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Etienne Traisnel • IDIFF's co-ordinator

Digital and cinema join forces

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Etienne Traisnel • IDIFF's co-ordinator

Etienne Traisnel, co-ordinator of the 5th International Digital Film Forum (IDIFF), taking place in La Rochelle from February 6-8 (see article), gives Cineuropa a quick overview of a sector in the midst of a changes that are impacting on the entire film production chain.

Cineuropa: After the 50% increase in the number of participants at the IDIFF from 2005 to 2006, what are the expectations for the 2007 edition?
Etienne Traisnel: Interest is growing because the digital technology market is growing too. Ten to 15% of films are now produced digitally and this rate is rising each year, as is that of digital post-production, which accounts for between 30% and 40% of activity in France. On the other hand, the rate of digital projection in theatres still remains very low with only 20 French cinemas having the necessary equipment. The size of the IDIFF therefore reflects that of the market, but we still want to preserve the highly professional image of the event.

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What is your point of view on the future of digital projection in cinemas?
The Goudineau report (see news 1 and 2) addressed some interesting basic issues, emphasising in particular the growing gap between US studios offering films in digital and French or European productions not yet having access to these technologies. When films are digitally standardised – and France is quite advanced in this area – excellent quality releases are possible. There are more films being made in digital, but these are primarily big-budget films, such as Arthur and the Invisibles [+see also:
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. Independent films should also be included. However, aside from the cost issue there is also the problem of availability of screens given the low number of cinemas equipped with digital technology in France. The majority belong to multiplexes, which screen blockbusters. How will the sector develop? It’s difficult to say and complicated because there are significant industrial issues at stake.

What do you think about the progress made by digital cameras?
We shouldn’t bury 35 mm cameras, which in some cases are still better than digital cameras. Digital creates a different image and cinematographers seek to capture this difference in order to invent a new style of cinematography and not to copy 35 mm. Anything less than 35 mm would not have created a satisfactory result in terms of visual quality (resolution, contrast, execution of colours), but digital cameras are very similar and undergoing rapid development, paving the way for a new style. There are also prejudices: digital doesn’t necessarily result in a drop of prices, it needs lighting, teams, camera preparation. It’s not enough to press on a button and it is not, contrary to what may be thought, an extreme form of democratisation. But it does allow to record more, to have a different relationship on the set with the supervisor and the whole team and to see a new type of film emerge (for example, mixing high definition digital shots, green background and layered images).

How do you see digital developing in the years to come?
There won’t be any radical growth, it is steady and just as well, as the development involves significant changes to the film production chain, and for industry professions. It is necessary to train, understand so that a new form of communication is created, so that there is greater collaboration between production and post-production teams. Things can’t change overnight. As regards digital projection in cinemas, training needs of projectionists and exhibitors in these new tools will have to be addressed.

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