The Evolution of the Film Industry

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The film industry has completely been transformed in the last decades due to the introduction of new skills, techniques, and tools to the movie-making process. Throughout the 19th Century, the filmmaking process underwent various changes that have contributed to its success. The film industry faced a lot of challenges during the 19th Century. However, the principal limitation was that films were released without sound. Lack of sound in movies sounds primitive and cannot portray the true mode of entertainment (Kelby 97). This aspect is in contrast with today’s life where a sound is a vital tool in cinema production. However, since 1929, the sound has been a major part of the filmmaking process.

More effort for adjusting the quality of videos grew stronger and led to the introduction of digital technology in the 1970s (Kelby 114). The digital technique grew globally, and various film enterprises started implementing it into the workflow. As a result, the process of filmmaking was eased hence the rate of movie production increased attracting more investors. High-resolution definition cameras have also been introduced that gives a sharp picture output compared to the analog cameras. This paper points out the evolution of filmmaking process and the advantages and disadvantages that are associated with the digital technology how digital technology has contributed to the growth of film production industry.

History of the Evolution of Filmmaking

Previous Filmmaking Methods

Filmmaking is a complicated process that requires as a set of specific equipment for its creation. For a better understanding of the importance of advancement in technology, one should first know the history. Furthermore, one should also know the past practices that were in place. The history of filmmaking began in 1800 when different discoveries were made including the fantascope, zoopraxiscope, and a thaumatrope. In 1880, a mechanism which promoted the advancement of film and the perforated movies was created by Edison and Dickson (Zone 40). A kinetograph camera that shoots motion picture was developed by Dickson.

The evolution of filmmaking process began on 28th December 1895 when the first movie was made public in Paris, France. McAlpine (133) claims that, the first screening that was given a breakthrough to cinematography that Lumiere Brothers did a projected motion picture. As a result, filmmaking companies started to grow. Various cinema production enterprises were established globally.  During this period, film production programs were not available in formal education institutions. In the 1890s, the length of the video became quite long and included several shots. Furthermore, the first film studio was brought up in 1897, and the invention of the rotating camera was also made in 1898. This camera could be capable of taking panning shots. Besides, during the 1900s, the first close-up shot and action continuity were introduced by D. W. Griffith (Kumar 389). And in 1905, "The Nickelodeon" in Pittsburgh becomes the first theatre showing films. Towards 1910, actors started to receive credit for the role they played in filmmaking. Additionally, short documentaries become popular, and they were considered as the best way of delivering the news. At this time, the most prominent shareholder in the film market all over Europe and Australia apart from France was the United States.

Advancements in the Film industry started growing, and new techniques like fire effects, artificial lighting, and low-key lighting were introduced. Nevertheless, long and complicated novels and play were re-written by specialist writers in a way that the audient could readily understand the play. At this period, the introduction of genres into the movie industry was also done; drama and comedy were the two main categories (Kelby 204). However, these categories were further divided into various sub-divisions. Several transitions were experienced in the film industry during the First World War. As a result, prices started to rise, and the exhibition venues expanded. Besides, the mode of commercial cinemas was continuity cinema where there was a smooth transition between the previous shot to the next short.

In today’s film, the sound has been considered as a vital tool in video production unlike in the 19th century where shots were captioned and released in a silent mode, and there were no soundtracks. Although in 1929, lack of sound in filmmaking came to an end. Liquidity flow to talkies and experiment was made possible through the introduction of sound by William Wellman, Rouben Mamoulian, and Alfred Hitchcock. Nevertheless, a motion for cameras and microphone advancement, and editing ability and post-synchronizing was later pushed by the Hollywood directors. Since then various inventions have been made in improving the quality of videos produced.


Various challenges were faced in the old era of filmmaking where everything was analog. Firstly, editing was not an easy task, and one had to cut the tape using a razor then combine it with other tapes. Consequently, more time was used and could also result in the loss of some shots during editing. Secondly, a lot of limitations were involved in video shooting. For example, the medium itself had limitations; films were photo-chemically prepared in the laboratory first for any reviewing to take place (Kelby 143). Furthermore, when there is a fault in the shooting process, it could not be easily identified hence there was no a guarantee that the images exposed would lack errors. The post-production workflow could also face some limitations since even color correction tasks would require photo-chemical treatment which was mainly based on guesswork rather than the exact knowledge of how the outcome would look like.

The Revolution of Digital Cinematography

Digital revolution is the transition from the mechanical and analog technology to a more advanced digital technology. Digital cinematography involves the use of digital sensors in capturing motion pictures rather than the film stock. The introduction of digital technology into the workflow of filmmaking process has limited the limitations that were encountered during the old era (Venkatasawmy 80). The efforts for the invention of the new digital technology can be traced back to the 1980s when Sony marketed the idea of electronic cinematography through utilization of the professional Sony HDVS video camera. Since then, a lot of inventions have been made until now when digital technology has fully been implemented in the film industry.

The introduction of digital intermediaries into film production industry began in 1970’s where it involved scanning of films and digitizing them to enable alteration of the imageries in the post-production Venkatasawmy (16). As a result, digital technology became more popular, and it spread widely across the globe. Additionally, digital technology tools and techniques into the workflow were implemented by different production industries. Nevertheless, the beneficiaries of the invention of digital technology were the filmmakers since it allowed easy manipulation of imagery in non-linear and non-destructive form. In 1993, a Computer Generated creature that was photorealistic was developed. However, the complete set of the feature-length film that was generated by computers was released in 1995.

Venkatasawmy (79) further states that the first film in the world that utilized digital post-production techniques was Rainbow which was shot using the first Sony’s electronic solid state cinematography cameras. A 35mm recording length characterized the camera, and the visual effects, sound effect, scoring, all post-production, and editing were fully digitized. Besides, in 1998, HDCAM recorders were introduced, and 1920 × 1080 pixel digital camera that based on CCD technology was also discovered. Nevertheless, in 1999, digital projectors were installed in four theatre houses to allow the showing of The Phantom Menace. Furthermore, “Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones” began using Sony HDW-F900 camera as the principal photography.

Today various types of digital cameras have been invented by different companies including Sony, Panasonic, Canon, and JVC that are being used globally for video shooting. Cameras with high-resolution power are now available in the market hence giving a clear view compared to the traditional analog systems. Besides, movies are now distributed in digital format to theatres, thus, eliminating the 35mm film entirely. Furthermore, digital movie theatres have been created with digital screens that are compatible with the high-resolution cameras used for recording. Everywhere in the world, the concept of digital technology has been fully implemented in the cinema production industry.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Digital Technology in Film Making

Although digital technology has some challenges in the filmmaking process, it has attributed to the growth of film production industries. It has simplified the process of filmmaking. Apart from making video shooting easier, the distribution of film copies has been made easier by digital technology. Nevertheless, despite having positive impacts on the film industries, Digital technology has some challenges that are involved with it.

Advantages of Digital Technology

Cost Saving

With the introduction of digital technology into the film production industry, the cost of production has dramatically been reduced (Venkatasawmy 152). Consequently, the massive budgets that were drafted in the past for purchasing film stock and video development have also been cut and the amount could be saved or invested somewhere else. This cost-cutting factor is very advantageous especially to those individuals who are self-sponsored and wanted to invest in the film industry. Furthermore, charges that could have been incurred by filmmakers have been reduced, and the whole process of video making has been simplified. For instance, in the past one could hire a large number of people to help in the video shooting process. This move could result in inconveniences due to the disturbances that were made by this people. With digital technology, the number of the crew hired in video shooting is relatively small since handling the cameras won’t require much effort. As a result, the cost that could have been used to engage many people is cut off.

Distribution of Recorded Films has been Simplified

Digital technology has eased the distribution of films all over the world. A recorded video can be easily supplied to different geographical location regardless of the distance instantly over the internet, or hard disks, or even over the satellite (Venkatasawmy 151). Nevertheless, the film can be streamed live hence reaching thousands of individuals at once.  This mode of distribution has also saved on the cost that could have been incurred by shipping recorded film tapes. Besides, the time taken to distribute the film to different places has reduced. The demand for the movie has also increased hence the rate of supply should also expand to meet the film demand in the market. As a result, it would be much faster to distribute more copies in different digital theatres over the internet globally.

It is easier to operate Digital Cinema Devices than Analog Cinema

With the advancement in technology in the film industry, digital cinemas can be used and managed by a less skilled person. The digital devices come with user manuals that are easy to understand unlike in analog-based cinemas where only a highly trained and dedicated personnel can operate the theatre for prepping, showing, dismantling and returning the movie tapes film.

Light Sensitivity

Digital cameras like the CANON 5D, RED EPIC RED ONE or RED EPIC are sensitive to light compared to the standard cameras Kelby (146). The concept of light sensitivity is beneficial especially when shooting in dark environments. Furthermore, a digital camera saves on the amount that could have been used for hiring lighting equipment when shooting night-time scenes. Besides, it also saves on the cost of hiring a large number of crews. Before the introduction of digital technology, filming a 35mm movie would require one to employ many people in the team; camera crew, lighting crew and production crew. As a result, apart from the cost involved, having many people in the crew could result in background disturbances and pressure to the director.

Polarization Effect

Digital 3D cameras use polarization, unlike the older 3D cinemas where colored glasses were used in portraying the 3D effect. Polarization protects the final product from being corrupted. Nevertheless, digital cameras allow immediate viewing of the filmed videos hence decision making on whether a re-shooting should be done or not. Previewing of recorded slides helps to save the time taken during the editing process.

Disadvantages of Digital Technology

High Cost of Adaption

It is expensive equipping film industries with the new digital technology due to the high cost associated with them. Nevertheless, theatres that were initially equipped with analog technology would be much expensive replacing them with digital projectors (Venkatasawmy 160). Furthermore, the cost of re-designing the theatre hall is relatively high. Besides, technology advances at a higher rate, keeping up with the new technology and maintenance is also expensive since it requires frequent updates as the technology advances.

A high rate of Piracy

Piracy is an act where an individual steals an original work and reproduces it to benefit them. Illegal reproduction of movies is a big threat to the film industry; it leads to competition between the owner of the movie and the pirate. The pirates distribute recorded films at a relatively low price compared to the legal owner of the work. Advancement in technology has made piracy of copyrighted materials readily available. Individuals can easily manipulate the original film copies and distribute through the peer-to-peer network or use other storage devices like DVDs and hard disks (Venkatasawmy 128). An increase in the rate pirate results in a loss to the producers. The increasing rate of distribution of pirated movies has made film industries to invest much in protecting their movies from being pirated.

The Theatre Market Faces Competition from Consumers

The introduction of DVDs has considerably affected the market of the theatre enterprises. Most individuals own DVD electronic system at their homes hence they would instead prefer to watch movies at the comfort of their houses (Venkatasawmy 224). Furthermore, some people won’t even buy the movie from the movie store; they would download them from the internet where most of the movies are available for free. Movie piracy has also contributed to the increasing rate of competition from the consumers since they can cheaply acquire the pirated movie. Besides, much investment has been made by theatres in obtaining the projectors, renting the premises, and also designing the theatre room, with continued competition from individuals may result in a loss.

Frequent Training

With the rapid advancement of technology, new devices and techniques are invented. As a result, the professionals in the film industry especially those in the sound and visual department need to acquire new and specialized skills to cope up with the new inventions. For instance, in the post-production industry, tools and software need to be continuously upgraded. As a result, the staffs should frequently be trained to increase production which is quite expensive.

Overall, the evolution of the filmmaking process started in the 1800s when the first film created by the Lumiere Brothers was made public in Paris, France that gave the breakthrough to cinematography. The length of the captioned movies was then increased in 1890 which was an achievement in the cinema production industry. Additionally, the first film studio was brought up in 1897, and the rotation camera that could capture punning shots was invented in 1898. Nevertheless, more inventions were done, and in the 1900s the first close up shot was made. New techniques were also introduced, and films were categorized into divisions and subdivisions which were later sub-divided during the First World War. However, various challenges were faced in especially in editing where a lot of guesswork was used in photochemical procedures. Sony then introduced digital technology in the 1980s. A Sony HDVS the video camera that used cinematography was invented. Various inventions were then done, and in 1993, Computer Generated animations were created. Although the introduction of digital technology has some disadvantages like the cost associated with implementing it, piracy and the cost of conducting frequent training in the film industry. Besides, digital technology has resulted in reducing the expense that could have been incurred in the filmmaking process. It has cut down the costs of hiring a large crew and purchasing film stock. Additionally, the distribution of film copies has been eased and also the charges that were associated with manual distribution have been cut off. As a result, the demand for movies across the globe has been catered for by the easy means of supplying films. Furthermore, theatres equipped with digital devices are easy to operate. Digital cameras are sensitive to light making video enabling night-time video shooting .without investing much in hiring light systems. Besides, the polarization effect that comes with digital cameras has protected the recorded videos from being corrupted. Consequently, the evolution of digital technology has positively contributed to the growth of film industries across the world.

Work Cited

Kelby, Scott. Scott Kelby's Digital Photography: The Step-by-Step Secrets for How to Make Your Photos Look Like the Pros'! - the Boxed Set. , 2014. Print.


McAlpine, Kenneth B. "Jazz and the Art of Anticipation." The Computer Games Journal 4.3-4 (2015): 133-135.

Venkatasawmy, Rama. The Digitization of Cinematic Visual Effects: Hollywood's Coming of Age. , 2012. Print.

Zone, Ray. Stereoscopic Cinema and the Origins of 3-D Film, 1838-1952. University Press of Kentucky, 2014.

September 25, 2023




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