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Silver Screen to Digital - A Brief History of Film Technology - cover

Silver Screen to Digital - A Brief History of Film Technology

Carlo Montanaro

Publisher: John Libbey Publishing

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Summary

A history of transformations in moviemaking technology, from pigments to pixels, celluloid to CGI. 
 
An era has ended. After one hundred and twenty-five years, a change has taken place in cinemas. The thousands of figures formed by silver and colored pigments can no longer be viewed through transparent film—instead, everything has become digital, compressed, virtual and built into the rapid alternation of millions (hopefully, for quality’s sake) of dots, or pixels within a very neat and minuscule grid. 
 
But projection is just the last link in a chain that is transforming the most direct language invented by humanity over the centuries. The other links—shooting, editing, special effects, re-elaboration and sound reproduction—have by now undergone radical transformations that have often signified progress. Perhaps it is worth the trouble, then, having accepted this transformation-revolution once and for all, to understand where we started out from, how cinematographic language was born, and how its grammar first and later its syntax evolved thanks to technological development. 
 
Without lightweight equipment for sound recording, sensitive emulsions, and portable and compact lighting, it would not have been possible, at the end of the fifties, for example, to create identifiable “currents” of experimentation and concept under such titles as free cinema or nouvelle vague, which were largely based on footage from life and no longer reconstructed in the studio. That which filmmakers today can achieve even more effectively thanks to a range of digital technologies, paradoxically, involves working with even more-minimal equipment such as a smartphone in front of green or blue screens, against absolutely virtual backgrounds. In short: no more silver and more and more pixels. This volume journeys through the history of cinema, focusing on the machines and mechanisms that contributed to the magic.

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