ScreenX

Update: There is now a video showing ScreenX in Action, watch it embedded after the jump.


Video of ScreenX in action (via movies):

Original story follows:

New cinema technologies are developed fairly often, but only some of them stick around long enough to become fixtures of the movigoing landscape. Many of those that do have staying power are kept around by a combination of genuine superiority to other formats and great marketing; IMAX is a good example there.

Now the South Korean theater chain CJ CGV has developed ScreenX, which is described as being like a “horizontal IMAX” setup, where theaters are fitted with three walls of screens offering a 270-degree view. That’s a lot more than the Cinerama format, which offered a 146-degree view. In fact, this isn’t really a new technology — there have been many attempts at multi-screen and panoramic cinema presentations, going back to the triptych presentation of Napoleon in 1927 — but this one might have the marketing to be more than a flash in the pan.

ScreenX was first demonstrated last week at the Busan Film Festival, with a 30-minute film directed by Kim Jee-woon (The Good, the Bad, the Weird; I Saw the Devil; The Last Stand). Photos of the film, called The X, projected in ScreenX (such as above) make the format look like a combination between IMAX and an unusual sort of 3D, where your peripheral vision is getting images that convey depth.

 

The X is a spy film, and demonstrates the presentation technology with shots that range from “a panoramic shot of a bullet-slinging chase to a technically simpler scene involving a phone conversation between killers.” The director says “I initially thought ScreenX would be more effective for spectacular scenes but came to realize that it is unexpectedly effective for lyrical or creepy scenes, too.”

Making a ScreenX film requires a lot of logistical planning, because lights have to be positioned differently than in a normal shoot, so they’re not seen by the cameras, and one description of the shoot says that new set protocol had dozens of crew members lined up right behind the camera to be safely out of sight. And you thought a traditional animorphic shoot required extra work.

Paul Kim, ScreenX producer, told the Wall Street Journal, “in a (traditional) shoot, you have one façade. Now we need an entire set for a scene. What was usually one wall now becomes 270 degrees. It was a lot of trial-and-error.” Director Kim Jee-woon was more direct: “Making such a movie was like hell and nightmare.”

Retrofitting a regular theater into ScreenX costs only about $150k, but that’s just for adding screens, not moving seats. That means that many seats in the auditorium, originally placed for traditional viewing, aren’t placed well for ScreenX. There are about 40 theaters set up in South Korea now, and the plan is to next make a full ScreenX feature, while expanding the tech to additional outlets in South Korea as well as China, Hong Kong and the U.S.

This trailer for The X will let you see a bit of what the film is like, albeit without all the extra viewing real estate.

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