The Limits Of Technology

The best place to begin is to state the obvious—that a computer-driven editing machine such as an Avid or Lightworks, no matter how sophisticated, cannot make the creative decision of where to cut and why. The decisions for continuity or dramatic emphasis are creative, if you wish aesthetic, choices. They are made by the editor or the editor or with the director or producer. The speed of computer-assisted editing will enable creative decisions to be arrived at more quickly than earlier editing technology, but it will not make the creative decisions. Here then lie a number of fallacies about nonlinear editing.

A second issue that devolves from the new technology is that it will yield new forms of storytelling, new levels of interactivity, and a more democratic relationship between storyteller (film- or videomaker) and audience. Although much progress has been made in video games, and on the compact disc entertainment and education fronts, for the most part that work to date has not been particularly interesting nor creative. It has been game-oriented and youth-oriented. This may change but the promise of interactivity has yet to be fulfilled.

On the other hand, just as the invention of the printing press did not necessarily lead to a proportional increase in writers, but rather to a spread in ancillary effects—secularization, rationality, democratization via communication, so the result of the digital revolution is the growth of the Internet and its impact on communication, democratization and, hopefully, rationality. These changes may or may not have an impact on storytelling.

On a more positive note, there is no question that nonlinear editing and digital technology will have positive impacts on the editing process and on the outcome of that process, the screen story. In technical terms, time is money and the speed of nonlinear systems should have a positive impact on post-production budgets. So too will the capacity for the editor to build up his own tracks and mix them down on his nonlinear systems. The capacity to work in a more complex way with sound and picture can only help the post-production process and budget. Digital technology also helps in the creation of special effects. The famous shots of Gary Sinise legless in the second half of Forrest Gump (1994) were produced in a digitized set of images reconstituted frame by frame to eliminate his legs from each frame. Equally possible today is the removal of any portion, small or large, of the image. This same technology can be used in film or sound restoration as well.

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Film Making

Film Making

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