by 25 zeros is so huge that a tiny percentage of it (the potentially good versions) will still be overwhelmingly large: if one version in a quadrillion makes sense, that still gives 40 million possible versions to consider. The queasy feeling in the pit of the stomach of every editor beginning a project is the recognition - conscious or not - of the sheer immensity of options he is facing. This is true whether you are editing on a Moviola or on a Kem or on an Avid.<br />DIGITAL: the advantages.<br />Do digital non-linear technologies help you deal with these super-astronomical figures? Again, the qualified answer is yes, since what you are actually creating in the computer is something called a “virtual assembly” - the images themselves have not been disturbed, only the instructions for what to do with the images. This means that every time you look at a cut sequence on an Avid, the images are being assembled for you as you watch. If you want to do something completely different, the system doesn’t care at all - you are only creating the instructions, the recipe for this particular dish, not the dish itself. There are no trims to put away, no rewinding, no physical splicing of film itself. The film does not get scratched, broken, go out of sync, or become unsteady over time. You can save as many different versions of each scene as you wish and review them with ease. You can also do relatively sophisticated multi-track sound editing and mixing on the Avid.<br />The elimination of busywork like rewinding and filing trims can give an intoxicating sense of freedom, particularly for editors who have been filing trims for many years. But it is dangerous to think that the removal of this weight simplifies the real job at hand, which is to discover the best structure for your film. In fact, that sudden rush of freedom can lure you into some real traps. Let me explain what I mean.<br />No matter what editing system you are using, you will always be confronting the astronomical number of different possible versions of each scene. When that astronomical number was physically represented by mountains of actual film, you knew instinctively that you had to have a plan and be organized going in: contemplating the thicket of 500,000 feet of dailies was like peering into the Amazon jungle - who would go in there without a map and adequate supplies? <br />The danger with digital systems is that they seem to turn the Amazon jungle into a video game, a game without apparent consequences. If you lose the game you simply start over again from the beginning! No film has actually been touched! There are no loose ends to re-stich back together. In a certain limited sense, this is actually true, but on the whole it does not mean that there is not a real Amazon lurking behind the virtual one, with real consequences should you lose your way. There should always be planning, no matter what. You have only so much time. There should always be a map. You can never possibly explore all the possible versions of even the simplest scene: remember our formula e x n! There should always be detailed notes of what you have seen and where you have been. Theseus needs his thread to get out of the Minotaur’s maze. Otherwise, editing just becomes a thrashing about, a slamming-together of images and sounds for their momentary effect, but an effect which has no long-term resonance and impact on the film as a whole. <br />So, paradoxically, the hidden advantage of editing real, sprocketed film is that the sheer weight and volume of it encourages you to take things seriously and to plan ahead before you jump in. All of us who have grown up as editors of sprocketed film have had to develop some kind of strategies for dealing with our Amazons, and these strategies should not now be discarded in the name of digital efficiency.<br />What I’d like to do now is show you some of these ordinary film techniques and strategies which I still continue to use when I edit digitally.<br />DATABASE: Theseus’s Thread.<br />In the early 1970’s I started to develop a database system that would allow me to keep a record of all of the notes that were ever made for every shot in whatever film I was working on. I used this index card system from “The Conversation” through “Apocalypse Now,” then in 1982 shifted to a computer for “The Right Stuff,” but it was still essentially the same system.<br />I have brought the database for English Patientwith me. Let’s see if we can get it up on the screen here.<br />OK. What you see here is the number of shots that were taken for the film: 3,073. I have randomly started up with this record, setup number 1045. Actually, this is one of the last setups to be shot, so if you divide 3,073 shots (takes) by 1,045 setups (camera positions) you come up with the average number of takes that were printed for each camera position, approximately three. This is setup 1045, take one - an effects shot that was intended for the sequence at the beginning of the film where Almasy’s plane gets shot down. <br />Aside from the technical specifications, the three key areas to each record (ie. shot) are: First Viewing, Second Viewing, and Director’s Notes. That last category is pretty self-explanatory - anything that Anthony Minghella said about this shot will be found in this area here. First Viewing and Second Viewing are my own notes, taken when I see the dailies for the first time and then just before I am about to cut the scene. With the notebook computer, I am able to take the whole database with me into the screening room and type in the dark, silently.<br />Let me choose something different, a scene at random - I’m just going to put a “find” request in here - scene 56. I can’t remember what that scene was. OK. It’s English Patient being interrogated by Military Intelligence, and as you can see, the database tells us there were 38 shots for that one scene. Using our e x n! formula, there’s a huge number of ways that this scene could have been cut together. All of the numbers down here are technical numbers - the code numbers relating sound to picture; the key numbers which relate to the negative; the day it was shot; the lab roll number - any comment or number ever associated with this shot gets put in this master record. And every shot ever taken for the film has a record like this.<br />So let’s look at my notes for this scene. Can you read what’s up there on the screen? The first shot number is 432, take 2. The length of the shot is 154 feet.<br />During dailies, I would turn off the screen illumination for my laptop, and sit there silently typing anything that popped into my mind about the material I was looking at. For instance, here, just the one word “waves” - the shot opens up on a full shot of ocean waves.. “People walk by to the <<< (left)” - a nurse and two soldiers enter frame left and walk across the street Then in the next take, take 4, the “composition is tighter with a zoom back.” <br />Now let me just read some notes at random from other scenes: “Coming down • serious, with flare • what is that..?” “Nuzzling each other with smoke • what is the concept here?” “Hana sees Kip in room • nice light” “Same as previous, with Patient lisping again” “His hands folded.... meaningless words.” “Camera noise • what is happening with he sound?” “Nice see the little bugs outside • good for ‘too many men’ • good look at the laugh” “Fall out of bed, like a fetus.” Etc.<br />So, these are a few of my first impressions, my First Viewing notes.<br />I should emphasize that this is, for an editor, one of the most important things that you can capture when you’re working on a film: how you felt the first time you saw something. It goes beyond logic, it has primarily a personal emotional impact. If you can capture any of the fleeting thoughts that are going through your head when you watch a shot for the first time, you have a chance of recapturing that feeling months later, when the film has been assembled and you have forgotten your initial reactions. This is the closest you will ever get to how the audience is going to feel when they see this shot for the first time. Otherwise, you’re so necessarily compromised by the process of actually making the film that it’s very difficult for you to retain objectivity. <br />In this column to the right are the notes that I take when I’m actually beginning to cut the scene, the Second Viewing. As you know, films are shot out of sequence, so the experience of watching dailies (the raw footage of the previous day’s work) is often quite fragmented: parts of incomplete scenes, second unit material, effects shots, camera tests, etc.<br />When I’m getting ready to cut a particular scene, however, I will assemble all of the material for that scene alone and review it one more time, now being more analytical and specific in my comments. So here, for instance, we have - “Hana between the cabins, looks <<<, @ 397” - these little arrows (<<<) meaning “left” are how I compensate for my peculiar inability to tell left from right very quickly - a kind of graphic representation. This moment of Hana between the cabins happens at 397 feet into the shot. Anytime I make a second viewing note, I also type in the footage. For instance, this next note: “She exits, leaving E.P. (English Patient) <<< and the interrogator >>> in dialogue, 429.” <br />Next note: “I like the sound of the Patient’s voice.” One of the things that concerned me during the shooting of English Patient was the understandability of the Patient’s voice. This was partly due to the amount of makeup that Ralph Fiennes was struggling with. But I was also sometimes concerned by the degree of affectation in his voice, and I didn’t know whether this was going to be a problem when the film was all put together. So my note here is that I liked the way his voice sounded in this take. <br />“Cut camera at ‘Why? Are you German?’, 492 feet.” They must have stopped early in this take.<br />“Hana smiles as she gives towel,” - she had a nice smile as she gave the Patient a towel. One of the problems in this scene - it’s all coming back to me now - was that she appeared overly reserved. I was looking for any little fragment where she might be a little brighter, emotionally. <br />“E.P. voice more breathless, lispy, grrr,” I wrote, because I didn’t want him to lisp, 523 feet. <br />Also, “Cut camera on ‘Are you German?’,” so I guess these two shots ended early. <br />Next shot: “Similar composition as previous.” <br />“See more down the rows of cabins,” - they’ve moved the camera a little bit so there’s more depth to the scene. <br />“Interrogator shifts position on ‘This was your garden.?’” <br />“Hana back in >>> on ‘You were married then?’” <br />I won’t go on with this, but I think you can get an idea of the amount of detail that I go into before I ever start cutting. Both emotional detail (how I felt when I first saw the shot) and clinical detail (what happens physically within the shot); Lover and Surgeon. It was a good discipline because English Patient turned out to be the most restructured film I’ve ever worked on. The sequence of scenes in the screenplay was severely altered in editing, so I was always on the lookout for little bits and pieces of film that could allow me to recombine things in different ways than originally intended, and these notes were essential to making that possible.<br />As with any database you can interact with it in many different ways: if we wanted to find anything that had Hana in it, we’d type in “Hana” and . . .there we are: 807 shots. You can choose any character or action or any combination of characters and action, and use the database to pull information and see what shots you have that fill any of those requirements. <br />PHOTOGRAPHS: the graphic overview<br />I have here some photographs that I took off the workprint of English Patient, so I’ll hand them out for you to examine closely. They are part of a system of still photographs that I use. Right after seeing dailies, I choose one frame from each setup to answer, graphically, the theoretical question, “Why did they shoot this setup? What moment were they really looking for?” Here, for instance, is a shot of Katharine looking at the cave paintings, and there’s something in the expression on her face that told me that this was what they were after, this moment. Here’s another: a close shot of a brush doing some painting - here again a smile, one of those precious smiles from Almasy. You’ll notice that each of these photographs has the number of the shot in the right hand corner. On the left hand side is the code number corresponding to this frame in the film. So, since there were 1045 setups shot for English Patient, I took more than 1045 photographs (some shots had multiple photos) and then mounted them on big panels arranged in scene order. The result is a “visual database” or “reverse storyboard” of the film, which allows you to pinpoint very quickly things that are too elusive for words to describe. The color of something, an ineffable expression on someone’s face, details of costume and set decoration. How many closeups did they shoot for a certain scene, how many long shots? A single glance at one of my boards will give you the answer. If you imagine the panels as big contact sheets, it is very similar to the way that still photographers work.<br />LITTLE PEOPLE: correct perspective.<br />Another problem common to all editing, no matter what the system, is the difficulty of dealing creatively with a small image. There is always a great disparity between the small image that the editor sees in the cutting room and the huge image that will be shown in the theaters. And this size difference has an effect on how the film is perceived. It is the difference between painting a miniature and a mural. On a small screen, your eye easily takes in everything at once. On a big screen, you can only take in sections at a time.<br />If a scene has a hard time coming together rhythmically, the problem frequently is that the editor has lost the correct size relationship with the frame. He is working on the miniature and forgotten that this will be a mural.<br />I get around this problem very simply, by cutting out two white silhouettes, a boy and a girl, and placing them in the correct size relationship to the Avid screen the way it will finally be when projected in a theater. So, if I am looking at a screen 22 inches wide in the editing room, I will make my little people 4 and a half inches tall. This makes the screen look as if it is 30 feet wide. <br />Related to the issue of screen size, one of the questions people keep asking me about digital editing is “Are movies getting faster? Are films cut faster, with many more quick cuts, because it’s digital and they can be cut faster?” Well, that’s certainly true as far as it goes - it is easier to cut quickly because you don’t have to make all those splices and file all those trims. But actually, I don’t think that is the main reason: most of the “quick cut” problem comes from the common mistake of looking AT the screen rather than INTO the screen. Let me explain this in more detail.<br />Television is a “look at” medium, cinema is a “look into” medium. Very different. You can think of the television screen as a surface which the eye hits and then bounces back. In a feature film, particularly one in which the audience is fully engaged, the screen is not a surface, the screen is a magic window, sort of a looking-glass through which your whole body passes and becomes engaged in the action with the characters on the screen. If you really like a film, you’re not aware that you are sitting in the cinema watching a movie. <br />One of the functions of MTV (music videos) is to attract your attention - when you’re watching MTV you’re usually looking at a small screen some distance away, there’s lots of competition all around, the lights are on, the phone may be ringing, you might be in a supermarket or department store. MTV has to show dramatic, visually shocking things within that tiny frame in order to catch your attention because of the much narrower angle of vision. So MTV is an extreme example of television in general - hence the quick cuts, jump cuts, swish pans, staggered action, etc.<br />There’s a completely different aesthetic when you’re in a theater, however: the screen is huge; everything else in the room is dark; there are (hopefully) no distractions; you can’t stop the film at your convenience. And so, understandably, the editing of a feature has to be very different than the editing of a music video, and these little people to either side of the screen keep reminding me of that: this is not television.<br />Generally, I like this kind of solution: it is simple, and you don’t think it would amount to much, but in the long run it helps tremendously because it solves problems even before they happen.<br />QUESTION FROM AUDIENCE MEMBER: “Could you edit with a video projector like this? In a big room with a really big screen?” <br />That’s a good question. But editors are strange creatures: we seem to like small, dark rooms. Yes, there’s no reason even now that you couldn’t be editing like this, with a thirty-foot screen. The rental rates for the room would be expensive, however. I have found that working with my little friends, my little paper leprechauns, is just as effective as having a very large screen. They are just a reminder of what I have to do, the mental adjustment I have to make.<br />ANOTHER QUESTION FROM AUDIENCE: “Were there any surprises when you went from looking at the Avid to looking at sprocketed film?”<br />No, I’m happy to say not very many. Actually, on English Patient the only thing that caught me by surprise was that in the Avid I mistook the actor’s line of sight a couple of times. I thought he was looking far left and he turned out to be looking a little closer to camera than I had thought. Actors’ eyes easily fall in shadow on the Avid, but not on film. Because the shadow was not so deep, I could actually see the pupils of their eyes. Othe