Fine Arts

What advantages does digital cinema have over film?
Answered by Discovery Channel
  • Discovery Channel

    Discovery Channel

  1. Digital technology is more advanced than traditional analog film in a number of ways. Indeed, it's the first major change in image recording since celluloid film was used more than 100 years ago. Digital cameras use bits and bytes to record images. Celluloid film uses a chemical process to capture images on the physical film material. Because digital recordings are easily processed computer data, they can be retrieved and shown exactly as they were originally recorded.

    The quality of the image will also maintain its integrity over time, whereas analog films physically degrade quite quickly. Digital images also are much easier to manipulate and transport. A digital film is essentially one large computer file, so it can be saved on a DVD or downloaded directly. Bootleggers beware, however: Another advantage of digital technology -- at least for movie studios -- is the ability to embed information in the digital data files. If a bootlegger films a digital movie from a seat in a movie theater and then sells copies at your local flea market before the film's released on DVD, special digital watermarking makes it possible for studios to trace the date, time and theater where the movie was shown, narrowing the list of bootlegging suspects [source: Captain].

    You know instantly whether what you're watching has been recorded on video (digital recording) or on traditional film. The digital image will be clearer and brighter, but also flatter and "smaller." The different recording technologies are the cause. One key difference is their respective frame rates. Digital cameras record at 30 frames per second, while film cameras only film at 24 frames per second. The higher digital frame rate creates the crisper picture. Also, film images are shot as complete frames -- that is, as single images.

    Digital recordings are really just bits and bytes of data, so they can be manipulated to display in different ways. For example, televisions display digital images by recreating the image in horizontal and vertical lines of images. If your digital television picture has ever started to break up, you've seen those lines get exposed. This affects how you see the image, which helps account for its "flatter" look. Film images are fuller, with greater depth.

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