Technology and The Evolution of Storytelling

MEDIUM: It is such an exciting time to be a filmmaker. I do not believe the notion that the cinema is dying or dead because it’s amazing what technology can do to the cinematic storytelling. What’s great about film is it constantly reinvents itself. It started as a sheer novelty, those images moving on the screen.

Then it went and every step of the way a new technology started being added — sound, color.

What happens is the film grammar of storytelling evolves and changes as well. The technology goes directly with the evolution of the storytelling.

The way films look —it started with old 35mm motion picture cameras, to color with the three-strip Technicolor, to cameras that weighed hundreds of pounds and had to be on dollies and cranes — that was the film grammar of the day.

The limitations of the technology being used to shoot the films set up what we’ve learned as film grammar.

Then, we came to lighter cameras, to handheld cameras, steady cams, and on and on, all the way down to now.

There’s a unique thing to a GoPro.

There’s a unique thing to an iPhone — the way things are shot and the way it’s held. It just gives it a vibrancy you’ve never been able to have before.

I believe new film grammar is going to come from these things.

It evolves, it changes, and it’s in great part because of the technology.

In my own field, in animation, a seminal film in the history of animation is Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Walt Disney’s first feature-length film.

People thought Walt was insane.

“People aren’t going to sit still for a feature-length cartoon. Are you nuts?”

But Walt was a visionary.

Walt saw beyond what people were used to. They were used to the short cartoon.

It’s interesting how people cannot see beyond what they’re used to.

There’s a famous statement by Henry Ford that before the Model T if you asked people what they wanted, they would say, “A faster horse.”

My own partner at Pixar for 25 years, Steve Jobs, never liked market research. Never did market research for anything.

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