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• To record the history of the large format movies and the 70mm cinemas as remembered by the people who worked with the films. Both during making and during running the films in projection rooms and as the audience, looking at the curved screen., a unique internet based magazine, with articles about 70mm cinemas, 70mm people, 70mm films, 70mm sound, 70mm film credits, 70mm history and 70mm technology. Readers and fans of 70mm are always welcome to contribute.

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Large Format Cinema as Communal Virtual Reality
An interview with Douglas Trumbull about The Future of Cinema

The 70mm Newsletter
Written by: Mark Trompeteler. First published in Cinema Technology. Republished by permissionDate: 08.06.2017
A meeting and subsequent interview with Douglas Trumbull and Mark, continued a series of articles on The Future of Cinema, by Mark Trompeteler, that were featured in a number issues of Cinema Technology magazine. In this two part interview they discuss issues surrounding the pursuit of “The Holy Grail” of large format cinema technology – cinematic virtual reality.

(For younger readers – a short summary of Douglas Trumbull’s career, a very significant film maker and cinema technologist: He worked on the classic large format 70mm film “2001: A Space Odyssey”, to which he contributed significantly in the area of visual effects and made a memorable contribution in the development of the slit-scan photography process, used in the "Stargate" sequence. Trumbull went on to contribute effects to “The Andromeda Strain”, “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”, “Star Trek: The Motion Picture” and, in 1981, on the Ridley Scott classic film “Blade Runner”. Trumbull, also developed his patented Showscan process, a high-speed, large-format movie 70mm process shooting and projecting at 60 fps that provided an unprecedented visual clarity in the movies. He directed the classic cult film “Silent Running” and the film “Brainstorm”. Redirecting his career away from Hollywood projects he then began to concentrate instead on developing new technology for movie production, and for the exhibition industry and theme-park rides, such as the “Back to the Future Ride” at Universal Studios. In 1994 Trumbull was briefly a Vice Chairman of IMAX Corporation. Trumbull contributed to special effects work on Terrence Malick's 2011 film “The Tree of Life”. Most recently Trumbull has being working on his patented MAGI process which he says "goes way beyond anything that Peter Jackson and James Cameron have been doing". He has been nominated for Academy Awards on five occasions and has received the American Society of Cinematographer's Lifetime Achievement Award.)

Breaking down that “fourth wall” – the screen.

I attended the Digital Television Summit in London organised by the Digital Television Group in 2015. I was particularly struck by a fairly obvious but simple point made by one of the contributors to the conference – Ron Martin, Vice President / Director of the Panasonic Hollywood Lab. During his presentation he said that the whole point of manufacturers and image technologists constantly pushing forward the boundaries of resolution, detail, dynamic range, colour gamut and pushing image quality from 2k to 4k and possibly 8K is to make the image and its viewing so good that the “window” of the screen will effectively disappear. The viewing experience will be so totally convincing that “the fourth wall” of the cinema screen, or the TV, will essentially disappear to the audience. They will eventually lose their sense that they are watching an image on a screen at both conscious and sub conscious levels and they will feel they are involved in experiencing a kind of reality. You get a similar sensation when the curtain in a theatre opens and “the fourth wall” is demolished and you then get immersed into a very convincing kind of reality.

Enter Douglas Trumbull

I can only identify two occasions in my life of cinema and audio visual experiences when I have completely lost the sense that I was watching a projected image on a screen, and somehow it had disappeared, and that I was experiencing a kind of reality. Internationally renowned cinema engineer and technologist, cinematographer, director, and vfx expert Douglas Trumbull was responsible for both experiences.

I think it was back in 1991 / 1992, that on a theme park ride, “Back to the Future,” I boarded a DeLorean car with my children and took that ride. It was during that short ride that I became really scared and thought the car and us, its occupants, were all very close to complete disaster and death. As a sane and responsible adult I actually screamed my head off in front of complete strangers, much to the eternal embarrassment of my children, and for which they still hold this against me to this day. All my senses were being fooled by various technical devices and I really lost all sense that I was watching a projected motion picture.

The second such occasion was when as part of the 2015 Widescreen Weekend in Bradford I saw Trumbull’s short film “UFOTOG”, shot in 4K, 120 fps and 3D. Whist the luminance levels of the projection set up did not do his 3D film full justice and the subject of his film tends to be a little dark, what he showed us was impressive. I was stunned by the clarity and realism that the 120 fps rate added to the visual experience. The clarity of the image and the absence of any image artefacts somehow made me lose any consciousness of the fact that I was looking at an image on a screen – it appeared to me as though the actor was looking directly at me as if through an open space and I was looking directly back at him and no screen surface was involved between us. I think the lighting, lens used and composition all augmented the effect. Also the effect on a screen that would totally fill my field of vision would, I think, be quite remarkable.

VR battle lines are being drawn.

From the moment that people screamed and took cover when they watched one of the first Lumiere films of a train entering a station and the locomotive coming straight at them – cinema has always been a form of virtual reality. Today with the imminent availability of affordable virtual reality head sets, 4K television sets that people like the BBC R&D unit say we should be sitting very much closer to so they totally encompass our field of vision, and Japanese broadcast researchers who say we will need to do so even more with 8K TVs - there has never been greater pressure on cinema to provide a truly convincing virtual reality experience. The accepted wisdom and “on trend” response to all of this is Premium Large Format cinema. Douglas Trumbull’s thesis is that a more effective, convincing and cost conscious alternative to PLF is very much worth considering. All that needs to be done is to use existing cinema technology, that we have available to us now, in a different way. A fortuitous and congenial late night chance meeting in a Bradford hotel bar with Douglas Trumbull and his wife Julia, led to a subsequent interview when we discussed these issues.
More in 70mm reading:

This is MAGI Cinema
Thoughts about 120 fps
A Conversation
High impact filmmaking
The Impact of Showscan

PDF: The Brave New World of Cinema by Mark Trompeteler

Internet link:

The Production & Exhibition Divide

Mark Trompeteler (MT): Douglas in London at the moment cinemas are showing “The Walk” and “Everest” in 3D IMAX and immersive sound systems. I wonder what your “take” is on cinema’s trend towards Premium Large Format (PLF) auditoria and these large “tentpole” movies. Is cinema going in the right direction?

Douglas Trumbull (DT): I don’t think so at all. The whole mission of my life, and the trajectory of my career and life within cinema, started with “2001: A Space Odyssey”. Working with Stanley Kubrick I found myself working with a brilliant genius who was a person who paid extremely close attention to every aspect of the movie, right down to the details of the print that would go to the theatre, and even the focal qualities of the lens in the theatre, and even the steadiness of the gate in the theatre. He saw the entire process. That has stuck with me ever since.

The abysmal truth is that the situation in movie theatres is very poor. Showmanship has gone. Mostly the giant screen has gone. 70mm has gone. There has been such a disconnect between the creative process of making the movie from the way it is shown. They are now two completely separate industries. In a sense your magazine, “Cinema Technology” is talking to one industry, and 99.999% of everyone who is making movies are not going to read this magazine. They don’t concern themselves with exhibition issues – I do.

I came to a point in my career when I became so utterly frustrated at the complete lack of interest at the studios to make sure that a truly high quality product got to the theatre that I just stopped directing altogether, I had to regroup, leave Hollywood, set up shop elsewhere and redefine what was possible. I am trying to make a long story short – but the story is kind of reaching a conclusion because I have really been researching digital photography, digital post production and digital exhibition as one continuous chain. So the movie is not separated from the way it is going to be displayed.

I feel there is a huge human craving for experiential entertainment that is undefined, it is kind of like virtual reality, in the sense that when people think of virtual reality, they think of some alternative experiential out of body experience, a dream state or a drugged state, that somehow could be life enhancing and powerful etc. I think they crave it, they want it but they are not getting it.

Cinema & TV

MT: Don’t you think that PLF auditoria in mainstream multiplexes are offering that?

DT: They are in the sense that there is a recognition that a more spectacular presentation is desirable and gets a premium ticket price. It can be more profitable for them. Upgrading to a bigger screen and brighter projection and more comfortable seats and any number of things that patrons can have at their disposal is probably a good thing by its nature.

But I am coming up against this real unexpected discovery. It goes back to post “2001” when I became so disillusioned that the giant screen cinemas were carved up into multiplexes, and that the giant screens had gone, and that 70mm had gone, and we were just back to 35mm. Simultaneously back at the studios, at production level, it was becoming simultaneously movies and television. There was a time back in the 1950s, when Cinerama, Todd-AO, VistaVision and D-150 – all these things were emerging because studios were terrified that television was going to take their customers away which was an understandable fear. They actually became happy campers because they ended up becoming television producers. A large proportion of production at the studios became television and they joined the enemy. That was what helped develop a common format that would suit both cinema and television, which is what has now developed into 2K at 24 fps – the world standard medium. This means that even if you have a bigger screen you still only have a 2K image and you still only have 24 fps. I have come to this new revelation, and this is part of what Julia and I have been doing at our studio, we have been experimanting with an entirely new way to go, which is 3D, 4K and 120 fps.

The first concern has been, legitimately, that if 48 fps creates a movement towards a television look, a sitcom look, a soap opera look, then 60 fps is going to be worse and 120 fps is going to be objectionably bad. That is a convoluting thought that is forthcoming from the studios. They are very upset at the thought of anything that might upset their paradigm.

What we have discovered is this new alternating frame 3D thing which is 120 fps which you probably understand. It is extremely elegant. It is extremely easy to do. I am going to show it to everyone tomorrow night and it does not look like television at all.

3D Towards Virtual Reality

MT: I believe in one of your documents that you kindly emailed to me - you do not use the old words of TV – as TV being “a window on the world” but you used a term like your experiments as striving to achieve a window through into reality. So like others, are you pursuing “The Holy Grail” of cinema technology - of completely breaking down that “fourth wall” of the screen in the cinema?

DT: Mark - we have to remember that the whole history of the movies ever since their inception has been to create immersions by some means. The intention from film makers has been there all along ever since that first movie of that train coming into the station. My philosophy is that if you accept the motion picture medium as it has been all of our lives at 24 fps - usually at double flash, sometimes triple flash, that creates a two dimensional texture where the movie remains at the screen and is not entering the room, staying where it belongs. It is an envelope within which the story is told, using however you want to direct, script and act – you are telling a story. As soon as you detract from that convention to try and create an experience that is more visceral, more immersive and more involving, by adding 3D or adding 70mm and adding a bigger screen – you are in fact creating a different medium. This is what Kubrick recognised and this is what I learned working with him - that there is this whole other world of potential of immersive experience.

Once that you technologically create immersion, you tell the story differently, there is a different balancing of forces, you use less dialogue and more visuals and that is a mysterious formula. I know in “2001” Kubrick kept stripping out dialogue, stripping out over the shoulder shots, stripping out reverse angle shots, and he let the audience feel like they were becoming the character - so you have something like a whole 17 minute uninterrupted sequence of pure point of view, during which there is no story, no plot, no drama, no dialogue just a visual trip. Fortunately it was at time in modern history when a trip could be considered a good thing.

That profoundly affected me – so when the multiplex thing happened I was very disappointed that the approach that we were only beginning to explore was being cut off. Since then it has been my mission to see how we can get back. How can I get back to that art form and go further with it. The surprising thing is that it has a lot to do with the technology of 3D. I was never a fan of 3D but as we started to experiment we discovered that we could do 3D so perfectly that the screen surface is virtually gone – in fact there is no screen surface. You are looking through a window into reality – it is like a live drama unfolding before your eyes.

When you are looking at something stereoscopically you are asking the audience to converge their vision onto distant objects but you are also asking them to focus on the screen surface at the same time. You are asking them to decouple the muscles in their eyes, this is what causes eye strain. We do not decouple the muscles in our eyes naturally. What I began to realise was that small screens are in fact better. It is all about field of view, it is NOT about scale. When you are presenting a wide field of view but not at such a distance and scale you are not demanding such a strenuous muscle decoupling in the eyes and the 3D viewing can become very pleasurable. Also if you can make the 3D image brighter, your eyes default down to a more normal exposure, it increases the eyes depth of field, and this increases eye comfort further.

This has led me to this amazing concept that a multiplexes are in fact a good idea and not bad, and that a giant screen may not be desirable. We have constructed a much smaller idea of a cinema with screens of 20, 25 and up to 35 feet wide – not very big screens. One of the constituents of the screen is the torus material which is very highly reflective. It is also deeply curved, like Cinerama was, but the key is how highly reflective it is. There is no cross reflectance, it does not need to be louvered, and it does not require a million dollar laser illuminator to make it work. You can do it with conventional off the shelf equipment. Lasers are obviously coming but the scale of this is really comfortable and fits in very well with the smaller kind of multiplex size theatres.
Pod Cinema

MT: My goodness, of course – it is one of the first things you learn about projection isn’t it? Isn’t it called something like the inverse square law? – The closer you bring the projector to the screen the brighter you can get the image? So in your concept of the small pod cinema you could achieve very bright images on a highly reflective surface, with very comfortable 3D viewing, by virtue of the dimensions of the pod cinema being very much smaller than conventional auditoria.

DT: Exactly. You can do a simple calculation around say a small IMAX auditorium - for instance say 100 feet by 100 feet by 50 feet with say 300 seats in it. In fact it has a big cubic capacity as it has big roof span say of 100 feet. If you take the dimensions of the pod you soon realise you can get more people in pods into the cubic capacity of the auditorium. They will have a better and more pleasurable experience for a lower cost than fitting out the conventional IMAX auditorium.

MT: At IBC:Amsterdam earlier this year, it was the very first time I had really put on any virtual reality headsets and gave them any kind of serious consideration. Like everyone, I completely understand what VR is about but was disappointed with the quality of the images the headsets were delivering. What strikes me about the your pod cinema concept, that you have actually built and demonstrated, is how the pod resembles a large VR head set in which say an audience of up to 60 people can sit within. The VR headset is such a solitary viewing experience. In your pod you deliver the communal nature of cinema – which is what makes cinema, cinema. I love the idea that a couple, group of friends, or a family can be in a pod and as a group enjoy a cinematic VR experience communally.

Julia Trumbull (JT): The pod retains the nature of cinema in as much as it retains the social relationships within an audience.

DT: Also I started realising that theatres are boxes – consisting of flat walls, flat ceilings flat screens – boxes – this is boring. The pod consists of curvilinear lines and walls. The screen itself started to define the space. We asked why don’t we build the building in the shape of the screen and carry it on behind and this kind of egg shape emerged. That gives the maximum use of space and this gives the kind of maximum entertainment per square foot that you can imagine.

Shutters & Frame Rates

Mark Trompeteler (MT): I am still wondering about ALL the parameters you are using to break down “the fourth wall” of the screen. So many people are obsessed with pixels and resolution, going for the maximum K, HDR and colour gamut. You are placing an emphasis on the shutter and frame rate where others are not. I wonder if you could expand on that.

Douglas Trumbull (DT): Shutter, and frame rate – you are right – they don’t think about it.

MT: When as humans we look at the world there is no shutter interruption or frame rate to our viewing of it is there? It is almost as if philosophically and technically you are reducing these things to the minimum to give us the most uninterrupted kind of image capture possible.

DT: Pre 3D and with me experimenting with a digital form of Showscan it came to my attention that digital projectors can operate at almost any frame rate that you want. Then I realised that with digital cameras and a 360 degree shutter, or should I say 359 degrees, there has to be a little bit of time to download the fame and then go into the next frame. So you can see I am trying to use that camera almost as if it was shutterless. That gave me the idea that if you could shoot high frame rate contiguous shutterless photography then you could take any two adjacent frames and merge them together and store the blur that needs to be bigger at a lower frame rate. There is a direct proportion between the amount of blur and frame rate. If you were to lower the frame rate the blur has to increase. That is an inverse proportion. By having a 360 degree shutter you can blend any number of frames together, restore the blur that is appropriate for the frame rate. It is a simple exercise – it does not require any computer processing or interpolation or anything.

So that becomes elegantly simple. When we were doing tests we were shooting at 120fps and the performers were doing a dance, Since I was looking for motion and blur I had the guys dressed in outfits with focus charts on them. That was a way of analysing the motion and the blur. That’s when I realised you can change the frame rate on any pixel or any object dynamically through a scene. If there turns out to be some scary things for audiences where they really might want 24fps because that is the texture that they are used to, that is fine, but some part of the frame can be at a higher frame rate – the football, or the explosion of the fist slamming into the face, if it needs to be faster so you can see the action, you can dynamically change it.

MT: During the movie and within portions of a shot - you can change the frame rate?

DT: Yes you can. I applied for a patent and I got it. So that is controllable territory now.

When I tried the other experiment which was 3D I recognised the way it was going to be projected 99% of the time – was with a single projector. I know there are two projector solutions out there, like IMAX theatres or where you have a big screen. However the desirable way is with one projector – no one wants to use two projectors when they can get by with one. Lets say that most of the business is going to be single projector - alternate left eye, right eye, left eye, right eye. So we said why don’t we just shoot it that way so that we have what I call perfect temporal continuity. That is when I realised what actually had gone wrong with Peter Jackson’s 48 fps thing and what is wrong with 3D at 24fps. The problem is that the frames are being multiple flashed. The motion is actually starting and stopping hundreds of times per second. It is not contiguous.

As soon as you make things smooth you get smooth motion. You can get 120 frames for the price of 60, or 144 frames for the price of 72, because the projector is actually doing 144. That is when I realised we can do high frame rate within the confines of a standard DCP spec. That is what you are gong to see tomorrow night – a standard 2K 3D DCP running at 120 fps and it has perfect temporal continuity between switching the left eye and right eye. It is a little dark – but that is the name of the game right now – there are 20,000 or more theatres out there, that are a little dark and some are a lot dark. We do everything at 14 or 15 foot lamberts because it is so easy to achieve with a standard projector and a torus screen off the shelf. All these things came to me as just ideas since I had been thinking about them for years. I did the Showscan thing – it was so simple and elegant because it was so easy to do.
The MAGI Process

MT: So the 3D 4K 120 fps process you have developed you call MAGI, pronounced MAG - eye

DT: Yes - close to the pronunciation of the word eye.

Julia Trumbull (JT): Also close to Magic

DT: I am doing all this because I think I have in a way have kind of discovered that “Holy Grail”. We were fearful that it might look worse than 48 fps and it look even more like television. This turned out, not to be true. It was a revelation that by doing this 120fps alternating frame thing – giving 60 per eye, it did not look like television. It had no objectionable artefacts, it has no strobing, no judder, no blur and no flicker. This I thought was really good and I applied for a patent and we recently got the patent for that and so now control this territory. I hope this will all come in handy. But my objective is no more than getting back to making movies.

I think I got this horrible reputation because I consciously chose to stop directing, it was my choice and I took full responsibility for it – but I do not have a reputation as a director any more. People do not think of me – I am not on anybody’s list.

I have been doing this investment of my time and effort to get the medium back on track. I want to direct in this medium. When you direct in this medium and you make a movie like this you are creating a new form of entertainment. It is like virtual reality. It is not conventional story telling. It is not conventional cinematic language. One of the components of the creative aspects to it is, and the business aspects of it is, that if you take this big 3D 120 fps 4K wide field of view thing and you put it on a 3D TV or a laptop – it is not good. It is not a good experience. Twelve inch high people do not look good – it is part of the equation of why 3D TV has failed. I think it is a natural and obvious thing that anybody could have anticipated – that is that when you miniaturise 3D, it doesn’t look very powerful. So as regards business – if a studio invests in a movie in this process, the further away they go from conventional storytelling, the less useful it is going to be in the secondary market. That is a problem. But it is so easy to change the primary market because there are tens of thousands of movie theatres that are already equipped with series two electronics that will go to 120 fps. It is already there. There is not the problem of asking people to install new projectors. It is much more easy now to get the entire movie industry to drag itself up by the boot straps and get it to adopt 120 fps as the new standard.

MT: You make the point well. There would be a quick very significant increase in the differential between the staying at home viewing experience and this upgraded cinematic virtual reality experience.

DT: The beauty of it is, that it is also downwards compatible. 24fps versions can easily be made for anyone who wants it on their Smartphone but you will not get the profound immersive experience unless you go to the cinema to see it.

JT: The beauty of it that it has downwards compatibility built in if you want to pursue secondary market sales, whilst also at the same time it introduces a huge viewing experience differential.

Cinema, MAGI & Now

MT: Playing devils advocate here – how do you prevent such a process becoming considered just a novelty or gaining the status of a fair ground or theme park ride process by virtue of the possibility of it concentrating on visceral or experiential short subjects. One of the noticeable effects of the digitisation of cinema has been the ascendancy of fantasy, action and spectacle films at the box office where the vfx and action may be subjugating the expression of a theme and story. How do you encourage the creative and narrative development of such a process as MAGI into that new art from you are hoping for?

DT: There is some truth contained within your question but remember that IMAX through its entire cinematic history was such a powerful cinematic and immersive experience that no one ever wanted more than 40 minutes of it. That became the standard of the IMAX world and it became an anomaly to take 35 mm movies and print them up to IMAX, call that IMAX, and then ask the audience to watch for two hours. It becomes a physiologically stressful experience. I do not like a 24 fps movie enlarged that much. The juddering the blurring and the strobing are all objectionable - that is a problem. On the content side it is interesting to note that the six or seven major studios are all making these big “tentpole” franchise Batman & Superman kind of thing because they are all action spectacles. Yes they have changed the balance between story and special effects because that is what the audience wants. So I am not going to be derisive about it. I am derisive about the fact that it looks so terrible. The audience will vote with their pockets as to the kind of content they want. I think once we have solved some of these problems nature will take it course. Film makers will do whatever they want and studios will do whatever they want. No one can control that. I think things will drift towards more shorter high impact content and a more rapid turnover at the box office.

JT: Look at the age demographic of the audience too.
DT: Look at the audience – their attention span is shot.

MT: One of the original promises of IMAX was them saying that one day there would be feature films made in the IMAX process – but that never materialised. Do you forsee the production of feature films in the MAGI process or do you think it is initially all bout short length content.

DT: Yes – IMAX tried to keep that promise going for as long as they could. As regards MAGI this is how we see it. The penetration of this process into the mainstream cinema business may take a significant amount of time because there is such lethargy about any future trajectories – it currently isn’t going anywhere, doesn’t seem to want to go anywhere. I put out as much press as I can about what we are doing. Nobody from the studios calls me up. But in what we call the location based cinema business we know it is commercially adapted to short form high impact entertainment. The interesting economic fact about it is that people will pay eight dollars for four minutes and 12 dollars for two hours. Profit wise the potential is huge, it is spectacular if you can get enough theatres. I have no aversion to short form – I have done rides.

I think the ideal length is this inverse proportion between intensity and time. That’ why when I saw “Gravity” for instance I just thought it was great that movie was 90 minutes long. That is what made me feel uncomfortable when “Interstellar” was twice as long – I didn’t need that length. I think there is another component to entertainment. If you want a story – watch television. If you want an experience – that is cinema.

TV is on 24 hours a day, it has 500 channels – it has all the stories you want about every conceivable subject matter – so there is no shortfall of stories – I am not against stories – if you want to tell a story, tell a story – romance, comedy, thriller, mystery. If you want spectacular immersiveness, this kind of virtual experiential thing – that is cinema. There is a different balancing of story and visuals. You don’t need to teach anyone how to do it because it has already happened. These movies that Hollywood is now dragging out are basically storyless – action pieces – people like it and that is what is supporting the industry to the tunes of billions and billions of dollars - so go with it. But if you can make that experience so profoundly improved, in terms of comfort, in terms of excitement, and physiological stimulation which is using high frame rates - audiences will be building in cinemas rather than declining. You can’t do anything about the third world and China – what is going to happen there is going to happen and you can’t do anything about it. I think you can see what I am trying to say.
Looking Forward

MT: Yes there is so much evidence that TV has now become the accepted medium for story telling type content, films that where once the province of medium budget studio films.

DT: Yes – major directors and actors are turning to television for storytelling because that is where that action is. That is fine and you can see some really interesting stuff in pay for view where it is not constrained by broadcasting restrictions on such issues as profanity and sex and stuff like that. It has become a mature art form and I know people like George Lucas say that as a result of that they think cinema is in terminal decline.

One of the things Julia and I decided about this MAGI thing is that we said we could be talking about it for the next twenty years – so we decided we thought we should actually do it. We built a stage – we shot a test movie - and its not test shots of a pretty face and some flowers. It is a real dramatic story. So even though it is not big, it is an expression of a short test film, in the convention of the story telling dramatic cinematic format. But it is more immersive and it embraces the audience as a participant.

OK so you can say we did it in our back yard and it is a home movie taken to the extreme and we are very proud of it. But it was also the point that I knew I would never get back on the track of directing unless I directed something. So I wrote it, directed it and financed it myself and I hope it will be a stepping stone to be taken seriously again. Also to be taken seriously as one of the very few film makers who understands exactly where to go with this medium aesthetically, in that kind of “2001” immersiveness way, which has not been replicated in 50 years – no one understands it.

At the end of the interview I realised just how good it had been spending some time with Douglas and Julia Trumbull discussing views on cinema and the pursuit of cinematic virtual reality. They were very generous with their time and the information they shared. Douglas did share the fact that Ang Lee had spent time at his studios looking at what Douglas and his team had achieved.

Readers may recall that the June 2015 issue of CT Magazine featured a short report that Ang Lee’s latest film "Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk" will be shot in 3D, at 4K resolution and 120 fps. Julian Pinn confirmed in that report that the new movie is being shot at 120 fps per eye, not the 60 fps per eye that some had suggested. For release to many projectors the 120 fps per eye master would require a downwards conversion. It is understood that Ang Lee was heavily influenced by Doug’s work on MAGI. The day when both a short, and a feature film, produced at 120 fps, by two significant film makers, both attempting a more virtual reality experience, has arrived.

You can learn more about the work of Trumbull Studios at

With grateful thanks to Douglas and Julia Trumbull, and the National Media Museum Press Office and Cinema Technology magazine.
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Updated 08-06-17