|This article may be expanded with text translated from the corresponding article in the French Wikipedia. (January 2012)
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A film, also called a movie or motion picture, is a series of still images which, when shown on a screen, creates the illusion of moving images. A film is created by photographing actual scenes with a motion picture camera; by photographing drawings or miniature models using traditional animation techniques; by means of CGI and computer animation; or by a combination of some or all of these techniques and other visual effects. The process of filmmaking is both an art and an industry. Films were originally recorded onto plastic film which was shown through a movie projector onto a large screen; more modern techniques may use wholly digital filming and storage, such as the Red One camera which records onto hard-disk or flash cards.
Films usually include an optical soundtrack, which is a graphic recording of the spoken words, music and other sounds that are to accompany the images. It runs along a portion of the film exclusively reserved for it and is not projected.
Films are cultural artifacts created by specific cultures. They reflect those cultures, and, in turn, affect them. Film is considered to be an important art form, a source of popular entertainment, and a powerful medium for educating—or indoctrinating—citizens. The visual basis of film gives it a universal power of communication. Some films have become popular worldwide attractions by using dubbing or subtitles to translate the dialog into the language of the viewer.
The individual images that make up a film are called frames. During projection, a rotating shutter causes intervals of darkness as each frame in turn is moved into position to be projected, but the viewer does not notice the interruptions because of an effect known as persistence of vision, whereby the eye retains a visual image for a fraction of a second after the source has been removed. The perception of motion is due to a psychological effect called beta movement.
The name “film” originates from the fact that photographic film (also called film stock) has historically been the medium for recording and displaying motion pictures. Many other terms exist for an individual motion picture, including picture, picture show, moving picture, photoplay and flick. The most common term in the United States is movie, while in Europe film is preferred. Terms for the field in general include the big screen, the silver screen, the movies and cinema; the latter is commonly used in scholarly texts and critical essays, especially by European writers. In early years, the word sheet was sometimes used instead of screen.
- 1 History
- 2 Film theory
- 3 Industry
- 4 Associated fields
- 5 Terminology used
- 6 Education and propaganda
- 7 Production
- 8 Distribution
- 9 Animation
- 10 Future state
- 11 See also
- 12 Notes
- 13 References
- 14 External links
Preceding film in origin by thousands of years, early plays and dances had elements common to film: scripts, sets, costumes, production, direction, actors, audiences, storyboards, and scores. Much terminology later used in film theory and criticism apply, such as mise en scene (roughly, the entire visual picture at any one time). Owing to the lack of any technology for doing so, the moving images and sounds could not be recorded for replaying as with film.
In the mid-19th century, inventions such as the phenakistoscope and zoetrope demonstrated that a carefully designed sequence of drawings, showing phases of the changing appearance of objects in motion, would appear to show the objects actually moving if they were displayed one after the other at a sufficiently rapid rate. These devices relied on the phenomenon of persistence of vision to make the display appear continuous even though the observer’s view was actually blocked as each drawing rotated into the location where its predecessor had just been glimpsed. Each sequence was limited to a small number of drawings, usually twelve, so it could only show endlessly repeating cyclical motions. By the late 1880s, the last major device of this type, the praxinoscope, had been elaborated into a form that employed a long coiled band containing hundreds of images painted on glass and used the elements of a magic lantern to project them onto a screen.
The use of sequences of photographs in such devices was initially limited to a few experiments with subjects photographed in a series of poses, because the available emulsions were not sensitive enough to allow the short exposures needed to photograph subjects that were actually moving. The sensitivity was gradually improved and in the late 1870s Eadweard Muybridge created the first animated image sequences photographed in real-time. A row of cameras was used, each in turn capturing one image on a glass photographic plate, so the total number of images in each sequence was limited by the number of cameras, about two dozen at most. Muybridge used his system to analyze the movements of a wide variety of animal and human subjects. Hand-painted images based on the photographs were projected as moving images by means of his zoopraxiscope.
By the end of the 1880s, the introduction of lengths of celluloid photographic film and the invention of motion picture cameras, which could photograph an indefinitely long rapid sequence of images using only one lens, allowed several minutes of action to be captured and stored on a single compact reel of film. Some early films were made to be viewed by one person at a time through a “peep show” device such as the Kinetoscope. Others were intended for a projector, mechanically similar to the camera and sometimes actually the same machine, which was used to shine an intense light through the processed and printed film and into a projection lens so that these “moving pictures” could be shown tremendously enlarged on a screen for viewing by an entire audience. The first public exhibition of projected motion pictures in America was at Koster and Bial’s Music Hall in New York City on the 23rd of April 1896.
The earliest films were simply one static shot that showed an event or action with no editing or other cinematic techniques. Around the turn of the 20th century, films started stringing several scenes together to tell a story. The scenes were later broken up into multiple shots photographed from different distances and angles. Other techniques such as camera movement were developed as effective ways to tell a story with film. Until sound film became commercially practical in the late 1920s, motion pictures were a purely visual art, but these innovative silent films had gained a hold on the public imagination. Rather than leave audiences with only the noise of the projector as an accompaniment, theater owners hired a pianist or organist or, in large urban theaters, a full orchestra to play music that fit the mood of the film at any given moment. By the early 1920s, most films came with a prepared list of sheet music to be used for this purpose, and complete film scores were composed for major productions.
The rise of European cinema was interrupted by the outbreak of World War I, while the film industry in the United States flourished with the rise of Hollywood, typified most prominently by the innovative work of D. W. Griffith in The Birth of a Nation (1915) and Intolerance (1916). However, in the 1920s, European filmmakers such as Sergei Eisenstein, F. W. Murnau and Fritz Lang, in many ways inspired by the meteoric wartime progress of film through Griffith, along with the contributions of Charles Chaplin, Buster Keaton and others, quickly caught up with American film-making and continued to further advance the medium.
In the 1920s, the development of electronic sound recording technologies made it practical to incorporate a soundtrack of speech, music and sound effects synchronized with the action on the screen. The resulting sound films were initially distinguished from the usual silent “moving pictures” or “movies” by calling them “talking pictures” or “talkies.” The revolution they wrought was swift. By 1930, silent film was practically extinct in the US and already being referred to as “the old medium.”
Another major technological development was the introduction of “natural color,” which meant color that was photographically recorded from nature rather than added to black-and-white prints by hand-coloring, stencil-coloring or other arbitrary procedures, although the earliest processes typically yielded colors which were far from “natural” in appearance. While the advent of sound films quickly made silent films and theater musicians obsolete, color replaced black-and-white much more gradually. The pivotal innovation was the introduction of the three-strip version of the Technicolor process, first used for animated cartoons in 1932, then also for live-action short films and isolated sequences in a few feature films, then for an entire feature film, Becky Sharp, in 1935. The expense of the process was daunting, but favorable public response in the form of increased box office receipts usually justified the added cost. The number of films made in color slowly increased year after year.
In the early 1950s, the proliferation of black-and-white television started seriously depressing North American theater attendance. In an attempt to lure audiences back into theaters, bigger screens were installed, widescreen processes, polarized 3D projection and stereophonic sound were introduced, and more films were made in color, which soon became the rule rather than the exception. Some important mainstream Hollywood films were still being made in black-and-white as late as the mid-1960s, but they marked the end of an era. Color television receivers had been available in the US since the mid-1950s, but at first they were very expensive and few broadcasts were in color. During the 1960s, prices gradually came down, color broadcasts became common, and sales boomed. The overwhelming public verdict in favor of color was clear. After the final flurry of black-and-white films had been released in mid-decade, all Hollywood studio productions were filmed in color, with rare exceptions reluctantly made only at the insistence of “star” directors such as Peter Bogdanovich and Martin Scorsese.
The decades following the decline of the studio system in the 1960s saw changes in the production and style of film. Various New Wave movements (including the French New Wave, Indian New Wave, Japanese New Wave and New Hollywood) and the rise of film-school-educated independent filmmakers contributed to the changes the medium experienced in the latter half of the 20th century. Digital technology has been the driving force for change throughout the 1990s and into the 2000s. Digital 3D projection largely replaced earlier problem-prone 3D film systems and has become popular in the early 2010s.
“Film theory” seeks to develop concise and systematic concepts that apply to the study of film as art. The concept of film as an art-form began with Ricciotto Canudo‘s The Birth of the Sixth Art. Formalist film theory, led by Rudolf Arnheim, Béla Balázs, and Siegfried Kracauer, emphasized how film differed from reality, and thus could be considered a valid fine art. André Bazin reacted against this theory by arguing that film’s artistic essence lay in its ability to mechanically reproduce reality not in its differences from reality, and this gave rise to realist theory. More recent analysis spurred by Jacques Lacan‘s psychoanalysis and Ferdinand de Saussure‘s semiotics among other things has given rise to psychoanalytical film theory, structuralist film theory, feminist film theory and others. On the other hand, critics from the analytical philosophy tradition, influenced by Wittgenstein, try to clarify misconceptions used in theoretical studies and produce analysis of a film’s vocabulary and its link to a form of life.
Film is considered to have its own language. James Monaco wrote a classic text on film theory titled “How to Read a Film”. Director Ingmar Bergman famously said, “Andrei Tarkovsky for me is the greatest director, the one who invented a new language, true to the nature of film, as it captures life as a reflection, life as a dream.” Examples of the language are a sequence of back and forth images of one actor’s left profile speaking, followed by another actor’s right profile speaking, then a repetition of this, which is a language understood by the audience to indicate a conversation. Another example is zooming in on the forehead of an actor with an expression of silent reflection, then changing to a scene of a younger actor who vaguely resembles the first actor, indicating the first actor is having a memory of their own past.
Montage is the technique by which separate pieces of film are selected, edited, and then pieced together to make a new section of film. A scene could show a man going into battle, with flashbacks to his youth and to his home-life and with added special effects, placed into the film after filming is complete. As these were all filmed separately, and perhaps with different actors, the final version is called a montage.
Directors developed a theory of montage, beginning with Eisenstein and the complex superimposition of images in his film Battleship Potempkin. Incorporation of musical and visual counterpoint, and scene development through mise en scene, editing and effects, has led to more complex techniques comparable to those used in Opera and ballet.
Film criticism is the analysis and evaluation of films. In general, these works can be divided into two categories: academic criticism by film scholars and journalistic film criticism that appears regularly in newspapers and other media.
Film critics working for newspapers, magazines, and broadcast media mainly review new releases. Normally they only see any given film once and have only a day or two to formulate opinions. Despite this, critics have an important impact on films, especially those of certain genres. Mass marketed action, horror, and comedy films tend not to be greatly affected by a critic’s overall judgment of a film. The plot summary and description of a film that makes up the majority of any film review can still have an important impact on whether people decide to see a film. For prestige films such as most dramas, the influence of reviews is extremely important. Poor reviews will often doom a film to obscurity and financial loss.
The impact of a reviewer on a given film’s box office performance is a matter of debate. Some claim that movie marketing is now so intense and well financed that reviewers cannot make an impact against it. However, the cataclysmic failure of some heavily promoted movies which were harshly reviewed, as well as the unexpected success of critically praised independent movies indicates that extreme critical reactions can have considerable influence. Others note that positive film reviews have been shown to spark interest in little-known films. Conversely, there have been several films in which film companies have so little confidence that they refuse to give reviewers an advanced viewing to avoid widespread panning of the film. However, this usually backfires as reviewers are wise to the tactic and warn the public that the film may not be worth seeing and the films often do poorly as a result.
It is argued that journalist film critics should only be known as film reviewers, and true film critics are those who take a more academic approach to films. This line of work is more often known as film theory or film studies. These film critics attempt to come to understand how film and filming techniques work, and what effect they have on people. Rather than having their works published in newspapers or appear on television, their articles are published in scholarly journals, or sometimes in up-market magazines. They also tend to be affiliated with colleges or universities.
The making and showing of motion pictures became a source of profit almost as soon as the process was invented. Upon seeing how successful their new invention, and its product, was in their native France, the Lumières quickly set about touring the Continent to exhibit the first films privately to royalty and publicly to the masses. In each country, they would normally add new, local scenes to their catalogue and, quickly enough, found local entrepreneurs in the various countries of Europe to buy their equipment and photograph, export, import and screen additional product commercially. The Oberammergau Passion Play of 1898 was the first commercial motion picture ever produced. Other pictures soon followed, and motion pictures became a separate industry that overshadowed the vaudeville world. Dedicated theaters and companies formed specifically to produce and distribute films, while motion picture actors became major celebrities and commanded huge fees for their performances. By 1917 Charlie Chaplin had a contract that called for an annual salary of one million dollars.
In the United States today, much of the film industry is centered around Hollywood, California. Other regional centers exist in many parts of the world, such as Mumbai-centered Bollywood, the Indian film industry’s Hindi cinema which produces the largest number of films in the world. Whether the ten thousand-plus feature length films a year produced by the Valley pornographic film industry should qualify for this title is the source of some debate. Though the expense involved in making movies has led cinema production to concentrate under the auspices of movie studios, recent advances in affordable film making equipment have allowed independent film productions to flourish.
Profit is a key force in the industry, due to the costly and risky nature of filmmaking; many films have large cost overruns, a notorious example being Kevin Costner’s Waterworld. Yet many filmmakers strive to create works of lasting social significance. The Academy Awards (also known as “the Oscars”) are the most prominent film awards in the United States, providing recognition each year to films, ostensibly based on their artistic merits.
There is also a large industry for educational and instructional films made in lieu of or in addition to lectures and texts.
Derivative academic Fields of study may both interact with and develop independently of filmmaking, as in film theory and analysis. Fields of academic study have been created that are derivative or dependent on the existence of film, such as film criticism, film history, divisions of film propaganda in authoritarian governments, or psychological on subliminal effects of a flashing soda can during a screening. These fields may further create derivative fields, such as a movie review section in a newspaper or a television guide. Sub-industries can spin off from film, such as popcorn makers, and toys. Sub- industries of pre-existing industries may deal specifically with film, such as product placement in advertising.
The terminology used for describing motion pictures varies considerably between British and American English. In British usage, the name of the medium is “film”. The word “movie” is understood, but seldom used. Additionally, “the pictures” (plural) is used semi-frequently in place of what an American English speaker would call “the movies”, even though it’s considered somewhat outdated.
By contrast, in the US “movie” is the predominant form. Although the words “film” and “movie” are sometimes used interchangeably, “film” is more often used when considering artistic, theoretical, or technical aspects, as studies in a university class and “movies” more often refers to entertainment or commercial aspects, as where to go for fun on a date. For example, a book titled “How to Read a Film” would be about the aesthetics or theory of film, while “Lets Go to the Movies” would be about the history of entertaining movies.
Further terminology is used to distinguish various forms and media of film industry. “Motion pictures” or “Moving pictures” are films and movies, and “the motion picture” is frequently used in film productions specifically intended for cinematic release, such as for instance Batman: The Motion Picture. A “DVD” is a digital format which may be used to reproduce an analog film, while “videotape” (“video“) was for many decades a solely analog medium onto which moving images could be recorded and electronically (rather than optically) reproduced. Strictly speaking, “Film” refers to the media onto which a visual image is shot, and to this end it may seem improper for work in other “moving image” media to be referred to as a “film” and the action of shooting as “filming”, though these terms are still in general use. “Silent films” need not be silent, but are films and movies without an audible dialogue, though they may have a musical soundtrack. “Talkies” refers to early movies or films having audible dialogue or analog sound, not just a musical accompaniment. “Cinema” either broadly encompasses both films and movies, or is roughly synonymous with “Film”, both capitalized when referring to a category of art. The “silver screen” refers to classic black-and-white films before color, not to contemporary films without color. It is also used as a metonym for the entire film industry.
The expression “Sight and Sound“, as in the film journal of the same name, means “film”. The following icons mean film: a “candle and bell”, as in the films Tarkovsky, of a segment of film stock, or a two faced Janus image, and an image of a movie camera in profile.
“Widescreen” and “Cinemascope” refers to a larger width to height in the frame, compared to an earlier historic aspect ratios. A “feature length film”, or “feature film“, is of a conventional full length, usually 60 minutes or more, and can commercially stand by itself without other films in a ticketed screening. A “short” is a film that is not as long as a feature length film, usually screened with other shorts, or preceding a feature length film. An “independent” is a film made outside of the conventional film industry.
In the US usage, one talks of a “screening” or “projection” of a movie or video on a screen at a public or private “theater”. In British English, a “film showing” happens at a cinema (never a “theatre“, which is a different medium and place altogether). When referring to the activity, one might propose “going to the cinema”, or sometimes “to the pictures”, in British English, whereas in the US the expression is “going to the movies”. The cinema will usually but not always be showing an actual film, as a video or DVD might also be shown when of sufficient projection quality, and with the advent of digital film production production and distribution, physical film might be absent entirely. A “double feature” is a screening of two independent, stand-alone, feature films. A “viewing” is a watching of a film. [dubious ] “Sales” refers to tickets sold at a theater, or more currently, rights sold for individual showings. A “release” is the distribution and often simultaneous screening of a film. A “preview” is a screening in advance of the main release.
“Hollywood” may be used either as a pejorative adjective, shorthand for asserting an overly commercial rather than artistic intent or outcome, as in “too Hollywood”, or as a descriptive adjective to refer to a film originating with people who ordinarily work near Los Angeles.
Expressions for Genres of film are sometimes used interchangeably for “film” in a specific context, such as a “porn” for a film with explicit sexual content, or “cheese” for films that are light, entertaining and not highbrow.
Any film may also have a “sequel“, which portrays events following those in the film. Bride of Frankenstein is an early example. When there are a number of films with the same characters, we have a “series”, such as the James Bond series. A film which portrays events that occur earlier than those in another film, but is released after that film, is sometimes called a “prequel“, an example being Butch and Sundance: The Early Days.
Credits is a list of the people involved in making the film. Before the 1970s, credits were usually at the beginning of a film. Since then, the credits roll at the end of most films.
A preview performance refers to a showing of a movie to a select audience, usually for the purposes of corporate promotions, before the public film premiere itself. Previews are sometimes used to judge audience reaction, which if unexpectedly negative, may result in recutting or even refilming certain sections (Audience response).
Trailers or previews are film advertisements for films that will be exhibited in the future at a cinema, on whose screen they are shown. The term “trailer” comes from their having originally been shown at the end of a film programme. That practice did not last long, because patrons tended to leave the theater after the films ended, but the name has stuck. Trailers are now shown before the film (or the A movie in a double feature program) begins.
Film, or other art form?
Film may be combined with performance art and still be considered or referred to as a “film”, for instance, when there is a live musical accompaniment to a silent film. Another example is audience participation films, as at a midnight movies screening of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, where the audience dresses up in costume from the film and loudly does a karaoke-like reenactment along with the film. Performance art where film is incorporated as a component is usually not called film, but a film, which could stand-alone but is accompanied by a performance may still be referred to as a film.
The act of making a film can, in and of itself, be considered a work of art, on a different level from the film itself, as in the films of Werner Herzog.
Similarly, the playing of a film can be considered to fall within the realm of political protest art, as in the subtleties within the films of Tarkovsky. A “road movie” can refer to a film put together from footage from a long road trip or vacation.
Education and propaganda
Film is used for education and propaganda. When the purpose is primarily educational, a film is called an “educational film“. Examples are recordings of lectures and experiments, or more marginally, a film based on a classic novel.
Film may be propaganda, in whole or in part, such as the films made by Leni Riefenstahl in Nazi Germany, US war film trailers during World War II, or artistic films made under Stalin by Eisenstein. They may also be works of political protest, as in the films of Wajda, or more subtly, the films of Andrei Tarkovsky.
The same film may be considered educational by some, and propaganda by others, such as the film by conservative non-profit Citizens United featuring voters disaffected with President Barack Obama.
At its core, the means to produce a film depend on the content the filmmaker wishes to show, and the apparatus for displaying it: the zoetrope merely requires a series of images on a strip of paper. Film production can therefore take as little as one person with a camera (or even without a camera, as in Stan Brakhage‘s 1963 film Mothlight), or thousands of actors, extras and crewmembers for a live-action, feature-length epic.
The necessary steps for almost any film can be boiled down to conception, planning, execution, revision, and distribution. The more involved the production, the more significant each of the steps becomes. In a typical production cycle of a Hollywood-style film, these main stages are defined as:
This production cycle usually takes three years. The first year is taken up with development. The second year comprises preproduction and production. The third year, post-production and distribution.
The bigger the production, the more resources it takes, and the more important financing becomes; most feature films are not only artistic works, but for-profit business entities.
A film crew is a group of people hired by a film company, employed during the “production” or “photography” phase, for the purpose of producing a film or motion picture. Crew are distinguished from cast, the actors who appear in front of the camera or provide voices for characters in the film. The crew interacts with but is also distinct from the production staff, consisting of producers, managers, company representatives, their assistants, and those whose primary responsibility falls in pre-production or post-production phases, such as writers and editors. Communication between production and crew generally passes through the director and his/her staff of assistants. Medium-to-large crews are generally divided into departments with well defined hierarchies and standards for interaction and cooperation between the departments. Other than acting, the crew handles everything in the photography phase: props and costumes, shooting, sound, electrics (i.e., lights), sets, and production special effects. Caterers (known in the film industry as “craft services”) are usually not considered part of the crew.
Film stock consists of transparent celluloid, acetate, or polyester base coated with an emulsion containing light-sensitive chemicals. Cellulose nitrate was the first type of film base used to record motion pictures, but due to its flammability was eventually replaced by safer materials. Stock widths and the film format for images on the reel have had a rich history, though most large commercial films are still shot on (and distributed to theaters) as 35 mm prints.
Originally moving picture film was shot and projected at various speeds using hand-cranked cameras and projectors; though 1000 frames per minute (16⅔ frame/s) is generally cited as a standard silent speed, research indicates most films were shot between 16 frame/s and 23 frame/s and projected from 18 frame/s on up (often reels included instructions on how fast each scene should be shown). When sound film was introduced in the late 1920s, a constant speed was required for the sound head. 24 frames per second was chosen because it was the slowest (and thus cheapest) speed which allowed for sufficient sound quality. Improvements since the late 19th century include the mechanization of cameras – allowing them to record at a consistent speed, quiet camera design – allowing sound recorded on-set to be usable without requiring large “blimps” to encase the camera, the invention of more sophisticated filmstocks and lenses, allowing directors to film in increasingly dim conditions, and the development of synchronized sound, allowing sound to be recorded at exactly the same speed as its corresponding action. The soundtrack can be recorded separately from shooting the film, but for live-action pictures many parts of the soundtrack are usually recorded simultaneously.
As a medium, film is not limited to motion pictures, since the technology developed as the basis for photography. It can be used to present a progressive sequence of still images in the form of a slideshow. Film has also been incorporated into multimedia presentations, and often has importance as primary historical documentation. However, historic films have problems in terms of preservation and storage, and the motion picture industry is exploring many alternatives. Most movies on cellulose nitrate base have been copied onto modern safety films. Some studios save color films through the use of separation masters: three B&W negatives each exposed through red, green, or blue filters (essentially a reverse of the Technicolor process). Digital methods have also been used to restore films, although their continued obsolescence cycle makes them (as of 2006) a poor choice for long-term preservation. Film preservation of decaying film stock is a matter of concern to both film historians and archivists, and to companies interested in preserving their existing products in order to make them available to future generations (and thereby increase revenue). Preservation is generally a higher concern for nitrate and single-strip color films, due to their high decay rates; black-and-white films on safety bases and color films preserved on Technicolor imbibition prints tend to keep up much better, assuming proper handling and storage.
Some films in recent decades have been recorded using analog video technology similar to that used in television production. Modern digital video cameras and digital projectors are gaining ground as well. These approaches are preferred by some moviemakers, especially because footage shot with digital cinema can be evaluated and edited with non-linear editing systems (NLE) without waiting for the film stock to be processed. Yet the migration is gradual, and as of 2005 most major motion pictures are still shot on film.
Independent filmmaking often takes place outside of Hollywood, or other major studio systems. An independent film (or indie film) is a film initially produced without financing or distribution from a major movie studio. Creative, business, and technological reasons have all contributed to the growth of the indie film scene in the late 20th and early 21st century.
On the business side, the costs of big-budget studio films also leads to conservative choices in cast and crew. There is a trend in Hollywood towards co-financing (over two-thirds of the films put out by Warner Bros. in 2000 were joint ventures, up from 10% in 1987). A hopeful director is almost never given the opportunity to get a job on a big-budget studio film unless he or she has significant industry experience in film or television. Also, the studios rarely produce films with unknown actors, particularly in lead roles.
Before the advent of digital alternatives, the cost of professional film equipment and stock was also a hurdle to being able to produce, direct, or star in a traditional studio film.
But the advent of consumer camcorders in 1985, and more importantly, the arrival of high-resolution digital video in the early 1990s, have lowered the technology barrier to movie production significantly. Both production and post-production costs have been significantly lowered; today, the hardware and software for post-production can be installed in a commodity-based personal computer. Technologies such as DVDs, FireWire connections and a wide variety of professional and consumer-grade video editing software make movie-making relatively inexpensive.
Since the introduction of DV technology, the means of production have become more democratized. Filmmakers can conceivably shoot and edit a movie, create and edit the sound and music, and mix the final cut on a home computer. However, while the means of production may be democratized, financing, distribution, and marketing remain difficult to accomplish outside the traditional system. Most independent filmmakers rely on film festivals to get their films noticed and sold for distribution. The arrival of internet-based video outlets such as YouTube and Veoh has further changed the film making landscape in ways that are still to be determined.
Open content film
An open content film is much like an independent film, but it is produced through open collaborations; its source material is available under a license which is permissive enough to allow other parties to create fan fiction or derivative works, than a traditional copyright. Like independent filmmaking, open source filmmaking takes place outside of Hollywood, or other major studio systems.
A fan film is a film or video inspired by a film, television program, comic book or a similar source, created by fans rather than by the source’s copyright holders or creators. Fan filmmakers have traditionally been amateurs, but some of the more notable films have actually been produced by professional filmmakers as film school class projects or as demonstration reels. Fan films vary tremendously in length, from short faux-teaser trailers for non-existent motion pictures to rarer full-length motion pictures.
When it is initially produced, a feature film is often shown to audiences in a movie theater or cinema. The identity of the first theater designed specifically for cinema is a matter of debate; candidates include Tally’s Electric Theatre, established 1902 in Los Angeles, and Pittsburgh’s Nickelodeon, established 1905. Thousands of such theaters were built or converted from existing facilities within a few years. In the United States, these theaters came to be known as nickelodeons, because admission typically cost a nickel (five cents).
Typically, one film is the featured presentation (or feature film). Before the 1970s, there were “double features”; typically, a high quality “A picture” rented by an independent theater for a lump sum, and a “B picture” of lower quality rented for a percentage of the gross receipts. Today, the bulk of the material shown before the feature film consists of previews for upcoming movies and paid advertisements (also known as trailers or “The Twenty“).
Historically, all mass marketed feature films were made to be shown in movie theaters. The development of television has allowed films to be broadcast to larger audiences, usually after the film is no longer being shown in theaters. In 1967, videocassettes of movies became available to consumers to watch in their own homes. Recording technology has since enabled consumers to rent or buy copies of films on VHS or DVD (and the older formats of laserdisc, VCD and SelectaVision – see also videodisc), and Internet downloads may be available and have started to become revenue sources for the film companies. Some films are now made specifically for these other venues, being released as a television movie or direct-to-video movies. The production values on these films are often considered to be of inferior quality compared to theatrical releases in similar genres, and indeed, some films that are rejected by their own movie studios upon completion are distributed through these markets.
The movie theater pays an average of about 50-55% of its ticket sales to the movie studio, as film rental fees. The actual percentage starts with a number higher than that, and decreases as the duration of a film’s showing continues, as an incentive to theaters to keep movies in the theater longer. However, today’s barrage of highly marketed movies ensures that most movies are shown in first-run theaters for less than 8 weeks. There are a few movies every year that defy this rule, often limited-release movies that start in only a few theaters and actually grow their theater count through good word-of-mouth and reviews. According to a 2000 study by ABN AMRO, about 26% of Hollywood movie studios’ worldwide income came from box office ticket sales; 46% came from VHS and DVD sales to consumers; and 28% came from television (broadcast, cable, and pay-per-view).
|This section requires expansion with: optical disc distribution. (December 2009)|
Animation is the technique in which each frame of a film is produced individually, whether generated as a computer graphic, or by photographing a drawn image, or by repeatedly making small changes to a model unit (see claymation and stop motion), and then photographing the result with a special animation camera. When the frames are strung together and the resulting film is viewed at a speed of 16 or more frames per second, there is an illusion of continuous movement (due to the persistence of vision). Generating such a film is very labor intensive and tedious, though the development of computer animation has greatly sped up the process.
Because animation is very time-consuming and often very expensive to produce, the majority of animation for TV and movies comes from professional animation studios. However, the field of independent animation has existed at least since the 1950s, with animation being produced by independent studios (and sometimes by a single person). Several independent animation producers have gone on to enter the professional animation industry.
Limited animation is a way of increasing production and decreasing costs of animation by using “short cuts” in the animation process. This method was pioneered by UPA and popularized by Hanna-Barbera, and adapted by other studios as cartoons moved from movie theaters to television.
Although most animation studios are now using digital technologies in their productions, there is a specific style of animation that depends on film. Cameraless animation, made famous by moviemakers like Norman McLaren, Len Lye and Stan Brakhage, is painted and drawn directly onto pieces of film, and then run through a projector.
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (April 2009)|
While motion picture films have been around for more than a century, film is still a relative newcomer in the pantheon[clarification needed] of fine arts. In the 1950s, when television became widely available, industry analysts[who?] predicted the demise of local movie theaters. Despite competition from television’s increasing technological sophistication over the 1960s and 1970s such as the development of color television and large screens, motion picture cinemas continued. In fact with the rise of television’s predominance, film began to become more respected as an artistic medium by contrast due the low general opinion of the quality of average television content. In the 1980s, when the widespread availability of inexpensive videocassette recorders enabled people to select films for home viewing, industry analysts again wrongly predicted the death of the local cinemas.
In the 1990s and 2000s, the development of DVD players, home theater amplification systems with surround sound and subwoofers, and large LCD or plasma screens enabled people to select and view films at home with greatly improved audio and visual reproduction. These new technologies provided audio and visual that in the past only local cinemas had been able to provide: a large, clear widescreen presentation of a film with a full-range, high-quality multi-speaker sound system. Once again industry analysts predicted the demise of the local cinema. Local cinemas will be changing in the 21st century and moving towards digital screens, a new approach which will allow for easier and quicker distribution of films (via satellite or hard disks), a development which may give local theaters a reprieve from their predicted demise. The cinema now faces a new challenge from home video by the likes of a new high definition (HD) format, Blu-ray, which can provide full HD 1080p video playback at near cinema quality. Video formats are gradually catching up with the resolutions and quality that film offers; 1080p in Blu-ray offers a pixel resolution of 1920×1080, a leap from the DVD offering of 720×480 and the 330×480 offered by the first home video standard, VHS. Ultra HD, a future digital video format, will offer a resolution of 7680×4320. However, the nature and structure of film prevents an apples-to-apples comparison with regard to resolution. The resolving power of film, and its ability to capture an image which can later be scanned to a digital format, will ensure that film remains a viable medium for some time to come. Currently the super-16 format is seeing use as a capture medium, with digital scanning and post-production providing good results.
Despite the rise of all-new technologies, the development of the home video market and a surge of online copyright infringement, 2007 was a record year in film that showed the highest ever box-office grosses. Many[who?] expected film to suffer as a result of the effects listed above but it has flourished, strengthening film studio expectations for the future.
- List of film awards
- List of film festivals
- List of film journals and magazines
- List of film topics
- List of video-related topics
- List of years in film
- Lists of films
- Related topics
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- Casetti, Francesco (1999). Theories of Cinema, 1945-1995. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press. ISBN 0-292-71207-3.
- Cook, Pam (2007). The Cinema Book, Third Edition. London: British Film Institute. ISBN 978-1-84457-193-2.
- Faber, Liz, & Walters, Helen (2003). Animation Unlimited: Innovative Short Films Since 1940. London: Laurence King, in association with Harper Design International. ISBN 1-85669-346-5.
- Hagener, Malte, & Töteberg, Michael (2002). Film: An International Bibliography. Stuttgart: Metzler. ISBN 3-476-01523-8.
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- King, Geoff (2002). New Hollywood Cinema: An Introduction. New York: Columbia University Press. ISBN 0-231-12759-6.
- Ledoux, Trish, & Ranney, Doug, & Patten, Fred (1997). Complete Anime Guide: Japanese Animation Film Directory and Resource Guide. Issaquah, WA: Tiger Mountain Press. ISBN 0-9649542-5-7.
- Merritt, Greg (2000). Celluloid Mavericks: A History of American Independent Film. New York: Thunder’s Mouth Press. ISBN 1-56025-232-4.
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- Schultz, John (writer and director); James Earl Jones (narrator) (1995). The Making of ‘Jurassic Park’ (Documentary). Amblin Entertainment.
- Thackway, Melissa (2003). Africa Shoots Back: Alternative Perspectives in Sub-Saharan Francophone African Film. Bloomington, IL: Indiana University Press. ISBN 0-85255-576-8.
- Vogel, Amos (1974). Film as a Subversive Art. New York: Random House. ISBN 0-394-49078-9.
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