VFX Master Douglas Trumbull to Direct a 3D Film at High Framerates

April 10, 2011
Source: THR

Douglas Trumbull

He's back! Douglas Trumbull, visual effects master from the 70's who worked on 2001, Close Encounters, and directed a few films like Silent Running and Brainstorm, is planning to direct his first feature film in over 28 years. THR reports that he's launching a company called Magnetar Productions and is "in the process of completing the screenplay for what will be the company's first movie." He didn't reveal a name or any details on the project, but confirmed that it's a 3D feature he'll shoot at higher framerates. Ever since James Cameron demoed 48/60FPS at CinemaCon, the industry has been buzzing, good and bad, about FPS.

Mr. Trumbull made the announce at the NAB Show in Las Vegas this weekend. "Higher frame rates create a sense of realism," Trumbull said at the presentaion. "We are now at a time when we can have any film texture we want. But it's not an either/or situation." He added that, "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)." It was recently confirmed by cinematographer Andrew Lesnie that The Hobbit is already shooting at 48FPS, but Trumbull makes a good point anyway. Everyone seems interested, why not continuing pushing more into high framerates? Is it really a bad thing? Not if it can be perfected.

I know everyone seems to be opposed to 3D nowadays, and I typically am as well, but this is one of those instances where I'll support it. Or at least support the project. Why? Because if anything, this is what the industry needs - the best of the best from the visual (effects) side of things showing the rest of the industry (and world) how to truly make spectacular looking movies at 48/60FPS, and in 3D. Years ago they tried to show people what it was like to shoot in 70mm (Trumbull even tried 60FPS with a system called Showscan in the 70s) and they're trying again nowadays; Trumbull is even working on Showscan Digital. Though, to be frank, I don't think he is going to direct anything that's going to get Oscar nominated or break box office records, but it should still be very fascinating to see him push our technological limits in cinema once again.

Trumbull recently shot a test music video for Dana Fuchs' "Golden Eyes" to work on the high FPS and 3D process, but is still in the very early stages of post-production. I've got a feeling, knowing Trumbull's history and interests, this could be a sci-fi feature, which would be more than enough to make me excited for this. There's also a fantastic quote regarding Martin Scorsese's use of 3D in Hugo Cabret from the same article (but not Trumbull) that I've posted on Facebook. We'll be sure to keep an eye out for more updates on this!

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A5J4DX on Apr 11, 2011


Trumbull invented the concept back in the early 1980's.  By 1983 Trumbull had perfected a method of filming called Showscan which shot movies at 60 frames per second.  He couldn't get funding.  Showscan was described as 3D without the glasses. See "New Movie Technology Thrills Audiences But Fails to Win Financing From Industry." The Wall Street Journal, September 14, 1983, Section 2, page one.  Cameron used his own funds to perfect the dual-camera 3D technology he introduced in Avatar.  The studios are willing to flush millions of dollars down the toilet backing crummy franchise movies but won't risk any money on innovation.  if someone had backed Trumble we could have been watching 3D movies for the last twenty-five years.

PhoenixNewMedia on Jul 19, 2011

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