Douglas Trumbull: A Visual Wizard looks Ahead

Douglas Trumbull is no stranger to special effects in big movies… And we’re talking big big movies: “2001 Space Odyssey” Big. With visual effects credits on 2001 (as mentioned), Blade Runner, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and Tree of Life, Douglas Trumbull sees a bright but complex future for digital filmmakers.

In Part 1, Douglas Trumbull talks about lessons learned from over 40 years of work with filmmaking and exhibition technology, as well as some hard lessons in the movie business.

I think there are a lot of opportunities for tremendous improvement in color saturation, frame rate, brightness, and the size of the screen so we can bring back spectacle and showmanship. It would get audiences back into theatres.

Exhibition quality has hit an all-time low and that really bothers me. Not that I don’t admire what’s been done to transform theatres with 3D and digital. But brightness, screen size, saturation are all in the low end, and it’s turning people off.

They can’t quite describe what’s giving them the headache when they watch 3D, but it’s not the 3D. It’s the loss of brightness and it’s also inadequate frame rates. The biggest complicating factor is that there is little qualitative difference between experiencing a movie in the theatre and in your own home.

— Creative Cow | Read the Full Article

Here in Part 2, Trumbull delves more deeply into his career and stories from the production of iconic films.

My career started when I thought I wanted to be an architect and studied illustration. I discovered I didn’t want to be an architect, but meanwhile I had gotten into photorealistic airbrush illustration. Because I had a long-standing interest in science fiction, my portfolio quickly filled up with pictures of aliens and spaceships.

I was also deeply interested in animation, so I thought I’d try to get a job doing that. I went around to different studios, including UPA, the animation studio producing the Mr. Magoo cartoons. They looked at my portfolio and said I was in the wrong place and sent me to Graphic Films, a company that had a specialty contract making films for NASA and the Air Force. I immediately got a job there and started doing animation background illustration for these films. We had a job previsualizing the Apollo program and here I was, really a kid, painting lunar landers and vertical assembly buildings.

— Creative COW | Read the Full Article