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Title: The main antecedents of digital cinema: illustrate by some example of art Cinema and the Soft Cinema


Cinema is the most important media in our daily life. As an entertaining use, we will go to watch film when we bored. Cinema also uses as a tool for the director to depict what they want to tell the audience by the narrative structure, montage or oth er cinematic treatment. The Develop of the Cinematographer by Lumiere Brother, cinema is use to depict what has happen in the daily life, the first cinema is the “Workers Leaving the factory”[1], it is a single shot story which tells us about the actual movement of the workers. And the
other famous example is the train that arrive the train station. Times go by, cinema is not only shows on the cinema or project by the film. Many media appear to record the film, such as the Type, VCD and nowadays – DVD. Most of the film is not being shown in theater but to publish of DVD and VCD.

Digital Age has came, most of the format of the film is become digitalize. Digital cinema is a good example of the development of the technology. On the cinematic treatment and the concept, it is far difference from the traditional cinema. In the first part of the essay, I would concentrate to talk about one of the example of the Digital Cinema – Soft Cinema to discuss the new idea that digital cinema use. On the second part of the essay, I would like to compare between Art cinema and Digital cinema – their different and similarity
by the example of Maya Deren and Luis Bunuel. And also concentrate about the depiction and the presentation, Form and content etc.

Part one: The four new idea of Soft cinema

The first idea is the “Algorithmic editing of media materials”[2]. According to the official website of the Soft cinema, it mentions that Soft Cinema is creating a new method to order the content. In Soft Cinema, every video clip will be given a keyword to depict and remember the content, and the properties. For example, the keyword will remember what the use of color, camera movement and the shooting location. And also, the author can control the sequencing; the order of the sequence is decided by the author. To explain
more, it is a program that provides the author or the audience to make chances on the DVD or by some of the software – the “algorithmic editing”. It is totally different from the traditional cinema, the direct editing with certain narrative sequence and story board.

Furthermore, “Soft Cinema investigates a different paradigm”[3]. It is talked about the different processing method of the information by using computer as a core media. Besides the illustration of Soft Cinema, it has many example in our daily life such us on-line television and the other example that mentions on the web is the CD and MP3 players that has the function of random ordering. Or it is sequencing by the author and audience itself.

The second idea is the database narrative. According to Bordwell and Thompson, narrative form is “A type of filmic organization in which the parts relate to each other through a serious of causally related events taking place in a special time and space”[4]. In the traditional narrative, it is a storytelling technique, especially the classical Hollywood. It uses the continue editing to create a cause and effect relation within the particular “time” and “space”. In Soft Cinema, it does not like the traditional cinema narrati ve; it stores the
information or video clip in a database and forms the film. It is not in a linear narrative order. You can choose the part that you want to watch. Each part will content the message that within the theme. For example: the theme of aliena tion in The Soft Cinema.

The third idea is The Macro-cinema. According to Collins Dictionary, macro mean combining form great, long or great[5]. Is it mean that Macro-Cinema means a combining form of cinema that is large, long and great? It is true to apply the “Macro” interpretation into the Soft Cinema. Marco-Cinema is a different form from the tradition cinema. It is putting more than one picture inside one frame of the video. It is a “multi-frame format”[6]. It is opposite from the traditional montage, its shows more than one video at a time. Also
information insides the screen is telling a same message. It is widely use in the TV program and some of the entertainment sh ows that show more than one characters or actor’s reaction at the same time when they are playing game at one screen.

It is challenging the tradition language of cinema – montage. Montage: Relationships between shots and the juxtaposition of images to create ideas not present in either shot by itself.[7] Soft Cinema is creating the idea by some innovative editing. For example: using some of the digital graphical image to tell t he idea, to putting different shot and the shot that do not have the juxtaposition relation. Soft Cinema just uses this to prese nt the idea but not including the montage skill – we will talk more about the relation of montage on
Art cinema and Digital Cinema on the second part of the essay.

Also, entering to the High Definition century, Macro-Cinema is well match with the HD TV. Because HDTV is taking the 1080 X 1920 format, the wider screen of the HDTV can provide a good possibility to the multi-screen function.

Finally, the forth idea is the concept of multi-media cinema is being establish. IN the traditional cinema, it only shoots the character action or conversation within the wr iting script. In the Soft Cinema, it has 2D animation, graphical image and also the real person and real location shooting clips. Those of these elements are the well distinguishes between the Traditional cinema and the digital cinema – the use of multimedia cinema to present certain idea and concept. For example, one of the examples that talk in the lecture of the
Digital Media is the Forest Gump. At the beginning of the film, it has a fur that flying in the sky and the matching with the camera moving. It is difficult to shot it by the traditional cinematic technique. This is the first step of the digital cinema – semi digitalize; combining the computer graphical image and the camera shooting.

“Cinema becomes a particular branch of painting - Painting in time. No longer a Kino-eye, but a Kino-brush”[8]. In the twenty century, it is not only to depict the reality by using the camera, But also to depict the visual reality by the camera and the computer technology etc. In part two of my essay, I would like to find out the antecedent that Digital cinema – Soft Cinema use Kino-Brushed than the Art cinema.

Part Two: Is Soft Cinema an Art Film?

In the end of the first part, I quote an argument form Lev Manovich essay, Cinema is no longer a Kino-Eye, but a Kino-Brush[9]. Before the computer technology become common, some people have already become the avant-garde of cinema. They use cinema to create a sensibility of creation and their perception, it is not only depict the reality by camera and montage. Maya Deren is the mother of Avant-grade cinema. She uses many new elements to create his work, for example: the non-liner narrative, the narrative between
different time and space. The most important is the use of form to create his work.

“She is recognized for her work in theorizing film form, and exploiting notions of space, time and movement on film.”[10] Maya work is different from the traditional cinema and similar to the Soft Cinema. Maya use her cinema as a tool to depict the “profound psychological meaning”[11]. But not to depict the realist incidents and time, space.

In her work “A Study in Choreography for camera”, it depicts some of the movement that performs by the dancer Talley Beattey. Firstly, Talley dance in and out the camera each time, and dance from a forest to a room and then from a court to a mountain. It will move to a new place that does not have a logical linkage on the space and time.

The second example is “The Meshes of the afternoon”. The DVD notes mention “It reproduced the way in which the subconscious will develop, interpret and elaborate and incident……” [12] The meshes of the afternoon is talking about human subconscious by depicts the Dream. The narration of the Meshes of the afternoon is not traditional, it use the subjective focus of the protagonist, in that period it is the most innovated technique that use to tell story.

The third example is “the Meditative on Violence”. In the meditative on violence, it is to doing an experiment about the timing of the film, for example the looping backward and forward of the film part.[13] For example: The film is starting at the middle part of the action, and then go to the outside space and back to the starting middle part of the action again. It is the looping. And also by the depiction of the image action and movement, it is the perception of Maya Deren – What she wants to tell us by the film.

In a book “The Death of cinema”, it mentions in one of the chapter. “Without the images of drama, adventure, comedy, natural and artificial events imprinted on motion picture film there would be no cinema”[14]. It also said that cinema is the destruction of the moving image[15]. On the world of 24 films per second, it is going to destruct the image into 24 films per second. But on the world of the Ar t Cinema, it depicts the inner feeling, the perception of the author but not the depiction of the reality.

Bordwell mentions in his book film theory and Criticism, “Art film is against the classical narrative structure and the cause and effect linkage[16]. We can see that obviously from the Maya’s cinema and the Soft Cinema. Because it is use to record what the director think but not the depiction of a life or a cause and effect incident with the Set up and the climax building.

After talk about Maya, I would like to talk about the surrealist film. One of the most influential directors of surrealist film is Luis Bunuel. In his work, we can easily find out the similar elements to the Soft Cinema. It is the narrative structure.

Let’s talk about the Un Chein Andalou, this is the first film that directed by Dali and Bunuel. It is a film talk about the director dream. Needless to say, it is not edited on a logical order or cause and effect linkage. We can watch the film by selecting the sequence to understanding the symbolic meaning of the image and the action – the Freudian psychoanalyze. It is similar to the Soft Cinema and some of the digital cinema that we can select the sequence to watch. And also the releases of the unconscious mind also give us a new
view on how we see cinema as a form of depiction or the perception of the director and the author’s mind.

Finally, I would like to discuss about the form of Art film and Digital cinema. Form is important to every art form. “The combination of lines, colors and forms which work together to stir our “aesthetic emotions”[17]. In most of the cases, Art films always use the visual impact which create by the lines or color in the screen to evoke our emotion and feeling. For example, Wong Ka Wai’s film: besides from the narrative structure, the visual elements always give us a great impression: the distinctive light use, great contrast of the
color. Digital cinema seems to have a much more space to play with the form. It does not have any limitation by using the computer to create any visual effect.

In Soft Cinema, it uses some of the special form to evoke our emotion. I remember one of the scene is create by computer, it is totally computer generate scene. It is what I quote before cinema is change from Kino-eye to Kino-Brush. It just likes a painting. We are going to paint out what we are thinking of but not depict what it is happen – the visual reality but the virtual and subconscious reality.

Conclusion and inspiration

Rather it is a Digital cinema, traditional cinema or the art cinema, form and narrative style is important to create a work. In the above discuss on the Soft cinema and some of the art cinema. We can see that the core of the cinema is the Kino. Maybe I will use this as a conclusion. Kino-Eye is use a process of depiction and the Kino- Brush that mention in Lev Manovich essay is use to record the perception of the human being – and also it match with the concept that told by someone. Everyone is an artist.