Tuesday, January 6, 2015

More on Display-Centric Movies

I had done a couple of posts on movies where display technology was central to the movie plot (here and here), naming a top ten. Of the ten, there were many other movies that I cold have named e.g. Star Wars, Star Trek, The Matrix, Total Recall, The Avengers); but for better or worse I chose the ten that I did. I recently saw a YouTube posting that I may have omitted a big one... 2001 A Space Odyssey.

The premise of the YouTube video is that the monolith (the 1 x 4 x 9 object that appears at the dawn of human intelligence) is actually a widescreen TV set on end. Although videos are not project on the monolith, it serves as a teaching tool for proto-humans early on in the movie, a means of conveying ideas. Later, when a duplicate appears orbiting Jupiter, it appears as a doorway to other worlds and it eventually transforms into the ultimate immersive display. In function, it exhibits the best of what TV is supposed to do. In physical form, the 4:9 aspect ratio (2.25 width to height) falls beyond the old 1.85 US widescreen standard and just short of the current 2.33 standard. The thickness is greater than what you would currently get in a TV but perhaps it has really good built in sound.

On a tangential subject, over the holidays I saw "The Hobbit, the Battle of the 5 Armies" in 3D. Thankfully, filmmakers have gotten out of the habit of throwing things out of the screen at you with their new-found toy in 3D and the use of 3D was quite acceptable. However, the thing that 3D was really supposed to bring, increased realism was very much lacking in the presentation. The digital projection was sharp and crisp as it is supposed to be, but it gave the overall effect of artificiality. Rather than being as looking through a window, the digital projection makes it painfully obvious the image is a projection. In a recent edition of "The Economist" director Quentin Tarantino describes digital cinema as "The death of Cinema as we know it". The Economist article goes on to state, "Digital projectors cannot match the sheer detail of a pristine 35mm print, nor its rich contrast between the deepest shadows and brightest highlights." However, for me, it was not the lack of detail but the digitized edges (not quite jaggies)that gave a fake feel to the image. Seemingly, this is something that could be corrected with software, however the function of most image enhancement software is edge sharpening rather than edge blurring. Perhaps the role of image post processing in cinema should be re-thought. In any case, as in my 10th selection for display centric movies, "Here's to Film".

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