Digital iOS News Tablets, , , , , , , — April 19, 2012 16:20 — 2 Comments

iPad ushers in a brave new world for films

iPad 3, tactile display, swiping screen, video, Berg studio, Mag+

The new iPad is close to bringing a 'feelie' factor to the screen

It’s only been out a few weeks but already the new iPad has the potential to turn cinema, well, upside down — if an exciting demo produced by Berg Studio in London is anything to go by.

A recent blog on Fast Company’s Co.Design highlights a video developed by Berg Studio with Bonnier and Mag+ that “turns a movie into a swipeable, interactive entity on a tablet.”

In other words after silent films in 1920s, through to the present day ‘talkies’ — are we now looking at ’feelies’ for a new cinematic experience?

“Not only can you now hold full 1020p HD in your hands, but you can manipulate that video experience with your hands as well. This is just in the demonstration phase now, but it won’t be long before video makers make good on Apple’s ‘touch and feel’ promise for this device,” says Anthony Wing Kosner, tech contributor for Forbes magazine.

Kosner is even going as far as calling the latest development “personal cinema”, and he puts it down to the new iPad’s combination of high-resolution screen and quad-core processor.

As you can see in the demo above, the user is able to move a watch, a vintage Rolex in this case, around as the focal plane shifts and in the other example  a glass jar full of thread bobbins rotates across the screen’s surface.

“In both cases there are powerful visual/tactile illusions at play that go way beyond the usual 360 degree zeotroping we’ve gotten used to in product demos,” says Kosner.

Berg’s Creative Director, Timo Arnall, told  Co.Design they used the Lytro light field camera to create the ‘tap to focus’ feature. “The lovely thing here is that we can see all of the analogue, optical qualities such as the subtle shifts in perspective as the lens elements move, and the blooming, reflection and chromatic abberations that change under our fingertips,” he says.

“Having this optical, cinematic language under the fine control of our fingertips feels new, it’s a lovely, playful, explorative interaction.”

But how is this interaction achieved on the new iPad 3?

“Each of the scenes in the Swiping through Cinema app are made up of hundreds (and in some cases thousands) of individual images, each extracted from a piece of real-timeHDvideo, explains Arnall.

“It is the high-speed manipulation of these images which creates one continuous experience, and has only become possible relatively recently.

“During our time developing Mag+, we learnt a great deal about using images on tablets. With the first-generation iPad, you needed to pay careful attention to RAM use, as the system could kill your app for being excessively greedy, even after loading only a handful of photographs. We eventually created a method which would allow you to smoothly animate any number of full-screen images.

“With that code in place, we moved onto establishing a workflow which would allow us to shoot footage and be able to preview it within the app in a matter of minutes. We also consciously avoided filling the screen with user interface elements, which means that the only interaction is direct manipulation of what you see on-screen.

“With the Retina display on the third-generation iPad, we’re really excited by the prospect of being able to move through super crisp and detailed image sequences.”

Kosner for one is quick to see the potential of the app for film-makers: “For example, in a heist movie, when the safe cracker is in the vault, the viewer would have to come up with the combination based on prior clues for the action to proceed. Or when the protagonist in a fantasy movie has to rub an amulet a certain way to cast a spell, again, the viewer steps in with their own fingers. The examples created for Bonnier by Berg seem closer to advertising than cinema and you can bet that as soon as marketers can build these kind of gestural experiences into their tablet advertising without grinding the device to a halt they will jump right it,” he says.

Are we entering a new era for cinema? After all 3D looks a tired format, should studios, and film-makers for that matter, be embracing this kind of new technology?

“Just as the “talkies” replaced silent pictures, high performance tablets like the new iPad will enable a new kind of intimate cinema experience – named after Aldous Huxley’s fictional entertainment device in Brave New World and its namesake indie band – “the feelies,” says Kosner.

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About the author

Tony Myers has written 866 articles for Smart Movie Making

Fooling around with the iPhone since 2010. Taking it to the next web by writing about new media, new technology, new wave cinema and the digital revolution.


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