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Is HD making us a bunch of lazy, un-original filmmakers?

Robert Rodriguez was one of the early adopters of HD

Robert Rodriguez was one of the early adopters of HD

HD vs film stock

The HD format rules, but isn’t filmmaking just getting a little too easy for comfort?

Shooting on HD today is so simple we can practically record all day and not have to think about spending thousands on film stock, getting it developed, and fearing for our lives when a stroke of sun might pre-maturely expose our fine work.

We’ve seen film stock rapidly disappear with new productions adapting fully to HD, and even 4k, but somehow that’s not great news for the art. Filmmaking has to some extent benefitted from the new digital workflow but at the expense of precision. If we go back not too long ago to DV, this format, although ugly and vastly inferior to film, made us wary of recording too much. Capturing a DV cassette was a pain. It was a filmmaker’s digital film-reel experience, but it taught us a valuable lesson.

When film productions are limited by the amount of shots they can take. When they have to get conservative, sometimes the precision and the thinking that goes behind a shoot and a scene is so much more important than the luxury of being able to shoot anything,

Just trying a whole bunch of angles on set might sound great because HD gives us that scope to try out what we want, but at the same time, too much choice can convolute the edit. If there are so many angles, there comes a point where style can suffer, because there is a lack of consistency and we’ve somehow lost the moment.

Think of it this way. A painter can spend days, weeks creating a masterpiece, but they only have one canvas to do it on. However a simple app can help us paint a digital masterpiece in a few hours or even faster. Being able to re-do it over and over again is a luxury, but does it produce the same result?

Although I believe that digital gives us so much more opportunity to perfect our art, there’s a danger that filmmakers will take the lazy root, not prepare their scenes, and just approach a point-and-shoot mentality. There is so much more to filmmaking that just being able to do a 3-point lighting setup with a nice frame.

Filmmakers starting out in the business should get their foundations on film. In that situation people really learn what it’s like to create style, depth, work with lenses, light, and learn about time management : One of the hardest things to achieve with accuracy on a film set.

 

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