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NAB: Chris Cookson Questions Future of Cameras and Potential Of 'Imax on Steroids'

"I think the creative spark will stay the same," he said during his keynote. "But how it gets done is another story. The pipeline that we know is being replaced."

Chris Cookson Portrait - H 2013
Courtesy of Sony Pictures

LAS VEGAS — Industry veteran Chris Cookson predicted significant change in the way movies are made and displayed, Saturday during his Technology Summit on Cinema keynote at the NAB Show.

“How will storytellers use these (technical) capablities?," he asked. "Do we acquire images, or do we acquire models and data from which we can create images?

"What is a camera?," he added, predicting that the camera, as we think of it today, could be on its way out. “Light-field cameras with arrays of lenses and sensors capture enough data that can be [used] to extract images. They are already in existence, through the resolution is not what we would use yet.”

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Cookson, who until recently served as president of recently-closed Sony Pictures Technologies, related that "the essence of cinema is the storyteller. I think the creative spark will stay the same. … But how it gets done is another story. The pipeline that we know is being replaced."

He pointed out that exhibition also now offers an expanded range of options, including the potential for high dynamic range pictures and more colors. “The technology actually exists to give us Imax on steroids, if that is what services the story," he said. " Virtual environments like the Holodeck in Star Trek are possible. The prototypes exist.”

Cookson urged the engineering community to develop tools with storytelling in mind. “Our challenge and opportunity is to leverage the technology to create tools and interfaces that are so intuitive that filmmakers can focus on telling their stories,” he said. “Cinema is about letting storytellers create. Our job is to make the technology seem to disappear.”

Before joining Sony Pictures, Cookson was CTO of Warner Bros. Entertainment and president of the Warner Bros. Technical Operations Division. Earlier in his career, Cookson held positions at CBS and ABC. In 2012, he received the Charles F. Jenkins Lifetime Achievement Award, at the Television Academy’s 65th Primetime Emmy Engineering Awards.

The Technology Summit on Cinema, which concludes on Sunday, is co-produced by NAB and the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers.

Email: Carolyn.Giardina@THR.com
Twitter: @CGinLA