Digital Cinematography Essay Example
Digital Cinematography Essay Example

Digital Cinematography Essay Example

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  • Pages: 4 (893 words)
  • Published: September 15, 2017
  • Type: Research Paper
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For over a century, motion pictures have entertained audiences with larger-than-life portrayals of life. In the beginning, films relied on traditional cameras and film to capture footage. Nevertheless, as technology advanced, the film industry began embracing digital techniques for image and video capturing. As technology continues to evolve, an increasing number of movies are being shot using digital cameras. While shooting digitally offers both pros and cons, it is anticipated that digital cinematography will ultimately supplant film in the majority of productions. The emergence of electronic cinematography began in the late 1980s.

Sony's concept for an HDTV camera went largely unnoticed. However, the film industry is now also embracing shooting TV shows and commercials with digital video tape. Independent filmmakers have been utilizing the MiniDV format due to its superior quality compared


to earlier formats. In May 2002, Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones made a significant breakthrough by becoming the first major motion picture shot digitally using a Sony CineAlta camera. The film captured high-definition video at 24 frames per second.

Traditional video cameras usually have a frame rate of 29.97 fps, but newer digital cameras can operate at 24 fps, which is the same as traditional film cameras. The process of capturing images in digital cinematography is similar to digital photography. Light sensors called CMOS and CCD sensors (with CCD being more common) are used to capture the images. These sensors come in two different arrays, offering flexibility during shooting.

Most cameras used for digital cinematography have a single sensor that functions similarly to a film frame. These sensors are larger, allowing users to use the same lenses as those used with 35mm film

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on these high-quality digital cameras. On the other hand, digital cameras used primarily for broadcasting typically have three sensors. A prism divides the color spectrum, with each sensor handling a different color. This setup enhances color reproduction quality but means these cameras cannot use traditional film lenses.

Film stores images on individual film frames, while digital images can be stored in two ways. The preferred method for industry professionals is recording to tape, particularly in the broadcast industry. The footage is captured in various video formats and then transferred to a computer for editing using a tape deck. However, with film, the images must first be transferred to tape at a different frame rate before digital equipment can be used for editing. Alternatively, images can also be captured without the need for tape.

In this configuration, the camera is connected to hard drives, permitting a fully digital process. After the day's shooting is finished, the images can be stored on a server and can be instantly edited without the requirement to re-shoot the footage. Despite the considerable advancements in digital cinematography equipment in recent times, certain drawbacks of recording in this format compel most experienced filmmakers to continue using film. The primary issue with digital recording is its response to light. There exist various film stocks, each endowed with its distinctive traits.

Filmmakers possess extensive expertise in their art and can accurately predict the result of their film. In digital cinematography, the camera's sensor plays a crucial role in determining the color and lighting of the image, which varies based on the camera model. Hence, filmmakers must be well acquainted with the particular sensors employed in their selected

cameras. Nonetheless, when utilizing digital cameras, there is an advantage that exceeds traditional film equipment: no separate sound recording system is required.

The synchronization between this system and the picture can lead to different issues. In digital recording, cameras frequently possess the capability to directly record sound synchronized with the picture. This reduces costs by eliminating specific crew roles and simplifies editing during post production as the audio is already synchronized. Despite investing substantial amounts of money in movie production and advertising, distribution to individual theaters remains necessary.

In the past, movies were distributed to theaters as film reels, with each screen requiring its own copy. This meant that theaters had to acquire multiple copies at a high cost. Moreover, these film reels encountered various problems. However, the introduction of digital distribution has changed this. Now, only one copy is needed for the entire theater and can be easily delivered via a hard drive or downloaded from a network server. This not only saves money but also ensures better reliability since digital copies do not deteriorate over time. Ultimately, technology prevails. Furthermore, it is difficult for the average viewer to differentiate between digitally created images and those captured on traditional film.

The past century has seen rapid advancements in digital cinematography equipment, leading to the majority of broadcast television programming now being shot digitally. Major motion pictures are also increasingly being shot, edited, and distributed using digital methods. With the transition of theaters to digital projectors and the availability of higher quality digital cinematography cameras, traditional film recording is gradually becoming outdated.

Works Cited

  1. Editors of Videomaker. The Videomaker Guide to Digital and Dvd Production. 3rd ed. Woburn: Focal Press,


  • Hitzik, Michael A. "Digital cinema take 2." Technology Review Sept. 2002: 36.
  • Kennedy, Joseph. "Out of film." Print Jan.
  • In 2005, Richard Doherty published an article titled "Cinema poised at brink of digital storytelling" in Electronic Engineering Times (May 2001, page 85). The article discusses the topic of digital cinematography.

    Mar. 2007. Digital Information, Digital Cinema Now. http://www.digitalcinemanow.


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