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500 WEEKS FROM NOW - 1000th EDITION FORECAST

MOVIE NEWS IN 2016
When we published our first weekly edition on February 27, 1997, we had no DVD reviews; indeed, there was no such thing in Australia as a movie on DVD#. We couldn’t download movies from the internet nor were there any digital cinemas. Nobody had an iPod and plasma meant blood, not home cinema screens. How will new technology impact on moviemaking? What might we be writing about in our 1000th edition?
Andrew L. Urban (with a little techno-vision from Ben Hooft) looks into the future of film ...


What has changed over the 500 weeks since October 2006 in terms of subject matter is the explosion in low budget filmmaking for distribution outside traditional cinemas; via satellite, via the new generation broadband (yes, even here in Australia), via enhanced mobile phones with inbuilt projectors and via portable devices with expandable screens. You can even watch a movie via moviegoggles.

And along with this huge upsurge in movie making has come a return to the basic strengths of the moving image: the exploration of character in the context of strong stories; as an extension of this trend, biographies have become the single most popular form of long form moviemaking. (Recent examples include Tony Blair, Jack Nicholson, Condoleezza Rice, J.K. Rowling and Bruce Beresford.)

Tumultuous world events (the reconstituted United Nations Security Council and its success in Africa, the fall of Kim Il Sung’s North Korean dictatorship, etc) have triggered dozens of projects, both docos and fiction, dealing with everything from the impending implosion of the radical Islamic terrorist movement to the coming semi-democratic elections in China, less than a decade after Beijing played host to the Olympic Games.

An emerging new genre directly the result of technology is the so called ‘compressto’, indeed a magical idea which has wrangled technology to make movies that capture entire lifetimes and then replay them fast enough to watch in a single sitting, but slow enough to be meaningful, often manipulated to highlight key moments. Several projects have been started, picking human subjects at random, to be ‘lensed’ (‘filmed’ is becoming more and more an inaccurate and outdated term) over a lifetime. For those who can’t wait, there are a few movies available online showing excerpts of lives, including three years of Richard Branson’s daily life, proceeds of which are going to the recently launched AA-like charity helping failed businessmen, BB (Bankrupt Businessmen).

While technology has expanded and enlarged the opportunities for filmmakers to reach audiences (see below), filmmakers have turned to less expansive and expensive subjects, engaging more intimately with audiences. Only Hollywood produces the traditional 95 – 140 minute movie these days (plus a few Euro-bundle and of course Bollywood productions), while many films range from 15 to 70 minutes, reflecting customer preferences for the media on which it is most often consumed – the private screen.

While 500 weeks ago short films were consumed primarily at festivals and other special events, short films are now regular programming (often via low cost pay per view services) on personal mobile screens, doctors’ waiting rooms as well as free to air and pay television.

These trends have given many more filmmakers an opportunity to test their creativity in the marketplace – and in turn, given consumers an exceptionally broad and varied menu of filmed entertainment that was hardly imagined back in October 2006.

May 19, 2016: Celebrations of our 1000th weekly edition this week coincides with the world’s first movie delivered via satellite directly into specially equipped cinemas as well as homes in several countries around the world including Australia, with the premiere of George Lucas’ controversial epic, Creation. Lucas had long wanted to bypass studios and traditional cinemas where poorly managed systems failed to show his films in the high audio visual quality commensurate with how he made them. “This has been a life long dream,” he said at the launch, “giving audiences the ultimate in sound and image quality as well as enabling us to release a movie internationally simultaneously.”

Lucas has barely beaten the promised premiere of the world’s first 3D ‘hologramovie’, Empathy, a 55 minute drama by Steven Soderbergh starring Clive Owen as the first, secretly cloned human. Empathy will premiere on America’s newest network, Freedom, on July 4 (Independence Day), after a massive sales campaign in which an estimated 18 million hologram-capable screens have been sold in the US alone.

The Nobel Prize winning invention of Hungarian physicist Dr Dennis Gabor (1900 – 1979), holograms have been used for many years in small security applications, and even in entertainment (Disneyland’s Haunted House had a small hologram figure as early as the mid 1970s). The breakthrough into entertainment came via research into medical and military applications of holograms.

The receivers are hooked up to the large SED screens that overtook sales of plasma screens in the first year of this decade. (SED = Surface-conduction Electron-emitter Display; a far superior picture to plasma or LCD screens.) SED screens are now standard with all the new solid state computer/home entertainment systems, with prices having fallen to about $6,000* for a mid-range bundle.

These developments follow a staggering series of advances in delivery of movies over the past three years, ranging from the demise of DVDs to solid state memory servers storing vast movie libraries, which can be downloaded in a few minutes via superbroadband, to the amazing phone-projectors that enable mobile phones to be used to project dial-up movies onto virtually any surface. This has seen the expansion of movie consumption as it enables users to play a movie in a home theatre setting virtually anywhere, and even in remote locations.

But for those who undertake long solo voyages or are in crowded non-personal circumstances (eg on public transport, prison, hospital or other constrained environment) the ‘moviegoggle’ is the ultimate device. This laser iris projection system allows movies to be projected straight into the eye. Beta tested last month by start-up manufacturer, REM, the goggles will have a maximum of three movies stored at any one time, but at $3,000* a goggle, this newest toy is likely to be too expensive for any but the most extravagant young wealth-lord.

But as the first President of Australia’s Film Academy, Dr George Miller, said this week, “Technology can help produce and deliver movies in new and improved ways, but the basics remain essential: we filmmakers – whatever the format or delivery – must tell engaging, meaningful stories about the entire spectrum of the human condition.”

* All $ are in 2006 dollar values.

Published October 5, 2006
 

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Hologramovie?


Creation - delivered via satellite?


Moviegoggles?

October 5, 2006 - Celebrating our 500th weekly edition

# The DVD format was officially released towards the end of 1996, but we didn't get our first DVD movie here in Australia until Roadshow released Evita in October 1997.







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