Virtual Cinema and the Web

Al Razutis (razutis@xxxx)
Mon, 2 Feb 1998 10:00:09 -0800
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Phil Solomon wrote (on a number of film examples):

>I GET NO SENSE OF SPACE in these films, I do not feel a world
> beyond the frame. This is to say nothing of the ridiculous animatronic
> Mao, the Disney/digital birds and cartoon Tibet "drawn in" in NOSPACE,
> Utah, or wherever the hell they shot this.

and added:

> Why do I feel that so many of these films have become almost glib in their
> loss of spatial feel? Is this a digital phenomenon (virtual renderings,
> etc.) or the times (the general lack of contemplative work in popular
> culture) or...

The new developments (and creations) in VRML concern themselves with
precisely 'space' and mapping of these user-interactive terrains.
Typically this work is being conducted as the 'projection systems' (termed
VRML 'plug-ins', but really more akin to 'browsers') are being
(simultaneously) developed.

Imagine a theatre which contains a number of spatial screens, which can be
interacted with, navigated (around, beyond), which can be imported from a
number of sources (artists) and viewed simultaneously. Well, it's starting
to happen.

The perception of 'motion pictures' in VRML worlds is dependent on the
visitor's ability to a) engage the medium properly (hardware/software), b)
appreciate that 'contemplation' is tied to 'interaction' (not of the gamer
sort) and c) be patient with 'glitches' in this emerging medium.

The term 'frame' becomes rather meaningless in a Virtual Reality display,
except perhaps as 'frame of reference' or 'frame rate' as applied to
motion-picture maps applied to virtual objects. Your frame rate will depend
on your CPU....

The prospects (for people like myself, who actually are involved in such
creations, and not merely speculating about them) include stereoscopic 3D
presentations, de-bugging various industry projection systems, working
around an ever-changing bandwidth limitation, and finally....delivering
(yes, experimental MOVIES, second by second) to what I (and a network of
people) consider to be an important 'future' projection system on the web.

Just as HTML was developed for us to communicate, publish, create (beyond
the scientific, military origins which are well known), so is a
cross-platform Virtual Reality language (VRML 2.0) available for FILM
(that is, motion-picture) artists to explore the rather unique possibility
of distributing creations across a 'spatial' net.

This is not to be confused with proprietary formats, theme-park
applications, software manufacturer 'galleries' or a number of inanities
that proliferate as if THEY are 'in charge' of the future. Neither is the
present limited bandwidth the creative measure of things to come.

The reason that a lot of this work is modest in its inceptions, is that it
is dedicated for the world wide WEB, the modem, the 2D pointer (mouse), and
consummer-level hardware (which, presumably you are reading this on). It
is not created to be demonstrated exclusively at high-end (180 degree,
three video-projector, four ONYX computer, data-glove and head-gear)
'Visionariums' such as those found at SGI. In other words, it is being
created for people, not a techno-priesthood or corporate boardrooms.

The future cinema is being created now.
And it does not have 'sprocket holes'.

xal razutis