Variety reports on the digital camera's effects on acting. The ability to shoot continuously without worrying about wasting film, without having to call "roll sound" and "action" and "cut," is initiating a shift in the creative process of making films. The author of the piece, David S. Cohen, interviews Mel Gibson and Tony Bill, who have both recently shot films on digital cameras (Apocalypto and Flyboys, respectively).

For 100 years of acting on film, actors have had to cope with several technical limitations...they had to rehearse the scene before they shoot it. Then, once shooting begins, they have to act between reloads.


they have to act when the camera is running, not when it's not running. They're always aware there's film running through the camera, which is a tremendous burden for an actor, whether they know it or not.


This is going to change the way films are made, the way directors relate to actors, and the way actors relate to the camera. I think this will change acting as much as the Method changed acting.
And Gibson:
It just gives you a little more room to experiment, to explore, to talk, and you're not burning this precious stock that's very expensive and runs out. It would have been a tragedy to burn all that film talking to them.
The article goes on to describe the experience of Marley Shelton, who acted in both halves of Grindhouse. Rodriguez's portion was shot on video, and Tarantino's was shot on film. Shelton describes the difference in these processes. Rodriguez would gather actors around the playback monitor and everyone would watch the takes together. Tarnatino's style is more traditional.

Cohen begins by announcing a revolution in acting style, but it seems from the description of the changes that what's really at stake is a directing style as much as an acting style, a new way for filmmakers to collaborate with their actors. I would still love to know more about how the finished product might be different. A matter for future research, for sure.

And another question: isn't the same thing happening in some television productions? Peter Berg and Jason Katims have discussed similar creative situations on the set of Friday Night Lights, and a big part of the spontaneous, natural, partly improvised aesthetic of that show comes from shooting in this more casual setup, with multiple cameras running continuously. (For instance, see the description of the filming of FNL at Wikipedia.) And yet, as far as I know, FNL is shot on film. Maybe there's more to this new style of shooting than just a technological innovation?

(via CinemaTech)

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