First Introduced: 1983
The Concept: Some time in the late ’70s, a special-effects expert named Douglas Trumbull—the genius who created the revolutionary effects in 2001: A Space Odyssey—started thinking about the way film projection could be improved. His method—a technology he called Showscan—was significant in that it utilized both a larger film image along with (and this important) a faster projection speed.
How It Works: Frames of a movie, running through a projector, create the illusion of motion. And this speed—24 frames per second—had not changed in more than 80 years. (Older films ran a bit slower, and produced a very noticeable flickering effect that led to movies being called “flicks.”) Trumbull knew that a faster rate could create a more fluid—and, perhaps, life-like—sense of movement. In fact, he conducted tests in which subjects were hooked up to machines that recorded biometric data (like heart rate) and discovered a measurable physiological response when they watched footage shot and projected at 60 frames per second. It was clear: faster rates were the next frontier in projection technology.
Was It Successful? No. Trumbull was hoping to use the technology for his 1983 film Brainstorm—but the studio balked (for financial reasons) and he ended up shooting the movie in conventional formats. (The movie received lukewarm reviews and is mostly known for Natalie Woods dying during the middle of production.) While Showscan was never used in a movie, Trumbull’s concept has been finding favor with some current Hollywood innovators.
Other Movies That Used This Technology: N/A
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