Future advancements in movie technology

I think we are headed for two future innovations in cinema:

  1. Truly hyper-realistic animation: Animation of things and people so realistic that it really could pass a human equivalent of the Turing Test, whereby the audience really cannot tell that it is not photo/video. There is already realistic animation, but it’s still “fake” enough that people can tell it’s not real.
  2. A 360-degree sort of immersion in movie theaters whereby the audience, by wearing special glasses or goggles, can immerse themselves in the movie and see things from a different perspective. So for instance, in a remake of the movie Titanic, perhaps a movie viewer at the theater could go on an exploration of each room and hallway of the Titanic while it is sinking and the passengers are evacuating. Or jump into the ocean to get a view of things from the water-level perspective. An even more advanced version of this might allow audience viewers to actually interact with the movie and do things *in *the movie; more akin to everyone playing a big game than watching a movie, so to speak.

Longer previews before the movie.

You’re late. Circlevision 360 was used at Expo '67.

Ultimately, though, there’s really no reason to do this. The reason you haven’t heard of Circlevision 360 was that it was a novelty that, though impressive, lost its luster very quickly.

And what you describe is prohibitively expensive. It costs millions to make any movie these days, and to shoot scenes that few people are going to bother to see doesn’t make any financial sense. It also makes it damn hard to tell an actual story.

This is really just a high-tech version of a Halloween house of horrors. They’re fun once or twice, but who’s going to go back for Christmas?

Ultimately, these are just gimmicks that, even if implemented, will go the route of Cinerama.

I don’t mean just being able to see 360 degrees but being limited to one fixed position, though. I mean that someone could wander around and about the scene itself; i.e., walking up behind Adolf Hitler in the middle of a Hitler speech in a movie.

Right, but what you’re describing isn’t a movie anymore. It’s a game, or environment.

The point of a movie is that it shows you what you’re supposed to be looking at. The point of a game or sandbox environment is that you’re in control of what you want to look at. It’s not the same thing.

So I can go to Azeroth and wander the streets of Stormwind and interact with all the people there. But that’s not a movie, although you could make a movie with the same story elements. And of course plenty of games have cinematics in them that show you exactly what you’re supposed to see.

As for your first item, that’s already here. You just don’t notice it most of the time, because the animation is used to create a realistic scene rather than a dinosaur robot punching a robot dinosaur. So in, say, Brokeback Mountain, they animated most of the vast herds of sheep rather than film thousands of sheep. Instead they filmed much smaller herds of sheep and digitally duplicated those sheep into vast flocks. And nobody noticed, because it just looks like a bunch of sheep on a hill in the distance. Digital effects are now constantly being used in regular movies, but we don’t notice them because you’re not supposed to notice them.

One of the dreams has been 3D movies that don’t require special viewing glasses. I think that there has long been and will continue to be a push for this until it has been satisfactorily achieved.

There already exist two forms of spectacle-less 3D movies. One is the lenticular screen method . For some reason, this has only been used in Russia:


A similar principle has been suggested (and patented, more than once) for spectacle-less 3D TV. For some reason, it has never caught on.
The other method is holographic movies. The problem is that every holographic movie yet made (I know of two) requires the viewers to essentially look right at the holograms as they pass by. This means that you necessarily have only a small potential audience. Four people, more or less. Clearly, this isn’t a practical system. But it works, providing a 3D image. In this case, you don’t have to be careful about not twisting your head – you can move around all you like and stand on your head if you want – the image will always be true 3D.

I know that there have been various suggestions for broad audience 3D without spectacles, but I don’t think any of them have come as close to reality as these two.

I thought the new Star Wars did a good job with the CG stuff. The old man (sorry I’m not a SW fan) took me a minute to realize he was CG and that was just due to it every so slightly being off in the animation next to a real actor.

You’re talking about a video game, not a movie unless i misunderstand you?

Unless we are going to start rendering movies and showing them to the public in blender on Next cubes instead of movie theaters.
In which case you now have a video game that you can only watch and walk around in but not actually play.

I dont see there being enough market to support the extensive cost of creating and displaying this as a movie medium.

It has no replay value “Off screen”
Can not sell it on DVD and blue ray, cant have a 2nd run at the budget rate theaters
what theater can afford racks of SGI workstations or NexT cubes or what have you?
Youd need like Pixar’s studio on site at each theater or something near as crazy.

And people who go to a movie just want to relax and watch the movie for the majority.
They dont want to sort of, but not really play a video game that just cost them 10 or 20 bucks to play one time, and god forbid they move the camera to the wrong place and miss an important scene, then they can buy another ticket, which wont go over well.

Lord think of the cost.

Film tech
1 theater
200 seats
1 screen
1 projector
1 sound system
200 viewers served with 1 set of equipment

3D digitally rendered 6DOF theater tech
1 theater
200 seats
200 pieces of viewing medium (VR headsets, monitors etc)
200 audio systems, or a single system that can produce 200 discrete pipes of digital surround audio
200 rendering platforms, or what ever rendering farm you can think of that can independently render 200 individual instances of the environment.
Larger theater because each viewer now has to have space to be moving around

I fear we are bleeding cashflow here, like arterial hemorrhage, and we havent finished the theater equipment yet

I do agree that 360 won’t be used the way the OP described. The point of a movie is to tell a story the way the creative team behind it wants it told. But that doesn’t mean that 360 won’t have a use. Much like 3D, if it makes the experience cooler and still allows them to tell their story, they’ll do it. Plus if it’s in 360 there will always be something you miss so repeated viewings are a must, which means more $$$$.

Now that doesn’t mean going anywhere you want on the Titanic. That’s a video game, as has been pointed out. But it could mean rather than being in a seat, you’re standing on the deck of the Titanic. and then you get taken into steerage. and then you end up in a lifeboat. The idea will always be to focus your attention on something specific though, with the other things being just extras that you’ll see in repeated viewings.

How is that different from character-POV cinematography as seen in existing movies?

More immersive. You can look behind you. To me, this is just a logical progression from 3D and surround sound. It won’t be necessary or desirable for all movies, but for some movies it could make them a better experience.

Exactly! I’m very excited with VR technology (I have an HTC Vive and a couple of phone-based systems) but it’s not an evolution of the movie.

Even a 360-degree view with a fixed viewpoint is a poor choice for movies. It’s a neat way to convey the experience of being in a specific place, but it’s not a good way to tell a story. I’ve watched a few VR documentaries and it’s frustrating because I never know which way to look.

Screw 3D. I want tech that will detect people talking in the audience and use noise cancellation on them.

The thing is, your field of vision is pretty narrow. Especially what you can actually focus on, excluding your peripheral vision.

And a movie screen is pretty much all you need to fill your field of vision. Extending that outward to fill your peripheral vision, and allow you to look around is pointless, because if the moviemaker wants you to look at something else they just move the camera. And if it’s not important that you look at any particular part of the scene, then why exactly are you showing the scene in the first place?

If what you’re showing is not the most important thing for the audience to be looking at, then why aren’t you showing them what IS the most important thing? And if there’s something that’s most important, but something else that’s also a little bit important but they can’t see unless they turn their vision away from the important thing, then you’ve fucked up as a film-maker, because there’s no way for the viewer to see both things.

If it’s not important, and the audience can just wander around and look at whatever in whatever order, then it’s not a movie, it’s a bunch of stuff to look at.

It’s the same problem with 3D. 3D doesn’t add that much to a movie, because unless an object is within 15 feet of you, there isn’t that much of a stereoscopic effect in real life. But the movies they want to use 3D on are all action adventure movies, not intimate interiors. The 3D effect itself is just not that big an improvement over a flat image. Our brains do supply us with a lot of 3D information in an environment when we move around, but not that much just from having pupils 3 inches apart. So your brain is very adept at giving you the sensation of depth when the camera moves because that’s how your brain works in real life.

Integral imaging is in experimentation in Japan. Lenticular images only allow vision at different angles along the horizontal, pretty good for us side by side eyed creatures, but integral imaging shows a 3D effect an any angle. It requires a lot of bandwidth and resolution to produce realistic images though. A spherical screen or cylindrical screen could produce something very close to holographic realism either on the inside or outside of the screen, but not with the capability to actually enter the environment.

Don’t be so sure. Live theater has been experimenting with plays that take place in more than one venue and from multiple points of view for a while now. I wouldn’t be surprised to find some filmmakers trying it out soon enough!


I’d gladly pay top dollar for a completely 360 degree Titanic movie if it meant I could see Kate Winslet nude from multiple angles.

Ha! This just struck me as bizarrely early 1990s.

Besides, the only way you could achieve this sort of immersion would be to eschew pre-rendered animation in favor of realtime rendering like modern game engines.