Barry Clark, featured speaker at the IMERSA Summit and executive producer with Telenova, is currently developing a pair of stereoscopic 3D fulldome films for a client in China. The films are, says Clark, "designed to be surreal, dreamlike stories that draw on the rich trove of tales from Chinese mythology as well as the attraction of the Chinese people to the landscapes and lifeforms that have shaped their culture.
" The shows' exclusive purpose will be to entertain domestic tourists in two new, standalone destination theaters in China. Construction of the first theater is underway, with the second one set to commence in the summer.
Clark is as eager to push the boundaries of digital cinema as he has done in film and television media. A veteran of the giant-screen cinema industry and avid proponent of 3D, Clark's background includes 6 years partnered with Peter Guber at Mandalay Media Arts, during which period he was writer/exec producer on the 3D giant screen film Galapagos: The Enchanted Voyage (1999). For Clark, the future is high frame rate and high resolution. "The China films will be rendered at 4K and 60 frames per second, but if we do any further productions with this client, I'm hoping they will be 8K and 120 fps. The big problem in 3D is luminance. 60 fps will add a little extra luminance."
With the participation of xRez Studios, each of Telenova's new China films will be a 20-minute, live-action adventure using stereoscopic live action shot in a green screen studio, composited together with high-resolution live-action background stills shot from helicopters. The techniques are similar to those seen in the xRez production Crossing Worlds, which Clark named as an inspiration for himself and his business partner/wife, Terry Tanner Clark. "About a year and a half ago, we started thinking about fulldome 3D as a more engaging, more immersive option to IMAX. We started to think about a fulldome 3D film on the iconic landscape of China that would fly through 10 or 12 natural areas. We presented the idea at the Macau Digital Film Festival in November 2011, which is a good event for bringing together East and West producers." The first film is scheduled to soft-open in March 2014 and be ready for the public by July 2014, with the second following in late 2014 or early 2015.
There are two innovations Clark particularly wants to see in fulldome. The first is the introduction of laser projection, which he expects to see by mid-2015 or sooner. "It's so important for 3D, where we pay such a high penalty in light losses." The second is a spherical camera to make it possible to shoot live-action dramatic films appropriate to the dome. "It's costly; perhaps $3-5 million to build a single camera. It will take an entertainment company to invest in building it."
Stereo 3D in the dome is a controversial topic, and one that will be discussed at the IMERSA Summit, but there's no question about it in Clark's mind as a preferred tool for audience immersion. "We use it to increase engagement and the suspension of disbelief; to do everything we can to get the audience into the film rather than feel they are looking at something projected. Holography is what we are really waiting for in regard to the ultimate immersive experience, but until then, the best we can do is 3D spatial audio and 3D spatial video at the highest resolution possible - ideally 10K and 120 fps."
The dome, maintains Clark, is the ideal medium for introducing these advances to the cinema going world. "People don't bring the same frame of reference to a dome experience that they bring to a flatscreen movie. They don't bring their preconceptions of what a movie should be like. If there's any medium for introducing new things without encountering Luddite resistance, this is it. It cries out to be done. The possibilities are irresistible."