Doug Trumbull Begins Divulging Odd Details About 'UFOTOG' Sci-Fi
At least we have a name! Some will remember we've been covering news on a sci-fi project that visual effects legend Douglas Trumbull is developing - a "big space adventure movie." Our last update was in February 2012, but an article in THR (found via The Film Stage) picks up again with Trumbull covering details on a project titled UFOTOG. It's just an acronym of UFO and photographer, which is also what it's about. Even though this experiment runs only 10 minutes long, it was indeed shot in 4K 3D and at 120FPS (aka HFR) on Canon C500 cameras meaning it will look incredible, but is there anything to it? Or is it all just a tease?
In the article, Trumbull goes on to explain that he does have two big sci-fi projects in the works (which we've written about before) and this is only one of them. They shot most of UFOTOG on Canon 4K cameras at 120FPS, but "actors and other live elements were primarily shot on a greenscreen stage at Trumbull's studio in Southfield, Mass., and composited into 3D virtual sets." That said, the sets aren't set on another planet. Here's the key section where Trumbull explains what UFOTOG is about (plus he mentions his other movie):
The soft-spoken director then changed the subject back to his work. UFOTOG, an acronym for UFO photography, is "based on a longer screenplay that I have" that tells the story of a man's attempt to photograph an alien spacecraft. "He's very smart, a serial entrepreneur, like Elon Musk. So he has the wherewithal to get a really good camera and build a system on a mountaintop." The photographer is played by actor Ryan Winkles.
UFOTOG is one of two features that Trumbull has in the pipeline. "It is not the primary one that I want to make next. I'm also developing a sci-fi epic that takes place about 200 years in the future," he said.
So the story is about some guy who is trying to "photograph an alien spacecraft", and my guess is that it's a real spacecraft he's trying to photograph, not a fake one (in the story) this time. As for the 3D greenscreen sets, this won't turn out like the Star Wars prequels. "Trumbull said there is actually very little CG in his short, since the environments are largely composites of live-action elements such as trees and skies. 'The result is photorealistic,' he said." I'd love to see this for myself, as it sounds quite mesmerizing, but it's hard to imagine without seeing what he's working on. The experience is described as something more than a movie: "What you see on the screen is less like a movie and more like a live event. The screen becomes a giant window onto reality." As THR explains, it's all designed to deliver "a more first-person experience."
Here's a video from his site douglastrumbull.com talking more about the "intent" of his UFOTOG project:
At the moment, Trumbull is searching for cinematic venues in Los Angeles to show his UFOTOG experiment in 120FPS, since there aren't any theaters capable of that kind of framerate yet (The Hobbit is 48FPS, James Cameron is aiming for 60FPS). He's even pushing to design a completely new screen just for this experience, testing a prototype by Stewart Filmscreen described as "an extremely high gain hemispherical screen that reflects all the light from the projector back to the audience." Until something like this is actually installed somewhere, he's searching for other places. "We are shooting for some dates in August." I'd love to attend, if I can score an invite. I'm not sure what to make of this yet, but I'm still intrigued to find out what he's up to.