Cine Gear Expo: Brad Bird Urges Theater Owners to Create "Spectacle"

Brad Bird
Deborah Coleman/Pixar

Writer-director, "Ratatouille," "The Incredibles"

"Big, big screens would make me happy,” said Tomorrowland director Brad Bird, speaking Friday at Cine Gear Expo. “Movies are big, bright images that are shared [with an audience]—that’s what makes cinema cinema. I think exhibitors should head back in the direction of spectacle.”

He made these remarks during a panel and opening night screening of his sci-fi fantasy Tomorrowland in 4K, held in the Paramount Theater on the Paramount lot, where the equipment show is being held.

Tomorrowland was shot in 4K using Sony’s top of the line F65 4K camera, and was the first movie to be released in Dolby Vision, a high dynamic format that can be see in a handful of the first theaters equipped with the Dolby Vision laser projection system. It was also shown at theaters equipped with Imax’s new HDR-supported laser projection system.

Bird likened HDR to getting that extra-large box of Crayola crayons with more colors. “Dolby Vision—I love it. It’s the best advance we’ve had in while,” the director said. “The blacks are black and you can really see the detail in the blacks. The brightness, you almost have to blink [when it appears]. The color range is much greater. If you see [Tomorrowland] in Dolby Vision it's fantastic. Imax [laser projection] is fantastic too, it's the first time digital projection has been so bright on a screen that big. It is a slam dunk. I love laser projection.”

Tomorrowland was photographed by Oscar-winning cinematographer Claudio Miranda (who was also on hand) using Sony's F65 camera. “It’s much more what I’ve been wanting for a long time from digital and haven’t had until this film. And I’m bias toward film,” Bird said, adding that before selecting the Sony camera, they tested a collection of film and digital camera options. "The F65 looked as robust as 70mm. ... and it’s nice and quiet too.”

The movie was finished in 4K, including all of the visual effects. Offering a VFX perspective, Tomorrowland co-producer and VFX producer Tom Peitzman noted that with 4K and HDR projection “you are finally seeing all of the work that’s being done. It’s refreshing to see that fine detail on these enormous screens.” He also emphasized that the focus is always on the story, and the tools should support that story.

Miranda and Company 3 colorist Stephen Nakamura, who previously spoke with The Hollywood Reporter about their work on the film, also attended the discussion and screening.

Bird summed up that these tools are about creative options: “Anytime you have a bigger palette … you don’t have to use it but you can use it. That's really exciting.”