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Will filmmaking become obsolete? 
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Post Will filmmaking become obsolete?
Here is a question I would like to pose here. Do any of you foresee a future where filmmaking, either as art or a source of entertainment, will become obsolete? After all, there are alternatives for individuals or families to be entertained, from Youtube to cable TV shows (which are increasingly attracting top-notch actors -- consider Glenn Close in the show Damages as just one example) to online gaming.


Thu Jun 20, 2013 6:52 pm
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Post Re: Will filmmaking become obsolete?
I don't think it will become obsolete for a good long time.


Thu Jun 20, 2013 7:11 pm
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Post Re: Will filmmaking become obsolete?
I can see it losing some of its cultural presence, but not becoming obsolete in our lifetime.

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Thu Jun 20, 2013 9:50 pm
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Post Re: Will filmmaking become obsolete?
I don't think it will ever become obsolete, but only for a technical reason.

Obsolescence means that something we once valued has been replaced by something we value more for the same reasons. Street Fighter II: The World Warrior becomes obsolete when Street Fighter II: Champion Edition comes out. We can point to that moment and say "That's obsolescence." There is little reason to go back to something if there's a newer version that does everything the original does, but better. To borrow from Monty Python, "obsolete" means that it is only of interest to historians.

There are more alternatives to film now than ever before. None of them does quite what film does, but they all do some of what film does, and they all bring their own unique valuable traits to the mix. The big advantage that they all have over film is that film has been around for over 100 years. In that time, its own unique advantages have been thoroughly exploited. It has built up a library of works so large that it defies expertise. It has also developed a progressively higher barrier to entry, at least as far as mainstream studio-driven filmmaking goes. For audio-visual artists hankering for unspoiled frontiers, film is the least-appealing option.

I don't think there will ever be a moment we can point to and say that film is obsolete. There will not be a Film 2.0 that overwrites Film 1.0 in our culture. Film itself was not the 2.0 of something that came before it. But film will be more and more the domain of culture snobs and nostalgia seekers, just as radio and theater have become over the years.

And we won't be able to say whether or not it has happened in our lifetime, because the whole point of this embarrassing screed is that there will be no line where we can say it has definitively happened or not happened. It's an evolutionary process with no discrete starting point, ending point, or steps in between. No switchover from "not obsolete" to "obsolete"--just a smooth transition from mainstream cultural phenomenon to elder statesman in the pantheon of popular arts.

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Fri Jun 21, 2013 6:25 am
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Post Re: Will filmmaking become obsolete?
Ken wrote:
I don't think it will ever become obsolete, but only for a technical reason.

Obsolescence means that something we once valued has been replaced by something we value more for the same reasons. Street Fighter II: The World Warrior becomes obsolete when Street Fighter II: Champion Edition comes out. We can point to that moment and say "That's obsolescence." There is little reason to go back to something if there's a newer version that does everything the original does, but better. To borrow from Monty Python, "obsolete" means that it is only of interest to historians.

There are more alternatives to film now than ever before. None of them does quite what film does, but they all do some of what film does, and they all bring their own unique valuable traits to the mix. The big advantage that they all have over film is that film has been around for over 100 years. In that time, its own unique advantages have been thoroughly exploited. It has built up a library of works so large that it defies expertise. It has also developed a progressively higher barrier to entry, at least as far as mainstream studio-driven filmmaking goes. For audio-visual artists hankering for unspoiled frontiers, film is the least-appealing option.

I don't think there will ever be a moment we can point to and say that film is obsolete. There will not be a Film 2.0 that overwrites Film 1.0 in our culture. Film itself was not the 2.0 of something that came before it. But film will be more and more the domain of culture snobs and nostalgia seekers, just as radio and theater have become over the years.

And we won't be able to say whether or not it has happened in our lifetime, because the whole point of this embarrassing screed is that there will be no line where we can say it has definitively happened or not happened. It's an evolutionary process with no discrete starting point, ending point, or steps in between. No switchover from "not obsolete" to "obsolete"--just a smooth transition from mainstream cultural phenomenon to elder statesman in the pantheon of popular arts.


I enjoyed reading this, but I have to offer one counter -- radio is obsolete as a dramatic art form. Why couldn't film go the same way?

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Fri Jun 21, 2013 11:12 am
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Post Re: Will filmmaking become obsolete?
If radio is obsolete in that sense, it's because the box we sit and stare at when we're at home now has a moving picture on the front of it. That is very much doing what the radio is capable of doing drama-wise, but more and arguably better.

Unless something comes along and offers the same as film (and really, they've tried--3D and "4D", anyone?), I don't see it happening. Like I said, this is pretty much a technical difference. Unless our home entertainment systems become large enough to house a 30ft tall movie screen...

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Fri Jun 21, 2013 1:45 pm
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