Thursday, May 17, 2007

Watching Movies In Three Dimensions

No one disputes the emotional power of sisomo on screen. Sight, Sound and Motion. But the spirit of creativity is always restless and the temptation to add more senses to these three has sometimes proved irresistible.

The first real attempt to pump up the big screen experience with scent that I know of was back in 1956 for the movie Around The World In Eighty Days. Apparently Smell-o-vision wafted scents into the theater that synchronized with the action using a complicated system of perfumes encapsulated on the side of the film. The verdict? Too noisy and too weird. It could only get weirder when Baltimore movie legend, John Waters, got involved. In Waters’ version, the audience took scratch cards into the theater. When a sign appeared on the screen just as, say, a bunch of roses came into close-up, everyone scratched their card. Inevitably, trickster Waters panned quickly to the floor to focus on a pair of socks. You guessed it, the smell matched the image. The sisomo + scents combo continues to pop up from time to time (The New World was given some aroma therapy in Japan last year) but it seems to attract quirky headlines rather than solid commercial investment.

This odd history comes to mind as I see a bunch of movies in production in Hollywood that push our senses in another direction. 3D. The biggest – and here I’m guessing based on his earlier movies – is James Cameron’s Avatar. You will still have to wear stupid looking glasses, but apparently the 3D effect will be totally convincing. Weta Digital, based in New Zealand, is involved, so that’s cause for confidence. I’m guessing the glasses will just be a phase and that 3D will go on to add its magic to sisomo. But even given its chequered history, I think if they can also get us to smell the roses, we might be onto something big.


Neil Kay-Jones said...

The 3D glasses remind me of my childhood with my younger brother when we both got a pair on the back of a cerial box. This then worked out well for Jaws 3d and i hope that the James Cameron's Avatar will be a significant leap. One thing that i would like to see would be the ability to watch movies and take different angles as options so if im watching a film, let's say its a horror, then i can choose to swap views. I could for one scene be the victim and see what it is like being hunted down by something un-natural or i could be the good guy who fights against evil etc. The point is that whilst 3D is good and will bring a greater sense of realism, i would like to be more involved. Imagine if there is a cafe scene and i could choose to be one of the main characters or i could choose a different angle and be the waiter listening in or the guy who is there at 11pm sharp each morning and orders the same thing. Being more involved and having choices on how we view is to me very exciting and if you bought the dvd you could watch it over and over again and get a different view each time. At the moment the film industry use different endings to extend the ideas of how the film was meant to be but this is a far way from what i belive could be the future of the filming industry. We would almost be like mini directors ourselves and now that leads me to another idea and how being able to direct the film yourself and then save it for others to view your selection would be cool and may be a way for parents to edit out some of the nasty stuff that they do not want kids to see. How many times have you heard "I DON'T THINK IT IS QUITE SUITABLE AND I WILL HVE TO WATCH IT FIRST TO SEE IF THERE IS ANYTHING IN THERE!" How much has the film industry lost through those comments alone?

Weta being involved in Avatar is convincing enough for me to alrady put this on my list of must see.

Thanks, Neil

Kempton said...

I love movies but I don't know if I want to really "smell the roses" in a movie unless someone brings some fresh roses for me to smell. (smile) I think we are overwhelmed by chemical scents already, so these days I actually go for products that are fragrant free. Call me old fashion, I will automatically pass on movies with scent.

Now, if they can go "Star Treky" and create a virtual environment (without messing up my brain) of movie or personal experience, I think I would love to give that a try. (smile)