Doug Trumbull Wants to Make a 120FPS 3D Space Adventure Movie

November 14, 2011
Source: Bleeding Cool

Douglas Trumbull

I just love reading that kind of crazy (sci-fi) headline, it's one of those that makes you go "what?!" instantly. The story comes from a few new interview quotes posted on Bleeding Cool found via our friends at The Film Stage. Douglas Trumbull, aka Doug Trumbull, is a legendary special effects creator/producer/filmmaker who's worked for Stanley Kubrick, Terrence Malick, Ridley Scott and Steven Spielberg. He's now 69 years old but still pushing along, even trying to revolutionize cinema as we know it today, which is exactly what he explains in the interview with Bleeding Cool, while mentioning a space project he wants to make. Read on!

While Trumbull has been linked recently to Terrence Malick's Tree of Life (he did the origin of the universe sequences) and the rumored IMAX follow-up, we posted a story in April this year about Trumbull working on his very own 3D high framerate feature film. We know that The Hobbit is shooting at 48FPS and James Cameron demo'd both 48 and 60FPS, but Trumbull says in the interview he's pushing speeds of up to 120FPS. Why not higher? "I don't see right now any visible advantage to go even higher than 120 frames, I think that's about as much as the human eye can absorb." That sounds pretty crazy, I can't even imagine.

Trumbull goes on to say exactly that, that few people have truly seen what this is like. Here's a few quotes:

"I'm shooting films right now at 120fps in 3D and I know that the result is absolutely stunning but very few people on this planet have actually seen that, yet. I have a very challenging process ahead of me to start demonstrating this and doing at least one film that I want to make.

"I have several films lined up but I've got one in particular that would lend itself to this. It's a big space adventure movie. And I've got to make the movie and show it in this process and convince people that there's a very big audience that wants to see this kind of tremendous technological, creative, visual leap forward to much higher quality."

Trumbull explains that if he can achieve something like this, it will be a huge visual step forward, which is kind of what he did with 2001: A Space Odyssey. He explains: "Combining 120 frames and high brightness and gain screens that are very wide and large with a different seating configuration is a huge epic change that will take some time to effect. But I'm working on it." To be frank, this sounds a little too insane to seem real, but maybe he's working on something, despite how long it'll take to actually see. I'm intrigued, and I truly can't imagine what 120FPS is like, I was blown away by 60 at CinemaCon. As for the space adventure, which I'm excited for no matter what, he sheds a bit of hazy light on what it might be about in a follow-up.

When asked if any of these big sci-fi projects will have an "ecological bent", Trumbull responds saying:

"Well, not so much an ecological bent as much as a survival bent. Having to do with reaching for the stars and why we would have to go to the stars. Are we using up this planet at such an exponential rate with population growth and the depletion of the resources that we're going to have to leave the Earth?"

I don't know about everyone else, but I love these kind of ideas, and since that ain't happening for real in the foreseeable future, I love seeing movies explore those concepts. "'How are we going to survive and where are we going to go when we use this place up?'" he states. "Those issues are part of the underpinnings of some of the movies I’m working on." I'm sure James Cameron and others would suggest we head to the nearest star, Alpha Centauri A, but I digress. Combine all that with 3D, at 120FPS, and some incredible visuals from Trumbull, this is certainly something to keep a close eye on. I wish we had an idea for a story, but we'll definitely be watching for this. Thanks again to Bleeding Cool for the quotes. Sound intriguing?

Find more posts: 3D News, Feat, Movie News, Sci-Fi



Seems a bit overkill, but I suppose we shall have to wait and see. 

Guy on Nov 14, 2011


I'll watch it.

horgin on Nov 14, 2011


Sounds like a themepark event? Where will we be able to se this, under perfect conditions? The reason we can see The Hobbit in 48fps, is the upgrade to 48fps is not that big of a deal for the cinemas, 120fps on the other hand sound like 1 theater in each state? Hope his space adventure movie is 'Rendezvous with Rama', hehe

David Banner on Nov 14, 2011



Chris Amaya on Nov 14, 2011


Latest generation D-Cinema projectors can push the frame rate up to 120 Hz at 2K resolution. With current equipment, you'd need two projectors + two servers to do 120 fps for both eyes. Cost. Prohibitive. (But would look *totally* sweet, no doubt. [sigh])

Jussi Siponen on Nov 15, 2011


The technology is awesome (except 3D), but the scripts still suck. They want to run before they can walk. Go back to basics.

Max Renn on Nov 16, 2011


I hope he means 120 fps per eye in stereoscopic 3d. 120 fps per eye is actually the most logical frame rate to shoot at because it allows you to down convert to lower frame rates because it divides evenly down to 30fps or 24 fps. You can also show the original content at 120 fps per eye as well, or 60 fps per eye. Likely you won't get any benefit above 60fps per eye on playback, but you always want to shoot at 120fps per eye so you can convert down evenly without it getting messy, 120 works. 120 / 24 = 5, even number. 120 / 60 = 2, even number. A 240hz 3d hdtv would also be well suited for 120 fps per eye, which is exactly what a high action film should shoot at.. news studio can do 30 fps, but even they could benefit from 60fps. I hope HDMI can handle 240 fps on these new 240 HZ TV's, so 120 fps per eye.

Philosophy Science on Jun 1, 2012

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