hollywood didn’t exactly embrace the new technology from the get go. unlike the arrival of sound, color and cinemascope which was trumpeted everywhere, advertisements for “shot digitally” were at first confined to trade magazines. the obvious reason is that most viewers could not see any improvement on the screen.
the mystique of film was also hard to give up. for one hundred years, the medium had been perceived as an organic and mysterious material necessitating alchemic mutations and arcane rites to see the process through. meeting that challenge was rewarding for professionals. so the new entrant was carefully scrutinized: would the images be as good? how would digital technology change the way films are made? would it put people out of work? would the film business share the fate of the recording industry?
the overwhelming advantages of digital over film however could not be ignored for long. in editing, the ease of working with a non-physical medium was quickly acknowledged by everyone. in special effects too, the ability to integrate smoothly separate images into one took the industry by storm. in cinematography on the other hand, film was said for the longest time to provide a superior image. it is only recently that roger deakins, arguably the top cinematographer working in hollywood, declared that digital had finally surpassed film. in all of this though, the narrative focused exclusively on the efficiency of the new medium, on its ability to do the same things better, without anything else being altered. the workflow may be digital throughout nowadays but one ends up with the same old images on the screen.