Thursday, February 6, 2014


This post is from my other blog, but I thought it appropriate here as well.

Part I - In Which We Become God

Stream Clogging
With all the daily utube & blog updates popping up on your device I want to make sure I'm not clogging your stream. All the news outlet updates, twit feeds... Webisodes... Vudu & hulu flicks... Kickstart requests... Faceblah gossip...There really is too much to read. And that leads me to...

Digital v. Film

Got into a documentary last year called Side By Side that asks the question "Can film survive our digital future?"

As much of my life has been spent in the world of film, both as audience member and working participant, I took quite an interest in the subject matter.

Now, however, I no longer care about the answer to the question "can film survive our digital future."

I used to, but then I finally understood that it didn't matter in the way I thought it mattered -- If I want to make film, watch film, project film, those opportunities will remain for a long time (as long as those asteroids miss us of course.) There are enough of us who appreciate and enjoy film as a medium, and will help to protect its existence, that I do believe it will survive well into future generations. At least until film stock is no longer produced, and even then our existing "films" will remain, even if they become artifacts in some museum.

Digital (and whatever comes next) are only new means to storytelling. And even though digital devices ensure that practically everyone can now shoot and promote some version of a moving-image story, there will long be an audience for a story to be told well. Just because the vendor has won out the shelf space of modern-day distribution doesn't mean the audience is going to take it all lying down. Someone will always be sifting through the crap to find the gold and bringing that gold to the attention of others.

With digital, though, that sifting of material is definitely more difficult. The loads of content are so overwhelming that we need to extend our days into 48-hours (the first darkness will now be known as midday and allow for a four-hour nap and work break) just so we can catch up on a day's worth of news posts, blog entries, utube channel updates, twits, and Faceblah streams.

This is referenced in Side By Side. In the film v. digital discussion it becomes apparent that one of digital's advantages is also a problem -- the amount of material can become overwhelming.

You can keep the camera (or whatever the image-capturing devices will come to be called) running almost forever, recording as much information as your storage units can hold. We're already on the precipice of pretty much recording an entire day and then sifting through to find any good bits.

Yes. Sift through those bits. All those possible precious moments because, like some junkie, you let the camera run longer and longer, capturing every tic, every realistic "actor unaware" moment, every possible moment of a sunset - the setting, set, and setted.

Yes, you can bring in more editors and assistants to help catalog and catalog and catalog. And you can throw out a few easy ones -- the actor looked at the camera, the producer's guest walked into the shot.

But there is still so much material left, so many options...

I like the light on the trees here, but if we wait two seconds the light does this cool little flash through the leaves... And wait, two more seconds, see how that one leaf kind of twists... And now the light is, wow! ...  Hmmm. Lot of options, let's come back to this shot later. How about the goodbye scene at the coffeeshop between Jack and Jill, let's watch those. How many takes did we shoot of that scene by the way? Two thousand and thirty-seven!?!?!?!

I've been on the road collecting footage this past month for a new short project. I've played around with digital before, but this is the first time I've really delved into shooting it for my own work. It began all right. I was careful to only shoot things I thought really stood out in some way -- a nice composition, colorful subject matter, etc etc. And when I did shoot I took care to only press record when I thought it was the right time, and only for as long as I needed (with a tail and head.) All of this was due to my film experience. Knowing that film was money, and that there was only so much film on a roll...

But I quickly realized I could shoot as much as I wanted. And delete. And shoot. And delete. And shoot again...

Soon, though, I stopped deleting. I kept it all, knowing that I could sift through the material later when I really had time to study it.

There are those words again. Sift. Time.

I already have too much material, but much of that is due to my not having specific shots planned out that I wanted. I went on the road to capture a lot of "B" roll, and capture it I did.

With discipline, and a story plan, this doesn't have to happen of course. But it does. The stream gets clogged.

I'm guessing there will come a time (barring asteroids) when images will record and project as we think them. Within seconds, and with honed skill, they will be thought, shot, and edited into some sort of story, or personal update, or news blip.

And those of us in that future will cease movement and meld into one unmoving blob of super-consciousness. We will end, become anew, and, missing what we once were, create in our own image on some nearby planet.

(Part II - In Which Screenwriters Save Too Many Cats)

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