Do you remember the ritual of hauling out the family film projector to watch recently shot home movies – from the latest vacation, family event or special occasion – and then rarely, if ever, watching the films again?
Many people have boxes of old family films squirreled away in their attics or basements that they have saved over the years (or recently inherited) that they’ve never seen for lack of a (working) projector, or the knowledge of how to handle and assess their films. Many of these same people may have decided to have their films transferred to DVD or [horror!] videotape, mistakenly believing that this new copy would last forever and the original films (thought now to be obsolete) could be thrown away. Well, we all know now how far into the future VHS videotape took us.
Keanu Reeves presents an in-depth look at the ‘analogue vs. digital’ cinematic revolution in the 2012 film “Side by Side” – a documentary that asks how film-making is changing in the digital age. As the title, “Side by Side”, suggests the documentary doesn’t argue for one format over another.
Since the beginning of movie making, over a hundred years ago, there was only one way to make a movie — with photochemical film. But over the last two decades a digital process has emerged to challenge photochemical filmmaking. According to “Side by Side” producer and presenter Reeves, “Our goal was to explore the spectrum of opinion in the industry at a time when both film and digital are still used to shoot.”.
It is a pivotal time in the production moving images (and still images for that matter) do we abandon a process that has served us well for over 100 years, for one that is unquestionably easier, faster and more accessible? Or, is there room for both in today’s increasingly digital world? If you like movies, and are interested in how they are made, then I strongly suggest you see this film.
Through interviews with directors, cinematographers, film students, producers, technologists, editors, and exhibitors, “Side by Side” examines all aspects of filmmaking — from capture to edit, visual effects to color correction, distribution to archive. At this moment when digital and photochemical filmmaking coexist, “Side by Side” explores what has been gained, what is lost, and what the future might bring.
Visual literacy, the ability to “read” pictorial images, is a basic skill necessary for working with still and moving images. Reading images is the first step in researching images effectively – it is the start of the appraisal process. Sometimes the hardest part is figuring out the context of the photograph (or any historical artifact) and the relationship (if any) it has with other items found with it. At work, we referred to it as “forensic cataloguing” – taking all the clues you have (visual, textual, etc.) and investigating them, until you have a clearer picture of what is in front of you. Sometimes all you have to start with is the artifact itself, and a brief (often vague) notation. In the case of the photo below, I had the name of the owner, but no other contextual information was found on the photo envelope.
Take for example the photo above, on first glance it is a B&W photo of a woman in a park-like setting. Look a little closer, and you might notice the mountains in the background; the clothing she is wearing; and the style of her hair. You begin to get a clearer picture (no pun intended) of how to describe this photograph.
What if you were to add into the mix, the following two photographs found in the same negative envelope along with the photo above?