Author: Rosie Harman

How technology is changing the Craft of Screenwriting

Screenwriting, which is commonly known as scriptwriting, is the art and craft of writing scripts. It is different from other forms of writing as it targets the media launching projects, such as feature films, video games, documentaries, and different television productions. The modern definition includes the usage of technological tools, such as apps and technical equipment, to enhance the screenwriting process.  

Screenwriting- The Basics

It is not wrong to say that screenwriters are the most influential part of the overall production team. As I was watching a TV series on my contour TV, I realised that most of the viewers (including me) are just concerned with the final output of a production, often neglecting how much effort went into giving it the final look that we enjoy so much. 

It is not easy to write a good story. Screenwriters do the job of researching the story, developing a plot, writing the dialogues for the characters, and the way they deliver it. They also have to mention the required format, how and where the scenes must be executed, and character specifications. 

Screenwriters come up with original ideas and pitch them to the producers, which are then taken in as an option. Some agents’ commissions different scripts to producers, too. Sometimes, screenwriters rewrite scripts on existing literary works, such as a novel, a play, or a book. Remaking old movie scripts is also a popular trend these days.

Technology- the Definition

Technology is the science of craft. It is the total number of techniques, methods, skills, and processes used in the making of goods, or the providence of services. It is also defined as a method of using scientific advancements, such as machines or systems, to obtain a certain goal. We can also modify technology to obtain certain required results in a specific project. 

Screenwriting and Technology- Where do these Two Merge

So, the art and craft of screenwriting and the added technology give rise to a question: Where do these two merge? The past saw no such amalgamation, except the essential technical side of developing and processing required in the media industry. But the present is witnessing many such group ventures, and the result is a very refined cinematic and visual experience. 

Let’s discuss what these two can offer when together! And what more can we expect from a combined future of technology and screenwriting?

Screenplays that Talk!

As we have discussed before, screenwriting software has gone through the process of evolving over the past few years. But with technology pitching in, there is much more which we can expect to see in the coming future. We are amazed by the technology advancement embedded in the scripts, and there are hints for the future too. 

An example of it is the web-series, Stranger Things. The creators, Matt and Ross Duffer, set the time of the series in the 1980s era. An era of nostalgia speaks through the entire series, as the viewer is transmitted to the world of movies created by Steven Spielberg and John Carpenter, and the imaginary world of the king of horror, Stephen King. Few have the eye to appreciate the technology used by the Duffers to incorporate the idea of 1980s scenery into a millennial script production. The result is mesmerising. 

Although these visual ideas were already a part of the main document, it was evident that it had been created with the ongoing technology of coding and software application. The screenplays were seemingly breathing, living, and very much relatable. Also, with the help of technology, they incorporated the conceptual artwork, photos, visual aids, etc. that accompanied the screenplays to their final PDF format.  

Screenwriters and Coders- Working Together

The worldwide video game industry generated a revenue of $99.6 billion (Source: Global Games Market report, 2016). 

The gaming industry is blooming without a doubt and is broadening its horizons to reach Hollywood writers and collaborate in major projects. The time is not far away when we would be able to see a total collaboration, where both the parties are paid equally! Video game writing requires unique skills. Video games now have more depth and character as compared to the time when screenwriting wasn’t an integral part of the process. If the technological demands of one domain bring it closer to another, it is surely going to be worth playing!

If you have ever visited Pixar or any similar game generating studios, you must have an idea that generating a picturesque landscape is just a matter of a single click now. Imagine a time with coders and screenwriters combining their imaginations to create magical worlds for all to enjoy. And then allow us to inhibit those worlds with the help of our smartphones or tools of Virtual Reality. 

Screenwriting Contracts- Going Digital

Till 1970, screenwriters and actors had to sign contracts with specific studios for multiple projects. Those projects kept them committed to a single place of work, for years at a time. Especially the screenwriters, they were studio salaried employees who worked for whatever projects were assigned to them in any given fiscal year. 

When the concept of a spec script- screenplays written in consideration of future productions- came into being in the early 70s, the contractual positions slowly diminished.

Now, most of the screenwriters are signed in to work on individual projects or can freelance, to different studios and production houses. Hollywood is such a big place, and the competition is too much, that screenwriters who are pitching in to write free of cost are frustrating people who are trying to earn through screenwriting. The system of payment is confusing screenwriters as far as their career choices are concerned.  

With the central payment and recruitment systems going digital, the growth rate of screenwriters within the industry can see a rise. Or, the companies and production houses could go back to the 70s model, and offer digital contracts to screenwriters. Wouldn’t it offer a safer and brighter screenwriting future? I’m signing off to enjoy a movie evening with my Spectrum TV Select. What are your plans? Do share in the comments!

Filed under: Screenwriting

How is Digital Technology Reshaping the Film Industry?

Digital technology has changed a lot about how the world works. In the Digital Age, physical borders and limitations mean very little. It truly is a wonderful time to be alive. Digital cameras are smaller, lighter, sharper, and more powerful. We walk around with awesome computing power in our pockets – our smartphones. We can work remotely using cloud-based services like TeamViewer. Digital market has infiltrated almost any type of industry you could name. That includes the film industry as well, even though that may surprise you.

5 Digital Technologies Reshaping the Film Industry

Digital technology has progressed to a very advanced point. Compare the powerful digital cameras of today with the analog ones from the past. Even our smartphone cameras have evolved. Far from the point-and-shoot mechanics of cameras, phones can now record 360-degree views. 3D rendering allows films to insert individuals in a film that aren’t actually there. This particular technology got a lot of visibility in the Fast and Furious franchise. When Paul Walker tragically passed away in a car accident. The studio used Paul’s brothers Caleb and Cody to fill in. It did this by using digital technology to superimpose Paul’s image on their body.

It’s amazing how much digital technology has transformed the film industry in particular. Here are just 5 technologies that are at the forefront of this change:

  1. Autonomous Drone Cameras
  2. 3D Printing
  3. 4K 3D Cameras
  4. Algorithmic Video Editing
  5. Cloud-based Technologies

Without wasting any of your precious time, let’s take a running jump. Right into the midst of these exciting developments.

Autonomous Drone Cameras

Autonomous drones aren’t exactly new. Consumer versions of autonomous drone cameras do exist on the market. For a few hundred bucks, you easily can find one on Amazon. But these commercial drone cameras are only the infancy of truly autonomous drones. Thanks to advances in artificial intelligence and machine learning, things have changed. It is now possible to “teach” machines to operate independently. So when we say autonomous drones, we mean a drone that is almost sentient.

An autonomous drone designed for filmmaking is a different breed altogether. It has all the necessary knowledge of filmmaking, camera angles, and techniques. In short, everything you need to make a good film. It also has the ability to avoid obstacles in flight and capturing moving objects. Researchers at MIT already have fully autonomous drones in the works. We will be seeing a new form of cinematography in just a few months.

3D Printing

3D printers are one of the most important inventions of our time. The industrial applications are endless. From 3D printing houses to tools in outer space, 3D printers make for a very useful piece of technology. Filmmaking is actually very well-suited to adopting 3D printers to reduce costs.

For one thing, a 3D printer eliminates the need to transport equipment. So you don’t need to ship from location to location. You do not need to pay expensive shipping costs. Not when you can simply 3D print your props, costumes, and equipment. Of course, 3D printers can’t print a camera or lens, but it can print the parts you need. If nothing else, you can print clapboards. 3D printing isn’t advanced enough yet for it to be affordable and quick. But when that day comes, filming shipping costs will be a thing of the past.

4K 3D Cameras

Virtual reality is the name of the entertainment game of the future. So it may not come as a surprise that VR filming technology is actually very real. In fact, people are now looking at 4K 3D cameras to film movies for VR playing. Google and LucidCam have both come out with 4K 3D VR live production cameras. While VR is still not popular as a cinematic medium, it does have the potential to become so in the future. How soon can we watch movies in 4k 3D VR? Not too far in the future, considering the way things are progressing.

Algorithmic Video Editing

Algorithmic video editing is changing the entire film editing process. There are certainly many examples of algorithmic video editing in modern film making. There are some that will absolutely blow your mind. In We Own The Night, there is a thrilling high-speed car chase in the rain. It will blow your mind to know that all of the rain effects were added post-production. That’s not the only scary thing about algorithmic video editing. Many speculate that it may put the entire video editing team out of business.

Cloud-based Technologies

The film industry has been notoriously slow in adopting cloud-based technologies. However, the idea is slowly gaining traction. But in recent movies like The Walk, the epic scenes were the result of cloud technology. The thing about cloud platforms like TeamViewer Tensor is that they help businesses reduce in-house costs. They also tend to be scalable and involve the minimum of hardware to get going. In film production, large-scale data computing is a lot like the data needs of enterprises. This makes it imperative to use the cloud to reduce costs and create films with specific budgets.

Filed under: Filmmaking, In Our Opinion, Post-Production