4D or Not 4D: That is the Question

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Going to the movies isn’t what it used to be. I remember for my 8th birthday going with my friends to see “Harry Potter and the Philosopher Stone”. For all of us, it was a big deal! We got to fall in love again with a story we all knew by heart.

These days, it seems like sitting down for 2 hours straight is now a new form of torture. From my perspective, it feels like we need to be stimulated by some sort of external technological effect to keep our attention. This has recently become noticeable for me when I discovered 4D technology  and how it is now offered in local movie theaters. This made me think: What does that say about the current state of our society and the relationship with media?

Before I get ahead of myself, I need to define what is 4D technology in relation to film. It is a form of immersive technology that allows audiences to experience physical effects of a film – whether it be through the movement of a chair or spritz of water on the face. Early attempts of 4D technology used primitive vibrating seats and odors to create physical effects (Richard Verrier, Los Angles Times) Now in 2013, 4D is now making a defiant presence in the commercial film world. Effects like pre-programmed chairs that move in sync with the movie, burst of wind and water spray are now some of the common effects now being used.

It is interesting to note that Canada is a strong presence in this media development. D-Box, a company out of Quebec in 1998, has produced many of the preprogrammed chairs that move in sync with a movie. The first being in 2009 with the release of Fast and Furious.  These special chairs are found in many North American theaters and they company is quickly expanding  themselves world-wide.

To fully understand what what is 4D technology, it is best to watch some footage of the technology in action. Here are some promotional videos of: D-Box, 4DX and other 4D based companies:

As well, the best overall review from a North American perspective comes from Clevver Movies on YouTube. Here is their online review:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o6l6E4AM-EQ.

Lastly, It should be interesting to note where this technology is going. Here is a video of a 4D theme park in Korea:

This leads me to my personal review of 4D technology, specifically the D-Box chair. I was first intrigued by this technology when I sat behind them one night at a local theater. I wondered what it would be like to watch a film when the chair systematically moved with the movie. On November 19th, I decided to go see Thor: The Dark World in 4D. I was very unsure of how I would feel about the experience. I was worried that the chair would take away from the movie.

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After watching Thor, I concluded that my initial thoughts going into the film were fairly accurate: I felt disconnected from the story. My feelings were particularly accurate when it came to close-up action scenes where audiences could feel the punches through the chair. I was distracted and I felt like it took away from the overall experience. On the other hand, what surprised me were the moments that the chair was especially effective. I really enjoyed larger action sequences, such as when planes or spaceships are flying about. As well, environmental effects like waves or explosions were felt through the chair were quite well done. I would like to see more of this affect being used, and less of the up close fighting effects. Overall, I probably will not see another 4D film in the near future, but will be keeping a close eye on how it develops to see when improvements are made. I am interested to see the full capabilities of this technology and how it will not only effect the audience but how filmmakers approach film making.

IMG_3983 IMG_3982I am not alone with these views. From the ECN blog, Associate Editor Kasey Panetta also sees 4D technology not as immersive as it promotes. She also feels that the chairs do take away from the experience as she feels that images on screen are immserive enough. For her full review of 4D technology, check out her blog. As well The Daily Mail did a review and found some disapproving aspects to this technology. They found that not only where people getting sick and nauseous from the movement of the chairs. As well in movies with the water effect, the audience found it an uncomfortable experience as they were wet and cold for the rest of the movie. Their review is here for further reading. I for one would like to remain dry and comfortable when I am watching a movie in a theater. If I wanted to be in the Splash Zone, I would have gone to Sea World.

On the other hand, their is great excitement for the technology. By 2016, as Film Journal International writes, there hopes to be at least 800 theaters world-wide that support 4D technology. They report that 4D technology is not just a novelty experience. It brings a whole new way to experience films – one that cannot be replicated with the home viewing experience. As well, by developing this technology on an international scale, the film industry in the countries that support 4D will see a boost in interest in films. These opinions are viewed on their site here. What is gained overall with these films, as explained in /Films blog, is not an emotional connection that is developed through dramatic films, but a physical experience. As I experienced it with Thor, when used in the appropriate sequences, it works fabulously. But there were only a few scenes that executed the effect properly. In the next few years when film makers take notices of this technology will there be movies that specifically adhere to this film movement and will make successful, immersive films around 4D technology.

What I am trying to examine with this use of technology is: What experience is trying to be created through 4D technology? I am curious as it seems that lately, with all of these impressive technology advancements, there is a need to be one with media more than ever before. Even before watching Thor, during the pre-show, there was an interactive game with the use of smartphones.

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A screen capture of what comes up on my iPhone when I play the game.

It seems that a new frame of mind is upon us – at least for younger generations. Individuals of my age and younger are being classified as “Digital Native” – a term created by author Marc Pensky in his work “Digital Native, Digital Immigrant”. In his earliest works, he notices a developing gap of technology understanding between older and younger member of societies. Pensky sees that the effects of the brain – especially the constant use the Digital Native has with technology is “rewiring” the brain. While the Digital Immigrant is focused on traditional forms of technology, the brain of the Digital Native is wanting a different experience: something that they are familiar with. I definitely recommend reading this fully, which can be found in Google Scholar. Continuing on, his early theories give way to a modern evolutionary shift. With that in mind, I see 4D technology with films as one of many evolutionary signals of a change in how individuals experience the world. That is why I think that 4D technology – though it is primitive and extremely young in its development, will become common in the years to come when it is better developed.

Right now, an evolutionary shift is occurring. I see this technology not only as an innovation but as a sociological signal. What is it that we want to accomplish with 4D technology that we cannot accomplish anywhere else? What are we trying to gain? The technology is still very primitive, yet it has not been properly explored. As a young filmmaker, I hope to see the development of this technology in a positive and enriching way that does not dull the natural human senses. nor take them away from experiences of the real world. Humans are more susceptible to technology use than ever before, so if it may be worth while in the future to create new experiences through 4D technology. Though I do not see that 4D technology is a possibility NOW, I believe that it is the future of the human experience in the years to come. We, as humans, are leaving the cities and colonizing in the infinite space of new media and technology.

Citations

blooloop“Live Park – interactive 4D avatar theme park in Korea.” Online Video Clip. Youtube. Youtube. 23 January 2012. Web. 1 December 2013.

Clevver Movies. “4D Next Big Movie Fad?” Online Video Clip. Youtube. Youtube. 5 April 2012. Web. 23 November 2013.

D-Box. D-Box Technologies Inc. Web. November 23rd, 2013.

dboxtechnologies. “D-BOX – How does it work?” Online Video Clip. Youtube. Youtube. 17 March 2010. Web. 21 November 2013.

“Moving Pictures: An in-depth look at enhanced “4D” experiences” Film Journal International. Andreas Fuchs. August 16th, 2013.

“Now it’s a 4D film: The high-tech cinemas which make you feel sick, damp… and punched” The Daily Mail. Associated Newspapers Ltd. Web. July 11th, 2011

Prensky, Marc.”Digital natives, Digital Immigrants.” On the horizon 9. 5 (2001): n.pag. Web. 1 December 2013. “The future of Television: 3D today, 4D tomorrow” Sensory3D. Christopher Davies. Web. n.d.

Verrier, R. (2012, July, 7th)”4-D movies: Next big thing in US theaters?” Los Angles Times. Retrieved from http://articles.latimes.com/2012/jul/07/entertainment/la-et-ct-4d-cinema-20120707

“Why 4D technology ruins movies” ECN. Kasey Panetta. Web. August 16th, 2012.

김기윤. “4DX !! This is 4D !!”. Online Video Clip. Youtube. Youtube. 1 September 2011. Web. 1 December 2013.

“4D cinema: Movies that smell, blow air and shake you are just the start” Telepresence and Visual Collaboration. Hogan Keyser. Web. October 10th, 2011.

“4D Movie Theatres Opening; Smell-o-vision Being Developed” /Film. Germain Lussier. Web. June 17th, 2011.

“4-D Coming Soon to a Theater Near You” /Film. Angie Han. Web. July 9th, 2012.

“4DX signs theatre deal with Cine Hoyts” Film Journal International. n.p. Web. April 15th, 2013.

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Movie Review – This Is The End – Saturday June 15th

Tonight, I went to the opening night of “This is the End” – Directed and Written by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg. It tells the story of familiar actors – like Rogen and others like Jay Baruchel, Jonah Hill, James Franco and many other notable faces. These celebrity comics party together when all Hell breaks loose: literally. This story is essentially how would celebrities would survive what many know as: the Rapture, The End of Days, Judgement Day, The Apocalypse. At the same time, the story develops into a more serious exploration of friendships and just how fragile they can be.

Now. A majority of the comedy used in this film is focused on Male-based jokes and with that very crude male jokes. With that being said, being a confident and the assured young woman I am, I still found a lot of the jokes hilarious. They were just outrageous and totally the kind of written work that one would expect from this crew of comics.

What was really intriguing about this film is the fresh approach to the story telling itself. This is not a documentary (obviously) but it still uses the real life names of all of the actors in the movie. Though I do believe that their persona’s were exaggerated to a large extent and/or changed drastically, I found it refreshing that I was connecting with Seth Rogen as Seth Rogen, Jay Burachel as Jay Burachel and all of the other celebrities as the reacted to the world coming to an end. They could have changed their names, but I believe one of the most attractive thing of this film is new approach to how actors portray themselves in a film – especially in a comedy.

This being said, one of the struggling aspects of this film is the desire to play out the dynamic between these characters during the second act. I understand what Rogen and Goldberg want to achieve – which is to see these group of guys interact with the craziest situations. I understand. With that being said, it slowed down the pace in the second act. Since this is a comedy movie, I totally understand the need to slow it down and have the comedic parts enhanced. There were many good gags in it.

On a side note, this movie showcases a lot of talent and what is exciting about it is that it showcases the talent of 3 CANADIAN comics: Seth Rogen, Jay Burachel and Michael Cera. I am very excited about this as it demonstrates that Canadians are becoming a powerful force in the Film and Entertainment industry.

With this in mind, I listened to a couple of interviews and this was purposefully done in a way to critique Hollywood and what it means to be a Celebrity. It was one of the ongoing gags for the most part which the actors relied on their status to survive the End of the World. Rather than developing these outrageous celebrity characters and then react to the multiple outrageous situations – like it was done in “Tropic Thunder”, “This is The End” doesn’t need this to establish their characters. They rely on the audiences knowledge of pop culture references. Their established persona’s contrast with what is seen in this story and it just adds to the comic element. The shock and awe of the celebrities wears off and it becomes another story of characters reacting to a comedic story. What is intriging is the development of the characters. The story doesn’t have to develop much about the character as they are “real people” per say, but more or less trying to understand who they are as people and watch them act: taking who they are and just acting.

Overall, I give “This is The End” a strong must see if you enjoy the works of any of the actors starring in this film. It just goes to show that the End of the World doesn’t have to be doom and gloom – there is comedy to be found in the most depressing of times.

I welcome all critiques and comments! If you have seen it – let me know what you think of it!

Cannibal! The Musical – Movie Review

215px-Cannibal_the_musical_13th_anniversary_dvdTonight, I began my break from all things post secondary education with this film: Cannibal! The Musical. Filmed in 1993 as a student project by the future creators of South Park, Trey Parker and Matt Stone. It was then released with Troma Entertainment in 1996. It is directed and stars Trey Parker, as well as: Matt Stone, Dian Bachar, Toddy Walters, Jason McHugh, John Hegel and Ian Hardin.

I am not a fan of cannibalism. I cringe at the very thought of it. That’s why I was a tad hesitant to watch it. But since I am going to be watching this duo’s acclaimed Broadway hit “Book of Mormon” in a few weeks, I felt like I needed to see what I am going to be getting myself into in regards to musicals.

If “Book of Mormon” is anything like this movie, then I should be very excited.

This has become one of my favorite comedies, despite the whole cannibalism aspect. Yes, the movie does begin with a gore filled cannibal attack but it didn’t deter my interest. It provides a good introduction for what the film is about. The story is of a man who is on trial for murder and cannibalism. Essentially, a woman talks to the accused to get the real story, which is told through a musical style narrative.

One of its many strengths lie in the musical numbers. They’re simple, yet affective and hilarious. They range from feeling warm like a baked potato to making a snow-woman named Shannon. It didn’t take away from the story while in fact it added the right amount of comedy to the story.

The gore and horror aspect comes into play as another comedic tool. There is one scene with a man with a puss filled eye. It is a cringed filled moment but you laugh along to the pure absurdity of the situation. Parker pushes the gore effect to its comedic limit – even in the final scenes which a man is killed but HE JUST WON’T DIE. Again, I am not a gore fan but Parker does it in such a way which I can’t help but laugh.

Overall I would recommend this film if you are a fan of South Park. I swear at one point I thought I heard Cartman singing the chorus of the song. It is a fun movie to watch and I would recommend watching it with a group of your closest pals! You will find yourself singing along. All I recommend is that you eat before watching… But not your friends of course!