In 1895, the Lumiere brothers presented the first commercial projected motion picture in Paris, starting what is now the modern film industry. The Jazz Singer, in 1928, moved the industry out of the silent movie era with the first official “talkie.” Technicolor introduced the next major movie development in 1935 with the release of the first film to use their color film process.
Each technological advance in the film industry has enhanced the movie-going experience. After more than 120 years, advances in movie technology continue to move the entertainment medium into new realms of sensory delight. The following five technologies represent the future of movies.
Laser projection will eventually replace the digital projectors the majority of theaters use today. Red, blue, and green lasers are projected onto the movie screen in computer-perfect mixes and intensities. The result is a screen image that is far superior in brightness, contrast, and sharpness than any projectors previously made, making it almost impossible for audiences to discern individual pixels in the image.
3D printers may seem out of place in a list of advanced movie technologies, but they will have an increasingly more predominant role to play in the future. The use of 3D printers is limited only by the imagination, and the movie industry has plenty of brain juice. As the prices drop for 3D printer operation, it will become a more attractive alternative to shipping equipment all over the world. And while cheaper movies don’t translate into on-screen magic for the audience, the ability to create fantastic props delivers a serious increase in the wow-factor. Historic artifacts, authentic era-appropriate costumes, high-tech gadgets of the future, and detailed models are all possible with advance printing technology.
Virtual actors replace the need to film actors live and in the flesh. Advanced CGI technology has reached a point where a digital version of an actor is indistinguishable from an image of the real person. This technology replaces the need for hundreds of extras in crowd scenes or sprawling war epics. Popular actors from the past can be brought back from the grave to appear in new stories. And for audiences who can’t get enough of their favorite actor, the CGI technology provides a way for the celebrity to appear in more movies than a regular filming schedule allows.
Choose your own adventure takes the interactive experience of video games and inserts it into the film industry. During the movie, audience members vote on what they would like to see happen. Then the course of the film changes based on those votes. That’s bad news for the annoying side-kick who will probably die more often than not, but good news for the film industry. This gives viewers a chance to see a movie multiple times and not experience the same series of events on the screen. It also ensures that the film will end in a way that the majority of viewers will find satisfying.
4D films are a method of adding physical effects to go along with a movie. A couple of the exhibits at Universal Studios uses this technique to immerse audiences in the story. By incorporating vibrating floors and seats, wind machines, rain drippers, strobe lights, and back ticklers, the other four senses are added to the theater experience. The process gives new meaning to a smoke-filled corridor or the smell of victory in a locker-room.
At some point in the future, audiences will go to the theater and find themselves fully immersed in a virtual reality of the story they want to experience. These five technologies will pave the way for that time.