One of the movies I watched constantly as a child was “Toy Story.” I was amazed by the engaging narrative and the dynamic characters, but I had no clue how inventive the film was for its time.
In fact, “Toy Story,” Pixar’s first feature film, was the first feature-length movie that used only computer-animation, Time magazine reported. Every time I watched that movie, I witnessed a shift in the way filmmakers approached new technology, something that continues today.
Every year, artists experiment with new technologies in incredible ways, and it’s paying off, giving consumers visually interesting films that challenge the status quo of cinema.
It’s a signal for up-and-coming filmmakers to embrace new technology in how they tell stories and produce films in order to create something unique and engaging.
Innovation in digital filmmaking has led to a number of critically acclaimed films that could not have been created using traditional film, or celluloid.
Of the 20 most commercially successful films of this year so far, only two were made using traditional film, signaling a seachange toward digital filmmaking, according to Box Office Mojo. One of those two films was “Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood,” directed by Quentin Tarantino, who once said in 2014 that digital film was the “death of cinema,” IndieWire reported.
Warren Bass, a film and media arts professor and an independent filmmaker, disagrees with Tarantino.
“There’s still some things where film has its unique look. But for telling stories, and even animation, there’s just huge advantages to the digital image,” Warren said.
“Avengers: Infinity War” and “Avengers: Endgame” were the first two films in history to be shot exclusively on Imax digital cameras, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
And this paid off, as “Avengers: Endgame” became the highest-grossing film of all time this July, Variety reported.
Last year’s “Unsane,” directed by Steven Soderbergh, was shot entirely on an iPhone, which gave moviegoers an exciting experience that combined horror with aggressive cinematography, the New Yorker reported.
“The whole purpose behind filmmaking is to tell stories,”said Daniel Hyon, a senior film and media studies major. “If you’re having new technology and breakthroughs that allow you to do better, then there’s borderline no reason for you to deny that.”
It’s clear moviegoers appreciate films that take risks by using new technologies in creative ways. Before “Avengers: Endgame” the highest-grossing film of all time was “Avatar,” directed by James Cameron. It used new technology, like a fusion 3D camera system, to create the visually stunning, Oscar-winning film, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
The portability and ease of digital cameras make filmmaking more accessible to the public, allowing more individuals, even those without formal training, to have a voice.
“You’re getting more and more people who are making content just because they like to,” said Claire Sackman, a sophomore film and media arts major. “They have the access to do it, so why not just do it?”
At its best, films are about inclusivity. Last year’s “Into the Spider-Verse” told the story of an Afro-Latino Spider-Man, and the directors used an idiosyncratic animation style to separate the film from any other Spider-Man movie before it.
Innovation in film allows filmmakers to experiment in their art while giving audiences more exciting, status-quo-shattering movies to watch.
Most importantly, it helps evolve the art form, and that’s the best thing we can do for film.