[Filmmaking A to Z by Vic Alexander]

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Non-Linear Editing and the Art of Filmmaking

The proliferation of non-linear editing (NLE) systems has led to a mass exodus of young filmmakers toward digital filmmaking. This trend will continue until there are no 35mm film editors left, and with it will be gone also the art of 35mm filmmaking.

Digital editing systems such as Final Cut Pro (FCP), Adobe Premiere, Sony Vegas, and AVID were designed for creating a marketplace for video camcorders and the video production industry. Their ultimate goal was to facilitate the production of television programming and commercial videography; however, digital cameras and editing systems have now replaced practically all facets of film production.

In the beginning the introduction of digital camcorders was a useful tool in education. Classes, seminars and events could be easily recorded and presented to students and teachers alike. Digital cameras were also handed out by the manufacturers not only to schools but to children of inner city neighborhoods. There was no need to teach movie making anymore; simply reading a brief manual was sufficient. Most of the cheaper cameras were practically point and shoot.

What has happened now is that even professional artists are beginning to find these small camcorders useful in working more intuitively and creatively, and as a result they are increasingly bypassing expensive 35mm habits of the Hollywood film industry. On a limited basis this style of filmmaking would have no effect on the professional levels of 35mm feature film production; however, the digital camera industry needed to be fed, its appetite is now voracious. Instead of selling a thousand professional 35mm cameras a year, the digital video camera industry can now sell millions of camera per year. The amount of money to be made is overwhelming. Then, all that video needs to be edited, and so the NLE software has now become a big industry also. Furthermore, digital editors and digital post production houses are inundating the cities of the world with digitally created movies and programming. Not only television movies but also theatrical movies are now being created entirely with digital equipment and software.

So what started out as a convenient way of making documentaries and educational movies, television news and sports broadcasting, infomercials and commercials, vacation time and wedding videos, and so on, has now taken over and transformed filmmaking into an industrial form of videography that is gradually destroying the art of film.

It took one hundred years to develop the language of film: how to write screenplays, direct actors, photograph motion pictures, perform as screen actors, and edit movies as visual stories for audiences to enjoy. The film director and the movie star became icons of American culture. Now millions of people all over the world without education or training are producing movies and posting them on the Internet.

With so much free entertainment on the world wide web, American movie studios and the entertainment industry as a whole has gone into a protective phase: protecting their industry against bootleggers and illegal forms of competition. Thus it is more difficult for new people to enter the Hollywood film industry, and film schools are going back to teaching 35mm filmmaking techniques of cinema. Although the tools are digital, the best schools are teaching the art of classical 35mm filmmaking.

This website will encourage the art of 35mm filmmaking regardless of the encroachments of the video and digital industries.

Updated Aug. 29, 2011

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