Everything’s digital, right? Well, now it is. I say that because I was talking to a design intern who’s taking classes at a local college for graphic design. He said they’re making him take a class on mechanicals. Not sure if I was more shocked that anyone still knew what they were, or that somewhere there was a school still teaching it.
(Mechs, as they were known, were how you prepared your job for printers to print from, and were not only time-consuming to assemble, but were not entirely accurate when it came to the finished product. Long story short: learning how to do mechs now is the same as learning how to use a typewriter. Useful for museum guides. In the real world, not so much.)
Then it got me thinking about the role of digital and how it’s basically altered not just how we live, but the way everything is done in other creative disciplines.
And no matter what, there will always be a few purists who say the old tech is better than the new, that digital this or that is not as good as the original no matter what.
When CDs first came onto the scene, record freaks were worried that music would now sound, well, digital. No more hiss or scratches in the recordings. If anything, however, digital revealed more details than had been heard before.
Then along came the Napster generation and downloadable MP3s. Hiss? Who cared. All they knew was that they could now get all their songs on their PC, then later, an iPod.
Movie Editing for the Masses
In film, directors talked about digital cameras and non-linear editing systems becoming the norm. Editing in the old days meant editors had to physically cut film by hand on a table. A time-consuming process, but one which gave the directors more time to carefully think about their choices when putting together a scene.
Then came the Avid, and directors could have multiple scene options, all because dragging and dropping clips on a timeline happened instantly. Now, apps from iMovie to Final Cut Pro make anyone an editor.
As for shooting, 35mm faced a threat when hi-def video cameras came out. Now directors could shoot it, replay it on the monitor and shoot over if needed. Why wait for dailies?
When it came to advertising and design, designers tended to reach for a mouse rather than a marker. Yes, we got more done in less time and the client got more options to choose from. Problem was, more isn’t always better.
Just because you can whip out 20 versions of something doesn’t mean you should.
Do You Miss Anything About Film?
Which got me to thinking about digital photography. Sure I had to learn how to shoot 35mm and process it myself in school, then spend hours swearing in a darkroom on a Friday night trying to get my B&W prints just right. But that was then, and something I haven’t given much thought about now that I shoot digital.
I carry a little Olympus around for short business trips or use a Nikon D70 for other stuff. Both make it easy for me to take idiot-proof pics that I can quickly upload to Flickr hassle-free. (Granted, pros would obviously take the time to light a scene and think more about things regarding their subject — but for my needs, those cameras are pretty good.)
One thing I dislike about the move to digital, however, is something consumers might not care about, but that I noticed: The resolution and quality of a lot of images in mass media is not what it used to be.
I’m interested in hearing from Black Star Rising readers (veteran photographers as well as those just starting out) about some of things that the digital influence has meant to you, and to photography in general — both good and bad.
What do you think?
[tags]graphic design, digital photography [/tags]