How has the digital environment affected the new generation of film

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The ability to create a digital environment has allowed directors to create a far more original landscape, and/or effects in a film. The freedom to do this makes it possible for personal ideas to be expressed in the film itself, and means that the storyline has to be altered less because a scene would be too difficult to shoot.

For example, all three of the Lord of the Rings films would never have been possible without using a program to create the armies in the battle scenes, or the ability to create entire characters such as Golem or the Balrog. Other directors have made films comprised entirely of computer sprites, needing human actors only for the voices of the characters. E.g. Monsters inc. or Final fantasy, the spirit within. Both of these films were done entirely on a computer and were met with warm regard from the general public. (Both grossed over $150million)

This field of filmmaking is dominated mainly by production companies that specialised in animated film previously. E.g. DreamWorks, Pixar. Companies such as these have only just made the jump to purely computer-animated films, as the industry only allows really for films that would be suitable for a younger audience. There is still yet to be a computer-animated film that has a target audience of an older age group. Instead of changing their target audience, the companies that specialise in computer-animated film has begun flooding the market with film after film, as these are relatively cheap to produce in comparison to bigger, live action movies.

Before the use of a digital 3d environment was implemented, directors would use different ways of animating characters –

* Stop-Motion animation –

The creators of this kind of animation must move each joint of each character for every frame, meaning they stop the camera and move anything that is moving for every frame.

The biggest drawback of this kind of animation is that it is very time consuming. The longest example of stop-motion animation was The Nightmare Before Christmas. This movie lasted for 74 min, which required a total of 106,560 frames. Each of these had to be filmed individually. The characters in the movie were puppets made out of foam rubber. Producing the entire movie required a total of 300 puppets for the 74 roles. Imagine moving all of them around over a hundred thousand times

* Cel Animation –

This kind of animation is created by drawing each individual frame and filming them all together to give the illusion of movement. Drawing each individual frame perfectly is very difficult and computers are a great aid to this kind of animation, as they make it much easier to reproduce a frame with its slight changes.

Most cartoons use this kind of animation although most only redraw the characters and use the same background over and over. This is also the method used to make most Disney movies and TV. Shows.

* Travelling Matte –

This is also referred to as blue backing. This technique consists of combining two or more photographed scenes to make a single moving image. This is something that computers have been unable to replace as of yet, as it allows real people to do impossible things.

You have often scene this as the weatherman stands in front of what appears to be a moving map. In reality he is standing in front of a blue screen and the maps are generated on the computer and added in later.

The use of multimedia graphics has also allowed filmmakers to combine both worlds, with a digital environment and live actors. For example, the second and third matrix films are shot in a studio, but they look like they are flying through the ruined future of earth.

Through the use of computers and their expert software packages, it has allowed directors to create many different visual effects and environments in modern movies:

* Enveloping – e.g. in Jurassic Park, where it was possible to tell the computer where the dinosaur was going to move, allowing it to pull on the dinosaur’s muscles appropriately

* Imputing movements directly – e.g. in Jurassic park again, where a small version of the dinosaurs would be programmed to move in the desired way and this model would be hooked up to a computer.

* Solid Modelling – The modelling stage could be described as shaping individual objects that are later used in the scene. There exist a number of modelling techniques; Construcitve solid Geomotry, NURBS modelling and Polygonal modelling are good examples.

* Constructive solid geometry – is a branch of Solid Modelling that deals with representations of a solid object as a combination of simpler solid objects. It is a procedural modelling technique used in 3D computer graphics. The simplest solid objects used for the representation are called primitives.

Typically they are the objects of simple shape: Cuboids, cylinders, prysms, pyramids, spheres,cones. The set of allowable primitives may be restricted; e.g., curved shapes may be forbidden. An object is constructed from primitives by means of allowable operations, which are typically Boolean operations on sets: union, intersection and difference. This technique operates somewhat differently from Polygonal modelling, in which objects are approximated using a series of polygons. Its main application area is CAD.

After the modelling stage is complete, then a designer must move on to scene, layout, set-up, and rendering.

Overall, the use of multimedia and computer generated graphics has allowed Directors and writers to express their ideas in new and original ways. The ability to produce these environments and characters has granted filmmakers new, almost unlimited freedom.

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