Tuesday, September 16, 2003

Why do we like what we like?


Hello Kari,

There is a certain charm (and thus market niche) for things done the "old-fashioned" way. One may pose this art philosophy question: is a particular work of art (or movie) less exceptional because more technology was used in its production?

Shall I thrash the straw man I just propped up?

I think you can use as much technology as you want as long as you do a good job with it.

I know for CGI in film, if you don't do it right, it looks terrible. Case in point, Charlie's Angels--Full Throttle. Yes, I confess, I saw it. They did some Matrix-like action scenes and they looked downright cartoony. Maybe that was intentional but it just looked silly.

The counter example has to be the Gollum/Smeagol character in the Lord of the Rings. Andy Serkis isn't going to get any Oscar nominations (fair or unfair is a debate for another post) but there is no denying that his movements and voice, which form the basis for the technological creation of the character, is truly amazing. Here the technology was essential to its success.

We often lament the films these days and like those old classics. Indeed, the old classics are great and that is why they stood the test of time. However, in its time, it had to compete with many films which we now have no idea what they were because they have long ago been forgotten. I wonder, as a percentage, did they make better movies then?

Let me pose a more basic human psychology question for you Kari: what is the charm of things done the "old fashioned" way?

When I lived in the DC area, I had the privilege to get to know the people who run Greenbridge Pottery. In terms of dollars and cents they can't make as many items as a mass-market manufacturer and per unit item it costs them more to make. However, they have a solid niche business because there are many people who want to buy something that is hand-made. I'm very happy to have a few of their cups in my cupboard and am PRing for them here!

In LA, a few months back I dropped in on the UCLA Festival of Books and came across a report summary from the Rand Corp about the state of the performing arts in the USA. Their main point was that the divide between big and small would grow. The big production arts will be carried out by big name performers and require high production values. The report states though that small niche performing groups will remain strong because there are enough passionate people who like community theatre and small musical ensembles and venues to ensure their survival. They aren't optimistic about the fate of mid-sized organizations.

It is a stereotype in LA that there are many aspiring actors, writers and directors. There is a basis for that and I know a few of these people. I've been to a couple of film festivals where the movies are short films shot with high-end consumer digital video. These are often below low budget barely above shoestring but I find them entertaining and thought provoking and will continue to periodically pay money to see them.

Why do we like this kind of stuff?

Warm regards,
Rene

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