Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The State of Cinema Address

Last Sunday morning in San Francisco, Kevin Kelly, founding editor of Wired magazine, delivered the State of Cinema address. Kelly has worked in digital technology since his founding role with The Well, in 1985, one of the first "true" online communtities. So he had a lot to say about what the future, inevitably and obviously digital all the way, will look like for motion pictures.

He opened his talk with a little factoid about life today: the huge amount of screens everywhere. "Anywhere we are waiting, there are screens," he said (gas stations, grocery lines, etc.).

He hit many points about why and how cinema has been and will continue to change:

- the home theater situation has been morphing: "There's a whole system of underground groups of state of the art home theaters."

-3D cinema may have a future. Theater owners want to use 3D to try and get customers into theaters. This was also a large topic discussed at last year's Future of Cinema Conference in Cannes, since this was also where Michael Peyser's U23D - "the first live-action 3D concert movie" premiered at the Cannes Film Festival.

-Because of all new possibilities and venues for distribution thanks to the Internet, there are all new rules and ideas for movie time frames. Think Youtube. "Before, you either made home movies or real movies. Now we have a middle. More than a home movie, less than a masterpiece."

-Tools are no longer a big decider for who is making movies and who is not. Since inexpensive video cameras are everywhere now, it's not the tools that prevent people from making movies. The only necessity now is the "ambition of the artist." Also because of accessible, inexpensive tools for production (cell phone cameras) and distribution (youtube) we now have soooo much content out there. People emphasize the crap. But, this just means there's more to weed through. "In order to have really great stuff you have to allow bad stuff."

-Computational Photography Film making- Take a film, extract out a person, and reassemble the story that you want (I wasn't quite sure what he was talking about here)

-Videos are increasingly everywhere. "It's similar to text everywhere. We don't even notice it. The moving image is becoming ubiquitous." When the printing press came out and text began to dominate, everyone was complaining about the loss of oral communication. This was known as the Gutenburg shift. Now, the same thing is happening with the shift from text to video. "We went from oral to written and now we're going to screen. There was a lamentation then. I think because of this shift to a visual culture, literary skills will be lost."

- What about the question of the literary form of film? How do we summarize, condense, make abstracts of films? How fast can we watch a film and still understand it? Everything is all about linking now. Eventually we will want to be able to link to certain frames in films, or even to certain things in frames. We don't have this technology yet.

- "It's the liquidity" of the medium. Film is becoming like this. Transformable.

-copy copy copy. "Freeconomy." What do we do? How do we make money? The copy machine is "the intermedia." (Mr. Kelly though is not worried about new media economy). "Where attention is money will follow. Stories have an incredible capacity to hold attention."

-For the future: the first lesson we learned on the web is that: we can do it! Nobody believed in the internet when it first came out. "We better start believing in the impossible."

-On the fate of film (celluloid), Kelly said, "I say good riddance to film (celluloid) because you can fake it (create the effect that film gives) with digital"

After the talk there was a Q and A and someone asked how artists will make money in this new "freeconomy." "I do believe we will find a model for artists being able to make a living," Kelly said.

*this post is the first of my culture review series. watch for more!

No comments: