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The future of film

by Adrian Pennington on Jul 16, 2017

Nick Lazaridis delivered HP’s mission statement and emphasised the company’s commitment to helping filmmakers use of the latest digital technology to create great content.
Nick Lazaridis delivered HP’s mission statement and emphasised the company’s commitment to helping filmmakers use of the latest digital technology to create great content.

Ultra large scale exhibition

“Cinema exhibition is moving toward ultra-scale large format experiences while conventional movie releases will be streamed for projection within people’s houses,” Mulani predicted.

Interactivity is a clear theme of media and entertainment 2050. “The emergence of the Gen Z population which are the first born who know nothing but being able to interact with content on devices seamlessly will impact how we make and view entertainment,” Wall said. 

Stories might exist as transmedia – with different parts of the same story experienced on different platforms and devices – often simultaneously.

Wall also pointed to “accelerated innovation” or a speeding up of Moore’s Law. “If smartphones today are 30 times more powerful than PCs were a decade ago then they will be 30 billion time more powerful still in three decade’s time.

“With VR we are operating at the equivalent of DOS 3.0 or punch cards,” he continued. “VR has limitations today. It separates us from what is out there. But the potential is for total body, total sensory immersion. We will be able to craft images using lightfields that capture every angle and nuance of light in a scene for us to reconstruct holographic moving images. These are the technologies which will become our clay [for creating art and new media].”

The VR short ‘Tree’ is an example of how artists and filmmakers are pushing boundaries with the technology. It puts the user in the position of a tree which grows from a seed to become one of the tallest in the forest.  “For us, smell is super important,” explains co-creator Winslow Porter of New Reality. “We developed custom scent tracks that are sequenced with the visuals to enhance the experience. It’s strange we are using organic molecules alongside such hi-tech.  Scent is associated with memories which we can trigger by tapping into the olfactory sense.

“VR can be impactful in ways we don’t fully understand right now but it will be able to change hearts and minds,” he added. “There is an obsession with simulating reality in VR when we should be looking to surreality. We can be a person from the past, or a lion or a pyramid.”

Winslow also forecast the end of linear narrative. “A director might be able to frame the shots and a cinematographer light them but we are entering an age when the viewer becomes the editor and the protagonist,” he said.  “When we have thousands of people participating in the experience what happens to narrative then – they could be building the world as they play and explore within it.”

That’s the near-future scenario sketched out in the novel Ready Player One and being adapted by Steven Spielberg in his forthcoming feature.

Keys to immersive content

The story’s concept of game-playing and education in a multi-verse of virtual worlds has become a must-read text at the Technicolor Experience Center where Marcie Jastrow, senior vice president, immersive media and head of the centre is helping to build a pipeline for immersive AR/VR and mixed reality content. There are six keys, she outlined. These include the need for high quality content, for social sharing experiences and for the user experience to be intuitive. Also on her list is “episodic cadence” which means a way to keep people coming back for more. “It has to be disruptive enough that it is different from current media and most important of all is the story. It has to entertain.”

Jastrow suggested that studios could soon sell VFX assets like characters and computer generated worlds as products to consumers for VR experiences. “Often when studios build these assets for a film they are simply archived and never used again,” she said. “What Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality offers is the potential to use these assets again. What would it be like if rather than playing with a fluffy toy, you could gift your children one of those assets to play with and interact with in a VR or AR environment? It is all about extending the experience of the film through interaction.”

HP at the movies

HP tracks its association with the movie industry to 1938 when audio oscillators built by David Packard and Bill Hewlett were used by Walt Disney to produce stereophonic sound for Fantasia.

The compute brand has sponsored the Cannes Film Festival for several years but more importantly its hardware is installed at movie studios and VFX facilities including at Technicolor and Dreamworks.


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