What does the future hold for filmmaking? These six new technologies may change things in ways you haven’t imagined.
Top image via Lytro
In 1885 two French brothers invented the first moving picture machine and filmed a train arriving at a station and everyone lost their minds. Since then, the medium has evolved; film has added color and sound and become digital and three-dimensional. We’ve seen the likes of D. W. Griffith, Orson Welles, Alfred Hitchcock, Stanley Kubrick, Keanu Reeves, and Steven Spielberg all work to redefine what we consider to be movies, film, cinema and good.
Now it’s 2016 and we’re over a hundred years removed from The Great Train Robbery. Screens are getting smaller and smarter, while films are getting bigger and more diverse and easier to consume than ever before. At the current rate, what we perceive as films will change much more drastically in the next hundred years than the last. Here are six emerging filmmaking technologies that just might be the instruments of that change.
1. Light Field Technology
Image via Lytro
Cameras are progressing at a rate that can only be described as “whoa” and are even beginning to break the rules of image capture. A new camera by Lytro, the ILLUM, is the world’s first commercially available “light field camera.” What does it do?
Well, basically when you take a picture with the ILLUM, you capture all of the image with all of the available information. Not just the parts in focus. Not just the light you see. All of it. Everything. Which essentially lets you decide in post what you want your aperture and focus to be.
2. Flat Lenses
Image via Harvard SEAS
A team of Harvard researchers are working to patent a new type of optical lens that is flat rather than curved. Why you ask? Because a flat, ultra-thin lens can theoretically offer complete accuracy over a wider range of wavelengths and reduce chromatic aberrations usually associated with curved-lens capture. The new technology would certainly re-image how we create and package cameras — possibly resulting in doing away with any connotations of what a “camera” does and looks like.
3. iPhone 7 Dual-Lens Camera
While, the iPhone 7 won’t be the first phone camera to use dual lenses — it’ll probably be the best. Apple’s purchase of LinX Imaging gives the company the technology to give their phones SLR-quality image capturing capabilities, along with the always included fun gimmicks and features. There have already been some celebrated feature films shot on iPhones in the past, so it may not be too long before it becomes less of a gimmick and more of a trend.
4. Canon Patents
Image via Canon
As we posted about earlier this month, there have been some hints and patent leaks that point to some major Canon announcements by the end of the summer. Highlights include a new Canon 5D, a camera which has routinely shaken up the world of digital video and photography over the last decade. And a possible Canon C700 to compete with the ARRI AMIRA. Regardless of your feelings about the brand, the breakthroughs seem to be speeding up as pixel counts sky rocket and the high-end bottoms out toward better cameras in the hands of more and more people.
5. Computerized Sound Design
Image via MIT CSAIL
From this Washington Post article, MIT researchers have developed a computer system that can analyze silent video and add in realistic sound. While this is a work in progress based on the findings in the report, the notion of computerized algorithms sound designing an entire film could open up a whole world of possibilities for other elements of production.
6. AI-written Screenplays
Which leads into this eerie and odd look into how a computer’s “mind” works. New York University AI researcher Ross Goodwin teamed up with director Oscar Sharp to create Benjamin: a self-named recurrent neural network that penned its own screenplay after being fed dozens of science fiction movies as source material.
You can watch the finished product (starring Silicon Valley’s Thomas Middleditch) awkwardly unfold above. (Thankfully, it doesn’t appear Benjamin is on the fast-track to taking over Hollywood anytime soon.)
There’s no real way to tell what the future holds in store. If the last century has served as any indication (the jump from Buster Keaton silent comedies to fully rendered interspecies adventures), there really aren’t any good ways to predict what will ever be next. As long as artists keep creating stories and audiences keep watching, it’s really just up to us to enjoy the ride.
Have any other imaginations on the future of film? Let us know in the comments below.