Wednesday, 30 April 2014

The aesthetics of film and video: the legacy of some early industrial factors

TV is the New Cinema: Exploring the Erosion of Boundaries between two Media

Thursday 22 May 2014

12.30-7.30 pm
David Woods will be presenting a paper on the one-day symposium “TV is the New Cinema” organised by the Department of Communication and Media, University of Liverpool and the Department of Film Studies, Liverpool John Moores University.

The increasing erosion of boundaries between film and television is a phenomenon increasingly discussed among scholars, critics and other stakeholders. Publications such as the New Yorker (January 2012) and Sight and Sound (September 2013) have explored the matter in special dossiers. Filmmakers have increasingly been working across the two media (eg. David Fincher and Netflix’s House of Cards; Greg Motolla and HBO’s The Newsroom), while others seem to have found a more or less permanent home on television than cinema (Frank Darabont and AMC’s The Walking Dead) or even to pronounce an early retirement from cinema in order to work exclusively for television (Steven Soderbergh). Furthermore, year’s end Top Ten lists have started including television series, with episodes of Breaking Bad and Boardwalk Empire making some of the 2013 lists next to Academy Award nominated films such as Nebraska and The Wolf of Wall Street. Even major film festivals premiere episodes from television series (two episodes from House of Cards were offered a special screening at the 2014 Berlin Film Festival).  Successful television shows are now habitually adapted for the cinema and become entry points to huge franchises (Sex and the City), while television producers are invited to direct and produce major film properties such as Star Trek (J.J Abrams) and Avengers Assemble (Josh Whedon).

What do all these developments mean for the current state of the two media? Is the future of film and television intertwined? Is medium specificity not important anymore as a defining characteristic of each medium? To what extent can we still talk about film and television as different media industries? What is the impact of recent developments on the aesthetics associated with each medium? In what ways has the history of each medium influenced their current state? What is the role of the global entertainment conglomerates that control both film and television in this convergence between the two media?

TV is the New Cinema will explore these and a host of other questions, with a view to bring together film and television scholars to discuss the ways in which research and knowledge from both fields can help us understand the present and the future of these media. 
Woods’ paper examines an aspect of the historical and industrial grounding of the technologies of cinema and television. It argues that a key aspect of their strikingly different looks can be attributed to the different temporal resolution of the two formats, and that the reasons for this difference can be accounted for in terms of the technological strategies the two industries developed historically to minimise the use of expensive resources specific to their medium. The cultural complexities of the aesthetics associated with cinema and film were well demonstrated by the release of The Hobbit in high framerate in 2012, and the paper briefly outlines some implications of the often highly charged popular responses which this provoked.

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