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Old October 3rd, 2010, 02:03 AM   #46
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Thanks, Adam.
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Old October 3rd, 2010, 03:37 AM   #47
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Well said Adam, your English is perfectly clear and a pleasure to read Yoshiko and what you write echoes what I feel - learning about technique and practical skills is just the start. I teach in a Music dept. and concentrate on digital audio composition / sound design etc as well as historical topics which I begin by talking about the very first mechanical recordings on tin-foil cylinders so analogue tape is all a bit new- fangled for me! Maybe it's because making a film is a more complex business than working in sound alone, but we concentrate very much on generating ideas and aesthetic technique which involves a good understanding of the evolution of an art form. But yes we also have classes which are also dominated by practical skills though the context is never far away. Bear in mind that for generations Universities taught almost nothing practical at all - it was just theory and history: for the ancient Greeks, Music was studied but as pure theory only.

So for me courses that concentrate too heavily on technical skills are unbalanced and are essentially a commercial enterprise - come to us and get skills to get a good job - rather than University education. In the past in the UK this would have been what an apprenticeship would have been for but they have gone as employers stopped paying for them and so that sphere has moved into the university sector, hence the conflict in the idea of what we as lecturers are really for; a conflict that is apparent everyday in my job but not necessarily a bad one - we search continually for the balance.

Ultimately it isn't about what we teach though but about how much we can help the students to teach themselves.
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Old October 3rd, 2010, 02:17 PM   #48
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Yoshiko - thank you for your cogent comments.

Interesting that Murnau had actually studied art history at university. I wonder if anyone was teaching "film" in those days?. If they had, I can just imagine people complaining that studying still images was irrelevant to the "new" technology of film. Or studying B&W was irrelevant to the new technology of color. Or studying silent films was irrelevant to "talkies". Etc etc etc.

I couldn't agree more with Geoffrey that teaching of skills without teaching the principles and historical contexts is in some way short-changing the student. But at the same time there are students at university who are very much focused on marketable skills rather than theory and history. Should the university teach the principles and leave it to the students to learn how these principles relate to practical skills, or should the university teach the skills and leave it to the students to learn the principles? Personally I favor the former, but that's just me.

And in the end maybe it doesn't matter all that much.
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Old October 3rd, 2010, 03:04 PM   #49
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The mechanical skills are pretty useless you have common references with the creative people you are dealing with. Doing your own thing is fine, but communicating with a director can involve establishing visual (photographic, painted or graphic), dramatic or musical sources.

Some of the top film schools don't even include shooting anything until the 2nd year, so that the fundamentals are in place.
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Old October 3rd, 2010, 04:19 PM   #50
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That's how it was at UT-Austin back in my day. Freshmen weren't allowed anywhere near the hardware.
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Old October 3rd, 2010, 09:33 PM   #51
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A round of thanks to everyone who has so eloquently left their opinions on this subject; also my kudos to Chris Hurd for having one of the most useful informational sites on the web. The caliber of everyone here is admirable – no BS, no fights, just solid comments based on experience. Your opinions have started a big debate at this end as well. This week I will get together with the Chair of the Television Production Department to discuss some possible changes. Now let me expand and clarify some points raised in my original post.

I did say that I was thinking of making this the last semester that question would be asked. I have felt it coming since, several years ago; I was explaining the “single breakthrough that made television affordable to the mass market”. Instead of every camera, monitor, and home receiver having its own built-in sync generator – an expensive piece of equipment rendering TVs out of reach for most homes, a bright individual (name?) came up with a source of “universal sync” everyone already had. My little lecture reached an exciting climax as I pointed to a wall socket and pointed to “AC!” (60 cycles in the Western Hemisphere; 50 mostly elsewhere). My excitement was instantly squelched when a girl raised her hand and asked “Professor, I don’t understand what this has to do with air conditioning…” In an attempt to salvage my brilliant lesson I boldly asked – “Class, you’ve heard of AC/DC?” A bunch of hands went up. My sigh of relief turned into choking when a number of them exclaimed “A rock group!!” And so it goes, I am a 20th Century Man. That moniker was given to me in 2003 when I was teaching at another university, I don’t recall what I was discussing when one of the students donned me with the title. One last anecdote – two semesters ago I was teaching a class on writing for television. I began the class with fiction, and I must admit the entire class surprised me with their originality in plot, structure, and character development. After the midterm we turned our attention to writing non-fiction. I spent at least an entire 3 hour period explaining non-fiction. I suggested they find someone interesting they could interview, or report on the goings on at the grocery store. When the assigned non-fiction scripts were handed in not a single one fit the category. “How can this be non-fiction if you have created characters, assigned them names, and practically made up the whole story??!!” A girl in the last row raised her hand – “Professor, I am an intern at VH1. We do a lot of “Reality TV” shows there. Believe me professor; there is nothing real about reality.” … WOW!! The significance, and truth, of that innocent remark has gotten deeper and more poignant as each year passes. “There is nothing real about reality” – not only in reality series, but sadly in journalism in an ever expanding way. The front page of the New York Times might as well be the Op-Ed page.

My only reason for covering digital vs analog is because it’s in the syllabus and in the newest version of the assigned text – “Video Basics v6” by Zettl. Ironically, the same text I had in graduate school in 1968.

I agree with all who suggest the history of the medium should be a separate course. The course at hand is an introductory course to the techniques of multi-camera, live, studio production (even that form is rapidly dying – you can still find it in the evening news and SNL, and I inform the class of that fact.)

I tell them the technology they are learning will be outdated by the time they graduate. Some of it is already outdated. I am having constant panic attacks just trying to keep up with all the new chips, cameras, etc. To make things worse, the head of the TV studio is thinking of putting in a request for 3D!

I make it a point to let every class understand that although technology is changing, and they will always have to be dealing with new equipment and ways of getting things done, the one thing that will NEVER change is their innate ability to tell a story. Storytelling is what we all do, even in non-fiction. It’s our ability to attract an audience, keep them interested, and leaving them with a feeling they have gotten something – THAT will never, and has never changed.

So my initial plea for your opinion on how to remain relevant when all our points of reference are changing still stands. But what would you tell your high-school age child when as part of a photography class, when he or she shows you a photo where the background is much too sharp. I explained to David, my son, that it was a fine photo, but if he wanted to throw the background out of focus perhaps using a larger f stop, with a corresponding change of shutter speed might do the …. I looked at him and saw he was not paying much attention. “Hey, I’m answering your question!” When the inevitable reply came back at me – “Dad, I don’t have to know that!”

Enough for now. I should re-shoot and re-edit this reply. Instead I’ll just press “SUBMIT”>
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Old October 4th, 2010, 03:21 AM   #52
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I don't know about the US, but multi camera studio productions are alive and well doing entertainment, current affairs, magazine and sports programmes in the UK.
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Old October 4th, 2010, 03:22 AM   #53
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I was embarrassed by my poor knowledge among a lot of professional.
But I am very glad to know your passions forr shooting or teaching films and videos.

I'll never deny benefits nor posibilities of digital.
What I am sad is that few teacher can teach their students names of great directors or film makers at school generally though the students can learn names of great artists, such as da Vinch or Michelangelo.
At the present day most people must think films are just popular entertainments, but not arts.
But I can imagine people once watched Murnau's or Lang's films, and they believed film industry could make a new art with a new technology.
I simply wanted to tell you how the pioneers' film impressed me when I watched them.

I think audience always want impressive films in both periods of analogue and digital
And I believe humans always shoot films and humans always watch films..
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Old October 4th, 2010, 01:25 PM   #54
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I'm replying to Yoshiko and Brian.

Yoshiko - your English is fine, your thoughts and feelings come through perfectly, and that is what's important. Regarding the work of painters, which I believe you mentioned earlier, I teach white balance by using Rembrandt and Vermeer. Try to "white balance" either and you end up with junk. Rembrandt favored warm tones while Vermeer used blue in most of his works. I also use some interior scenes from Kubrick's "Barry Lyndon" where only candlelight was used and there was no attempt to "white balance" anything. I've found using paintings gets the point across - white balance is an artistic choice. In the case of Kubrick the reddish light of candlelight stayed as such, try to white balance his interiors and you end up with very conventional lighting.

Brian, there really aren't many LIVE multi camera shows in the U.S. Most are "live on tape" - i.e. you get a line cut but every camera has an isolated feed for re-cutting in post. I've done several shows like this. It can save your rear if an error is made, but I crave the sport of doing it live and getting it right the first time. Occasionally there are episodes of series that are hyped as live, and that spectacle tends to draw an audience, of course the writers need to write for live. The fast cutting and sudden scene changes we've grown used to, simply is not possible when live. Of course, sports are live, but that's another story.

I sense a thread creep.
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Old October 4th, 2010, 04:51 PM   #55
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Indeed very few multi camera studio shows are actaully live, they're mostly recorded, but there are big events like the Eurovision Song contest that are still live, with pre recorded inserts. The BBC does "Strictly Come Dancing" as a live show, although the Sunday night results programme in previous years was recorded on the Saturday. I believe the even more dicey "Dancing on Ice" on ITV is also a live programme.

Dancing on Ice 2010 ? ITV
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Old October 4th, 2010, 06:56 PM   #56
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Hi Ozzie

I have a question - if YOU were asked to write the same paper re digital and analog, what would you say (of course in 25 words or less ("fewer" for the grammar police amongst us))

I guess after re-reading this thread it isn't clear what aspects of analog vs digital is problematic with the students. In one sense, if you think of it narrowly, there is very little difference except in the tools used for editing, ie tape splicing vs NLE's. On the other hand if you think of it more broadly it can permeate the whole approach to the creative process. Just wondering where on the spectrum you're really posing the question.

To me, I think of all manner of issues with conversion between the analog and digital domains - sampling, anti-aliasing, clipping, etc - even the whole concept of "pixels - quantization issues, basically (nothing about digital really necessarily implies binary) etc etc etc.

Thngs like representing a continuous (at least at the macro level and not the molecular/atomic level where the real world exists in discrete energy levels etc) reality in quantized space, etc etc.

Just curious!
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Old October 5th, 2010, 01:11 AM   #57
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Thank you for your kind reply, Ozzie.
I understand you also love analogue.
But I guess what you wrote is slightly different from what I pointed out.
So may I write about my view again?
I wanted to ask a lot of professonal if digital has possibility to make the latest art as valuable as paintings or other arts.

I also love Rembrandt and Vermeer.
I love the lighting in works of Rembrandt, and the perspective that Vermeer used.
And I found some film directors shot beautiful scenes like the paintings, such as in Griffith's "Broken Blossoms" or in Carol Reed's "The Third Man".
But I wonder why a lot of people still love Kubrick's or Kurosawa's films in the period of digital.

There was a very famous story about making films of Krosawa.
When he made "Rashoumon", he found he could hardly shoot good scenes of rain.
So he use China ink as rain instead of water.

At the present day people can shoot more clear images by digital cameras.
But I guess most audience like fantasic fakes better than realistic images.
I don't mean the fantastic fakes are CGI.
When people Krosawa's film, they are impressed with the beautiful scene in it though the raindrop is black actually.
But film makers at the presnt day don't need China ink for a scene of the rain.

So I want to ask you if digital can made more artistic films than analogue.
To be honest I don't want to compare digital and analogue.
I have a digital camera currently, and I think it is very good a lot of people can enjoy shooting videos by digital cameras.
I know I am writing silly things.
Because I am an amateur, I can write waht I want to ask professional cameramen directly.

Do you think digital end to all analogue films?
Will digital be able to develope films, or make just video games?
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Old October 5th, 2010, 02:52 AM   #58
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Yoshiko...............

I think you're confusing the message with the medium here.

Telling a riveting story using analogue, is the the same riveting story using digital, it is purely the delivery medium that has changed, for better or worse.

Some of the best horror movies of the 20's & 30's were shot on such average analogue that it has become almost a clasic genre, almost imposible to make again with crystal clear digital.

Yet, "2001 A Space Odyssey" was shot in crystal clear whatever and has the power of Zeus behind it, it really is not the medium you need to worry about.

Shoot in Black and White, Grey scale, hack it to bits, whatever, it is NOT the medium, and with digital you have all those options and more, stop thinking about it unless it is important to the story.

The reason people love those "old" movies is that they were crafted by experts in their field of expertise, and they ,er, work.

Many of todays confections are thrown together with the usual ingredient mix:

Sex, violence, more sex, more violence and maybe a bit more sex.

Blend.

Result: Standard Hollywood fare for the last 2 decades.

Story: Nope.

Reason: Make money

Memorise: 1 Microsecond

Review: a complete load of utter crap (IMHO)

You can make sweet music using a Box Brownie still camera if you have the skill, not many do, which is why so many buy state of the art digtals and blast away like Space Troopers at everything in sight and call it "art".

It ain't the medium, it's the attitude.


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Old October 5th, 2010, 03:21 AM   #59
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I think there's an element of it's just CGI.

I't's surprising how much aerial stock footage from "The Battle of Britain" is being used in modern productions, it makes all the hassle that the aerial cameramen complained about shooting 65mm for the air to air shots worth while. Unfortunately too much VFX looks like a video game an unfortunate side effect of doing everything digital when just sweetening an older method can be so much better in quite a number of cases. That is a combination of what works best, rather than going for the fashionable and I suspect budget driven option.

It's unlikely you'd be able to put together aerial WW 2 scenes like those in a number of films in the early 1970s, but there was a feeling that there were real g forces involved, which is somehow missing in CGI.
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Old October 5th, 2010, 01:48 PM   #60
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Yoshiko-sama, doumo arigatou gozaimashita.

Thank you so much for bringing up a very important issue - namely to what extent does the digital medium influence the message. I have to admit that I'm not so sure myself. Would "Ikiru" have been as memorable if it had been done as a CGI animation? Or as a clay model animation?

Honestly, I think the answer is that it could have been. So I don't think there's anything inherent in the digital medium (including CGI/effects that have been enabled by digital processes) that makes it imperative to produce trash instead of art. However, it certainly does make it easier and cheaper to produce trash which may be why there is so much of it around.

Maybe a good way to say it is that the medium becomes part of the message. Some concepts are best conveyed by film without sound or sound without film (remember radio?). so to the extent that it influences the message, the choice of media is an important part of the creative process. and without knowledge of the pre-digital media I think it is impossible for an artist to make an appropriate choice.

Take a look at TVPaint Developpement - Web Site

There are some really quite fine digitally produced animations/images on the site.

I remember long ago when I scraped together enough $$$ to take a photography course in Yosemite with Ansel Adams. Of course I assumed that we'd get right down to serious photography. Wrong" We spent the first day or so of our photography course sitting in a room with black paper and white paper and a pair of scissors and some paste making compositions in black and white by cutting and pasting shapes. My initial reaction was that this was something we had done in kindergarten and was something we "didn't need to know" It wasn't long before I realized that it was something I really DID need to know because composition and balance in B&W were the same whether done on a piece of paper on a table or on the ground glass of a large format camera. I think those few hours playing with pieces of paper did as much to improve my photography as the next couple of weeks wandering around with Ansel himself.
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