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The Future of Film in the Theatre


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#1 Evan Winter

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Posted 12 July 2006 - 01:55 PM

Right here, right now, i'm going to side with James Cameron et al. and propose that the future of the theatre going experience will be based on 3D photography.

As home TVs getting bigger and sharper, as movie prices go up and up, and film piracy becomes ever more prevalent there is less and less to encourage the average movie-watcher to make the trek out to the theatres.

James Cameron believes the solution to this to be 3D filmmaking and I, for one, can't wait to give this a shot.

Now, I'm not talking about 3D filmmaking as a pure gimmick (using it only for the action scenes, or for cute animation films, or low rent horror flicks). I'm talking about a film where 3D is taken into account in the same way we take into account our aspect ratio, our film stock, our locations - it's another key element in the photographic process that allows us to better tell our stories to an audience and to draw them into the narrative.

Currently, I'm a music video Director/DP and I hope my (supposed eventual) transition to moviemaking isn't an overly long one. The reason why I first got into this business was because I wanted, desperately, to involve a room of people in a tale of my telling and to affect them emotionally, whether it was to make them laugh, cry, or scream in terror.

Music videos are an incredible amount of fun and an amazing 'film school' but making an honest attempt at developing a quality all 3D film would be a thrill of a lifetime.

So, after that long rant, my question to everyone is:

What do you see as the key element in maintaining a theatre-going audience and do you believe that maintaining a theatre-going audience is an important thing?

Evan

"The recent advances in digital image capture, post-processing and projection have enabled new stereoscopic technologies which were never possible before. When we were shooting 3D on film, the cameras were bulky and unsophisticated, producing stereo images which created a lot of eyestrain. The new digital camera systems eliminate this. Concurrent advances in digital post-processing of the stereo images allow us to create a nearly perfect 3D visual experience." ~James Cameron

"What is clear to me after studying the technical issues for 5 years now, is that there are absolutely no roadblocks to creating a new cinema experience on a wide scale, potentially equivalent in impact to the change from silent to sound, or black and white to color. I see this ?3D Renaissance? as a hedge against erosion of theatrical revenues by piracy and HD home viewing. The 3D experience will only be available in theaters, in the early years until the consumer electronics industry catches up, and pirated content will not be available in 3D." ~James Cameron
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#2 Richard Boddington

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Posted 12 July 2006 - 02:21 PM

"Currently, I'm a music video Director/DP and I hope my (supposed eventual) transition to moviemaking isn't an overly long one"

I suspect it will be.

I hope you and James enjoy sitting beside each other with your 3D glasses on.

"What do you see as the key element in maintaining a theatre-going audience..."

Better scripts would be a good start. Oh wait who needs that, 100 million for VFX and you're good to go.

R,
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#3 Max Jacoby

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Posted 12 July 2006 - 02:21 PM

If you look at the history of cinema, then one of the driving forces has always been to offer a better theatrical experience than what people can have at home, on television. Color, Widescreen and Suround Sound all came out of this. Now that HD has vastly improved the hometheatre experience and offers a quality that is much closer than ever before to that of a theatre (especially if a 2K digital projector is used in the cinema), 3D is the next logical step.

Personally I would be very interested in using 3D for narrative films. The only 3D I have seen so far has been Imax 3D and the drawback of that experiecne is that the screen is so huge that you do not really have framing/composition anymore. The fact that you can express something with a composition (choice of lens, what you show and what you don't show, etc...) is one of the aspects that I'm drawn to most in current cinema. So I am looking forward to seeing 3D films on regular screens (either in 2.40 or 1.85), to find out how it affects framing and also depth of field.

In general cinema has always gone in direction of being more immersive (wider screens, surround sound) and obviously 3D is a step further in that direction. If you imagine a film like 'Elephant' with all it's long tracking shots through these corridors in 3D, that would be quite an interesting experience.

Of course I don't mean to suggest that 2D cinema will be completely replaced, it will forever be a valid artform.
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#4 Jason Debus

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Posted 12 July 2006 - 02:31 PM

I'm not so sure 3D will take off as 'the next big thing'. We've had 3D systems for a long time, long before the 50's at the height of it's popularity. In the 50's it peaked but then lost it's appeal with the public. Today it's basically a novelty, the most I would think would happen is another peak for a few years like in the 50's.

It's kind of like in the 50's when everyone thought flying cars would replace the automobile by the 21st century.
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#5 Max Jacoby

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Posted 12 July 2006 - 03:24 PM

There's a world of difference between the 3D systems of the 50s and those of today. The biggest drawback is eyestrain and they finally seem to get the handle on that. Also digital projectors and cameras will facilite the acquisition and projection of 3D immensely.
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#6 Chad Stockfleth

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Posted 12 July 2006 - 03:52 PM

"Currently, I'm a music video Director/DP and I hope my (supposed eventual) transition to moviemaking isn't an overly long one"

I suspect it will be.

I hope you and James enjoy sitting beside each other with your 3D glasses on.

"What do you see as the key element in maintaining a theatre-going audience..."

Better scripts would be a good start. Oh wait who needs that, 100 million for VFX and you're good to go.

R,


Rather cynical today Richard.

There is a draw to the communal experience of seeing a picture with a group of people that I don't think will ever be erased by the home theater. Not to mention the fact that it's nice to get out of the house once in a while.

Every 3D movie I've seen has given me headaches from the eyestrain, and nausea like symptoms from motion sickness (although I get motion sick from playing first person video games). Max says it's getting better, but I haven't actually watched a 3D movie in years so I'll have to take his word.

It does seem like it would open up some new possibilities, but to me it still seems gimicky.
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#7 Richard Boddington

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Posted 12 July 2006 - 05:03 PM

I was just pointing out that the idea of new technology capturing more paying customers isn't really valid. Broadcasters who think HD will halt their dwindling viewership will be sadly mistaken. People won't watch an "un-funny" sit com in HD, SD, Colour, B&W, HD 3D with surround sound, you name it. If the creative and the writing are not there it doesn't matter what kind of technology they use to view it.

More "gimmicks" won't bring in more viewers for too long. It seems that 99% of TV is now reality show crapola, so it won't be long before the craft of writing a TV show becomes a lost art.

Besides this 3D stuff will be replaced by a "Halo-deck" experience soon won't it? I mean people will actually be able to enter the movie and be a part of it, just like on Star Trek The Next Generation. Then we'll see ticket sales BOOM!

R,
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#8 Sam Wells

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Posted 12 July 2006 - 05:42 PM

Besides this 3D stuff will be replaced by a "Halo-deck" experience soon won't it? I mean people will actually be able to enter the movie and be a part of it, just like on Star Trek The Next Generation. Then we'll see ticket sales BOOM!

R,


If I think I'm in the movie, why does my physical body need to be in a theater ?

Oh, so someone can spill popcorn on me and remind me I'll have to get back to reality ? :D

-Sam

Negative force field disabling cell phones would be a winner........
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#9 Evan Winter

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Posted 12 July 2006 - 07:03 PM

richard b,

although you 'suspect' it will be an overly long transition for me to end up making movies i'm not sure what you're basing this on similarly to how i'm not sure where in my post i ever suggested that 3D filmmaking could be a substitute for poor writing.

what i did suggest is that 3D filmmaking could be a very important part of what keeps people going out to theatres.

i do agree that the communal experience of theatre-going is also important, as another poster pointed out. however, consistently, over the years, fewer and fewer people are going out to see movies (yeah we have larger and larger b.o.'s but that's more on account of inflation and increased ticket prices. the actual numbers of people attending theatres has been decreasing steadily over the last few decades).

so, again richard, with piracy, prices, and all the rest something needs to stem the tide and your trite, cliche, and somewhat immature knee-jerk response of better writing is not only obvious to everyone on the board but also one of the trickier things to improve.

why is the writing so 'bad' right now? are writers trying to write bad scripts? is it studio interference? can the problem be easily or quickly summed up in a few sentences and then solved just as quickly and easily??? unlikely.

do we need better stories to tell? richard, the answer will always be yes. it was yes in the 70s, arguably a high point in american cinema, it was yes in the 80s, a low point, and it will be yes in the 2010s. writing can always always be improved.

so, pat yourself on the back, for what it's worth your most blatantly obvious response is correct we do need better writing. how this prevents piracy, or people still waiting for the good story to come out on dvd i'm not sure but hey... i still think 3d, shot intelligently 'for' the narrative (as opposed to simply using it as a gimick to try and cover up bad filmmaking) is a viable and reasonable answer to the dilemma currently facing the studios and exhibitors.

evan
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#10 Richard Boddington

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Posted 12 July 2006 - 08:04 PM

"so, again richard, with piracy, prices, and all the rest something needs to stem the tide and your trite, cliche, and somewhat immature knee-jerk response of better writing is not only obvious to everyone on the board but also one of the trickier things to improve."

Don't take me, or your own personal aura of superiority too seriously.

R,
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#11 Jacob Ross

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Posted 17 July 2006 - 08:31 AM

well... I'll be brief and somewhat over generalize but the points are still the same

due to the changing nature of the way people experience media (not just "films") but all visual media, trying to lure the public back into the theatre experience with 3D is a novelty that will not work

the way people experience media and consume data/information has DRASTICALLY and RADICALLY changed since the birth of the internet, this isnt going to change.... with technology constantly evolving and the means of production becoming more "democratized" (ie: affordable HD, NLE, compositing software, desktop publishing/distribution, etc) people are going to want engaging stories (that utilize this new technology) NOT theatrical novelty introduced by a corporation, as a way of trying to reclaim profits and an audience.

This is not to say the theatrical experience is dead... there will always be that sense of escapism in going to the cineplex but it now has some serious competition... And just like with sports/business and most anything else, healthy competition breeds better results from both sides. From here on out its up to the motion picture establishment if they are going to embrace competition/technology OR if they are going to try and protect their investment (so to speak)

I feel the industry is kind of split on the issue.... much in the same vein of the age old digital vs film debate (which this invovles as well). You have directors like Sodebergh, Fincher, etc who are embracing technology and then on the opposite side you have the more "traditional" filmmakers like Sorcese, Stone, etc who arent quite as quick to welcome the changes in the industry.... only time will tell how it will all play out

again, I am speaking in very general and non-specific terms here.... this is just what I feel the "jist" of the matter boils down to..... and I could be wrong, this is only one mans opinion
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#12 Evan Winter

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Posted 18 July 2006 - 10:46 PM

just to clarify,

when i talk about 3d filmmaking i'm not talking about making "house of the dead 2: in 3D!".

rather, i'm talking about going to the theatre to experience a story that is immersive not only in terms of big screen, incredible sound, high quality image, and the feel of being in a crowd but also in terms of imagery that is 3 dimensional.

imagine 3d not as the sideshow gimmick but as the format that movies like the godfather, shawshank redemption, the silence of the lambs, apocalypse now, or even 12 angry men are shot for.

imagine cinematographers, set designers, directors, and actors all using the idea of film in 3 dimensions, not as a one-time gimmick, but as a real tool to help make the one and a half to three hours in the theatre that much more 'real'.

now imagine that you can only get this 3d experience in the theatre and that the 'casablanca' of 2010 is released simultaneously in theatres in 3d ($10.50) and on hdtv on-demand ($4.95 24hr rental). what is the percentage split of movie goers vs. on-demand renters?

now let's say you do this same test with the 'casablanca' of 2010 in regular 2d in theatres and on hdtv on-demand. what's the split now?

if you believe there is a significant difference in the split (between the 2 scenarios) then you have just argued that 3d filmmaking could make a significant difference in bringing people out to the theatres.

evan
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#13 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 18 July 2006 - 11:21 PM

Hitchcock's "Dial M For Murder" when shown in 3D on the big screen, is a good example of the narrative possibilities of 3D when used in a restrained manner. I recall this scene where Ray Milland is trying to steal a key from Grace Kelly's purse where Hitchcock placed the purse in the foreground throughout the scene as Milland glances at it while trying to distract Kelly, and in 3D, it took on extra presence and generated more suspense. Also at the end when the key is discovered by the detective under the carpet on the stairs and he slides it into view in an ECU, how exciting the moment of discovery was in 3D. There was also some more "shocking" 3D effects, like when Grace Kelly is being strangled on the desk and she reaches back right into the lens, struggling to find the scissors she uses to save herself.

But I don't see any indication that 3D is going to catch on with the public or with the majority of filmmakers. For one thing, for every new effect it can create to enhance the moviewatching experience, you lose two or three other 2D effects that have helped tell stories visually over the years. We sometimes rely on the fact that film is 2D to trick the viewer into believing something, or to create emphasis. A dolly-in for a dramatic beat is already powerful in 2D because it's dimensional, but in 3D, it may call attention to the fact that the camera is moving towards the subject and feel unmotivated because now it is SO dimensional as to be distracting.

Not all movies are improved by being more immersive and three-dimensional, or more like reality. Movies incorporate a lot of the visual traditions of 2D art like painting and photography. I can't imagine "Barry Lyndon" looking more like 18th century paintings if the movie had been shot in 3D.
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#14 Sean Azze

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Posted 18 July 2006 - 11:56 PM

I'm fortunate enough to have recently acquired a 50 inch plasma with surround sound ( courtesy of my father - believe me, I'm no baller!) and I can tell you this...no grand advancement in technology can ever replace hanging out with your friends or taking a date out on a Saturday night to the movies. Yeah, sometimes it can suck if some jacka$$ is making noise the whole movie or somebody's toddler won't stop crying. But the theater going experience is something that can't be replicated in the house.

I hold this opinion because I'm one of those people that love to go to the movies - even alone if one my favorite directors has a new flick coming out. It seems like no matter what, the people who like to stay home will stay home and the people who love to get out and see a movie will keep going to the movies. I don't think revitalizing or creating a new spectacle will help sell tickets. I know for sure that 3D technology won't get a hermit like my father out of the house.
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