As Film Goes Byte: The Change From Analog to Digital Film Perception

Loertscher, Miriam Laura; Weibel, David; Spiegel, Simon; Flueckiger, Barbara; Mennel, Pierre; Mast, Fred W.; Iseli, Christian (2016). As Film Goes Byte: The Change From Analog to Digital Film Perception. Psychology of aesthetics, creativity, and the arts, 10(4), pp. 458-471. American Psychological Association 10.1037/aca0000082

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The digital revolution changed film production in many ways. Until the end of the 20th century, most film professionals and critics preferred celluloid film. However, no previous empirical study compared complete narrative films recorded with analog and digital cinematography. Three short narrative films were produced with an analog and a digital camera attached to a 3D rig in order to control all optical parameters. In postproduction, a third version of a digital film was created to mimic the analog film aesthetics. In a cinema experiment with 356 participants, we tested whether the three film versions are perceived differently. The two capturing technologies produced similar emotional and immersive experiences during digital projection. The study revealed significant differences in the memory of visual details, with higher recall scores for the digitally captured versions. By contrast, preference ratings of very short scenes and the comparison of projection types revealed different results. The mechanical projection of celluloid film produced higher levels of emotional reactions. The results might be of interest to film professionals and audience in general. This study shows that the gap between analog and digital aesthetics has been closed with today’s advanced digital technology.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


07 Faculty of Human Sciences > Institute of Psychology > Cognitive Psychology, Perception and Methodology

UniBE Contributor:

Loertscher, Miriam Laura, Weibel, David, Mast, Fred


100 Philosophy > 150 Psychology
700 Arts > 770 Photography & computer art




American Psychological Association


[4] Swiss National Science Foundation




Miriam Laura Loertscher

Date Deposited:

05 Aug 2016 11:32

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 14:57

Publisher DOI:


Uncontrolled Keywords:

analog film; digital cinema; film perception; cinema experiment; audience research




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