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July 5, 2012

Future Tech: The future of film

We all go to the cinema and think nothing nowadays of throwing on a pair of 3D glasses to enhance our viewing experience, but what’s next? What’s coming to the cinema that will make the films even more realistic? Let’s take a look (what follows may or may not be in the pipeline, it’s just my musings).

So 3D is a relatively new phenomenon, right? Wrong. The first 3D film to be shown to a paying audience was probably The Power of Love, shown in the Ambassador Hotel Theater, Los Angeles in…..1922. I kid you not. Granted it was probably no Avatar, but it shows how long the technique has been around, and how long it has taken to get to the stage it has now. A 90 year wait to see The Rock fly out of the screen riding a giant bumblebee…but maybe the newer technology will gestate a little quicker.

via Total 3D

Now I’ve been to 4D films (yes, they were at a world famous California film studio theme park, and yes, they were aimed squarely at children) and found the extra ‘D’ to be a little bit of a frippery. It consisted of a few things like wind being blown from the seat in front, a smell being piped into the auditorium and most memorably water being sprayed in my face at the time when a donkey sneezed on screen. All well and good for the kids, and it did add a little to the experience, but it wasn’t great.

Those things exist. What’s to come is 5D and 6D films. 5D will be the 3 (or 4) D experience where your seat moves to emulate the action on screen. Now I’ve been in a seat-moving film on a TV studio tour in the UK and in an IMAX theatre (I think), but it wasn’t 3D and it was short (like the ones I have seen hailed as ‘leading the new wave’). And I’ve been in a 3D film but the seat didn’t move. I imagine combining the two might be something that adds a whole extra…tries to think of a word that isn’t ‘dimension’…sensation to the cinema-going experience. Mind you, it would mean either building specific theatres or re-tooling every seat in every cinema with a series of motors. But I think it would be kind of cool to fly the spaceship/ride the speedboat/jump off the cliff in 3D while strapped into a seat. Imagine the Star Wars ‘flying into the Death Star trench’ scene in 3D with your seat moving like Luke’s X-wing.

via berlinmotion1

And the next stage after that? Full holographic immersion (with moving seats, and water sprayed in the face) in a 6D cinema experience. Yes, full holographic immersion. Where the characters aren’t just on the screen, or flying out of it, but actually appear in the auditorium and you feel like the action is all around you. How about experiencing the next Batman/Joker confrontation with them 2 feet in front of your face?

This, of course, is just what I envision as the future of film, but what about you? Where do you see cinematic innovation taking the experience? I’d love to know your thoughts and ideas, so drop me a comment below, or send them on Twitter using #NCFutureTech.