[[[IDC]][iDC] Cinematic video

Liam wells l.wells at nsad.ac.uk
Mon Jun 19 18:29:12 EDT 2006

Dear Tom & all IDC-ers

>From a personal perspective I am very pleased to see this debate opening up
on IDC, it is one which seems to have been forgotten, become almost accepted
that 'digital film-making' is the norm, cinematic history has been forgotten
(or assimilated into a range of other forms) I am particularly interested as
it hits some of the same questions myself & colleagues have been wrangling
over - what to call a 'new' course which accurately reflects the disparate
range of videoart-filmaking-digitalfilm-audio-visual practices our curricula
seeks to work with. Just what the hell do we call it??

Collectively (and you may see this as bit of a cop-out), we went with
'Moving Image', so all-things go full circle back to the 70s then. It seems
that such a term is neutral enough to include many of the practices we know
and love (and that you discuss here)

I wonder if I might add a few comments, mostly about things which may fall
outside of some of your thoughts here, some things which maybe are neither
film nor video, things which might reference the language, the
(im)materiality of neither & both.

I am thinking here about forms such as 3D film-making, machinima,
algorhythmic 'films', the generative image, webcasts. One thing the above
forms might share is their purely digital (im)materiality - we may here be
dealing with digital forms which sidestep the framerate/ aspect ratio
arguments offered here (not that I disagree with your points). All of the
above are capable of transcending those technical restrictions which might
locate a practice within either cinematic or video-matic . These purely
digital forms might be screened in any aspect ratio, picture shape (as long
as it has four sides) or even have variable frame-rate. Datarate, bandwidth,
screen refresh & processor speed become the new restrictions.

This is not to say that these forms do not however reference, mimic or
borrow the language of the cinematic/ the video-matic of course they
invariably do. But they may also reference other languages, forms too - the
computer game, software, mathematics, not just the heady worlds of filmic &
video arts...(although I take the point that often computer games are are
pastiche of cinematic codes)

Also, and this is contentious....where does a 'film' stop being cinematic
and become video & vice versa?? Traditional filmmakers have often used video
materials alongside 16/35mm. Peter Greenway's Prospero's Books is just one
example of a suture of filmic & video-matic material, predating the 'digital
film revolution' or the 'cinematisation of video formats.

Or, when one watches a film (made for cinema) on DVD (transferred to video,
screened on TV) does it no longer act as cinema ? (viewing situation taken
out of the equation for a moment). The language of cinema still exists, the
edit, the sound design, the psychological engagement etc etc are still
cinematic in reference even when divorced from the materiality of cinematic

On another note - one might blame television production for the notion of
'cinematic video' But that may be stretching it....

Thanks Tom for a really interesting post - one I think we will be debating
for some time yet,

Best wishes from the UK

Liam Wells

Norwich School of Art & Design, UK

On 16/6/06 16:18, "twsherma at mailbox.syr.edu" <twsherma at mailbox.syr.edu>

> Is the new video 'film,' video or film?
> Video art has been pushed around and roughed up by a technological
> revolution throughout its forty-year history. Analog video, rolling
> through several formats of technological evolution, has been completely
> replaced by digital video.
> Filmmakers, in the meantime, have lost their photochemical medium.
> Production in 16mm or 35mm film has become cost prohibitive beyond film's
> perceived advantages over video. Those who still shoot in photochemical
> film end up editing in and outputting in video. And film projection is a
> dying art.
> Handmade film demonstrates how hopeless the situation actually is. Film
> remains accessible only to those willing to expose raw film stock to
> chemicals in their bathtubs. Wearing gas masks and raincoats for
> protection, filmmakers cling to their disappearing medium.
> In 2006 there are 150 million digital video camcorders in operation
> worldwide. And digital still cameras and camera phones also shoot video.
> Non-linear video editing is a standard feature on all personal computers.
> Video streams across computer networks, lighting up tiny screens and
> laptops, desktops, LCD and plasma screens. Video projection is exploding
> with LCD and DLP and HDV. 160,000 theatres worldwide are rolling over to
> HDV projection. LED and OLED (organic light emitting diodes) promise to
> take video data to all architectural and furniture surfaces, spreading to
> clothing and the rejuvenation of books, magazines and newspapers. Video
> display technology is gaining a mobility and ubiquity that film never had.
> Filmmakers, displaced and stunned by these developments, have latched onto
> video. Wanting video to be film they slow video's frame rate and insist
> upon progressive scan. Video's aspect ratio has been stretched from 4:3 to
> 16:9. Filmmakers try to slow down and overtake an electronic medium that
> runs at the speed of light. Major equipment manufacturers exploit this
> migration, for the time being... The central digital art form is
> simulation. The goal is the creation of a complete fake: the fusion of the
> copy and the original. As with 'reality television,' the digital 'film'
> demonstrates the difficulties of controlling hyper-reality.
> Filmmakers collectively attempt to transform the balanced, brutally
> explicit retinal-acoustic reality of video into an electronic, digital
> photo-optical simulation of 'film.' They try to blanket the video medium's
> essential cybernetic characteristics (behaviour shaped and governed by
> instant replay) with scripts and actors and the conventions of cinematic
> history. It has not yet dawned on filmmakers that the explicit nature of
> the video medium undermines the illusions of fictional narrative.
> The semantic trail of this awkward takeover is amusing. Filmmakers now say
> they work in 'digital cinema.' 'Video cinema' or 'video film' are too
> straightforward and don't sound right (video sounds better as a noun
> than it does as a verb). Filmmakers, confined to computers and non-linear
> editing, are attracted to the term 'movies' (as in 'QuickTime movie
> files') -- but the idea of digital 'movies' is ultimately too small and
> fails to encompass the grand 20th century scale of cinematic history. The
> word cinema must remain in a description of filmmaking in video. The
> millennial practice of making 'films' in the medium of video is exactly
> what it is: cinematic video. It is filmmakers making cinema using the
> medium of video. It is cinematic video.
> ++++
> Professor Tom Sherman
> Syracuse University
> Department of Transmedia
> 102 Shaffer Art
> Syracuse, New York 13244-1210
> U.S.A.
> tel) 315-443-1202
> fax) 315-443-1303
> e-mail:  twsherma at mailbox.syr.edu
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