'2001' VFX Wizard Douglas Trumbull to Direct New Feature Film


LAS VEGAS -- Innovative filmmaker and inventor Douglas Trumbull --whose VFX credits include 2001: A Space Odyssey -- is planning to direct a 3D feature using higher frame rates, he announced Sunday during the Digital Cinema Summit at the NAB Show.

Trumbull hasn't directed a feature since 1983's Brainstorm. He originally intended to shoot that film in a process he invented called Showscan, which was designed to use 65mm film, shooting at 60 frames per second, but the film was eventually shot at the conventional 24 fps rate, and today is remembered as the feature that Natalie Wood was working on when she died.

While not revealing details of the new fillm, Trumbull said he has formed a new production company, Magnetar Productions, and that he is in the process of completing the screenplay for what will be the company's first movie.

At the recent CinemaCon, James Cameron led the charge on behalf of higher frame rates, urging the industry to consider moving from the commonly used 24 frames per second to higher rates of 48 or 60. He said that these higher frame rates could reduce the distracting strobing that can be visible, particularly when there is camera movement or action, as well as create an even clearer picture.

Trumbull agrees. He wasn't able to get Showscan off the ground when it was developed several decades ago, but more recently he developed ShowScan Digital, a patent-pending process that uses 24 frames per second but allows the filmmaker to embed 60 frames per second sequences as desired for creative use.

"Higher frame rates create a sense of realism," Trumbull said, suggesting that these frame rates should be another tool in the filmmakers' toolbox. "We are now at a time when we can have any film texture we want. But it's not an either/or situation."

Now he is working to use this process for 3D filmmaking, having recently shot a test music video for Dana Fuchs' "Golden Eyes." Postproduction has not yet started.

"James Cameron has been talking publicly about shooting tests in 48 and 60. Peter Jackson wants to do The Hobbit in 60. ... It doesn't seem too daunting (to make this happen)," Trumbull said.

Also during the DCS, VFX supervisor Rob Legato described the artistic use of 3D on Martin Scorsese's upcoming Hugo Cabret.

He told the audience that Scorsese is "altering the use of 3D so that instead of a being an obvious, in-your-face visual effect, the viewer is experiencing a sensation of depth. Sometimes that sensation replaces dialogue. You don't necessarily need to describe a scene in words if you can feel it, and if you can feel it, it's usually a more powerful moment than anything else."
 

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