Hot Cinema: Literally, Digital Projectors and Heat Dissipation

This piece by Engadget provides an excellent and clear (thankyouverymuch) description of how contemporary digital projectors work. Whether a technology has moving parts or not, heat is always an issue. For digital projectors that literally millions of mirrors that are in constant motion. The cooling approach is twofold: the microchips covered with mirrors have "spiky-looking heat sink" as well as liquid coolant piped throughout. While the piece covers heat management, it also provides general and user-friendly projector details. 

The "must" of this post is the video. Using CGI (naturally) Science Channel has modeled the inside of these complex machines.

Click here to read Engadget's article.

VR is coming to a theater near you!

It can be hard for old-timers like me to not think of cheesy Lawnmower Man and (awesome but simple) Battletech when the topic of VR emerges. We clearly need to don some goggles, open our eyes, and pay attention to this rapidly changing and expanding technology. The apparatuses and available content are definitely on the upswing but we're also clearly in a transitional moment.

This article from Variety reports on the likely (upcoming?) addition of location-based VR to IMAX movie theaters. In large part this seems like an obvious coupling: IMAX and VR are both about immersive media experiences. On the other hand, they are quite different and from what I can see the IMAX attributes are taking up the foreground space here.

VR has the promise to transport you elsewhere from wherever you are. Anchoring VR to a specific location makes sense for exploring a new technology, but it's really beside the point. IMAX, on the other hand, has to be location-specific. Special auditoriums are decked out with specific equipment from massive screens to audio to projection (and glasses of course). You can't move an IMAX theater without a substantial investment. 

In terms of content, movies are arguably less interactive then other digital media formats. VR is designed to place you in a virtual context in which you can interact. These two forms of media engagement are not in diametric opposition, but they are vastly different. Filmmakers have been trying to figure out how to make film more interactive for a while now, and this new move from IMAX may be a gesture toward a more interactive cinema.

What IMAX is proposing seems to pull aspects of VR into the theater context, but the experiential goal is unclear. Would you wear googles to see the movie, rendering projection and a big screen unnecessary? Would you play a game related to a film, right after seeing the movie (this seems like the idea, given the reference to the John Wick game)? We'll have to wait and see. For now, the plan raises compelling questions for content, exhibition, synergy, convergence, and engagement.

Read Variety's article by clicking here.

Streaming: It's a genre now?

This New York Times article argues that streaming media, TV in particular, is not just a medium, but a format as well. Poniewozik makes a solid case for his argument that streaming has introduced something entirely new to a medium that hasn't changed much in the last 80 or so years. The immediate release of an entire season for binge consumption certainly is new. Scholars are debating the merits of this new approach at this very moment. Do you have enough time to process a densely-packed hour of television if you start another episode 20 second later? The weekly format may be irritating but it did built in time for contemplation. TV has also gotten smarter (thank you, HBO) which should be coupled with even more time and space for analysis.

The word "genre" occupies a very specific place in film and media studies. For film its often a retroactive term utilized to examine trends and thematically significant moments within specific cultural and historical contexts. Genres are specific ways to package ideas that best expresses the content which always has social and cultural significance. With this discipline-specific definition in mind, is streaming a "genre?" I'm not convinced that it is. However, I do think Poniewozik has a point in regards to streaming's foundational impact. Existing genres may in fact transform in anticipation of a new viewing context. Do we need epic cliff hangers if we can just sit back and wait for the next episode to load, rather than holding onto that narrative question for a week? Poniewozik anticipates this by asking content producers to step up their game: "streaming needs to learn to use its supersized format better, not fight against it."

Read Poniewoziks' NY Times article by clicking here.