Saturday, August 18, 2007

Generative Mechanisms

It is considered by Allan and Gomery that there are three primary generative mechanisms in film technology, which are:

  • the importance of the market;
  • the relationship between the film industry, the audience and outsiders;
  • ideology.
Market and Technological Innovation

The relationship between the market and technology is quite complex because temporal social and economic considerations must be factored into the equation of development, innovation and implementation.

In a lot of situations technology there is a game of hit and miss within the market, where social and economic conditions have not been ready for technological developments. For example, this occurred with the widescreen aspect ratio, which was developed in the 1920's, but the industry did not use it until the 1950s.

The other factor involved with the market is product differentiation. A trend in American film industry has been film companies developing their own new technologies to gain a market advantage or to find a niche.

Relationships between industry, audience and outsiders

Industry - utilises technology in developing production practices as opposed to making changes to the look or sound. The industry uses it as a facilitator because film companies are financially cautious through the capital-intensive nature of film production. The nature of the film industry comes down to economic demand, if the audience want it, then the industry implement it. A recent example of this attitude is change from 35mm to digital. In the 1990s there was a lot of discussion about the industry moving to digital, but the audience had no interest in the development. Therefore, most of the industry has continued to use 35mm.

Audiences - historically, have been attracted to the novelty of technological innovations, which has occurred with the initial introductions of sound, colour and widescreen. Although, the novelty quickly wears off, which is evident with 3D that premiered in 1953 and lost popularity by 1954.

Outsiders - this category of innovators are the primary force behind the innovation in film technology. They are indirectly linked to the film industry through the experimenting and developing of technology in testing its limitations. The purposes of these technologies are for non-film-industries, but eventually make their way into the industry. For instance, AT & T (phone company) and RCA (radio company), focused on developing and improving sound technologies for their industries as opposed to the film industry.

If you would like information about generative mechanisms can be located in The Coming of Sound, Douglas Gomery and excerpts can be found in google books.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Ways of Viewing Film Technology

There are several ways to view the history of film technology. A popular choice is by thinking about it as a series of Legendary Moments.

For Example:

  1. The Lumiere Projector of 1895;
  2. The invention of film sound in 1927;
  3. The invention of film colour in 1935
This approach views the history of film technology as a sequence of improvements that are combined in the processing of making film more real. Ultimately this option considers each new technological advance as a solution to a specific aesthetic problem in the making of what is happening on screen closer to real.

The approach can be considered as an example of 'teleological history', which is the concept of history goes towards an assumed and clearly defined end. In the context of film technology it would be towards realism.

The use of teleological historiography is very problematic and there is significant evidence that proves the approach fails to properly explain the history of film technology.

A better way to consider the history of film technology is to view it as the effect of a range of complex forces where each new technology developed and distributed can be regarded as an event. Tied into the event is a convergence of generative mechanisms.