December 10, 2014

How Will We Make & Exhibit Films in the Future?

In the 125 years since the birth of cinema, we've seen tiny nickelodeons become massive IMAX projections, live orchestral music become booming Dolby Atmos surround sound, and, of course, Annabelle Serpentine Dance become Step Up 3D.

There have been so many advancements in how we make and exhibit films that one has to wonder -- what's next? Where are we headed? In terms of exhibition, I think the word on the tip of everyone's tongue is "immersion" -- the Oculus Rift giving users a glimpse inside a virtual world that you can move and look around in, even projection mapping and the Kinect allowing moving images to exist off-screen and in our natural world.

Here to kick off what will surely be a lively discussion is Film School'd. In this video, they take us back to the beginning of cinema, highlight the technological breakthroughs through the years, and then talk about what could possibly take this art form to the next level.

The way we make movies is always changing and evolving -- robot arms that complete camera moves for you, full performance motion-capture, 4K digital recording, digital recording, period! The amazing work of Chivo Lubezki and Alfonso Cuarón on Gravity showed us last year how actors can interact with virtual environments that they can see on LED light panels through projection mapping -- rather than trying to perform surrounded by green screens.

But what about exhibition? Immersion -- blurring the line between reality and virtual reality -- that seems to be where this train is headed. We've already seen countless attempts to make watching a film more immersive: bigger screens to make images larger and more immediate, surround sound to make you think those explosions are happening right next to you, transmedia so you can experience the film's world across multiple platforms, 3D to trick your brain into thinking objects are no longer on a flat screen, but within your natural world. Hell, there is even Secret Cinema, a company that turns a film, like Back to the Future, into a real-life experience, 4DX theaters that utilizes seat motion, as well as bubbles, smoke, and more to replicate conditions within the film.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_VrveujhWmg

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NMtEAYmugZc

And damn -- Smell-O-Vision was a thing, you guys.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jlD6ST_BrG4

As cinematic (and gaming) technology matures and becomes more sophisticated, we're starting to see more and more opportunities for interaction. The video mentions Microsoft's Illumiroom, which uses a projector and a Kinect to extend video game environments into the room you're playing in. Though this projection technology, as well as motion detection, like that of the Wii, is mainly geared toward gaming, it could easily transfer over to film.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sJ4hWa6y710

But, is this where we want to go? Do we want our films to be more immersive -- to become virtual worlds that we can walk around in and interact with? Is a medium born on a two-dimensional plane supposed to extend out into a 3rd dimension? Would that, as well as interaction, make it a different medium all together?     

Your Comment

11 Comments

I worried about this virtual reality stuff when I first started thinking about it and how it would change the movie industry, but then I came to the conclusion that this technology is going to be created, but I don't believe that traditional, framed movies will go away. The bottom line is humans love stories and story telling. If the viewer becomes the creator, then it is simply a video game. Like I said, I'm sure this technology will develop and be amazing, but I'm not worried about filmmaking as a medium.
BTW, that IllumiRoom was pretty awesome. I never saw that.

December 10, 2014 at 5:15PM

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Kyle Sanders
Editor
293

Cool article and finds. To sort of answer your last, perhaps rhetorical, question its called Interactive Content Format (ICF) I've created, a format utilizing principles of interactive UI nd applies it to a framework based on OSMF allowing content creators to create interactive layered serial & parallel video sequences & scenes 2/3D. The closest metaphor I've seen of this project I've created is 90s era SegaCD interactive video games (not non-contraction of videogames). If you or anyone knows of stuff like that I'd certainly be interested otherwise.

December 10, 2014 at 6:02PM

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No matter how much the technology will evolve, nothing will ever beat a great story. That's why is so difficult to come up with great films today and that's why the classics remain... classic.
The audience doesn't care whether a motion control rig was used, or front projection instead of green screen or whether a 10,000 pound "miniature" spaceship was carried to Iceland for filming.
All they ask is a great story. If the story is great, and is told in great way, it will survive even the worst projecting conditions, even with mono sound.

December 10, 2014 at 6:12PM

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Stel Kouk
Filmmaker
3098

I think movies will continue to use technology and creativity to become more immersive, but not more interactive. That's where the difference between video games and movies will remain. Even if the viewer is in a 3D holographic space, I think movies will continue to be voyeuristic.

December 11, 2014 at 1:11AM

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I would like to see indie filmmakers embrace their "small cinema" a little better.

Shoot for smaller screens like phones or tablets. Im not saying that people should abandon hope for larger distribution, but i think that it is a market that needs dedicated content, and the right people could be very successful doing it.

December 11, 2014 at 9:22PM, Edited December 11, 9:22PM

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Anthony Vescio
Director/Editor
361

the, not their

December 11, 2014 at 9:22PM

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Anthony Vescio
Director/Editor
361

the, not their

December 11, 2014 at 9:22PM

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Anthony Vescio
Director/Editor
361

the, not their

December 11, 2014 at 9:22PM

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Anthony Vescio
Director/Editor
361

I tried the moving chairs and they were really distracting. In a video game they would be awesome, but watching a movie I like to just sit comfortably.

I think a great future to films is if restaurants integrated them into meals. You go into a private booth and see the latest releases while enjoying a meal. That way you don't have to deal with talking people or crying babies or overpriced candy.

December 13, 2014 at 2:05AM

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Ryan Gudmunson
Recreational Filmmaker
598

I too agree that movies will continue to be a passive form of entertainment compared to video games. Even video game creators have being trying to make their games more immersive and gamers latch on for a little while and then get tired of it. It happened in the 90's with the virtual reality stands which seemed to pop up and disappear overnight and again with the Nintendo Wii which was a huge hit for a few years and then people just got bored with it.

In the end, we can't underestimate human laziness. Even for interactive content, you can't beat sitting back on the couch and twiddling your thumbs versus having to do a full body workout in front of your TV. Maybe the oculus will have more luck today, but people don't even want to wear featherweight 3D glasses let alone a huge hunk of computer monitor on their face.

As for movies. People have been claiming the movie theater is going to die for years and it hasn't. It didn't with the introduction of home video and it hasn't with the introduction of portable video on phones and tablets and it won't with the introduction of new viewing options. As much as people like to complain about the theater experience, there is still something about going to see a movie on a big screen with a whole bunch of other excited fans. It's a night out and an experience, for better or worse.

That said, I think a cool new approach might be in-car theaters. A new kind of drive-in where the movie is not on some big external screen, but projected on your windshield. As if your windshield is a screen itself that makes it look like you are watching a big external screen that nobody outside the car can see.

The car is actually a great environment for movie watching. You're already used to sitting in it for hours on long trips, you can move/recline the front seats, you already have built in cup holders, acoustic dampening and a sound system that can be switched over to surround sound for movies. It can be tailor made for the acoustics of that car versus trying to figure out where best to put speakers in your house. Many cars already have wireless that could be used for downoading/streaming the movies. Plus you can take your mini moving theater wherever you go. You could potentially even have your side and rear windows autotint themselves to block out stray light. Just remember to keep some 3D glasses in your glovebox unless the screenshield can simulate 3D without them.

December 16, 2014 at 3:38PM, Edited December 16, 3:38PM

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Mike Tesh
Pro Video / Indie Filmmaker
774

Yup, I want that in my '99 Corolla. Where do I park? What if I have to pee?

It's easier to sit in my own controlled environment and watch it on my 50 inch TV.

December 18, 2014 at 12:12AM

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Rachael Dakoda
Owner of Brian's Brackets
154