What is Digital Filmmaking?

What is Digital Filmmaking

In the modern world, things are moving fast with more precision. With every passing year, the innovations are remarkable, and almost everything is starting to make a switch to digital form.

From simple consumer electronics, audio processing, and handheld devices to photography and filmmaking—things are getting their digital versions. On this post, we will answer one of the most asked questions nowadays, “what is digital filmmaking?”

Since the 2000’s, the filmmaking industry started to employ digital mediums, but the digital technology started out with high-priced gadgetries, thus making the shift was a costly upgrade.

However, we can’t undermine the value digital equipment have, especially in filmmaking so when they did turn digital, production costs were on the roof! This was passed along to the consumers, of course. Eventually, when technology was made less expensive and readily available, more filmmakers started their switch!

To better understand what digital filmmaking is, let’s explore the main differences between producing films the conventional way and the digital way.

What is Analog Filmmaking?

In academic terms, film production covers the inception of the idea followed by screenwriting, then shooting, reviewing, a long and tedious process of editing, and then finally it gets to screening.

The audio must be carefully recorded and synced to make great quality films. If needed, some audio parts must be dubbed and layered to make a motion picture that is worth watching.

Analog filmmaking requires a stock film to record the motion picture. Films are exposed to light while it rolls to create a motion picture. Yes, it’s similar to how a “Single Lens Reflex” camera works.

Like many other analog devices, it requires a high degree of expertise to control how much light enters through the lens of the recording device.

Too much light overexposes the film, and too little will result in a dim-lit recording. With the right set of skills, the images and motion pictures taken by such analog devices are superb.

This pushes filmmakers to be well-versed on environmental lighting every time they shoot to avoid wasting the stock film. If there are errors, some sections may need to be retaken.

Seems pretty easy, huh? However, it takes a lot more time as the films need to be reviewed after the shoot to make sure that lighting is optimal. A preview may not be easily available to see the shot and decide for a retake instantly.

What is Digital Filmmaking?

In simple terms, digital filmmaking employs digital devices to record pictures and videos. But instead of exposing a film to record, such devices only need memory cards.

Moreover, light sensors determine the quality of the film you shoot. After exposing the light sensors through the lens, the signals are transformed to a digital signal that is stored in the flash memory using binary codes.

So, instead of burning light signals to a rolling film, the signal captured by the light sensor is processed and converted to binary codes that digital devices understand. Digital signals are comprised of a complicated series of zeroes and ones that forms images and motion pictures when interpreted by digital computers.

Before the exponential leap in digital filmmaking technology, there was a time that analog filmmaking reigned supreme regarding clarity and quality because digital devices had limits.

However, as innovators pushed invention of better devices forward, they were able to increase the capacity and capability of digital devices to make it at par or even better than analog filmmaking.

One of the advantages of digital filmmaking is the ability to preview what is shot immediately. This helps you adjust light settings and decide to reshoot a section as you need it. In case you made a mistake, you are not wasting film stocks.

Digital files can be easily deleted to free more space. You can copy your file to a computer, and you instantly have an empty cartridge and shoot with it.

Digital devices can be a little more expensive than analog devices. However, without buying film cartridges every time you shoot, it translates to savings in the long run.

Which is Better?

Now that we have differentiated analog and digital, the next question that might be running in your mind is “which is better?” This question is difficult to answer because factors such as budget and level of expertise are in play here.

Seasoned professionals, those who have decades of expertise in analog filmmaking, may have a strong preference for it. While many others are making a switch to digital filmmaking, some still prefer the superb quality of medium and large film formats.

However, compared with digital formats, smaller film formats have been trumped by modern digital recording devices. Even experts would agree that there are video cameras that will outperform the analog outputs.

On the contrary, if budget is not a constraint, the high-end digital recording devices have outputs comparable to medium and large film formats. The price ranges from few thousands to tens of thousands of dollars!

Digital video recording devices can become insanely expensive. And guess what, to capture more angles and create professional films, a few other devices need to be employed!

So, which is better? Well, it depends on how you use the camera. An expensive camera captures nothing without a creative eye. With a passionate love for the arts, a cheap device can give artistic results! Now, imagine what an artistic eye can achieve with the best device out there.

The Future of Filmmaking

Many of us have seen how video qualities have improved over time. If you get a peek at the old films you have, you will see how different the modern one are.

Filmmakers, decades ago, did their best to come out with masterpieces. However, the devices available that time are constraints for those who have talents and don’t have the means yet.

Today, the future of filmmaking is becoming more and more competitive as more talented people can easily get their hands on some decent digital recording cameras.

What is digital filmmaking? To put it simply, digital filmmaking is a gateway for talented people to leverage their creative eye without robbing the bank.