|Less than a decade ago the digital video aesthetic was rough and grainy, the image so murky it looked like it was shot through a goldfish bowl. Steven Soderbergh’s navel-gazing Full Frontal from 2002, and Spike Lee’s satire about a modern minstrel show Bamboozled from 2000, made on digital, were particularly ugly. But it is no longer the case that digital video is cold and antiseptic where analogue film is warm and romantic. Digital can look like film. Even lens-flare or the crackle of projected film can be simulated. Put to a Pepsi challenge the true cineaste would have trouble distinguishing between digital footage from the RED ONE camera (used for The Social Network) and analogue 35mm.
An upshot of the great advances of digital video technology is the democratisation of filmmaking. A filmmaker with a thousand pounds to spare can achieve the crisp look of full high-definition. Increasingly feature films are being made with HDSLRs. Similar to Like Crazy, Lena Dunham’s micro-budget Tiny Furniture was shot on the Canon 7D, and its festival success lead to Dunham getting her own show on HBO. Hollywood too has embraced the technology with parts of 127 Hours and Black Swan shot on the 7D.
While we sympathise with Tacita Dean – no film fan wants to see the death of 35mm – the availability of relatively cheap cameras that produce a high quality image, like the 7D, can only be a good thing in widening access to filmmaking.
By Mark Wright (Assistant Editor)