Corrections or additions?

This article by Doug Dixon was prepared for the September 13, 2000

edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.

Digital Video Revolution: Brian McKernan

Filmmaking does not have to be on film, says Brian

McKernan, editorial director of Videography magazine. "The

development of digital technology has democratized access to content

creation. The tools are getting affordable and leveling access to

the playing field."

From independent filmmakers and freelance videographers, to small

video production houses and in-house business video departments, and

even to Hollywood studios, digital technology is creating a revolution

in both the equipment and the process for creating films.

A panel entitled "Digital Cinema: The Future Of Filmmaking?"

is scheduled for Thursday, September 21, at 6:30 p.m. at the Sarnoff

Corporation, Routes 1 and 571. Sponsored by the Moving Image

Professionals of Central Jersey (a chapter of the Media Communications

Association International, formerly known as the International

Television Association), the meeting is free. Call Vince

Wright at 609-518-7646 (E-mail: or

McKernan is the editorial director of the Video Division at United

Entertainment Media, which includes Videography and Television

Broadcast magazines and their websites ( Digital

Cinema, his new magazine that debuts next month, targets digital

filmmakers and people making movies using digital tools "from the

high-end to independents and everything in between."

"Technology is making digital cinema possible," says McKernan.

"Even low-end independent filmmakers can shoot with a digital

camera, edit digitally, distribute over the Internet, and even show

their productions in small theaters with a digital projector. All

you need to add is talent."

McKernan and his panel will discuss the impact of digital technology

in each step of the digital cinema production process. Joining


will be Scott Marshall, digital cinema engineer and contributing

editor for Widescreen Review magazine, Ken McGorry, editorial

director and associate publisher for Post magazine, and Peter


senior contributor for Video Systems magazine and contributing editor

for Millimeter magazine.

Marshall, who is a digital cinema engineer, writer, speaker,

historian, and filmmaker, will discuss the interplay between the art

and the

technology in motion pictures, and how the features and limitations

of various advances in film and video technologies affect the

storyteller’s art. He is also a video game designer (U.S. 1, December

1, 1999) and

is creating a multimedia project for Nickelodeon.

McGorry will discuss approaches to digital editing for post-production

and the digital edit suite (

Putman will discuss digital projection systems and the distribution

of digital content. He has written articles on such subjects

as large-screen projection systems, electronic cinema, HDTV, and DVD

and also known for his annual review of the Projection

Shoot-Out at INFOCOMM (

McKernan believes the opportunities for digital media have never been

greater. "The moving image is the most powerful form of human

communications," he says, "and the most effective form of

communication in the 20th century." Signs of the times:

High-end Hollywood is going digital, especially in


and editing effects. "George Lucas is shooting Star Wars Episode

II digitally, shooting film without film," says McKernan.


a natural for someone using digital post-production. Why introduce

analog? Which is not to say that film is dead; it’s just the continued

integration of film and digital."

A new generation of filmmakers is growing up with digital

technology. "Young people coming out of school are not wedded

to film."

Access to lower end professional and "prosumer"


gives more freedom to motion picture producers. "Affordable tools

like the Apple G4 computer, Apple’s Final Cut Pro video editor, and

Adobe After Effects can provide a high-quality and effective


New distribution channels provide more open access to

expression. "That’s the beauty of the Internet: let everyone be

heard. And broadband communication is providing a more TV-like

experience. Even the festivals like Sundance are open to showing

digital films,"

says McKernan.

Filmmaking can be done by small firms, boutique

businesses, and entrepreneurial organizations. "The age of the


has arrived," he says. "The overhead is less, but

profitability is not as great as it used to be. Larger companies can

no longer charge

the same premium."

Small boutiques can also work together for specialized

jobs. An independent producer might team with a graphics modeling


Businesses need to be flexible to respond to a wide range

of client needs. "On Monday the client wants a videotape for a

corporate production or TV station. On Tuesday they want an


DVD production. And on Wednesday they want a little independent film,

not a trivial undertaking, and also to have it stream on the


"Ultimately it’s just about storytelling," says


"You need a story to tell, something to say, and to say it


and artistically. Without a story, regardless of budget, you have


And filmmaking requires passion, "People who love what they are

doing, who have a love for the moving image," says McKernan.


is more access to tools than ever before. Just don’t expect to make

Hollywood movies from the get go."

"Everyone can buy a pen," says McKernan, "but we can’t

all use one like Shakespeare. Now everyone can afford the `pen’ of

video production equipment. But you’ve also got to have talent."

Creative talent is still at a premium, and larger organizations can

retain the cinematographers, screenwriters, and the graphics effects

artists. But, he says, "it will be interesting to see if studios

still dominate 10 years from now."

— Doug Dixon

Another chance to learn about new video products will be the

expo staged by Videomaker magazine, from Thursday to Saturday,

September 14 to 16, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the East Brunswick Hilton.

Cost: $75 per day. Call 530-891-8410 (or go to

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