Thursday, 3 December 2015

June 2010 Media Essay

"What significance does the continuing development of digital media technology have for media institutions and audiences?"

In this essay I will be looking at the significance in development of digital media technology in the film industry and how it has changed during the different stages of production and what effect this has had on the industry.

The development process of media technology has been very evident in the film Mad Max Fury Road, where technical devices were used to support the camera during filming. A prime example of this includes the edge arm which held the camera out of a long crane which could move alongside the car chases in the scenes to capture the fast past action. If it wasn't for these devices filming couldn't take advantage of more adventurous angles and ideas. Because Mad Max Fury Road is filmed in Namibia dessert, the crew faced difficulties in maintaining a clear shot therefore the cameras had to be dust proof and water proof and the digital camera were fixed with an inbuilt cooling system to allow long periods of filming to take place. This shows how technology advances has allowed filming to take place in un easy conditions and capture good shots. Because of media technology advances, long action sequences are now much easier to capture, with a range of different camera to choose from. The choice of Alex, Imax, 3D and 2D cameras can be used to capture many different looks, Mad Max decided to use the digital Arri Alexa, Cannon EOS 5D Mark II, Olympus P5 which enabled them to shoot fast paced moving action in high speed windy conditions and provided them with flexibility allowing them to change the image after filming during the post production stage. They used Panavision Primo Lenses on there Alex Cannon as it made the cameras have extra cut-away point of view angle shots, which were so short they would not even be noticed due to them being of high quality. 'Eye Trace' and 'Cross hair framing' techniques were used during the filming which enabled the editor to keep the important visual information in one spot, the centre of the frame. In Ex Machina the whole filming process was done in digital at 4K resolution. The development in technology has given director of photography's the chance to hide short cuts during filming which has saved time and effort meaning a film can be completed over a shorter time period but to a high quality. The significance in this part of the filming process is massive and has created a new world inside a film, making it seem more visually real and easier to capture more difficult images.

The post production stage has benefited the most from the continuing advances in computer digital technology, especially during the editing stage where films can be completely changed visually without having to re shoot specific scenes. In Mad Max Fury Road computer editing has been used to cut out the wires and ropes during stunts which has allowed the stunt team to combine a variation of complex stunts safely whilst editing can be used to enhance the realism of the scene. For example when certain antagonists are driving down the cannon mountains on bikes they are attached to a wire which has a wheel attached to another rope which follows the actor down the cliff and lifts them off the bike when it is about to crash. The advances in editing has given the editor the power to experiment with the light contrast and brightness and take out certain dark shades, and add/remove cliffs etc. In Mad Max the thunder storm was all visually added in during this stage which shows how the post production stage how become a more effective and crucial stage in the creation of a film. In Ex Machina the use of CGI has enabled them to create a robot by editing the look of an actor during post production, to create Eva the robot they filmed both scenes with the actress Alicia Vikander presence and scenes without her so they could edit in the robotical features in the AI's body. In total the film took 800 VFX shots, of which 350 or near to that were robot shots, this shows that the large proportion of the film only uses post-production CGI to create the robot. Post production has seen a significant increase in its effectiveness due to advances in technology, however this has caused a large proportion of the film industry to be dominated by these type of films , e.g. Mad Max Fury Road where continuous action is created with the help of green screens and CGI, this means audiences have been forced to watch them which isn't a good sign of the future of the industry, as they will lack a range of creativity and unpredictability.

The marketing stage in filming has also been very beneficial due to the result of increased wide spread technology which many films now use to reach out to large audience effectively. Ex Machina is a key film that relied purely on self promoting and the it's audience giving the film extra kudos (viral marketing). The film itself did very little marketing, an app where you could have your face drawn by Eva (the artificial intelligence in the film) was available, also a fake Tinder account was created which pretended to be an attractive 25 year old woman who was actually the actress who was playing the AI (Ava) in the film (Alicia Vikander), and was speaking to men who were then tricked and were directed to an Instagram page which was promoting Ex Machina. This was only done in Austin America which in comparison to other film marketing covers a very small proportion of the US. Because this generated something to talk about, social media became Ex Machina's tool to success which led to increased sales of $36.9 million and fundamentally profit. This example shows how social media has become a very powerful online form of marketing a film. On the other hand one of Mad Max Fury Road's distributors Warner.Bros spent $43.7 million on advertisement for the film, releasing key online marketing techniques such as teaser trailers on YouTube which went viral and created a Facebook and Twitter fan page where information could be leaked about the film to spark excitement. They also created a Mad Max F1 car which advertised the film however wasn't as successful as the online marketing because only the certain fans there would have noticed it, were as online marketing gives you the power of reaching more than just your films targeted audience. Evidence from these two films proves that the development of technology has given marketing a better way of communicating, and suggests that maybe smaller more 'British' films could stand a chance in the film industry if they use online viral marketing to its full potential.

Distributing and exchanging a film with it's targeted audience has become a significant development over the past few years with the introduction of online internet streaming like Netflix and Amazon prime which offer audiences the chance to watch a film in their own homes through 'streaming' it, many fans have used this service to re watch a film after watching it in the cinema, this has generated extra sales for the film industry. Films can also now be downloaded online, which a lot of fans do 'illegally', Mad Max Fury Road was one of the most pirated films (in the top five) in 2015 and had 22.90 million shares on the torrent network. The film had 1.75 million pirated downloads over summer. Blu-ray also been another successful technological development in the exchanging process of a film, Mad Max Fury Road generated 48% of its second week sales from Blue-ray and remained on top of both national home video sales charts for two consecutive weeks. The success of this film has clearly been achieved through alternative methods of exchange like Blue-ray and online downloads which has caused the distribution of the film industry to become bigger and more profitable that ever before. Mad Max Fury Road is also set to release a console video game based of the film series in 2015 which shows how the film has become a success even a year after the original exchanging methods.

The development of digital technology is becoming a huge success in the film industry and helping films to reach a wider audience. This is however giving films with a larger budget spend (typically action/adventures) an advantage over the smaller independent film companies as they can afford to produce more marketing material and dominate the industry, giving film goers less choice and more of the same. But the new advances in technology could have a greater benefit to small companies, if the online tools remain cheaper and easier to produce.

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