My Vision of Open Source Cinema

Boys On Hudson
Apr 26, 2018 · 2 min read

In the first week of the class, I had a rough picture of an open format like a hybrid of OGG and JSON that is universal and carries our future cinema experience. Several weeks later, as we have practiced building scenes and telling stories in VR, I’m now having more detailed thoughts on how the emerging technologies would help to shape our media landscape. What’s the ultimate file format for the future cinema?

I find there are common things while working with different video and animation editing tools. For example, to place an object into a space, we always need to set values of anchor point, position or rotation. Both in After Effects and three.js, there is the notion of camera to work with 3D. In game engines like Unreal and Unity, a camera has become the essence of the first person controller. Thus, to formulate an universal file that can be exchanged across different tools or platforms, first we need to include all of the necessary structures to construct a scene, and at the same time keep the flexibility of adding application-specific elements for the better compatibility.

The real world is full of various file formats, and oftentimes there’s no rationale behind the popularity of certain formats. It’s very ambitious to fight with everyone in the market to convince them to adopt a new file format. One way to encourage people to do so might be making it more transparent and understandable. For example, instead of using ambiguous object scale in 3D software like Maya, we could use the real-world unit like inches and centimeters. Other than that, the format, as a container, should also accept other most commonly used formats like JPG, PNG, FBX and OBJ. Fortunately, today there’s already a solution like an exporter or a converter to help to work across platforms. Maybe there will be no universal file format at all, and we end up just exporting or converting to easily exchange our files.

As the future cinema experience going to the direction that intersects more with the VR gaming experience, I’m also interested in exploring what nonlinear gameplay really means. Although a nonlinear game may provide multiple choices to let players to go on optional side quests or subplots to finish the game, I still think the paths to victory are set rather than being truly arbitrary. To make an interactive narrative, AI could possibly be a solution. By the aid of AI, the storyline would be generated infinitely.

The purpose of proposing an universal format is to help to construct a foundation where everyone can share story elements and also jump into each other’s scene to experience, interact or even create a new story based on it. I’m not so sure if undertaking the new file format is the best solution, but I think as we work towards consensus, being transparent and flexible is crucial. In addition, selflessness is also a key to open source. The ownership of creation and originality is a whole ‘nother extended topic worth discussing.

Open Source Cinema

“Motion pictures, perhaps our most convincing medium, is now undergoing such a transformation thanks to virtual reality technologies. Here we create a working proof of concept for a shared story space.”

Boys On Hudson
Open Source Cinema
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