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Douglas Trumball's 120 fps 4K 3D immersive film format

September 17, 2014 | Telepresence Options

Trumball-MAGI-demo

[Image: Douglas Trumbull at Toronto International Film Festival's Future of Cinema conference, September 11, 2014; image from Mike Edgell]

Story and images by Scott Feinberg / ISPR

Future of Film: VFX Legend Douglas Trumbull's Plan to Save the Movies

The 72-year-old, who's best known for his work on '2001: A Space Odyssey,' says he's figured out how to win the battle against big TVs and smartphones -- from a studio on his farm in the Berkshires

On a sunny August day in the Berkshires of western Massachusetts, Douglas Trumbull, the 72-year-old visual effects legend, welcomes me to Little Brook Farm, the sprawling 50-acre property on which he lives and works with his wife of 13 years, Julia Trumbull, as well as an assortment of free-range donkeys, goats, chickens, roosters, cats and dogs. In addition to their home and animals, the compound also houses Trumbull Studios, a 10-building, state-of-the-art filmmaking facility that was financed with his proceeds from the IPO of IMAX Corp., where he once worked. "We're not a movie lab in the sense that we process chemicals," says Trumbull of the operation. "We're a movie lab in the sense that we're looking for the future of movies."

Trumbull drives me a short distance from his home to a full-size soundstage and escorts me into a screening room that he has constructed to meet his ideal specifications: a wide wall-to-wall and floor-to-ceiling curved screen, with surround sound, steeply rigged stadium seating and a 4K high-resolution projector. As I put on specially designed 3D glasses and settle into stadium seating, he tells me, with an unmistakable hint of nervousness, "You're one of the first people on the planet to see this movie."

Ten minutes later, the lights come back up and I sit in stunned silence. The short that I have just seen, UFOTOG (a blending of the words "UFO" and "fotog," the latter slang for press photographer), is stunning not because of its story -- we've all seen movies about UFOs -- but because it shows, as it was designed to do, what movies can look like if theaters, studios and filmmakers embrace the MAGI process through which Trumbull brought it to the screen: bigger, brighter, clearer and with greater depth-of-field than anything ever seen in a cinema before.

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