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How Do U Film Txts? Here's How Technology And Cinema Evolve Together.

If you love movies, give yourself the next five minutes to watch this video.

Every Frame a Painting is a series of explorations on films and film technique by Tony Zhou, a San Francisco based filmmaker and editor. In each "video essay," Zhou unpacks the cinematic craft with humor and insight.

The installment above is particularly relevant to us here at 13.7 because it deals explicitly with the way newer human technologies — the Internet and texting — gets represented in an older human technology, movies.

Ever since people began painting on cave walls, the way we tell our stories has depended on the "machinery" we relied on to tell them. From painting to papyrus to stagecraft to cameras, each generation used what was available to explore the human predicament in pictures, words, music or dance.

What is remarkable about the last century or so has been, of course, the speed at which these technologies have changed. That means the way we tell our stories — and the stories we have to tell — have been shifting on ever-shorter timescales. A silent film didn't need to worry about representing people watching TV. But TV shows eventually would worry about how to show people using computers.

In Zhou's short essay on A Brief Look at Texting and the Internet in Film, he explores the dilemma a director faces integrating a new technology, already part of our lives, into stories about those lives. The most intriguing aspect of the essay is how new techniques in the technology of film (aka effects) allow for more elegant solutions.

I hope you enjoy this as much as I did (and thanks to my son for the heads up on it). Maybe you have ideas on how new technologies should be portrayed?

And if you did like the video, you can go and lose a good part of the day watching all the rest of Zhou's essays.

You can keep up with more of what Adam is thinking on Facebook and Twitter: @adamfrank4

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Adam Frank was a contributor to the NPR blog 13.7: Cosmos & Culture. A professor at the University of Rochester, Frank is a theoretical/computational astrophysicist and currently heads a research group developing supercomputer code to study the formation and death of stars. Frank's research has also explored the evolution of newly born planets and the structure of clouds in the interstellar medium. Recently, he has begun work in the fields of astrobiology and network theory/data science. Frank also holds a joint appointment at the Laboratory for Laser Energetics, a Department of Energy fusion lab.
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