The reimagining of 3D films was pioneered by James Cameron 5 years ago in Avatar. There were others already utilising circularly-polarized stereoscopic 3D over the old coloured-anaglyph 3D, but he certainly put it on the map, gave it credibility and inspired confidence in the makers of movies such as The Hobbit films, The Avengers, and Gravity. Whether or not audiences are tiring of the novelty will be reflected in the box office sales, but one thing is for certain- as soon as the next trend arrives, 3D is going to be looked back on as a very temporary amusement.
But it was a reimagining wasn’t it? When the new age of 3D films was first being talked about, the public conjured up images of the old blue and red paper-glasses they remembered from decades earlier, but when RealD 3D was developed they literally couldn’t believe their eyes. Perhaps if some serious thought is given to making the idea of 4D cinema commercially viable across mainstream cinema, in an attempt to inject new life into a dying industry, a similarly surprising outcome may await.
As it is, the amusement park 4D theatres tend only to make use of water and air jets, strobe lights, vibrating chairs, even smoke and smells sometimes. But were the right minds put on it, and an endeavour to brand properly, shift any preconceptions, and ultimately alter the zeitgeist, I’m certain 4D could have as impactful a rebirth as 3D did in the last 10 years.
You may have read about Oculus Rift, a virtual reality headset gaining a lot of buzz recently after Facebook invested a couple of billion dollars in it. The developers of the headset, VR Cinema, have started to work on technology to convert existing both three and even two dimensional films into projections that will be compatible with the headset’s interface. The headset observes the user’s head movements and eye-behaviour, responding by showing them what they’d truly be seeing in that environment.
With its already astonishing popularity, there’s no doubt the types of filmmakers who are beholden to production companies in a way that affects their film-making are going to have recognised the headset’s potential to sell tickets. Instead of each member of the audience having to procure 3D glasses before the viewing, imagine giving them the option to opt for a ‘headset seat’ for a few pounds extra admission, from which they can directly affect the focal points of the movie they see. Imagine a theatre with embedded cameras, so that you could affect what you are seeing without even wearing a headset…
The world of technology is constantly evolving and advancing. When Tokyo’s bid for the 2020 Olympic Games included the ambition of beaming the games into stadiums around the globe as holograms, it’s not hard to imagine that before long the fad of 3D cinema will give way to experiences entirely more imaginative and inventive.