World's first all-digital film makes debut

Vidocq is first feature movie using live actors to be filmed entirely in the digital realm

The world's first film to be made from beginning to end using high-definition digital technology premieres on Wednesday to great media fanfare -- and it isn't the work of George Lucas.

In fact, most English-speakers won't even be aware of the film, because it is a French production and is making its hotly anticipated debut in France.

Vidocq is the work of director Pitof, better-known to English speakers mainly through his work as a special-effects producer in films like Alien 4 and The City of Lost Children.

Like Lucas' upcoming Star Wars Episode II, Vidocq was filmed entirely digitally, allowing the backgrounds to be easily changed or altered, bypassing the laborious process of bringing film footage into a digital environment.

The thriller, starring Gerard Depardieu and Ines Sastre, recreates the Paris of the 1830s to tell a tale based on the life of Eugene Francois Vidocq, a real-life "Napoleon of the Police" who founded the first detective agency and inspired Arthur Conan Doyle and Edgar Allan Poe.

It was recorded using Sony's poetically named HDCAM24P1, the first time a feature has been filmed digitally. Until now, entire worlds and characters have been created digitally, but old-fashioned film was always involved at some point.

The closest cinema has come to an all-digital film until now has been with animated features such as the Toy Story series, or the ultra-realistic Final Fantasy.

However, there may be a downside to the digital revolution. As Guillaume Canet, an actor in Vidocq, told France's L'Express magazine last week: "I'm afraid that we might lose the cinematic magic you find in Jean Renoir's La Regle du jeu, or in the films of the Coen brothers."

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