Digital technology represents a major innovation at every stage in the firm industry. This assessment will firstly focus on the importance and impacts of digital technology in pre-production and production phase. Then the development of D-cinema in China will be introduced. Finally, the implications of technological change for people and organisation within the firm and for government will be discussed.
1. The Review of five articles
The article one is focus on the influence of digital video for the film production. The author discusses that digital film improve the quality of images comparing with the traditional film. Digital video can produce an absolutely clean and clear picture and pick up light closely as the human eye. The image is made up by pixels instead of grain which are little boxes. And the definition of the image depends on the treatment in post production. Another important change for film production is that digital video is cheap which lead anyone can make a film and reduce the cost of filmmaking.
In article two, the author is focus on the changes the HD brings to the film production. HD needs less light than traditional 35mm. At the same time, it needs similar crew size with 35mm. But the camera can record sound which is feasible to work quickly and reliably with a DP/operator and assistant under special circumstances. HD can not only save time in production also give directors and producers’ confidence and encouragement to pursue different, risky or complicated creative projects. New directors are keen to embrace this new technology to get an edge by creating a new process of film making.
In article three, the author explains the software has been used as a tool for the film per-production. Final Draft is currently the market leader in the script-formatting field with second place going to Movie Magic. Second feature is the best spell checker and thesaurus of the several other formatting products. Questionable spelling is underlined in red as user’s type. There is also a database of 90,000 names to help users christen their characters By far the most unique feature in Final Draft is Script Reader. This innovation uses text-to-speech technology to actually read your script aloud using QuickTime’s voice samples.
In article four, the author discusses the important role of computer in visual design. The utilisation of computer in development of the visual arts is a process of gradual change from removing some of the tedium of the repetitive work of the hand animator to using the computer-generated characters and environment in film. Finally, the computer generated animation can be made start-to-finish in an all-digital environment. All in all, the visual quality expected of computer graphics was way beyond its practical realisation and had to be synthesised with traditional techniques.
In article five, digital technology is seen as a key issue during the pre-production and production phases of filmmaking. Lower-cost digital tools enable almost anyone to create a feature-length film. Internet as digital technological tool used for script development, it aids writers to publish their script to relevant directors, producers. Computer is also an important graphic tool for film making, aiding everyone from storyboard artists and costume designers to location scouts and gaffers. Digital video is seen an another tool which the image characteristics are recorded in binary code, has led to much more rapid improvement in video image quality, usability and simplicity, as well as decreasing size, cost and complexity of the cameras.
2. The impacts of digital technology in pre-production and production stage for film industry.
Every aspect of the film industry has been impacted in recent years by new digital technologies, from the pre-production to distribution. In this section, three important digital tools, internet, personal computer, and digital video, will be claimed which focus on their impact for the phase of pre-production and production in filmmaking process.
Computer is an important script and graphic tool for movie making by using relevant software, aiding everyone from scriptwriters to storyboard artists and costume designers. The special script software enables authors to format and standardise their script correctly (Culkin, N. ; Randle, K. 2003). The computer is also used to set construction through CAD (computer aided design) programmes which allow the creation of virtual sets for plotting the camera position (Department for Culture, Media and Sport, 2002). In addition, in production phase, the computer can create virtual actors which are already common in large budget films. For example, in film of Toy story (1995), the filmmaker produced a completely virtual but non-realistic environment of computer generate imagery (Department for Culture, Media and Sport, 2002).
Internet also is seen as an important digital technological tool used for script development and marketing within pre-production phase. Internet enables writer to not only e-mail their script to relevant directors, producers and other concerned parties, but also enables collective peer review and critique through on-line forums (Culkin, N. ; Randle, K. 2003). Internet also impact on the pre-release marketing because Internet as a new media can publish details about production information online to attract potential audiences.
Finally, the most important digital technology used in film production is digital video, which means the image characteristics are recorded in binary code. The impact of digital video is that it makes many rapid improvements in video image quality, usability and simplicity, as well as decreasing size, cost and complexity of the cameras. The impact has been twofold:
At the high-end, there is the high-definition digital video camera which eventually aims to better 35mm film in quality and versatility (Culkin, N. ; Randle, K. 2003). As the claim of George Lucas (Department for Culture, Media and Sport, 2002), the impacts of this HD 24p camera are to improve the image quality, saving time on watching dailies by reviewing the scene on an electronic projector, less timer to change magazines, increase productivity.
At the low-end, the DV cameras, such as the Sony DSR-PD100, enable almost anyone to create a feature-length film because it reduces the cost of film production. Therefore, not only to many low-budget film makers switching form super-16mm or 35 mm to digital video, but also increased the number of first time film makers who could complete a feature length budget outside commercial film process (Culkin, N. ; Randle, K. 2003). Based on the data from Department for Culture, Media and Sport (2002), at the 1999 Los Angeles Film Festival, 10 percent of submission was on DV, and in 2001 it was 60 percent. Furthermore, it allows the creation of more personal and small-scale films outside the control of mainstream channels which can not realise in the past. For example, in China, it is very popular for university students to product a small-scale film to reflect their university life by using mini-DV format camcorders.
3. The development of D-cinema in China
A new practice, called “D-cinema”, is being introduced in several countries, whereby feature films can be distributed in the form of digital signals, in real-time or non-real-time, for collective viewing in cinema theatres equipped with appropriate electronic projectors (ITU website, 2003).
In China, rapid development of D-cinema is obvious. According to Jim Graham, VP of sales and marketing for QuVis (Kienzle, C. 2003), ‘The Chinese want to be seen as progressive and leaders in this area of technology’. Now, China is the next leader besides the United States (Kienzle, C. 2003). The explosive growth in the Chinese digital cinema market is because of the government’s strong support of digital technology.
‘The Chinese government is laying the groundwork for digital cinema installations and transmission of content throughout China,’ says Joe DeMeo, strategic accounts manager for Barco (Kienzle, C. 2003) in Los Angeles. The Chinese government has committed millions of dollars to realize a four-phase plan to establish 100 digital cinemas, networked for easier electronic distribution throughout China, by the end of 2004 (Kienzle, C. 2003). The aim of this plan is using these cinemas as showcases to encourage more cinema operators to embark onto the digital platform (Christie Digital Systems, Inc. 2004).
As the government-sanctioned entity, the China Film Group was authorised to implement this plan. Recently, it already has 54 digital cinemas up and running, and dozens more are under constructing (Christie Digital Systems, Inc. 2004). During the implementation of the planning, the China Film Group evaluated the newest equipment in order to buy the best of everything, even mix and match equipment from competing sellers.
In the first phase, Barco’s DLP D-Cine Premiere DLP Cinema projectors have been chosen by the China Film Group for several digital cinema installations throughout China. Barco D-Cine Premiere projectors have been installed in four cinemas in Beijing, two in Shanghai, two in Hangzhou, and one in Shenzen – these will help form a digital cinema network across the country (Kienzle, C. 2003).
Since initial association in 2003, Christie has been one of key collaborators in developing digital cinema in China. China Film Group selected Christie digital cinema projectors as part of its implementation effort. This initiative, which aims to spur the growth of local digital cinemas, further introduces 10 new Christie digital cinema locations in Beijing, Shanghai, Shenyang, Wuxi, Nanjing and Shaoxing (Christie Digital Systems, Inc. 2004).
According to Mr Chen Fei (Christie Digital Systems, Inc. 2004), Chief Technology Officer, China Film Group Corporation, China Film Group acquired a total 10 Christie digital projectors in new chain of digital cinema installations, especially China’s first CP2000 digital cinema projector for China Film Group Cinema in Beijing.
Avica Technology have been selected to provide digital cinema mastering system and FilmStore Digital Cinema players exclusively in China as the first phase of a scheduled 100 screen deployment that will take place over the remainder of 2002 and continue into 2003 (Monica, S. 2002).
After installation of new digital equipments, those D-cinemas have been employed to delivery digital movies such as China’s first true digital movie, Polar Region Rescue (Kienzle, C. 2003).
4. The implications of technological change for people and organisation within firm
As a new century begins, companies are experiencing a period of rapid technological change. Company think the new technologies can bring many benefits to overcome their competitors, such as reducing cost, increasing productivity, and improving quality. Companies are relying heavily on technology to achieve these benefits which can gain the competitive advantages. Therefore, the technological change for a company is necessary and welcome. However, during the period of effort to develop new technologies, they note those changes create challenge for both people and organization which is how to transform technologies in to useful products and service in a timely and economical way (Souder, WM. ; Sherman, J. 1994).
The technology alone does not determine corporate performance and profitability. Employee skills and capabilities play a large role, as do the structure of day-to-day operations and the company’s policies and procedure (Rhodes, ED. & Wield, D. 1993). In order to utilsiting new technology effectively, the people should be re-training accordingly, because new technology requires employees own relevant new skills to operate. Furthermore, in order to fit rapidly technological change employees should improve their learning capability to upgrade skills and knowledge. In addition, people have been involved in new technology adoption which their job position might be changed. It could lead to conflict and misunderstand between people and orgnisation. Therefore, managers have to pay more attention to communication and co-ordinary with employees. In a word, the most problematic tasks are not generally those directly associated with investing new physical facilities but those concerned with extending people’s teamworking skills, adaptability and flexibility, and with learning abilities—to develop new areas of knowledge and technological competence (Rhodes, E. & Wield, D. 1994, pp168).
In order to realize the effective technological change, the organization must improve its flexibility in three fields (Preece, D. 1995).
Firstly, company need to enhance the labour flexibility which include functional, numerical, financial and time flexibility. Functional flexibility is the process of employees learning and taking on additional job skills and knowledge over time; numerical flexibility refers to quantitative adjustments in labour supply; financial flexibility relates to the ways in which pay and grading structures reflect and support the two former types of flexibility. Time one focuses on alternatives to the traditional full-time.
Secondly, Structural flexibility. The change in technology and work process was inevitable lead to considerable organizational readjustments which needs the organizational structure have enough flexibility.
Thirdly, the organization must be flexible enough to respond to and increasing dynamic environment which is in term of manufacturing flexibility.
In addition, time to adapt the new technology for organisation is also a big problem need to pay more attention. The organisation has to reorganise the workplace to set up the new technology which will waste time.
As technology evolution continues, it is necessary for organizations to find resources to keep up with changes, effectively assess which developments can provide real improvements, and understand how to capitalize on opportunities.
5. The policy implications of technological change for government
Because the radical technological changes are influence all areas in society, government also meet the challenges from those changes. Therefore, the government need to consider some policies activities to adapt the changes. Generally, government play an important supportive role in facilitating the technological change process.
Firstly, government should allocate the resources controlled by government to support science and technology (Hawthorne, E. 1978). One of most important measure of government is to share the total expenditure on R; D. In technological changes, the organisations invest huge capital in R;D. but those investments are not enough to adapt the need of technology. And some of the technology innovations are not related to profitability which can not attract companies, but they may benefit to social development. In those fields, government should pay more attention to R;D, especially in the basic seience. In addition, the government need to play a constructive role in facilitating cooperative research between competing companies, by constructing information network.
Secondly, government has a major impact on the process of innovation through its education and training activities which can supply companies with a high-quality, literate, numerate, and cooperative work force when they face new technologies (Fransman, M. 1999). At the same time, the government also need to improve the standards of the education which will help to improve the general skills level of the people.
Finally, the consequence of government’s direct involvement in technology is its ability to control that part of the development which may have potentially hazardous effects on health and safety or on the environment. In long term, those hazardous effects may not have serious threat to the life of people. But in shore terms, they are necessary to be considered such as the environment pollution which brought by utilising new technology. There has been a growing realization that legislation may also be required to provide a control on the development of a technology before it comes into general use (Hawthorne, E. 1978). When a new technology is planed to be utilised, the government should consider modifying the existing relevant regulations to restrict their negative influences for both people and society.
Radical Technological change brings a huge difference in people, organisations, industries and society. In former three parts of this article, the radical influence of digital technology has been discussed especially focus on in film industry. It is very obvious that digital technology change the fundamental and concepts of the film. Speaking generally, technology changes represent a challenge to organisations and governments with their benefits. In this situation, organisation and government need to consider the relevant activities to meet this challenge.
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Article 1: Zizo, C. (2002) Riding the new digital video wave. [online]http://www.ucffuture.com/news/2002/07/03/Entertainment/Riding.The.New.Digital.Video.Wave-257467.shtml.(09/05/2004)
Article 2: Brennan, M. (2004) Shooting High Definition. [online] http://www.hd24.com/shooting_high_definition.htm (12/05/2004)
Article 3: Katz, S.D. (2002) Final Draft 6. Millimeter Magazine.
Article 4: Baker, R. (1993) Computer Technology and Special Effects in Contemporary Cinema. BFI Publishing.
Article 5: Department for Culture, Media and Sport, (2002) Screen Digest Report on the Implications of digital Technology for the Film Industry.