Star Trek 50th Expands Technologically

STB_Enterprise_Cloud_Beyond_Teaser_1SheetStar Trek Beyond released today on the 50th anniversary of the Star Trek television series. To celebrate the golden anniversary, the make-up team based in Los Angeles, Vancouver, and Dubai, set out to create 50 unique alien races to appear in the film. In reality, the final count was 53 plus all the versions of characters within each race.

The movie was the first in the Star Trek series to step away from film. The digital equipment was selected for various reasons, but the most important was its ability to extend the frame with additional information. While there are only 30 theaters that will show the extended imagery, Star Trek is being lauded for its advancements with Barco Escape.

Barco Escape projection equipment allows the theater to show the movie not only on the main front screen, but also on the two sidewalls as well. This gives the audience a sense of being in the story or location that fills their periphery. Since most of the locations are created with CGI, it was easy to extend the scenes to incorporate additional information without having to worry about film grain.

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Selected theaters attached two additional screens on the sidewalls. This process was first tested with The Maze Runner in 15 theaters. Modifications from lessons learned were incorporated into the Star Trek release. It’s hard to say if the audience will appreciate being more absorbed in the visuals, or if it will just be the next gimmick in theatrical marketing.

STAR TREK BEYOND

Left to right: Chris Pine plays Kirk, Sofia Boutella plays Jaylah and Anton Yelchin plays Chekov in Star Trek Beyond from Paramount Pictures, Skydance, Bad Robot, Sneaky Shark and Perfect Storm Entertainment

The good news is that regardless of which of the five release formats you watch, including IMAX and 3D, the story is strong enough to stand on its own. The character development is in keeping with what made the series successful and the visual effects incorporate nods to Inception and Star Wars.

The story is easy to follow and the adventure fuels enough energy to excite the audience throughout the film. The character development including Scotty’s probable love interest is sufficient to make each character relatable to the audience. This juxtaposition of adrenalin, humor and honor is sure to make fans believe Rodenberry’s vision to be just around the corner: a huge society of all kinds of people and aliens co-existing peacefully.

Copyright © 2016 by CJ Powers

The Coming Demise of Independent Filmmakers, or NOT

Short Films Require Set-Up by CJ PowersMega studios are teetering on the brink of collapse based on the ratio of mega hits versus losers they field. The industry is already projecting a downward trend of the comic and action/adventure franchises that generated the rebound for Hollywood over the past ten years.

For the consumer, the blame is focused on increased technologies reducing the price of a high quality theater experience at home compared to the rising ticket prices at theaters. For the artists, the blame falls upon the marketing and business people forcing the creatives to regurgitate franchise installments and sequels over and over again – Driving the creatives to independent projects and “television” (in its latest Internet form), where they can create something new and unique.

Within this setting is the rise of independent niche production companies including, and most notably, the faith-based and horror genres. Today there are tens of thousands of production companies due to easy access to less expensive technologies. Anyone with a wealthy friend can now make a feature length movie.

Unfortunately, this glut of material is turning major distributors away from purchasing independent films, as the vast majority of the films lack great techniques and story structure. The films that can’t get a viewing with a distributor and those that are rejected by distributors, are creating a massive transition to digital releases to niche markets, sabotaging the numbers within existing audience venues.

Since no independent filmmaker has enough fans to perpetuate his products, the need has grown for joint ventures within the independent marketplace. This is closely following the corporate trend of jobs being farmed out to boutique companies that pool their resources from one project to the next.

The companies that are attracting the pros and generating sustainable work, rather than just collecting points for backend payoffs that rarely occur due to creative financing, are expanding into macro studios. This enormous growth is being tracked by studios who plan to infiltrate and take advantage of the new production finance models.

While Orlando was first considered to be the east coast of Hollywood, it evaporated when the economy dropped. This was due to the fact that studios only sent overflow work to Orlando. However, the high risk ventures of big box office mega pictures created additional constraints and forced Hollywood to pick up as many titles as possible without the up front risks.

Everyone, filmmakers included, decided they were capable of making films and created a glut of bad movies. Last year, out of the 400+ horror films produced, less than 50 got distribution deals. Out of the 470+ faith-based and Christian films produced, about 200 were self-distributed and 19 received a major release. The glut of bad movies that distributors had to sort through was on the increase; causing distributors to focus only on companies they can trust.

In other words, the onslaught of amateur films in 2014 made it very difficult for professional companies to start off 2015 with any traction. This trend will continue, as Hollywood knows that only great production techniques coupled with great storytelling is paramount to wide distribution success.

The ramifications will force the professionals to create macro studios and joint ventures in order to consolidate audiences and accumulate enough revenue to cover better techniques and storytelling.

Thanks to a new stream of creative control in cable and Internet television, many macro studios are already in place and waiting for the transition to grow their businesses. Unfortunately, some smaller studios are still trying to make films for the dispersing markets instead of consolidating audiences with like-minded projects.

This shake up is as significant as the one that hit in the late 70’s with the introduction of home video. In the long run, the mom and pop shop studios that survived were the ones who shifted to digital production over film. The ones who held tight to film fell by the wayside.

Over the next three years, production companies that partner on bigger projects will see a great deal of growth, while those trying to keep everything within their full control and low budget will be forced to stay within their niche markets. Horror film companies will be sorted based on the categories of thriller versus blood and guts. Faith-based films will be most likely sorted by denomination.

The companies rising to the top will be limited to higher budgets, production values, great unique stories, and universal appeal. Amateur companies can’t fake these key elements, which is why it will become the differentiator within the world of motion picture production, regardless of release format.