October 12, 2005

"But in the future, you will physically be inside the experience, which will surround you top, bottom, on all sides."

Says Steven Spielberg, who's apparently invented something movie-like. I'm picturing a helmet of some sort. We go into the theater and a thousand helmets descend individually on each head. Good luck trying to eat popcorn or smooching. On the bright side, maybe people will shut up.

But no, I must be wrong, because this new Spielbergerama will be on the top, sides, and bottom. It's actually a tad frightening! Are you going to inject dreams into our heads, like in "Total Recall"? So what the hell are you talking about, Steve?

"I've invented it, but because patent is pending, I can't discuss it right now."

Feel free to discuss it for him in the comments.


jeff said...

Does the USPTO list pending patents anywhere?
Yep, it does.

If Steven Spielberg applied for the patent, it wasn't in his name.

is all pending patent applications with Spielberg in the name.

jeff said...

Sorry - try this:

It's short for this:

Allah said...

When I read it, I didn't think helmets. I thought of a theater where the projection extends to all four walls and overhead.

Think how awesome that will be for horror movies. The killer(s) can come at you from any angle!

Ron said...

maybe he can combine it with smell-o-vision and those charged seats like they used in theatres when they showed "The Tingler."

Freeman Hunt said...

Wouldn't this be more along the lines of virtual reality than movies? Then again, I guess it might be a hybrid. Virtual reality in which the user has no control aside from choosing where to look.

AJ Lynch said...

Here's a guess - a Video machine of some type that one day will be compared to the Segue (a failed product to date).

Why do I say this? Cause very few successful entrepreenuers can make a leap to another field.

Ann Althouse said...

Frankly, I think it would be annoying. I care about composition, so I like to see a frame around the picture. I'm already annoyed by the curved screens. I've seen movies projected on all four walls around me -- at some theme park (MGM Studios?). Do you really want to sit in an audience full of people whipping their heads around every which way? If it's not a helmet-like concept, the other people are going to take you OUT of this would-be all-encompassing experience.

EddieP said...

Sounds like a desperation gimmick, the novelty of which will soon wear off! You'll have to have a neck like Linda Blair in the Exorcist to watch the movie. How about bringing back 3D?

pst314 said...

"I like to see a frame around the picture."

Exactly. Art involves selective attention. Trying to show everything is a sign of a bad artist.

neo-neocon said...

He's talking about the feelies, from Brave New World.

knoxgirl said...

"maybe people will shut up"

I'm glad to see someone else is as grouchy about this as I am. I wish they'd bring back those ushers with the flashlights to patrol the theaters.

Freeman Hunt said...

I care about composition, so I like to see a frame around the picture.

Chalk up another "Exactly" with pst314. The visual composition is just as important as the story. I don't like the idea of being inside a movie.

That said, maybe this will open up a whole new art of film composition. There wouldn't be a frame, but the viewer would be at a fixed point in the film's three dimensional world. Really I think having images in every direction would be an entirely different medium than current movies.

Sort of like IMAX. IMAX movies generally aren't like regular movies. Regular movies composed and edited for the "frame" tend to make people feel ill when projected IMAX style.

Matt Drachenberg said...

As long as it doesn't involve spandex.

somross said...

Spielberg is very claustrophobic (as I am) so I hope it's not something that feels constricted. He doesn't even have elevators in his offices: they only go to a second floor. Helmets sound hellish to me. But some of the stuff based on his movies at Universal Studios feels nastily claustrophobic.

HaloJonesFan said...

Movies BELOW me? Does this mean I'll have to take my pants off?

Effern said...

Argh. I predicted this back in December 2004.

"Spielberg", eh? He'll be hearing from my crack legal counsel, whoever he is.

Eli Blake said...

Eddie P:

They are already bringing back 3-D for some kids movies. And last year I went to Universal Studios Hollywood and they have a short (about 15 minute) 'Shrek 4-D' movie where you not only wear glasses and get 3-D, but the seats move and squirt you with water and all kinds of stuff. In fact, when we went to Disneyland, they had a very realistic set of earphones you put on for a short on 'meeting Mr. Lincoln' about a soldier on his way to the Civil War. It was so good that you heard a fly buzzing in your ear and everyone kept turning around try and shoo off the fly.

Should we be surprised? Technology is growing so fast, that pretty much anything that you can imagine, will be reality sooner or later.

As to Steve, I hope he makes hundreds of millions off of this. It could spur even more innovations at the movie theater (after all, movie attendance was down for a couple of decades, so anything that brings people back is a good thing.

Matt said...

Actually, a pending patent might not be listed, at least in any detail. Because of (obvious) fears about confidentiality, patent applications are typically held in the utmost secrecy until published, so it's probably at an early stage.

Hell, even once a patent's published, they're often so incomprehensibly written that you can't figure out what the hell they're saying.

Bob Mitze said...

As usual with any new technology, first use will go to pornography. I heard a while back that they've already got the name - dildonics.

CS said...

If Spielberg's claustrophic, how come he makes all those too-bright-too-loud overly intrusive movies? Jeepers.

Surrounding visuals are of course more like quotidian perception. We get only something like 25 percent of our visual input from foveal vision, I hear. So this is just another step in changing movies from "art," a painting on a gallery wall, to an exercise in endocrine stimulation through versimilitude.

vbspurs said...

Oh no he didn't!

Tell me Spielberg is not going to mess up one of the few wonderful, communal experiences we have, by making people put on HELMETS in theatres...

What next, sports stadia with jacuzzis??

Well, alright. I've read the other comments, and it seems it's not a helmet, but a 3-D like experience we should expect.

Come on, that's so 1950's. Bring us films with Smell-o-Rama!

"Smell Brad Pitts' pits", etc.

It'll catch on.


APF said...

From the article it sounds more like a themepark -type experience more than what the average moviegoer will be subjected to. There are some technologies I've heard about which is along the lines of 3D, only w/o glasses IIRC. That seems more interesting to me than some sort of bizarre virtual-reality moviegoing; as has been said previously, it completely removes any sort of social element, as well as the fact that many people get sick or claustrophobic.

Tangentially, since I seem to be posting a lot of responses regarding video games on this blog lately, many people thought that Nintendo's next game machine would integrate some sort of VR setup. There was even a crazy fan-made fake "announcement" featuring such, that was "leaked" onto the net a few months ago (it was bogus; the new machine's interface is this crazy remote control -looking thing that registers your movements). VR + games makes a lot more sense than VR + movies if you ask me, since you actually are asked to suspend disbelief to enter a world where you control a proxy/avatar, rather than passively experience a carefully-constructed piece of art…

Pastor_Jeff said...

Spielberg has invented a Holodeck?

SippicanCottage said...

I watch Gladiator, and cgi lets me see the battle of the teutoborg forest. I watch slackjawed in amazement. Ten minutes later, I'm watching a Victor Mature movie. I watch the first twenty minutes of Private Ryan, and am transported amazingly to Omaha Beach. Then I have to sit through two hours of Spielberg trying to turn world war two into a dorm room bull session, complete with a lack of overarching meaning. Disney has fired the last paint and brush animator. Who needs them to make Geppetto dance with Pinocchio anymore?

Now that they can make anything appear in the movies, it's useless because they've forgotten how to tell a story.

Spielberg will no doubt go from setting HIS hair on fire to distract us from the movie to setting OUR hair on fire to distract us from the movie. Yawn.

aidan maconachy said...

This is just stage 2 of the quest for ever more entrancing special effects. I hate the sound of it. Why? Because Hollywood has forgotten how to produce movies with genuine psychological depth, based on character and intelligent plotting. It's increasingly becoming about EFFECTS!

The last Hollywood movie I saw that managed to keep my attention was American Beauty - largely because it was a genuine human drama with very clever plot twists.

Spielberg is hung up on this type of thing, and it shows in his movies. I find his productions shallow and unconvincing on the level of basic psychology. His War of the Worlds was at times farcical and teetered on the edge of an absurdist twilight zone.

I actually think Spielberg has been dreadful for American movie making. I wish Roman Polanski had behaved himself, because he can bring a level of mature dramatic conviction to his works that Steve can't even conceive of.

Paul said...

It is basically a chip implanted within your head wirelessly connected to your senses and powered also wirelessly in, for now, movie theaters, and later in your own homes.
You will be placed in a state between life and death, totally absorbed by the information being fed every part of you, you cannot flee or fight outside of yourself but within, you can do everything you are capable of and feel every emotion.
Unbeknownest to you, your evil dentist has placed them in you already, for those too stubborn, a squirrel, who leaves a piece of acorn in your room at night, has already got you too.

Felice Luftschein said...

Didn't Fahrenheit 451 have a modular TV system that you could expand to cover all the walls, and that was somewhat participatory?

Yeah, that's the road we should go down...

Pat Patterson said...

As much as I think that Spielberg's films are boring and heartless he must be given credit for doing away with the frame, proscenium arch in Jaws. Spielberg essentially put the audience into the film without the imaginary wall seprating them from the stage. George Lucas has also had some patents issued which made the theaters more loud and even less inviting, if that's possible. Spielberg still has to tell interesting stories regardless of the tricks.

miklos rosza said...

The "philosopher" behind the concept of the Matrix films (Hans Moravec? I think so.) flat-out says, "The senses have no future." He thinks we will end up as, at best, disembodied brains in bowls. Virtual reality will be the only reallity humans will know.

I'm skeptical.

One thing possibly worth remembering is that when people are placed in sensory deprivation tanks, floating there in saline solution, it's true that some individuals hallucinate and go into raptures. John Lilly wrote about this in the 1970s.

But he left out that sensory deprivation is also used sometimes as a method of torture, and causes panic and insanity more often than bliss.

Ann Althouse said...

Miklos: For a movie about hallucinating in isolation tanks, see "Altered States."

vbspurs said...

Miklos wrote:

Virtual reality will be the only reallity humans will know.

Did any of you guys see this 1983 flick with Natalie Wood and Christopher Walken, called Brainstorm?

I saw it years after it came out, but it was really the first time I learned about virtual reality.

The premise has to do with a helmet (yes!) which if put on, causes you to physically experience sensations.

You can be skiing down the Materhorn, or being operated on, or indeed, experiencing a heart attack -- and you will FEEL it.

Of course, being humans, one of the sleazy characters uses the device to have virtual sex.

The orgasm scene is great. :)

Unfortunately, this film wasn't so great for ole Natalie Wood. She was drowned during the filming of it, and some of her latter scenes had to be worked around -- always interesting to pick out which.

Just look for the copious shots of the shoulders.


Ann Althouse said...

And let's not forget the Orgasmatron (from "Sleeper").

paulfrommpls said...

Jaws was great. E.T. made me really uncomfortable, and then later when I saw Joseph Campbell and Bill "I'm sorry about helping facilitate Viet Nam, so let me spend the rest of my life imposing my penance on all of you" Moyers talking about it as some sort of legitimate modern sprituality, I went to bed for a week. Saving Pvt. Ryan was built on one of the most heinous cinematic lies of all time.

So anyway, on balance I don't trust Spielberg to lead me anywhere.

Veeshir said...

Chieck out patent number 5,403,238 with an inventor, Jon Snoddy, who is a co-inventor with Spielberg on an unrelated provisional application. It's an amusement park deal. Snoddy has a few published applications that deal with amusement park stuff.
So perhaps that's what it is, something movie/amusement park oriented. Perhaps something ike Disney's Haunted Mansion.

Goesh said...

I'm going to put up yet another bird feeder this winter - the hell with helmets.

HaloJonesFan said...

Hey, I got an idea! Let's all go to see a bunch of silly action/effects movies. Then we'll complain about how all the movies we've seen lately have been silly action/effects movies!