Side by Side: The Science, Art, and Impact of Digital Cinema

(Rochester, New York) – For almost one hundred years there was only one way to make a movie — on film. But over the last two decades a digital process has emerged to challenge photochemical filmmaking. In 2009 Slumdog Millionaire won the Academy Award for Best Cinematography, the first time the award was given to a film shot almost entirely digitally and not on film.

Produced and hosted by Keanu Reeves and directed by Chris Kenneally, Side by Side: The Science, Art, and Impact of Digital Cinema, airing August 30, 2013 at 9 p.m. on WXXI-TV is a provocative and in-depth examination of how digital filmmaking is challenging traditional celluloid film as the gold standard in moviemaking. Side by Side captures the essence of the film versus digital debate through unprecedented access to influential filmmakers such as James Cameron, David Fincher, George Lucas, David Lynch, Martin Scorsese, Robert Rodriguez, Lana and Andy Wachowski, Steven Soderbergh and many more. 

Side by Side examines what is gained and what is lost both practically and philosophically in the changeover from film to digital. Those who embrace digital cite how it democratizes the filmmaking process and allows for infinite creativity.

“I’m always looking for whatever is new to help invigorate storytelling to push the art form even further,” says Sin City and Spy Kids director/cinematographer Robert Rodriguez, who sees digital as the future of filmmaking. Others, such as The Dark Knight cinematographer Wally Pfister, champion film for its artistic integrity and unique ability to create evocative, nuanced images. “I’m not going to trade my oil paints for a set of crayons,” he says. But most agree that digital filmmaking is here to stay. As Martin Scorsese says, “The issue is that it is different. How to you use it and how do you use it to tell a story? It’s up to the filmmaker.”

Feeling the digital age in Rochester! 
You can see the effects of the digital transition locally at the Little Theatre. In July the Little converted threatres 2-5 to digital projection. We continue to fundraise in an effort to convert our main theatre, theatre 1. To learn more about the Little’s Screen Saver campaign, visit

Pictured: Close up of an IMAX film negative
Credit: Courtesy of ©2012 Company Films LLC, all rights reserved



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