Mar 18, 2010

Vividness Vs. Interactivity: A Telepresence Approach

Over the years film and television has been highly successful as a source of rich media, but its richness is falling compared to other medias that deliver more of a telepresence. Audiences are responding more to communication devices, such as games and computers that deliver in interaction. What the director chooses to display in any given frame is a "mediated perception of an environment,"(1) which works because our perception of life is through a given frame, our eyes. The biggest issue being that our eyes perceive life in three-dimensional form, rather than film's two- dimensional form.

James Cameron, the director of Avatar has brought on a new wave of filmmaking through 3D cameras. The exponential success of Avatar will bring on a new revolution of 3D films in the future. The special cameras used to shoot the film contain two lenses instead of one, resembling two eyes. TIME magazine featured an article in March 2009 with James Cameron, Steven Spielberg, and Katzenberg promoting the future in 3D filmmaking. James Cameron states that "every film I'm planning to do will be in 3-D."(4)  It will be interesting to see what type of films will be using 3-D rather than traditional film.  Recently another article in Business Week featuring the director,  included that big-budget directors, Michael Bay and J.J. Abrams are considering to change their franchise into 3-D as well. This also leaves into question of how 3-D will change the whole market of the film industry. Since 3-D is more likely to only translate with high-concept action and adventure films, Hollywood could be persuaded to mostly feature these genres in theatres, knowing their potential profit. This means that theatres will be forced to update their projectors. "Of the 38,000 screens in the U.S., only about 3,600 are currently 3D-ready." (3)

Before James Cameron's Avatar, The Dark Knight was shot on an IMAX camera, which runs at 70mm film stock.The opening sequence of The Dark Night, shot on this 70mm was so vividly stimulating that everyone was convinced it would be impossible to make anything better. If you look at the history of IMAX, it has been around for a long time with only a recent commercial success. In the 20th century the same form of projection was used called Cineorama. " First presented at the 1900 World Exhibition in Paris, it was a hybrid medium: Ten 70mm films were projected simultaneously to form a connected 360 degree image." (2)

 Outside of film, television is also updating its format again to utilize 3-D. Many television manufacturers have come up with 3-D televisions, but are waiting for a large enough market to sell these televisions to. The issue is that people are willing to have unique experience at a theatre with 3-D glasses, but the idea of wearing 3-D glasses constantly at home is less appealing. Some of the top 3-D television models at CES this year were from Sony, LG, Samsung, and Toshiba. Sony is the main leader of 3D television because of the CEO's close involvement with Cameron's vision.

While television and film is perfecting its level of vividness, it hasn't done much in perfecting its interactivity. Directly, film is not an interactive medium, but outside the viewing of a show or film the audience has found inventive ways to interact with the content. One example of this interaction is the popularity of movie trailer mash-ups created by individuals and posted on the web for viewing. The idea of a trailer mash-up is the combining of two completely different films to generate a separate movie trailer. Unless the audience is satisfied with this indirect interaction of the film and television medium, it most evolve into something richer for the audience to enjoy socially. Just as movie trailer mash-ups are a way to involve the individual creatively into the content, a film needs to not only inspire but include the audience, generating a virtual experience.


(1) Steuer, J. (1993). Defining Virtual Reality: Dimensions Determining Telepresence, 4(4), 73-93.

(2) Grav, Oliver (2003). Virtual Art: From Illusion to Immersion. MIT Press: Cambridge. 

(3) Grover, R. , Lowry, T. , White, M. (2010). King of The World [Again]. Business Week, 1(8), 48-56.

(4) Quittner, J. (2009). Are 3-D Movies Ready for Their Closeup?. Retrieved March 15th, 2010 from,9171,1886541,00.html.



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