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» Film-Tech Forum   » Operations   » Film Handlers' Forum   » How Film & Video Affect Your Brain

Author Topic: How Film & Video Affect Your Brain
Ian Price
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1714
From: Denver, CO
Registered: Jun 99

 - posted 07-04-1999 01:14 AM      Profile for Ian Price   Email Ian Price   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I just saw The Buena Vista Social Club at the Mayan. It’s a documentary film by Wim Wenders. It was entirely shot on Sony Digital Betacam and Sony Handycam. You could definitely tell the difference between the two cameras. The film was transferred to 35mm film with a SR soundtrack. I explain all this because it is a documentary about music.

Before I go much further I should say that I loved this film. I loved the music, the people and the story. What I want to tell you about is the presentation.

The Mayan is an old 1930s Art Deco Movie House. It has hard plaster walls and a huge fly loft. This has to be the worst sounding room in Denver. They have tried to tame the sound, but there is only so much you can do. I thought the bass was a little weak and the sound a little “honky”. The print has light platter scratches on it already. Its been playing for 8 shows so far. The end cue didn’t work and most of the audience stayed till the bitter end because of the music over the sound track.

There has been a discussion lately about how video and film impact the brain in different ways. We see them differently. How then do you tell what part a film that originated on video but was presented on film affects the brain?

Wim Wenders has a very Cinema Verite style with his documentaries. The camera is always moving and focus is more of an abstract concept than a rule that should be followed. I found the camera movement tiring and the lack of focus irritating. But what most stuck out of the film was what I have been saying all along. The story matters. If the story is good than all else is secondary.

The concert portions of this film could have been filmed on film with a good 6-channel mix. I might have seen it in a better theatre with better sound. Would I have enjoyed it more? I can’t say. Should the theatre presented it better? Definitely yes!

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Ian Price
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1714
From: Denver, CO
Registered: Jun 99

 - posted 07-04-1999 01:37 AM      Profile for Ian Price   Email Ian Price   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Ok, here is a strange thought.

Film flickers at 24 frames per second. Of course most projectors have double shutters so the flicker is 48 times per second.

Video, as presented on a CRT, scans left to right, top to bottom 30 times per second. Of course the frames are interlaced and presented a half field every 60th of a second.

Video, as presented on Digital Cinema with the TI chip, is presented one full picture at a time. The frame rate can be 24 or 30 frames per second. They can actually be whatever you want, or film in. The TI chip can’t scan, so the Faruja software or video handling circuitry must assemble a complete picture from the interlaced NTSC or progressive scanned HD signal. Then it presents the complete picture to the TI chip. The chip changes and presents the picture continuously until the next frame. Since the chip can be updated 1,000 time per second, the change from one image to another image happens so fast that I’ll bet the eye can’t detect it.

So the question is, how does your brain interpret this new image? Digital Cinema doesn’t scan or flicker. There is no moment of darkness between each image as in film. There is no half-scanned image like we see on TV.

Thoughts to ponder! Hmmm?

[This message has been edited by Ian Price (edited 07-04-99).]

[This message has been edited by Ian Price (edited 07-04-99).]

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Ky Boyd
Hey I'm #23

Posts: 314
From: Santa Rosa, CA, USA
Registered: Jun 99

 - posted 07-04-1999 01:04 PM      Profile for Ky Boyd   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Ian...interesting thoughts on how video and film affect the brain. Did you see the article in the June28 - July11 issue of Variety titled "Digital Derby Fuels Reel Sense of Loss"? Near the end of the article they bring up this very issue. Apparently Roger Ebert has given this a lot of thought and though there is only sketchy science to back him up he contends that very roughly speaking "film creates an alpha state of reverie due to its impreceptible flickering, therefore creating a more emotional and intense reaction. Television, by contrast creates a beta state that is constant and more hypnotic, which is why people can sit in front of a TV screen for hours at a stretch."

Clearly, this goes back to your fundamental point - the story is king but if the medium changes to produce a more hypnotic state the very nature of what we know as "the movies" will be in danger.

On another note, the article also mentions a new 35mm projection system, MaxiVision 48, developed by a company called Trust Automation in San Luis Obispo, CA. Apparently by using 3 perf per frame, reduing the frame line, elminating the analog soundtrack and doubling the frame per second, this system produces a picture with twice the usual clarity, sharpness and impact.

Forget digital...I'd like to see MaxiVision 48.


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Gordon McLeod
Film God

Posts: 9461
From: Toronto Ontario Canada
Registered: Jun 99

 - posted 07-05-1999 11:54 AM      Profile for Gordon McLeod   Email Gordon McLeod   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Many years ago I read Marshall Mcqullans book on Hot and Cold Media and the brains interpretation of its involvement. Interestingly rear projected film acts like TV and is hot
well worth rereading

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