Posted on Friday, June 17th, 2011 by Germain Lussier
Though there’s evidence that the audience’s appetite for 3D films could be diminishing, some companies are taking entertainment one-step further: the fourth dimension. A 4D film is simple. It’s a 3D movie with physical effects in the theater for that extra dimension. A good example is Muppet Vision 3D at Disney-MGM Studios in Florida where you watch a 3D movie, but things brush up against your legs. Internationally, a South Korean company called CJ 4D Plex is currently converting regular theaters to 4D and, reportedly, will test the technology in Los Angeles later this summer. After the jump, check out photos from a 4D Plex theater, read more about it and find out how Samsung might have finally perfected Smell-O-Vision.
According to an article in The Nation, CJ 4D Plex first tested this technology in Korea with James Cameron’s Avatar, incorporating shaking seats, the smells of explosions, flashing lights, water mists etc. These screenings, reportedly, attracted about 50% more people than regular ones. Currently, CJ 4D Plex has over a dozen 4D theaters in South Korea, they’re about to open the first of its kind in Thailand, timed to Transformers: Dark of the Moon and their aim is to be in 12 major markets in the next three years. Here’s what a CJ 4D Plex theater looks like:
Of course, no filmmakers are actually on-board with this yet, so the company sort of programs the effects themselves. The ideal situation would, obviously, be having the filmmakers themselves meticulously coordinating a fourth dimensional experience. But wouldn’t that sort of turn filmmaker into theme park designer? Movies are an experience, but I feel like emotional immersion is more important than physical. If a movie is really good and not distracting me with water and a shaking chair, I tend to become absorbed into it anyway. We’ll have to see how this tech evolves and if people continue to patronize it.
(Though, I must admit, I saw a screening of The Nightmare Before Christmas in 4D and it was a blast. Probably because I was already so familiar with it. I digress).
Another fourth dimension, physical addition to an entertainment experience – something that was experimented with decades ago – is Smell-O-Vision. New Scientist reports that Samsung and the University of California San Diego have been working on perfected the flawed technology and have developed a sort of silly puddy that, presumably, goes over your nose and gets a cellular signal to release different smells via small cells and crossing wires. Again, this goes back to 4D. If your movie or show needs to physically engage its audience for them to enjoy it, you probably haven’t made a very compelling piece of entertainment.
What do you think about these technological advances? Do you think there’s any potential for 4D or Smell-O-Vision? Which filmmaker would be the first to embrace it?