SOT: Douglas Trumbull on the future of cinema.

farss wrote on 5/2/2012, 3:37 AM
Forget Jackson and the Hobbit, Douglas knows what it'll take to bring the crowds back to the cinema. 120fps, 3D, 30 foot lamberts on the screen. At around 7 minutes he says something that really resonated with me. Kids today can watch a movie on their iPad or iPhone and it's no different to going to the cinema, they don't see the value add from the cinema experience.



Chienworks wrote on 5/2/2012, 6:37 AM
I'm not a kid in any way except at heart, but i have to agree that watching on a tiny device is pretty much the same as the big screen. Even at home i tend to do most of my watching in a 320x240 or 320x180 window, often at 15fps. It's not the gimmicks and technology that matters; it's the entertainment value of the content.

Oh, and sound. I can forgive extremely poor video production and barely even notice it, but it's gotta sound good!
VMP wrote on 5/2/2012, 8:11 AM
I agree about the audio as well.

Something else that I have been thinking about lately is the future of the TV screen aspect ratio.
4:3 has been replaced by the 16:9 standard.

Will 2:35:1 replace the current 16:9 HD standard soon?
Should I start shooting my important features as 2:35:1 to make it future displays friendly?
With shooting 2:35:1 I mean of course cropping the LCD screen and framing the shots differently than I would do for 16:9.
At this moment 16:9 being the standard I don’t see any advantage to doing so, but I was just wondering what the future TV aspect ratio will be, and how fast that would change.

I know that Philips has a TV called ‘Philips Cinema 21:9.’ which is made for 2:35:1.
JasonATL wrote on 5/2/2012, 8:43 AM
VMP - unless the "shelf life" of your video is really long (as in decades long), or your audience is only the early adopter A/V enthusiast market, I would shoot for the current installed base, which I view as being dominated only recently by 16:9. Plus, it is just speculation that the screen will go wider. Might not happen. More likely evolution is in resolution, which will make 2.35:1 look very good (though consumers will still complain that it doesn't fill the screen).

I think it is important to think about how these changes evolve. Some professionals here are only now starting to shoot and deliver 16:9 HD regularly, presumably because the market has not demanded 16:9 until now. As an early adopter, I've had 16:9 HD for a decade now and shot in it, but most of the market probably didn't get to 16:9 until about 5 years ago (I'm just giving my impressions, other may have hard data).

Having said that, I'm always in favor of being ahead of the curve and producing the best quality possible. I think you should shoot in the format that the content dictates and that the market accepts.
JasonATL wrote on 5/2/2012, 8:50 AM
Bob - Thanks for sharing. That was quite interesting!
deusx wrote on 5/2/2012, 8:51 AM
>>>>I'm not a kid in any way except at heart, but i have to agree that watching on a tiny device is pretty much the same as the big screen<<<<

Tiny devices are garbage and watching anything on them is insulting to people who put all that work into creating a movie/show in question. Also I think it's ridiculous to say it's the same experience in any way, shape, form. Watching something on a tiny device is the same as listening to music through crappy laptop speakers. There's no point in doing it. It's ridiculous.

The future is in good writing and good cinematography. If retarded kids can't appreciate it then we'll have a future like the one in Idiocracy. You can watch that movie on a tiny device and still get the point, but a real TV is recommended.
VMP wrote on 5/2/2012, 8:59 AM
Thanks Jason, those are good points.

Also for the insight about the 16:9 still being fresh.
Considering that the final output will be DVD/Bluray I guess 16:9 is the way to go.

I show some of my features (as first screening/premiere) in front of a large audience in Cinema. After that it will indeed only add unwanted black bars on the TV screens of the current consumers.

Chienworks wrote on 5/2/2012, 11:50 AM
deusx, i'm sorry you feel that way. If it'll help, i'll avoid insulting you by not watching anything you produce. Mmmmmk?

Back to reality, it's not up to you to dictate how the audience wants to enjoy their viewing & listening experience. If someone wants to enjoy watching a theatrical production on a 3" screen, what's your problem? Maybe the point is that the producers provided entertainment and the audience was entertained. That doesn't sound pointless or ridiculous to me.
Chienworks wrote on 5/2/2012, 11:52 AM
"Will 2:35:1 replace the current 16:9 HD standard soon?"

I sure hope not. I think going back towards taller is a far better choice.
rmack350 wrote on 5/2/2012, 12:12 PM

Unfortunately, the future is almost always in "good enough" rather than good. And good enough is pretty relative.

I saw a great movie at a theater this weekend ("I Wish") and I'm sure some of the good experience came from being with a lot of other people who laughed, gasped, held their breath, groaned, etc. That's a good part of what you get in a theater. But now that it's not the only place to see a movie their market share is a lot smaller. We'll have fewer theaters because of this.

I probably wouldn't watch that movie on my phone but I watch a lot of other things that way while doing dishes, on sick days in bed, places where there's no TV. There's a convenience of location element to it, and I can stop it on the phone and pick up where I left off on a TV. I think in most cases the convenience outweighs quality issues, but not always. There are plenty of things that just wouldn't appeal to me to watch on a phone at less than arm's length.

As for insulting other people, they aren't in my kitchen and they'll never know. And in a lot of cases they don't much care.

PixelStuff wrote on 5/2/2012, 5:58 PM
I don't know who came up with 2.35:1 anyway or why they don't call it 47:20 instead. Why stop using whole numbers? For that matter why is 2.35:1 better than 2:1 or 9:4 or 5:2? (i.e. 2, 2.25, or 2.5)

I think wide works if you maintain the proper height. Extending a full height screen out past your peripheral vision in a panoramic. The problem with wider formats in the home and in most theaters is that most people don't want to take up an entire wall and those would be interested (theaters) aren't going to have a wall wide enough to reach your peripheral vision. Therefore 16:9 makes the most sense in that it keeps a decent amount of height for the given width.
farss wrote on 5/2/2012, 7:08 PM
I spent some time thinking about this new "immersive" cinema last night.
Am I the only one who sees a problem?

How do we tell a story when the viewer is totally immersed in the place rather than the plot?

Immersion works very well, Baraka, 2001 etc.
With 2001 Kubrick went to some length to ensure we didn't engage with the storyline. There's many minutes where not a word is said and there's not an actor in the frame. He used B list talent so there was no chance we'd be impressed by the performance and the only actor with any emotion is a computer.

To me at least Avatar in 3D I found the imperative of having a story a major downside. I found myself wanting to spend more time exploring some of the places and was unhappy when I was pulled out of them.

I've only seen a few minutes of Baraka, thanfully in uber quality, the neg was scanned at 8K and projected at 4K and I was very close to the screen, mind blowing. Again I would have been bummed out if I had to keep my eyes glued on someone delivering lines, way too much else in the frame to look at.

i think this concept will sell well, I don't know how many times people will flock to be dragged into another world that they have no control over though. The closest human experience to that is a dream or a nightmare. Whatever, I don't think we should be calling it "cinema", it will be something new, something that requires a very different approach to story telling, IF somehow a story can be woven into the immersive visuals. There's a big difference between being pulled into a story and being dropped into a place where a story happens around us.

The other considerable challenge is everything in this immersive world has to be real. Going back over some of the comments about the Hobbit preview screening I thinks that's where it goes wrong. The real world flyovers were stunning, everyone gasped. The studio shots failed, they looked like what they were, fake. Even the young children in the audience picked up on this. Disbelief isn't suspended, anything out of place and our brain revolts because in the real world our peripheral vision and our audtitory system is finely tuned to alert us to any oddity, that's how we avoid being eaten or run over.

VMP wrote on 5/2/2012, 7:21 PM
I have mixed feelings about the 3D (stereoscopic) glasses as well, I hope that it won’t be mandatory that all future films must be viewed this way at the cinemas. I find the eye strain and the frames around the lenses quite distracting. Removing the glasses doesn't help obviously.
I am not sure If I will make any of my movies stereoscopic in the near future.

Time for hologram technology : - ).

It’s great for a theme parks with some extra 4D functions, but it doesn’t make a normal movie any more ‘serious’. I find is rather distracting.
Jay Gladwell wrote on 5/3/2012, 8:59 AM

I have to agree with Bob for the most part.

As I watched the interview, the thought that went through my mind was, "story, story, story, regardless of the means of presentation, it's still about story." Yes, color, 3D, surround, et al, have an affect on how the story is told, but not the story itself. This recent rash of converting 2D films to 3D does not alter the story itself. The plot unfolds exactly the way it did originally and the ending remains the same.

Moving on, I would not compare Baraka with other narrative films. It falls into the category of what some call "pure cinema." The same could be said for 2001, although there is a loose storyline present. Baraka, in my mind, comes closer to a piece of art in the most literal sense. It is truly a moving picture. Imagine, if you will, had someone like Ansel Adams been a filmmaker instead of a still photographer. Adams' work transcends photography. It is truly art in the purest sense of the word. I think the same applies to Baraka. It transcends being a movie (as did "Into Great Silence").

One last item. As I listened to Trumball and the kid talking, I couldn't help but question, based on the direction they appear to want to go, "At what point does a movie become an amusement park ride?" And when it crosses that threshold, can it still be considered cinema?

Spectralis wrote on 5/3/2012, 3:55 PM
Billions of people listen to mp3's of variable quality and think nothing of it. The whole audiophile/videophile experience is for a niche customer base. There's no doubt that an exciting film on a huge screen is a great experience but the cost/convenience factor often means that it's easier to watch it on TV or a mobile device. Lots of People play games on their tablets/laptops so watching a film isn't much different.

The industry scramble for better quality is partly an attempt to reinvigorate the consumer market with the next greatest thing. I think it's a law of diminishing returns because not many of us refresh our TV's as often as we might our smart phones. Content is where a lot of the money is and mobile devices keep the cycle of profitability going.
Former user wrote on 5/3/2012, 4:04 PM
Early on in the early arrival of HDV cameras, I decided to take my work UP a level. Rather than producing for a format, I produced for ALL of them. I'd shoot HD and then post the project. It was then easy enough to scale it for web, broadcast, or what-have-you. The key was this: a compelling story, well told, will create the demand for the product. A 120fp, 3D movie of John Houseman reading the phone book (if anyone gets the reference) is still just John Houseman reading the phonebook.

A good story, well told, will end up in theatres, TV, phones, computers, tablets, and probably other devices we haven't thought of yet. It's not fragmentation of the audience, it's the projection room that's been diversified.
farss wrote on 5/3/2012, 4:46 PM
"a compelling story, well told, will create the demand for the product"

It will? It did once but does it today and will it going forward, the evidence would suggests otherwise.
The investors aren't fools, the revenue stream is drying up thanks to several factors not the least being video games which are an immersive experience. The game itself can span the planet and engage millions. Why get out of the chair, and pay a premium price for your entertainment when you can have a more engaging experience at home.

VMP wrote on 5/3/2012, 6:47 PM

People have weird way of viewing movies (DVD on TV).
I have some (lady) friends who view movies in 'parts'.... yes really.
Not because they have to, they choose to!
They watch like 20 minutes then go for a walk in between or even view the rest some days later!
And they say they really enjoyed the movie.
That’s really something that I can’t imagine doing, wouldn’t that spoil the whole storyline and the atmosphere of the movie?
It’s like listening to some seconds of a long symphony.
Maybe it’s that ‘multitask’ ability that ladies have.

I also have some customers who do that.
“Hey I have seen your film it’s great!! I have seen it in parts!” ….(Fake smile) ooh that’s great to hear!

Jay Gladwell wrote on 5/3/2012, 7:23 PM

""a compelling story, well told, will create the demand for the product""

Perhaps that's because no one has produced a movie lately that has a truly compelling story.

Chienworks wrote on 5/3/2012, 8:09 PM
[i]"I have some (lady) friends who view movies in 'parts'.... yes really."

Well, yes, like i was saying, which deusx so sternly objected to, that folks will enjoy something in a way that is enjoyable to them. Maybe those ladies get overloaded trying to take the entire story in in one sitting. Maybe they get cramps or just need fresh air before they can concentrate fully on the next part. Maybe they actually enjoy it better that way than if they tried to watch it all straight through.

It's not your call, it's theirs.
deusx wrote on 5/3/2012, 9:06 PM
Those same ladies will eat TV dinners and McDonalds crap on daily basis, weigh 200-300 lbs. and have diabetes, heart disease and other ailments. They probably watch only 20 minutes at a time because even watching movies is tiring in their current physical and mental state.

Obviously I don't know that this applies to these particular ladies, but I was just going with it to prove the point, and you know that 1/4 of the US population fits my description so there are plenty of people who do exactly that.

No it's not up to me to decide what they eat or whether they exercise, but nothing wrong with pointing out the absurdity of it. Same with movie viewing, music listening and other things. Think of me as a doctor. I tell you to eat healthy and get plenty of exercise. You then decide whether to take my advice or not.
VMP wrote on 5/3/2012, 10:04 PM
I think one of the main reason is indeed 'lack of concentration' :-).

Deusex their physical condition may have something to do with it as well.
I agree with you about many being overweight but these friends of mine are the opposite, ‘dieting fanatics’.

Chienworks wrote on 5/3/2012, 10:37 PM
I can't say that advice on how to watch a movie is anywhere near the same class as advice on how to eat healthy. Advice on healthy eating can be (and usually is) concern for their well-being. Advice on the right way to watch a movie is merely trying to push your values on to someone else without regard for their preferences.

There is certainly nothing absurd or even slightly unusual, and absolutely nothing wrong, with someone wanting to take a break or two during a feature-length movie or wanting the convenience of watching it on a portable device wherever and whenever it's comfortable.
Spectralis wrote on 5/3/2012, 11:53 PM
Apart form the BBC, TV in the UK is episodic on the commercial channels. I'd imagine it's worse in the US with infomercials and the like. In Australia they have one channel that has adverts every 10 minutes.

Perhaps people have got so used to this episodic viewing that films are just too long to watch all the way through without a break. Didn't they have intermissions in the cinema in the past? There's nothing worse than wanting to go to the toilet half an hour into a film. And can anyone honestly say they haven't got up to get a drink while watching a film on TV?

It's easy to be too purist and expect everyone to sit through Lawrence of Arabia with complete and utter concentration but in the real world it just doesn't work that way. I don't think body weight or diet has anything to do with that.
Former user wrote on 5/4/2012, 12:17 AM
BTW...did anyone notice the production values of the podcast? That's serious production for a web thing. Sure, the host is overly goofy and gushes...he's a comic book guy. But I love the tracking shots (even if they are totally distracting at times).