Sunday, May 15, 2016

Could The Tribeca Film Festival Make Virtual Reality Movies Mainstream?

Given that the organizers have been exhibiting feature length virtual reality films since 2015, could Tribeca Film Festival make virtual reality movies mainstream?

By: Ringo Bones 

From computer generated animation extravaganzas to serious documentary films, exhibitors at Tribeca had been taking advantage of the improved virtual reality headsets now commonly available to the general public. From Oculus Rift and related virtual reality headsets, it seems like the virtual reality format is no longer limited to serious computer gaming and thanks to Tribeca, virtual reality could represent the next step in the evolution of the art of cinema – even a step above current Imax 3D. 

Ever since it has evolved past its nystagmus plagued and sea-sickness inducing first generation virtual reality headsets of the early 1990s, serious computer gamers have been the first ones to exploit the potential of a new generation of improved virtual reality headsets – like the Oculus Rift – during the first decade of the 21st Century. And thanks to Tribeca’s first crop of virtual reality films of 2015, it seems like this year’s Tribeca will be remembered as the time when immersive virtual reality movies went mainstream. 

The 2016 Tribeca was also notable for Turning Forest virtual reality because it was one of the first VR based films that uses motion tracked surround sound that makes the headset wearer experience a wrap-around surround sound that’s congruent to the virtual reality film being played. Most virtual reality headsets on the market still don’t have this newfangled surround sound feature. And the same motion tracked surround sound technology will be used for the upcoming Chernobyl VR documentary that aims to make the viewer as if he or she were actually there during the world’s worst nuclear power plant accident that happened back in April 26, 1986. 

Monday, March 28, 2016

Could 3-D Virtual Reality Headsets Increase The Popularity of 3-D Movies?

Given that more and more people are now downloading (hopefully legally) movies online, could new and improved affordable 3-D virtual reality headsets increase the popularity of 3-D movies?

By: Ringo Bones 

Despite 2016 is being dubbed as the “Year of Virtual Reality” it seems that Hollywood has yet to tap into the 3-D virtual reality headset PC gaming world for the high resolution 3-D movie viewing potential of their existing kit. At present, those “large-scale” IMAX movie theaters are the most popular way to watch 3-D movies in its maximum quality at a relatively “affordable” cost. But due to the increasing popularity of online movie downloads (hopefully legally downloaded) could the increasing availability of relatively affordable 3-D virtual reality headsets make high quality 3-D movie viewing at home a possibility and make 3-D movies popular again since the post James Cameron’s Avatar dip? 

The reason why Facebook purchased Oculus Rift for 2 billion US dollars is probably due to the perfection of its “headache free” virtual reality headset a few years ago. Oculus Rift VR headset costs US$599 and is one of the widely available models out there. HTC Vive is another widely available VR headset at US$799 while the “cheapest” one out there is the Sony PlayStation VR at US$499. But can all of them be used to watch 3-D movies at home with an image quality as good as or better than those in large scale IMAX movie theatres at your local mall? 

At present, there aren’t any dedicated 3-D movies that can take advantage of existing VR headset’s 360-degree surround view capability. Worse still, personal computers that are powerful enough to be fully compatible to those widely available 3-D virtual reality headsets that serious PC gamers can do without only represent 1-persent of the computers already running around the world. And if you only use your PC for basic schoolwork, chances are it isn’t part of the 1-percent that’s fast enough and had the requisite video cards to run a state-of-the-art 3-D virtual reality headset currently used by serious PC gamers. And to take advantage of future online high resolution 3-D movie content, chances are, your existing Wi-Fi or internet connection might be too slow. 

Sunday, August 23, 2015

South-East Asia Still In Love With IMAX 3-D?

Despite being already on the wan in the United States, is South-East Asia still very much in love with IMAX 3-D?

By: Ringo Bones 

To the rest of us, the general “apathy” of 3-D movies in the United States might be reminiscent of that 7-Year Bitch song Sore Subject that goes “I only need one eye to see, the other one confuses me” given that since after James Cameron’s Avatar, interest in IMAX 3-D in the United States seems already in the wan. And even David Letterman’s enthusiasm of IMAX 3-D only seem to make him part of the few who still give a damn about IMAX 3-D in the United States. Strangely, it’s a whole different story here in South-East Asia. 

Back in 2012, it seems quite comprehensible to us IMAX 3-D fans in the surrounding countries that in Mainland China about 3 IMAX 3-D theaters are opened every week and the trend is still going strong three years later. Back in 2013, Greg Foster of IMAX struck a deal to build more than 20 new IMAX theaters in Indonesia. Even IMAX China had filed for a Hong Kong IPO for its booming IMAX theater market as recently as back in May 29.2015. And remember a while back that the first X-Rated IMAX 3-D movie was a South-East Asian production and earned one of the most lucrative openings here rivaling that of big-budget Hollywood counterparts? If only we can convince firms who planned to air 3-D cable TV channels in the United States to air them instead here in South-East Asia. 

Friday, August 29, 2014

3D Virtual Reality: The Future of Sports Broadcasting?

Recently tried on the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland – is the 3D virtual reality video broadcast of the games the future of 3D broadcasting?

By: Ringo Bones

The average American may have become jaded – even bored with anything pertaining to 3D after its boom in 2010, but for the rest of the world, 3D enthusiasts are still clamoring for the latest improvements and innovations on whatever makes 3D a more enjoyable experience. Given that the trial 3D virtual reality broadcast of the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games seems to have rekindled everyone’s interest in anything 3D related in Britain and her former colonies, is 3D virtual reality the future of sports broadcasting? 

The latest 3D virtual reality broadcast of the 2014 Commonwealth Games is a technological tour-de-force in itself because it is the first ever sporting event that was broadcasted worldwide in 3D virtual reality format. But it would not have been possible without the Kickstarter crowdfunded start-up company called Oculus Rift who has improved those wrap-around virtual reality goggles that make them no longer headache-inducing unlike their VR Goggle predecessors of the late 1980s of the early 1990s. Thanks to recent advances in wrap around 3D virtual reality goggles, 3D virtual reality viewing is no longer the nystagmus inducing chore that it used to be.

To the eagle-eyed viewers who had noticed, the video quality of the 2014 Commonwealth Games in 3D virtual reality format is slightly compressed - at the moment – in order for it to allow to be transmitted in our current internet infrastructure. Faster computer processor and internet transmission speeds in the future would only mean better picture quality – make that better 3D picture quality of future 3D virtual reality broadcasts via the internet. Only time will tell if all sporting events broadcasts and movies will be judged by their “you are there” 3D image quality - as in 3D Virtual Reality.

Friday, May 10, 2013

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby: Now in 3D?

Known as one of the greatest literary works of the 20th Century, will F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby adapt well in cinema form and in 3-D? 

By: Ringo Bones 

For as long as I can remember, it has become a mantra oft uttered by all critics that the book is better than the movie. But with the ever dwindling attention spans that seem to be now imbued into the millennial generation’s DNA, will the latest 3-D movie adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby finally buck this trend? 

In a recent interview of Salman Rushdie by Fareed Zakaria, Rushdie says that the recent movie adaptation of his latest book titled Midnight’s Children which is about the independence of India back in 1947 has greater emotional impact than his book thanks to the well executed cinematography. If this trend continues, will the art of cinema be finally be as good – or better than – the great works of literature it often renders in cinema form? 

Well, the latest big budget 3D movie adaptation of The Great Gatsby really has a lot riding on it. The decision to include Bollywood megastar Amitabh Bachchan as one of the casts is a smart one given that India will be celebrating the centennial of their movie industry this year seems to be that Hollywood is finally acknowledging the importance of India as a new potential movie market and for creative collaboration. Not to mention that the 3-D cinematography aspect of the movie is a really good – and entertaining - educational tool to introduce the millennial generation to the wonders of 1920s Art Deco architecture of the Jazz Age.
Even though the movie primarily revolves around the pathos and plot of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s literary opus, after seeing the 3-D trailer of The Great Gatsby, I already suspect something that this movie is also aimed at Art Deco architecture buffs given that the sets has period correct authenticity that didn’t wind up looking like a year 2020 era Art Deco museum in a set of Blade Runner. And as a bonus to for the ladies, the movie also stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Tobey Maguire. 

Monday, February 18, 2013

Ultra High Resolution Monocular Video: The Future of 3-D?

With ultra high resolution monocular panoramic video attracting “casual” videophiles near the end of 2012, is high-res video for the one-eyed viewer the future of 3-D?  

By: Ringo Bones 

Around the winter of 2012 and in the 2013 CES show in Las Vegas, various video schemes offering better resolution than the current standard 1080p HDTV seems to be getting more interest and kudos from the public at large – as if the concept of 3-D at home and even glass-free 3-D video seems to be yesterdays news. But is the public at large simply fallen out of love with 3-D video? 

At the moment, there are two versions of ultra-high resolution video vying for consumer acceptance. There’s the 4K UHDTV with a 2160p or 3840 X 2160 / 8.3 megapixel resolution – 4 times that of current 1080p HDTV. At the moment, “native” 4K UHTV videos are few and far between but add-on video resolution enhancement boxes already exist (but still a bit pricey) to convert existing 1080p video from Blu-Ray DVD to 4K resolution. And at around the tail end of 2012, dedicated 4K resolution capable video and still digital cameras entered the market for those well-heeled video DIYers who want to create their own truly native 4K resolution videos and still pictures. Though the wide panoramic displays at the 2013 CES show that feature native 4K images are what mostly attracting new converts away from true binocular 3-D video. 

On the other hand 8K UHDTV is still a largely experimental “vaporware” from NHK Tokyo that offers 4320p or 7680 X 4320 or 33,2 megapixel resolution offers 16 times the resolution of current 1080p HDTV. Native 8K UHDTV videos and 8K UHDTV capable video displays had been wowing viewers during the 2013 CES show in Las Vegas too and seem set to compete and supersede any lower resolution rivals. But NHK says that their system will gain full bloom once very large (100-inch or larger) graphine-based flexible and transparent video displays becomes standard and affordable enough in the home. And NHK’s 8K UHDTV comes with a 22.2 (22 channels worth of left, center, right, wrap-around surround sound with 2 channels for the subs) surround sound as standard. 

Strangely, NHK’s 8K UHDTV has the same resolution as that of a dedicated 350-mm IMAX film and one of the reason the powers that be at NHK is also keeping their options open for a dedicated 3-D and even a glassless / goggle free 3-D video system for the home by 2020 or later. Sadly, many in the consumer electronics industry and consumers in particular had become jaded about 3-D in the home concept saying that it had been the most over-marketed product in the consumer audio-video market during the last two years. And some had even abandoned their quest of a much consumer friendly 3-D. Though our current austere fiscal post-subprime environment might not be so 3-D video friendly at the moment, the promise of an ultra-high resolution / ultra-high definition glassless / goggles free 3-D technology in the home with an IMAX like 8K UHDTV resolution that comes with a 22.2 channel surround sound / wrap-around sound could be the beginnings of a truly immersive Star Trek style holo-deck like virtual reality entertainment center for the home is just too tempting for the consumer electronic manufacturing giants to ignore.