Recently, James Cameron stated that he believes 3D will replace 2D in less than 25 years. Considering that every single film announced recently is set to be released in 3D, he may be right. But many people remained skeptical. One of the most outspoken critics is Roger Ebert, who has said he believes filmmaking should be about “story, not gimmicks.” Francis Ford Coppola has also stated that it’s just another way “to make you pay more money.” (Considering that many 3D films are converted retroactively rather than being shot in the actual format, this appears to be true.) However, there are alternatives. While 3D is simply the illusion of an interactive world, many filmmakers are trying to deliver the real thing.
Walking Cinema: Murder on Beacon Hill
Murder on Beacon Hill — an application “built around a 43-minute series of interactive videos” — recently made history as the first iPhone application to be accepted into a major film festival. Although the videos premiered back-to-back in a theater, the “film” is supposed to be watched over the course of a walking tour of Boston’s Beacon Hill.
While watching Last Call, audiences control what direction the film goes in by communicating with the characters through their cell phones. When audience members enter the theater, they check in their phone numbers. During the screening, they get off-screen phone calls. The technology employed takes their responses and translates them into a set of preconceived answers for the characters in the film.
A film like this one shows how important the crossover between video games and film may be in the future: Similar in scope to Murder on Beacon Hill, with its multi-platform arc, the audience not only has the ability to continue the story through an iPhone game, but they can also manipulate the film itself while watching it. Part 1 is the interactive film, while Part 2 takes place on the user’s iPhone as a downloadable application, continuing the story.
Augmented Reality (AR) can be utilized much in the same way as 3D, but with better results. It invents a true 3D world where everything can be touched, moved, and manipulated; imagine something akin to 3D glasses, but instead, AR glasses make what’s occurring on screen infinitely malleable.
Sul Set encapsulates the creative process rather than the actual film itself, by allowing audiences to peer behind the scenes of the filmmaking process. This is not simply a “making-of” feature like you’d find in the special features of a DVD. Once subscribed to Sul Set, the audience can actually interact with filmmakers, actors, and artists.