speculation time. About 17 years ago a friend and I talked about a conceptual camera that would capture depth as well as light through a system similar to infrared range finders on automatic cameras. I thought that such a thing would change the way visual effects would be created. As it turned out, it made a clunky input device for your xbox 360 so that you could wave your hands at a video game and have it completely fail to react to your movements. A variation on this type of system is, and has been for some time, used in motion and performance capture studios. The systems are massively expensive and not something that will come to the layman's market any time soon.
In 2013 I said on twitter “I think the primary thing slowing the advancement of the camera, is the lens. Feel free to use that as a metaphor.” At the time I had been thinking about a type of light sensor that would resemble a ball on a stick. It would capture light from all directions and framing, focus, even subtle positioning, would all be post processes.
Before anyone starts to imagine that I think I am particularly clever, countless motion capture systems, the microsoft kinect, and the Lytro immerge camera all came out as real physical products. I only ruminate over the concepts that these people make real. If I were actually clever, I would probably have built one or two of these things.
Well here is the latest speculation. At some point in the not too distant future, maybe within the next 5 to 10 years, a “movie” will come out that is entirely rendered on the fly. The data for this dramatic presentation won’t be stored in a series of images, it will be 3 dimensional models and captured texture data. It will be fed into a rendering system, not unlike a game engine, and no specific camera angles will be selected by a director. A collection of both new and old techniques will be required to present the story in a way that an audience can follow. The old techniques will come from theatre, specifically theatre presented in the round, where actor movement and blocking are vital to telling a story. The new techniques are currently best understood by game creators. Specifically first person game creators. Drawing an audience to watch what you feel is dramatically important, when they can go anywhere and look at anything will be the cinematography of these new experiences.
I don’t think these experiences will supplant movies and theatre, but they will exist alongside them. Considering the best ways to use such a medium will be important. Maybe this is the one time I might be qualified to take advantage of one of my speculations.