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The way films are made is always changing; we’ve come from silent trains scaring people out of their seats to digital cameras, surround sound and YouTube video makers using cinema grade equipment. If there’s one thing we know about the future of cinema it’s that things will always be changing.

As a film buff, I am always looking at what the next advancements in film are going to be, and I didn’t have to look too far to pull together my ‘top 5’ list. Take a look and let me know if you see film heading the same way over the next decade!

1. 3D

Via 3DTopper

First things first, let’s get something straight; there are two types of 3D film. First is the rather controversial ‘3D up-converted film’, where a studio can take an original 2D film and ‘up-convert’ it for a cost of approximately $50,000 to $100,000 per minute. The studio may well cover this cost by adding an additional few pounds, dollars or whatever your local currency maybe, to the final ticket price.
Whatever the case, this isn’t the 3D I’m talking about.
What I’m talking about is the 3D that’s meticulously planned from the ground up and filmed using 3D camera rigs or built with animation software. That’s the sort of 3D you experience with Avatar or with a Pixar release – they play with positive and negative space and create an open living window rather than thrusting and wiggling things in your face.

So why is it an innovation over the next decade when it’s been around in various forms for so long?

The Hobbit has been concepted in 3D, its costume and make up has been designed around 3D and its brightness loss and custom rigs have been built to capture it in 3D. Peter Jackson is acutely aware of all the problems people associate with 3D and has worked to create a film that will exceed expectations. If it succeeds it may well change the way 3D films are approached and should hopefully make audiences aware of the two very different quality levels of 3D films, and maybe, if it’s really spectacular, Mark Kermode might have something good to say about it.


Via nasa HQ

For those of you that are unaware, IMAX is a motion picture filme format that essentially allows audiences to watch films on bigger and better screens. For those of you that have been to an IMAX, , yes it’s big, yes it’s high resolution and you get that glorious leg room with your seat, what’s not to like?

Back in 1990 you couldn’t see a theatrical film on the IMAX screen, its film reels were too large for the time length needed. With technical improvements and the introduction of digital projectors all that changed and we’ve moved from educational documentaries to Batman and the IMAX format being more available worldwide than ever before.

We’re now at a potential tipping point where some feature films are up-converted and others are partly shot in the IMAX format – but it’s an experience you can’t get anywhere else! Home cinemas might be reaching new levels but they’ll never be able to touch the IMAX format. You might have enjoyed Avatar in IMAX, or The Avengers, or The Hunger Games, or, well, almost any of the ‘huge’ blockbusters of the last few years.

So, again I beg the question – why is it something to look out for in the next decade?

Wally Pfister.

Wally Pfister (Christopher Nolan’s right hand man and cinematographer) has a love for the IMAX format (along with a huge distaste for 3D). The scenes he shot for The Dark Knight with IMAX cameras were undeniably brilliant and the The Dark Knight Rises Prologue shown on IMAX screens last year blew audiences away. His goal was to film as much of The Dark Knight Rises in IMAX as possible, and if it all goes well we can only be so far off the first feature film filmed entirely in IMAX. Watch this space.


Before we go any further watch this video below if you haven’t already. No really. We’re talking about a fundamental change in film visuals here and this is the most impressive thing you’ll see today.

Watched it? Told you you wouldn’t be disappointed.

Now mounting a camera onto a micro helicopter or drone isn’t a new thing; there are a few different companies offering similar services now. None have offered up an example video as impressive as the OMCOPTER though, which flies a RED Epic camera.

In one shot the camera can now swoop from 150 meters above the action right into the scene itself. Just think about the possibilities that it holds for new ways to shoot action.

OMSTUDIOS reported that ‘directing legends such as Ridley Scott, Peter Jackson and James Cameron are utilizing this state-of-the-art technology for their current feature films “Prometheus”, “The Hobbit” and “Avatar 2”, by placing dozens of orders.’ That means that we might have already seen it in action on the big screen already, just keep your eyes peeled for when a great martial arts director gets their hands on it (somebody put in a call to Gareth Evans, please!).

4. Source Filmmaker

It’s coming up to 17 years since Toy Story was released (a scary thought within itself!) and changed animated films forever. If there’s one thing we all know about animation though is that it takes time and money, even when it’s all done on computers. Toy Story was light compared to later films by Pixar but it still cost $30 million and required 800,000 machine hours.

Video game graphics have become stunning in those 17 years though, along with the ease of use of the tech behind them, which brings us to Source Filmmaker. Have you seen one of the ‘Meet the…’ shorts from Valve yet? If not, check it out.

That was all built on Valves Source engine. The same engine that they are now letting you use (for free) to make your own animations. That’s flat out groundbreaking; you have the power to make a great looking animated film on the same computer you might be reading this with. What’s more, this engine allows for real time rendering and editing, a much more intuitive process that allows you to easily change and fine tune your work.

We’re not just loosely talking about how it could be used to make a feature film either, Deep is already in the works with the software from director Shane Acker (“9”).

Valve have already released some tutorial videos on using their software, this isn’t just something that you’ll get to see, it’s something you could be doing yourself, right now!

5. Distribution

There has NEVER been a better time to be a film fan; sure there have been better periods for film releases but never has the back catalogue of cinema been so accessible. In the blink of an eye we’ve moved from VHS to DVD to BLU-RAY and beyond that online streaming just keeps improving.

This means that not only is it now easier to get your hands on, well, anything, but you can enjoy it in the comfort of your own home, laptop, or phone (which while not the same as a cinema, usually doesn’t have someone tall sitting between you and the screen). We’re not there quite yet but over the next few years the accepted distribution format will change. Simultaneous cinema and home rental release is already being played with and with better internet enabled TVs the whole process will be effortless.

It’s not just going to change big studio releases either, its already changing our accessibility to short films from big & small directors and also independent work in documentary.

As distribution becomes more open the barrier to access content breaks down further which means anyone has the chance to get their content to you. Good content rules supreme in this magical ‘ease of access’ world, and that’s great for all of us.

6. Phone signal blocking paint [Bonus]

I love my phone as much as the next person, but phone use in cinemas is one of mine (and my friends’) biggest annoyances. This might be an old innovation but until this is implemented across the board or every cinema just becomes an Alamo Drafthouse people are going to (accidentally or not) continue disrupting the cinema experience. Remember, turn if off and leave it in your pocket or they’re going to get out the paint brushes 😉

So, that’s our list. Agree, disagree – either way, comment and have your say!