What is digital cinema? : Lev Manovich (1995)

What is digital cinema? : Lev Manovich (1995)

내가 생각하는 digital moving-image와 거의 맥락이 상통한다.

Thus far, most discussions of cinema in the digital age have focused on the possibilities of interactive narrative… they only address one aspect of cinema which is neither unique nor, as many will argue, essential to it: narrative…The challenge which digital media poses to cinema extends far beyond the issue of narrative. p.1.

fictional films are live action films, i.e. they largely consist of unmodified photographic recordings of real events which took place in real physical space. Today, in the age of computer simulation and digital compositing, invoking this characteristic becomes crucial in defining the specificity of twentieth century cinema. they relied on lens-based recordings of reality. (previous cinema)

No matter how complex its stylistic innovations, the cinema has found its base in these deposits of reality, these samples obtained by a methodical and prosaic process. Cinema emerged out of the same impulse which engendered naturalism, court stenography and wax museums. Cinema is the art of the index; it is an attempt to make art out of a footprint. 이런 이분법적 사고가 기본적으로 내제되어 있다.

1970s, Cinema’s most basic gesture is to open the shutter and to start the film rolling, recording whatever happens to be in front of the lens. For Tarkovsky, an abstract cinema is thus impossible. 그러나 디지털 기술과 함께 이 ㅇ상황은 변했다. But what happens to cinema’s indexical identity if it is now possible to generate photorealistic scenes entirely in a computer using 3-D computer animation; to modify individual frames or whole scenes with the help a digital paint program; to cut, bend, stretch and stitch digitized film images into something which has perfect photographic credibility, although it was never actually filmed? p.2. indexicality에 근본적인 변화가 왔다고 이야기한다. 

20세기 카메라 발명 이전에 시네마는 매뉴얼한 애니메이션이었다. 지금 디지털은 다시 여기로 돌아간다. 

a return to nineteenth century pre-cinematic practices, when images were hand-painted and hand-animated. At the turn of the twentieth century, cinema was to delegate these manual techniques to animation and define itself as a recording medium. As cinema enters the digital age, these techniques are again becoming the commonplace in the filmmaking process. Consequently, cinema can no longer be clearly distinguished from animation. It is no longer an indexical media technology but, rather, a sub-genre of painting. p.3. 아주 그냥 단정을 지어버리는구나 

A Brief Archeology of Moving Pictures

cinema was understood, from its birth, as the art of motion. First, they all relied on hand-painted or hand-drawn images. Not only were the images created manually, they were also manually animated. It was not until the last decade of the nineteenth century that the automatic generation of images and their automatic projection were finally combined. Cinema also eliminated the discrete character of both space and movement in moving images. pp.3-5.

From Animation to Cinema

before the twentieth century — the manual construction of images, loop actions, the discrete nature of space and movement — all of this was delegated to cinema’s bastard relative, its supplement, its shadow — animation. The opposition between the styles of animation and cinema defined the culture of the moving image in the twentieth century. Animation foregrounds its artificial character, openly admitting that its images are mere representations. pp.5-6.

It pretends to be a simple recording of an already existing reality — both to a viewer and to itself.[13] Cinema’s public image stressed the aura of reality “captured” on film, thus implying that cinema was about photographing what existed before the camera, rather than “creating the ‘never-was'” of special effects.p.6.

Today, with the shift to digital media, these marginalized techniques move to the center.기술로 film / digital moving image 구분하려 한다. 

What is Digital Cinema?

1) Therefore, live action footage is displaced from its role as the only possible material from which the finished film is constructed.

2) Once live action footage is digitized (or directly recorded in a digital format), it loses its privileged indexical relationship to pro-filmic reality.

3) now live action footage functions as raw material for further compositing, animating and morphing. film obtains the plasticity which was previously only possible in painting or animation. The result: a new kind of realism, which can be described as something which looks is intended to look exactly as if it could have happened, although it really could not.

4) Previously, editing and special effects were strictly separate activities. An editor worked on ordering sequences of images together; any intervention within an image was handled by special effects specialists. The computer collapses this distinction.

5) Given the preceding principles, we can define digital film in this way:

digital film = live action material + painting + image processing + compositing + 2-D computer animation + 3-D computer animation


We can finally answer the question “what is digital cinema?” Digital cinema is a particular case of animation which uses live action footage as one of its many elements. .Born from animation, cinema pushed animation to its boundary, only to become one particular case of animation in the end. The relationship between “normal” filmmaking and special effects is similarly reversed. p.9. 디지털을 그냥 애니메이션이라고 규정지어버리는 오류… 

The last example brings us to yet another conceptualization of digital cinema — as painting.

William J. Mitchell focuses our attention on what he calls the inherent mutability of a digital image: “The essential characteristic of digital information is that it can be manipulated easily and very rapidly by computer. It is simply a matter of substituting new digits for old… Computational tools for transforming, combining, altering, and analyzing images are as essential to the digital artist as brushes and pigments to a painter.” As Mitchell points out, this inherent mutability erases the difference between a photograph and a painting.  ..

Hand-painting digitized film frames, made possible by a computer, is probably the most dramatic example of the new status of cinema. No longer strictly locked in the photographic, it opens itself towards the painterly. p.10.

Multimedia as “Primitive” Digital Cinema

the reality effect and cinema’s architectural arrangement all working together.[28] p.11.

The photographic and the graphic, divorced when cinema and animation went their separate ways, met again on a computer screen. .. The graphic also met the cinematic. As a result, the techniques of modern cinema and of nineteenth century moving image have merged in a new hybrid language. p.13.

The Loop and Spatial Montage

In contrast, narrative cinema has avoided repetitions; as modern Western fictional forms in general, it put forward a notion of human existence as a linear progression through numerous unique events. p.16.

The logic of replacement, characteristic of cinema, gives way to the logic of addition and co-existence. Time becomes spatialized, distributed over the surface of the screen. Nothing is forgotten, nothing is erased. Just as we use computers to accumulate endless texts, messages, notes and data (and just as a person, going through life, accumulates more and more memories, with the past slowly acquiring more weight than the future), “Spatial Montage” accumulates events and images as it progresses through its narrative. In contrast to cinema’s screen, which primarily functioned as a record of perception, here computer screen functions as a record of memory. p.19.

Conclusion: From Kino-Eye to Kino-Brush

In the twentieth century, cinema has played two roles at once. As a media technology, cinema’s role was to capture and to store visible reality. The difficulty of modifying images once they were recorded was exactly what gave cinema its value as a document, assuring its authenticity. The same rigidity of the film image has defined the limits of cinema as I defined it earlier, i.e. the super-genre of live action narrative. ..They are all children of the recording process which uses lens, regular sampling of time and photographic media. They are all children of a machine vision.

The mutability of digital data impairs the value of cinema recordings as a documents of reality. In retrospect, we can see that twentieth century cinema’s regime of visual realism, the result of automatically recording visual reality, was only an exception, an isolated accident in the history of visual representation which has always involved, and now again involves the manual construction of images. Cinema becomes a particular branch of painting — painting in time. No longer a kino-eye, but a kino-brush.[33] p.20.

What was supplemental to cinema becomes its norm; what was at its boundaries comes into the center. Digital media returns to us the repressed of the cinema. .. Moving image culture is being redefined once again; the cinematic realism is being displaced from being its dominant mode to become only one option among many. p.21.

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