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
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
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‘lensed’ (‘filmed’ is becoming more and more an inaccurate and outdated term)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
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
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
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
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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Creation - delivered via satellite?
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