Method

What methods can we extract from this theory of the digital image? Primarily we can indicate how the three facets of realism identified by Bazin, plus the contemporary film theorists' 'impression of reality', are created in the composited (photographic and digital)* image. We can begin by identifying four elements;

1. Interaction. Notice the way the digital dinosaurs and live action/real backgrounds are depicted interacting within a single shot. Interaction helps to create realism in the digital image, for the effects maintain (or create) the illusion of spatial and diegetic unity. This is analogous to Bazin's concept of dramatic realism, found in his discussion of spatial unity in the shot from Where No Vultures Fly and other films - most notably deep-focus shots in Welles's films, which create realism by means of the overlap of different planes of action. In digital images, the simulation of this overlap between digital and optical areas creates the illusion that they are seamlessly linked. Interaction also creates psychological realism, in that the spectator's gaze can freely move from the digital dinosaurs to the photographic background and live action characters.

2. Camera movement. Focus on the way camera movement is used in the composite mode, since camera movement poses special problems. Initially, it was impossible to use camera movement when compositing live action with special effects or animation. But ILM was able to overcome this fundamental principle of compositing in their breakthough film Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (Robert Zemeckis, 1988). This film created a seamless fusion of eel animation and live action while using extensive camera movement:

The commandment of locking down cameras [i.e. keeping them stationary] for effects photography was particularly strict in filming and compositing live action and animated elements. Who Framed Roger Rabbit? would not only break the mold and have a lively camera tracking both live actors and animated cartoon characters, it would be up to ILM to see that the twain would met - to create through optical alchemy a world where humans and cartoons could live together.

In previous attempts to combine live action and eel animation, the live action had to be filmed using a stationary camera to provide the animators with fixed reference points around which to integrate the animation. But this resulted in a static composite in which the live action and animation, although occupying the same screen space, did not fabricate the impression of interacting with one another in the same diegesis. With Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, ILM created a more believable composite partly by means of camera movement which gave the impression that the camera is equally following the live action and cartoons, resulting in the illusion that they are occupying the same diegesis. Camera movement in the composite mode therefore creates both ontological realism and dramatic realism: first, the digital dinosaurs are made to seem as though they exist as pro-filmic referents in the diegesis, that is, that they have the same weight and density as the photographic background and live action characters; and second (and consequentially), they are seamlessly integrated into the photographic background.

3. Motion blur. The composite mode has also developed a digital effect that reinforces the impression that digital and analogue events take place in the same unified space and diegesis: the illusion that spectators are watching movement. This effect is the motion blur. In live-action shots, when people and objects move, they become blurred. However, when objects are moved via stop-motion animation, they are not blurred;

instead, the animated model simply consists of quick, hard movements. As each frame is exposed, it photographs a still model. Before the next frame is exposed, the model is moved very slightly. The next frame then records the result of that motion, but it does not photograph the motion itself. The result is that the model is always pin sharp, however fast it is meant to be moving. But in producing motion in Spielberg's digital dinosaurs, motion blur is added to the image. In the composites, the live-action characters have optical blur when they move, and the digital dinosaurs have digital blur when they move. This strengthens the illusion that the humans and dinosaurs occupy the same diegesis (creating ontological and dramatic realism). 4. Heath's discussion of the impression of reality - in which this impression is created by suturing the spectator into an imaginary relation to the image, producing the impression that the image's space is unified and harmonious - is also applicable to the new digital technology, since it conceals the symbolic mechanisms from the spectator more seamlessly than optical technology, thus suturing the spectator into an imaginary relation to the image.

Digital Cameras For Beginners

Digital Cameras For Beginners

Although we usually tend to think of the digital camera as the best thing since sliced bread, there are both pros and cons with its use. Nothing is available on the market that does not have both a good and a bad side, but the key is to weigh the good against the bad in order to come up with the best of both worlds.

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