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December 21, 2010 / nicotvandenberg

“Binary Code of the Past” An Experimental Film


Peeling back the layers of digital cinema isn’t hard because there aren’t many layers to peel back. Beneath are images is a simple, but yet complex series of binary code, that creates the image we see on the screen.

As a cinematographer and aspiring DP, (Director of Photography) in the digital revolution currently taking place, I thought it was important understand and respect the craft of previous filmmakers. Having only the opportunity to work on a digital platform, the meaning of “physical state,” eluded me. Physical, in this instance, meaning you can hold and see the negative. It is tangible and does not require a form of technology to see its images. Never thinking much of it before, I began to wonder what the equivalent would be for digital cinema. Is it our hard-drives, memory cards or tape? But then I stripped it down, and figured that the real “negative” for digital cinema is the binary code that makes up the image.

This short experimental film was inspired by local Bay Area Filmmakers that I have met during the production of Keeping It Reel, a documentary directed by Dana Shaw. The film showcases a filmmakers attachment to their medium. Rock Ross and Craig Baldwin, two of Keeping It Reels subjects, are the source of the inspiration. Rock Ross, most known for is hand scratch experimental films and his animated title sequence work. Seeing his intimate process, a relationship between his hands and tools, made me question the relationship between a contemporary filmmaker and his or her tools.

No matter where I go or who I talk to, when the topic arises of digital cinema, film is constantly present in the conversation. Film seems to be the control and constant, of the digital cinema experiment. Moving forward while looking back, is the best way I can describe my observation. Constantly progressing, while using film as a base to model its look and feel. Especially in this continuous explosion of HDSLR technology, and the ability to achieve the shallow depth of field only known possible previously with 35mm film.

So my overall goal for this short film was to pay tribute to film and the filmmakers of the previous generation whose medium was celluloid. As a contemporary filmmaker I will continue to embrace the successes and failures of the digital technology just as the filmmakers of the past embraced the imperfections and difficulties of working with film.


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