Digital Film Making

Jason introducing himself


At Cleveland State University, two classrooms are filled with people who signed up for an "introduction to digital film making" class.

How many of you guys have had any kind of experience with digital film making? How many of you have no clue of what I'm saying? Good, great.

He's a local director with the Quantas Pictures Production Company. Tamerick is completing work on "One", his full length science fiction feature...filmed in northeast Ohio.

The advancement of digital video technology are really sweeping through the industry at large. Simply because you are able to obtain the quality of film especially with high definition formats for really a fraction of the cost. If you spend $1000 on film, you can spend $100 just on the digital video tape. So that component of it you're really saving an extraordinary amount of money.

Digital cinema is really just a buzzword used to describe digital video tape says Ed Knuth. He's the director of Cleveland's first Digital Cinema Expo. He along with Cleveland State University organized the event that not only showcased films made digitally....but to also offer workshops to those who are interested in the new medium. Knuth says it's a higher quality of video that rivals that of 16 mm film . And he argues that the cost and the clarity of the images from this type of tape are why more people are using it.

The prime advantage of digital video is that it lowers the barrier to entry to someone who wants to tell a visual story. Whether you realize it or not, film making for the last 100 years has been more or less an elitist endeavor. You can't enter the game, you can't play the game unless you have a lot of money.

And I'm talking minimum in the neighborhood of 50 to 100 thousand dollars.

It used to be that most for most film makers wouldn't work in video because of the sacrifices they had to make in terms of visual quality. And because it is a visual medium. That's the last thing you want to sacrifice. Digital video however is a define step up in the quality from analog video and hence, many film makers especially documentarians, have turned to it because it's significantly cheaper than working film.


For Keiko Ibi, the cost factor shaped her decision to use digital video tape for her film "The Personals". It won the 1999 Academy Award for Best Short Film. It's the story about senior citizens who create a play based on personal ads. In the play, and in the film, they talk about the romance and sexuality in the golden years.

(Senior Woman)

Recently retired I would like to meet a gentleman around my age if he can keep up with me. If not younger is even better. Write box e-n-j-o-y, ENJOY! (Director) A couple of smiles might be nice. Younger might even be better. What would younger mean to you? (woman) Better!

Keiko Ibi estimates it cost $40,000 to make the 40 minute short, which was later picked up by HBO. She says it would have cost 10 times that to produce it on 16 mm. But she admits that digital video may not be for everyone.

There are some electronic sense to it. And film has an organic look. Some snobby people would say that film looks much better and all of that.. Some people who shot video intentionally, it's like they wanted to have that look. Or they wanted to have that sort of feel from the video. So you can use it artistically as well. In my case to be honest it was the financial reasons that I picked.

And for her story, it was a better way to make her subjects more comfortable.

If I had shot on 16mm film. And bring in a lot of crew members, like AC, sound people and gaffer and stuff like that, I would have lost some of the intimacy of the characters. And I was with this small video camera. And with me and my cameraman, it's virtually a two person crew. My camera is so small and less intrusive that people can easily forget where the camera is and the camera becomes sort of part of the furniture. I think it made it easier for them to just be themselves and not be self conscious about being filmed.

While it may be a new and exciting method to make movies, the cost factor is still an issue for the operational side of the process, with digital image projectors beginning at $100,000. But for those who want and need special effects for their story, it may be the most promising road to take. Filmmaker Keiko Ibi plans to produce her next documentary on high school cheerleaders using the digital technology. Director George Lucas is already planning on shooting the next two Star Wars films digitally. For INFOHIO, I'm Yolanda Perdomo in Cleveland.

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