SCMS is one of (if not “the”) foremost international conferences in the area of cinema and media studies. As such it is HUGE! There were, on average, 17 parallel sessions in every time slot, covering such disparate topics as queer cinema studies, digital cinema, television, film and philosophy, as well as cognition and cinema (to name a few). My only experience of a conference like this was presenting at the Cognitive Studies of Moving Images conference last summer in
SCMS proved very beneficial to me as it gave me an opportunity to present by Watched pot/Stopped Clock experiment to a new audience (I won’t go into details here; they can be found on my main website). As always, I got some great feedback about my presentation which will be fed into my thesis and it was a great experience presenting with Lisa Fehsenfeld and Chris Robinson, my fellow panel members. Lisa discussed the potential for camera and actor motion in non-action films as a tool for manipulating the viewer’s experience (i.e. creating excitement, arousal, attracting attention). Chris then supplemented this by discussing the technical and physiological differences between viewing films projected at different frame rates. I then developed the level of scientific detail further and finished off the session by presenting an experiment investigating the perception of time across match-action cuts. (All our abstracts can be found in the proceedings here and my Powerpoint presentation is available on-line here). This progression from theory to experimentation worked really well and, I believe, allowed us to escort a non-scientific audience through the session culminating in a level of enquiry they may not usually be familiar with. The greatest thanks have to go out to Lisa and Chris for their work in making the session such a success.
Given the vast number of competing sessions I managed to follow a rather “cognitive” path through the rest of the conference. There was a session on the mis-use of visualisation in science (organised by Lisa Cartwright), a topic under a lot of debate in the scientific community. Cognition, evolution and cinema presented by Daniel Barratt, Mette Kramer, and Torben Grodal. Daniel has just finished a PhD at the
By comparison to SCMS’ international feel, the Cinema and Technology conference felt more British. This was in no way due to the attendees, C&T was attended by just as international and distinguished people as SCMS (in fact a large number attended both due their temporal and geographical proximity). I think the feel was largely due to the rain, the cold, the intimacy of
In general I’d have to say that the conference was a great success although I did yearn for a bit more technology and a little less theory (hey, shoot me, I’m a scientist!). It was nice to see so many people interested in the implications of DVD, videogame, digital effects, CG, and interactive media. These technologies are subtly changing what it is that we current see as “cinema” and this conference showed us that we need to work hard to develop new ways of analysing the resulting media and new theoretical frameworks to understand the future of cinema. It is an exciting time for academics and the public alike and I hope that this conference just marks the beginning of the academic interest in these developing technologies.
Just quickly I’d like to mention a few people from C&T:
Lanfranco Aceti from
Jim Bizzocchi is a researcher/lecturer in new media and film studies from
Jonathan Frome is a Ph.D. student/lecturer from University of Wisconsin-Madison. His thesis is on ‘Imagination, Immersion, and Emotion: Video Games and Visual Media.’ and he is supervised by David Bordwell (lucky guy). He wasn’t actually at C&T (he was at SCMS) but given that his research is C&T related I thought I’d mention him here. He’s developing some great frameworks for the theoretical analysis of videogames with specific emphasis on the experience of the player/user. Keep an eye on this one, he’s going to do some great things in the near future :)
Well I guess I’ve rambled enough about my conference visits. I returned to
Wish me luck.