Film & Theater Studies Essay Summary: To What Extent has Digital Technology Helped to Establish Greater Realism in the Cinematic Experience?

To What Extent has Digital Technology Helped to Establish Greater Realism in the Cinematic Experience?

Digital technology use has influenced many aspects of modern day life. The film industry has not been left behind in the revolutions towards the use of digital technologies. Computers are presently applied in various aspects of film production. Similarly, the advances in technology have enabled changes to occur in how film studies and the film culture in general are viewed. Digital special effects are increasingly being used in the film industry. The most prevalent include computer generated imagery (CGI) and Digital Intermediates. Different types of Digital technology are applied in different film types (Buckland, 2009). Other factors such as the emergence of digital cameras have also impacted film production positively through cost reductions. The increase in the use of digital projections and ability to disseminate low cost cinemas through media such as you Tube have increased the ease of film production across all stages (De Luca, 2013).

The impacts of digital technology in the film industry are immense. The increased realism in the film industry is attributed to the digital technology aspect in media. Although the film industry has changed much due to the impacts of digital technology, it is still debatable whether improved quality should be expected as a result of this. For instance, digital technology is considered merely as an alternative to photographic film images. This is due to the apprehension held by various film directors about the efficiencies of digital technology in film production. Through the use of digital technologies, the film production industry can maintain the quality of the films produced as it is asserted that the digital cameras take videos with the same resolution analogue cameras. However, the use of digital technology still helps to maintain a sense of continuity while increasingly blurring the line between reality and illusion in film making (Sobchak, 2000).

One of the challenges faced in the application of digital technology in the film industry is the ability to separate an image from its referent. This is because in the analogue film industry, the photographic images produced an exact replica of what it represented regardless of space and time. This may be challenging with digital technology as it is possible to modify pictures. Consequently, maintaining that realism in films tends to be more difficult. The use of digital technology has continued to make analogue film production antiqued in spite of these challenges. Other changes in the film industry that can be attributed to digital technology include the ability to create and modify sounds and images such as facial expressions. In addition to this, the digital imagery has brought post –human film to reality (Henderson et al., 1999). Contrary to the conventional cinema which only required magnification to depict reality, the modern day cinema depicts a lot of changes, most of which are technologically created. The result has been production of the commonly viewed animations.

Besides these changes, contemporary film has also seen the ability to achieve the continuity of both space and time in film production. This is done through maintenance of camera movement throughout film production processes. Despite arguments that digital technology has made the theory that pictures have to be similar to their referents somewhat obsolete, it is still clear that film and photography cannot be separated. The realism achieved through the use of digital technology can help to anchor digitally imaged objects. Digital creation of films can help in infinite manipulation of the images through complex algorithms. The use of computers has made the work even easier as the film makers do not have to rely on the camera storage capacity to limit their recordings.


Buckland, W. (2009). Film Theory and Contemporary Hollywood Movies. London: Routledge

De Luca, T. (2013). Realism of the Senses in World Cinema: The Experience of Physical Reality. New York: I.B. Tauris.

Henderson, B., Martin, A., & Amazonas, L. (1999). Film Quarterly: Forty Years, a Selection.

California: University of California Press.

Sobchack, V.C. (2000). Meta Morphing: Visual Transformation and the Culture of Quick

change. Minnesota, Indianapolis: U of Minnesota Press.

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