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« Pixelvision redux | Main | Mexisex »

July 31, 2002

Pixelvision Reredux

Friedrich --

I forget where I picked up these facts, but I'm pretty sure they're trustworthy.

Film has 4X the dynamic range of the best video. Film has about 3X the pixel-type info per frame as the best video. Film is more sensitive to tones than video. All the information in only one film frame would equal 40 megabytes of uncompressed computer space.

All that said, your points are excellent and well-taken. I'm all for anything that makes it easier to bypass the usual channels. Now that I've got a digital still camera, for instance, I'll probably never use film again even for snapshots.

And all hail your concept of Napster for video, so far as distribution goes. If and when I write something book-like, I'll probably self-publish it rather than submit to the traditional publishing process. Who, if all else were equal, would choose to wrestle with the industrial publishing complex? And it's thanks to computers I'll be able to do that.

That said, and speaking strictly as a consumer (rather than a potential producer), it does seem to me that the cyber-propagandists are pushing video imagery on us a little too quickly at the movie theater. It isn't dense enough yet to hold the attention.

George Lucas himself seems to know this. In an interview in Film Comment, he admits that the computer-video image has a long way to go. Personally, I find it as dead and flat as a pancake -- do the mind and eye register how much information has been compressed out of existence?

The one movie I've seen where I thought the video image worked well was "The Anniversary Party." Have you seen it? Seriously annoying (revelations, carrying-on, anguish, a party that goes to hell, confrontations, etc) -- but shot well, and edited to allow for the faster way we seem to read video images.

The imagery fell apart only in the closeups. For some reason, video doesn't (yet?) seem capable of producing the dreamy-iconic effect film closeups can. And without dreamy closeups of actresses, I'm not much interested in movies, gosh darn it.

I find it interesting that, in the world of TV, when people making a commercial want a dreamy-transporting-fictional feel, they shoot film. When they want what they've made to seem "real," they shoot video. So, typically, I'm divided. Though I do love passing hours in the erotic trance state that watching a movie can throw me into.

But, come to think of it, I enter that state all too seldom at the movies recently anyway, given the theme parks that movies have largely become. So fuck it. Or, by and large, fuck it. (Take that, George Lucas. Who, by the way, argues in his Film Comment interview that no matter what it is that gives a celluloid movie image its magic, computers and videos will eventually be able to mimic the mechanisms.)

Maybe it's like the early CDs, which were cold and lifeless, however accurate. If the powers that were had waited a year or two to switch from LPs to CDs, their engineers would have been able to achieve a higher sampling rate, and wouldn't have had to spend the years since tweaking their machines to make the sound warmer and fuller. But maybe that's the way innovation works. And nothing I say is going to make people behave more sensitively anyway.

Seen any movies recently?


posted by Michael at July 31, 2002


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