The crew of the Starship Enterprise is currently dazzling our screens with lens-flare outer space action in the latest movie from the Star Trek franchise. And the makers of the summer blockbuster have re-mastered footage for Barco Escape, an ultra wide-screen immersive experience using three screens across the front and sides of film theatres.
Barco are a digital cinema technology developer and the new format promises an entirely new visual experience for the cinema-goer.
Bad Robot, producers of Star Trek Beyond, partnered with Barco to produce up to twenty minutes of ultra wide-screen footage to accompany the movie in selected cinemas offering the format. And Barco have already announced future projects with director Jerry Bruckheimer, so is this the vision of things to come for cinema? And where will Barco Escape rank among these other breakthroughs in movie-making history?
The earliest Hollywood productions were silent movies which made stars of the likes of Charlie Chaplin and Laurel and Hardy. In fact, as the marriage of sound and picture developed - under inventors as far back as Thomas Edison up to Lee Deforest - the major studios were sceptical and viewed ‘talking pictures’ as an expensive novelty that wouldn’t interest audiences. A then minor company by the name of Warner Brothers persisted and debuted a feature length film in 1926 with a synchronised soundtrack performed by the New York philharmonic orchestra paving the way for the industry to follow with spoken dialogue.
Early colour movies were restricted to one or two tones because of the huge costs involved. As the technology developed, the Technicolor Corporation saw huge success first with its two, then three colour advances in films like Disney’s cartoon short The Three Little Pigs (1933) and of course the spectacular The Wizard of Oz in 1939 urging us to follow that yellow-brick road.
Surround sound has been around since the 1930s but it took 40 years for it to become commonplace. The introduction of Dolby Stereo in the 1970s was seen as a major turning point for its comeback but the real milestone came with the arrival of one film which still excites the world today, 1977’s Star Wars. You can hear the TIE Fighters roaring by from here.
There’s the big screen, and then there’s IMAX. It’s believed there are now over 1000 jumbo screens in almost 70 countries worldwide. The first IMAX movie ever made was called Tiger Child, and was shown at Expo ‘70 in Osaka, Japan, while the first permanent IMAX 3D theatre was built in Vancouver, Canada. To cater for the huge format, new cameras were also needed and movies such as Transformers: Age of Extinction and Captain America: Civil War have used advanced camera models developed by IMAX.
3D movies are not new and date back to around 1915 but the technology has had peaks and troughs with cinema. In the USA the 1950s is sometimes called a golden era for the genre when most of the major studios dabbled in the art from. The 1980s and 90s saw more attempts to embrace the technology before an explosion in the 2000s culminating in a blue-hued triumph for James Cameron’s Avatar. Released to critical acclaim, it became the highest-grossing film in history with plans for forthcoming sequels.