Unintended Consequences: Digital Filming Changes Acting

from the can't-predict-this-stuff dept

While it’s well known that new digital technologies have allowed moviemakers to change the economics of movie making in a way that could seriously shake up the industry, what hasn’t received as much discussion is the fact that digital technologies are changing how actors act in films as well — and we’re not just talking about the use of virtual actors and characters. Chris Anderson has written up an interesting post about a group of moviemakers describing some of the unintended benefits of going digital. Since film costs were always a big issue in the production of a film, directors would be careful to conserve the use of actual film. That meant a few rehearsals before real film was used — and when the film was rolling the pressure was even higher on actors, sometimes making them act less naturally. However, with digital being virtually costless, directors can just keep filming. A “rehearsal” no longer needs to be a “rehearsal” if it captures the scene perfectly. In fact, the continuous filming allows actors to be a lot more natural and spontaneous, often making the acting better. Everyone always figured that digital editing and changing things within the video would be benefits of going digital — but the impact on actual acting is a totally unexpected consequence that can have a huge impact on the quality of films.

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Comments on “Unintended Consequences: Digital Filming Changes Acting”

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Ben says:

Re: Also HD

ahh, but you see, one of the Other benifits of digital is the ability to “touch up” video after being filmed. so even in HD make up mistakes can be easily fixed. I mean, if they can erase an entire tattoo from Angelina’s arm in Tomb raider (i think thats coming out in HD soon) that a little make-up error could be a quickfix.

HiDef says:


Although the cost of tape over film stock is reduced, the cost of production has remained relatively fixed, or increased. It still costs thousands and thousands of dollars per hour to have a film crew standing around while the actors do take after take. Next to this, the price of film OR tape is insignificant.

Also, most Hollywood directors do not have the patience for this…

Drew B. says:

and who knew...

…how much jumping, spinning, suspended in mid-air, inverted, flying kicks would revolutionize the floundering action film world? Forget about better story writing and traditional visual effects…Take one digital image of the actor and use a computer to fully animate them and give them way more personality than they ever had on their own.

And re-release old movies with all the guns changed into walkie-talkies, because kids should only see violence on the news. Or video games. Or when dad comes home drunk and catches mom on the couch with the mailman.

RubyRush says:

More Takes... More Money

I highly doubt this would decrase the cost of producing a film. If anything it would increase because now the editors are going to have to sit through all of those “practice shots” plus all the real ones and try to piece them all together. Maybe there are too many choices and the whole thing comes out looking like some half finished jiggsaw puzzle. The actor gets paid to act, if they arent good at it how did they get the job?

RubyRush says:

Re: Re: More Takes... More Money

“Dearie”, they still have to find it and smash it all together into this thing called a movie that is of course if all of the scenes mesh perfectly given the “time code.” Assuming the probablity that the code will be off slightly or something stupid happened right before the perfect take, they have to go find the filler between those “perfect” takes that the director couldn’t have conveniently marked with a “time code.”

garfalk says:

Re: Re: Re: More Takes... More Money

after every scene the director will probably make comments on it.

so they won’t have to search through all the ‘no’s and just stick to the ‘maybe’s.

and they could edit the movie in iMovie which splits the film into scenes based on the camera turning off. continous filming doesn’t have to mean the camera never turns off.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: More Takes... More Money

What exactly do you think editors did BEFORE digital? All of that “find it and smash it all together into this thing called a movie that is of course if all of the scenes mesh perfectly” still has to be done, analog or digital. Or did you think they just shot movies straight through from start to finish and never had any extra seconds of film? Every scene gets done in one take right? No one ever messes up.

Anonymous Coward says:

I find it funny how the cost of producing a movie continues to go down, yet the studios continue to charge more. If the movies were actually getting BETTER I would complain. However I can count on one hand the number of movies released this year that were actually worth the 8 dollars a theater charges. Hollywood can blow me.

Lay Person says:


Gee…they don’t even need talent anymore? Cool.

It still doesn’t explain why the movies suck real bad!

Perhaps they don’t need scripts anymore either!

Better yet, they should create software that can write decent scripts.

Shoot, just have the software do the whole movie, it’ll cost nothing to make and can’t be worse than what their charging for it now.

jsnbase says:

It doesn't really work that way

What’s described is more of a change in directing and editing than acting. I also disagree with most of the premises he starts with; Big budget films have far less rehearsing going on than you might think. I also don’t buy the ‘higher pressure/less natural’ idea. I’ve never seen most of what he’s talking about.

Whatever he said says:

Movies suck because we demand so many of them, that and the fact that every decent story is a re-hashing of an old one.

Digital filiming can change the dynamics though. I expect that some day you will go to the same movie three times and see three different endings just because the studio uploads a new ending every month. Why not (oh, $8.50 each time… that’s a problem).

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