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How has tech influenced the film industry in a big way?

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From pioneering new surgery techniques to autonomous vehicles, technology has transformed the way we live, travel, work and more.

Words By Camille Hogg

It’s also changing the way we make movies. In 1999, the directors behind the smash-hit The Matrix did something the film industry had never quite seen before. Painstakingly arranging some 100 cameras in a circular rig within a green screen each capturing a new angle, the Wachowskis created a full circle of film.

As Neo famously dodged the bullets from Agent Smith in 360 degrees of motion, it was considered an iconic moment of film that showed a level of ingenuity that was unprecedented.

Fast forward a couple of decades, and recreating that scene today would be far less arduous. With 4K technology, virtual reality and 360-degree cameras, amateurs can now become filmmakers without the need for innovation or expertise.

But technology doesn’t always change lives for the better, as secret agent Johnny English finds out as the eponymous star of Johnny English Strikes Again, set for release on 20th September.

The third in the series once again follows Rowan Atkinson as a bumbling agent, this time in the wake of a cyber attack that has revealed the identities of all active undercover spies in Britain.

Now retired and working as a teacher, Johnny is plucked from his classroom to foil a dastardly plot and unmask the hacker. Struggling to get to grips with the trappings of modern life, the film shows the ineffectual agent ineptly tackling virtual reality in a bid to put the world to rights.

While technology takes centre stage in front of the camera, it’s equally important behind it, too – not least for Atkinson, who found himself a victim of the digital age when a Facebook hoax pronouncing his death went viral.

But with a 15-year gap between the release of the first and latest in the trilogy, the filming process has changed, according to actor Ben Miller, who reprises his role as English’s hapless sidekick, Bough.

“When we made the first film, we were basically using the same technology that Charlie Chaplin used – it was film cameras and clapper loaders and huge sets,” he explained in an interview. “In the first film, we abseiled down Canary Wharf, and we built the top 12 storeys. This time, we built nothing. It’s all green screen and everything is done with CGI. It’s completely different – the cameras are digital.”

But for those worried that technology has usurped the talent, grit and hard work that goes into making a movie, take heart – not too much has changed when it comes to weaving a narrative.

“You have to use your imagination more if you’re in a location with a green screen,” Miller admitted. “On the other hand, you have more time to spend on the actual acting, but there’s less time spent setting everyone up. But at its heart, it’s the same process – you’re still telling a story, but the method of telling the story has completely changed.”

Also starring: Emma Thompson, Olga Kurylenko and Jake Lacy. Directed by: David Kerr. Rating: PG. Running time: 90 mins.

 

Also showing…

Monsters Busters (PG)

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When Alex’s little brother suffers from nightmares, he tries to help out by forming a dedicated task force to take care of the imaginary monsters. As word gets out, Alex and his band of monster busters are very popular, but things go wrong when one of the monsters turns out to be real.

Wildling (18+)

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After being held captive for 16 years in a single room, teenager Anna is placed into the care of a local sheriff. Fearful of the outside world and the threat of a monster – the wildling – the teen begins to explore her new life. But as strange and unsettling events occur, Anna begins to learn that there may be more truth to the myth than she thought. Starring Liv Tyler and Bel Powley.

The Yellow Birds (15+)

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Based on a best-selling novel, this drama follows two young soldiers trying to navigate the horrors of the Iraq war under the command of their troubled sergeant. After forging a strong friendship, when one of the pair doesn’t make it, the other is forced to return home and help his friend’s parents through the grieving process. Starring Jennifer Aniston and Alden Ehrenreich.

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