The Death & Rebirth of Cinema
ISBN: 9781943625130, Waterfront Press, by Harry Mathias is a masterfully instructional book on the film industry.
The author examines all aspects of the digital revolution that is taking place in the motion picture industry. From the material provided the industry seems to be encountering the same or similar ‘growing pains’ to those publishing experienced when the same revolution occurred within its realm. There was a long-standing precise pattern where established ‘houses’ published the books, distributors resold them to wholesalers, they to retailers and finally they to bookstores and individuals. Discounts were established and standardized, and everybody made money. Suddenly, it disappeared. The digital revolution arrived – POD (Print on Demand) became available with a number of advantages and was followed quickly by e-book production and entrance of a hoard of new publishers/authors who often provided books of a much inferior quality, both in technique and content. The author’s examination has discovered that the picture industry’s problem is similar but even may be greater. “Always remember: Cinematography is about making visual art, it is not about mastering new technology, but sometimes mastering daunting technology is what you have to do to make art. Just keep the art foremost in your mind, not the technology. This book is intended to be an exploration of what tomorrow’s equipment and methods must be like as the cinema industry progresses to a working method that retains the full creative flexibility that was possible with the discarded film imaging tools.” His goal in this writing is to “try to fix as many of these digital cinema-induced imaging injustices as possible and to explain digital camera technology” to new filmmakers and provide help to veteran cinematographers who “feel the necessity to transition to digital cinema.” To gain his objectives, he launches into a detailed account of the number of persons required for a successful operation, the knowledge, commitment, artistic ability and confidence required of each in their individual functions and the absolute necessity for them to be stratified in multiple layers into a hierarchical whole. He also presents extensive technical data on the equipment employed with comparisons among old and new equipment/methods, both positive and negative.
Conclusion: For the uninitiated this is a textbook by a highly motivated teacher with impeccable credits. For the knowledgeable reader it seemingly is an excellent review with additional data and comments that no doubt are most necessary to the neophyte and pertinent to the already initiated. For the casually interested individual there are many enlightening ‘behind-the-scenes’ facts about how motion pictures provide the many memorable moments for the theatre goer. For any casually interested person who is unwilling to read masses of technical discussion with supporting data included, this book is NOT for you.
3* 5* Textbook on cinematography; 3* anticipated reader interest level.