On Friday, a friend and I went to the IMAX version of Star Wars: Rogue One. Upon exit of the theater, my friend declared the movie to be “Epic!”, so I agreed that it was pretty badass. We exchanged a couple scenes and then, luckily for my akward self, said our goodbyes and parted ways.
I really didn’t watch much of the movie. I could barely tell you the plot of the movie or any of the character names.
During the first ten minutes of the movie, I was thinking about how the 3D effects of the opening screen of the Imax logo are an amazing experience. That scene likely had major attention placed on it by Imax execs and ultimately made wonderful.
This thought line started just as the movie began. My friend was upset and commented on how there was no opening story [in text that horizontally scrolls at you]. I’m guessing because this is the beginning and there is no story leading to it. And then I quit watching the movie for a while. I mean — I was watching it, but I was questioning the whole design of the theater experience.
Bruce Almighty was the last movie that I saw in a theater before last year and I’ve only seen Imax versions of movies since. I’ve watched 2 Star Wars and Doctor Strange. That’s a gap of 13 years.
My thought process ran the gambit of questions surrounding why people come to see these things all the time. I’ve never cared for them cause they are expensive and abandon all laws of movie-watching comfort and that’s even an improved grade of Imax. The split seats that rock are nice, but if you do rock -YOU ONLY OWN ONE ARMREST and thus irritate your friend. I have to sit like a good, upstanding American with my knees parallel to my butt and feet on the floor. Or shift my legs to the empty seat to my right. Cause THERE IS BARELY ANY LEG ROOM. I can’t sit still because I just want to sit indian-style and the seats are too narrow to achieve this.
I mean – really – I’d like to recline my chair to a suitable lounging position with my feet supported by a soft pad. I want the air to be cool and crisp. There should be a blanket to cuddle-up with, a little table to set stuff on, and there should be icecream –like what’s with popcorn for fourteen dollars?– I don’t get it.
And now here’s where my mind went soon after: before long, there will be virtual reality and/or hardcore 3D video that will allow semi to full immersion. With this, how will theaters incorporate the new tech while bringing in mass groups to share an experience together? As is now, we all watch the same screen with one projector. We all listen to the same speakers. And the majority of folks sit elbow to elbow with friends and strangers while trying to not annoy each other.
What I can imagine is each person needing their own headset to become fully immersed in a video. We may all share the same feed, sit in the same spots, but have scuba looking goggles strapped to our faces. Sounds like a happy version of the Matrix, where we can all go home afterwards. And also sounds like a pervert’s dream come true with all those bodies exposed and blindfolded–would need lifeguards of sorts. But the auditorium could be lighted a bit to aid in the watch and during bathroom breaks.
That leads to another thing, if we all have the same movie, well – you’d want to pause to pee or grab more popcorn. That causes many problems:
- You can’t share the audio (and other experience like vibration, smells (when smellivision becomes reality!!), or whatever other possible future effects to hit other senses.
- Oohs and aahs do not take place together and that is one of the social aspects of enjoying movies together–I know I watch others’ reactions at home during scenes they’d enjoy more than me.
- There would be a range of film time to allow breaks and/or timers added to breaks to prevent abuse and allow the full movie to play through.
- Etc, nothing else comes to me at this time.
And pluses, like:
- Shorter lines for concessions due to ability to pause the film.
- No worries over loud popcorn eaters and talkers.
- No need to hold the bladder
Another idea that kept bothering me throughout the entire duration of the movie compels me to want to see the same movie in 2d. I wanted to look into the background and see the faces of unimportant (for the moment) characters — especially the terrain and landscape views of the horizon. I like to look at reactions, postures, and more subtle features than is allowed by a greyed out fuzzy image. I noticed that in that viewing, the movie felt overly controlled. Like on a roller coaster, there are 2 paths: keep the seatbelt on and follow the course or remove it for a straight fall to your death. There are only a couple images to look at in any scene. I felt limited and constrained to a perfectly crafted story. During an escape scene, I could not even imagine an alternative path because there are only certain features highlighted to see with clarity (this is an unreal example that I imagine).
I thought about the goggles or glasses for an extended time. At some point those glasses will be obsolete. Red/Blue lenses already feel antiquated as is. Will the next phase lead us to scuba masks or will it lean towards GoogleYeye or iGlass modules — transparent lenses with all the 3d effects happening there, a half inch from your face, in response to the movement of your eye and the position of your eyeglasses compared to the screen.
Perhaps the the technology to project 3d images onto xyz points in space will allow real 3d experiences to take place. Holographic imagery would be an amazing leap even if the detail is like pac-man or 80’s monster films. It would quickly improve.
Anyway that was a good half hour. I didn’t know the details of plot and my friend mentioned things occasionally–I couldn’t hear him, but I’d wonder what he said and then looked at other people and realized that a large chunk of the social aspect was already gone. We are almost already in the scuba mask.
P.S. That was the 1st thirty minutes. In a 134 minute film, five or more less intense versions of that thought process occur on any number of ideas. I really barely watch tv when I do watch tv – that’s a chunk of the reason I used to watch different movies multiple times as they came on H.B.O. My station rarely changed when I was a teenager.