The Technology in Sci-Fi Movies

The world of cinema is rich and varied. Nowadays, even the most sophisticated viewer can find the film to enjoy and discuss with friends. Films have always attracted people since they are full of magic, mystery, and enigma even if it is not a fiction or fantasy film (Pierson 2002). However, the liking for films has evolved with the pace of time and with the development of technologies used for filmmaking. For instance, the first motion picture was as simple as a train arriving at the station, but it had a spectacular effect, namely everybody wanted to look at literally moving pictures (Gaudreault & Barnard 2011). Modern directors and sound and visual effects specialists try as hard as they can to have the same effect as the train produced at the beginning of the 20th century. They do their best to create the same attraction to movies. Therefore, this paper aims to answer the simple question whether sci-fi professionals influence the attraction of audience to motion pictures. There are two examples to discuss in the paper, namely two revolutionary science fiction masterpieces The Matrix directed by Wachowski brothers (1999) and Avatar directed by James Cameron (2009).

As it was mentioned earlier, the first thing that attracts people to cinemas is the picture. Visuality is the main thing people strive for when they come to watch the newest blockbuster, science fiction, soap opera or any other genre (Gunning 2006). The reason is that the very image on the screen leads people to feel emotions they cannot experience in real life (Pierson 2002). Any film has an impact on the emotional condition of the individual. To date, the development of cinema allows films to capture people’s imagination with the help of various elements such as a brilliant actor’s performance, a thrilling story, and ultra-modern graphics (Ross 2012; Pierson 2002). Without visualization the effect any of these would be impossible.

Both films discussed were the real revolution in the sci-fi genre for the time they were released. First, The Matrix was filmed 16 years ago, but it is still shown on the big screen in any format. The frequent use of slow-motion filming today is a sign of bad taste (Pierson 2002; Barnett 2000), but this claim does not apply to The Matrix, although the film frequently demonstrated a slowed down motion of bullets, jumping on skyscrapers, and running along the walls and quite unimaginable things that dashingly ignored the gravity. Interestingly, but initially, the scene in which Neo evades bullets was intended to be filmed like in the old shoot, using mannequins and various technical devices (Barnett 2000). However, once the directors and operators spent several kilometers of film and made unattractive shots, it was decided to adopt computer graphics. To this end, a new computer program has been specifically designed and became the object of dreams for many filmmakers of high-budget pictures (Pierce & Kauffman 2012).

The Wachowskis did not use slow motion as a technology called “bullet time” that was the movement of the camera around the still object (Pierce & Kauffman 2012; Barnett 2000). In spite of the fact that they were not pioneers of this method, just a year before The Matrix the technology was used in Blade (Ndalianis 2004). Nevertheless, the Wachowskis managed to do something a little more complicated; in fact, they embodied it so that bullet time entered into the general vocabulary. Not surprisingly, it became a model example. After that, this technique was used in other successful movies, for example, in the movie Charlie’s Angels, where Cameron Diaz flies with slow motion technology (Pierce & Kauffman 2012). The same trick applied creators of the animated film Shrek (Barnett 2000). In addition to the technological model, bullet-time is a visual attraction that started to be utilized from 1999;  when somebody bends back as Neo did in Matrix, the scene of this movement unintentionally appears in the mind (Bukatman 2003).

The described visual technology is one of the factors that create attraction to sci-fi movies. Ultimately, the best proof of the film’s influence on a person, thereby boosting the feeling of liking, is the projects in which one discerns its methods, style, and effects with the naked eye. The styles of many modern films are characterized by the phrase “as in The Matrix,” even if the filmmakers do not relate them to it (Barnett 2000). In fact, this applies to such films as Equilibrium, Inception, Resident Evil saga (Lee 1013). Additionally, the mentioned pictures are more advanced in terms of visual effects.

Despite the abundance of computerized scenes, the focus was made mainly on the works of director, producers, actors and preparation. Furthermore, the film is still considered to have one of the greatest plots to be made for a sci-fi film (Barnett 2000). For instance, fight scenes in The Matrix were created by the famous choreographer Yuen Wo Ping who had extensive experience in Asian action movies (Pierce & Kaufman 2012). The fight scenes in The Matrix deserve a separate paper to talk about, but they made a significant contribution in this direction of cinematography and to the picture the audience saw on their screens. However, the above-mentioned facts are not connected with the technology. Therefore, what people see on the screen is rather a combination of hard work and computer visualization technologies such as above-mentioned bullet-time.

On the contrary, Avatar takes the viewer unceremoniously since 3D-effect is really unique here, while landscapes of the planet Pandora shake the reasonableness. It is worth noting that in the visual merits, even taking into account the revolutionary 3D technology used in the film, the film’s one and only technology is fancy visualization (Lee 1013). The plot of Avatar, for example, does not carry special revolutionary items. Moreover, the script of the film is the mixture of many science fiction stories of the 20th century combined with the social context of the harm done to nature by human activity (Ross2012) as well as .unlimited greediness of several representatives of human beings (Davidson 2010).

Therefore, Avatar serves as the evidence that with the evolvement of visual effects and technologies, attraction to film evolves as well (Gaudreault & Barnard 2011). In 1999, the audience was attracted to The Matrix by the plot, script, work of actors and directors (Barnett 2000; Bukatman 2003). Nowadays, the majority of spectators saw only the picture, which is indeed fascinating. Surprisingly, of course, in the early 21st century, puppets instead of characters still continue to provoke the audience’s admiration (Ross 2012). It is clear that in Avatar, James Cameron has generated many fabulous imitations. The film has everything that was later called “blockbuster,” namely amazing sceneries, human-like creatures, giant trees, floating mountains, and several massive battle scenes. The director James Cameron has been filming Avatar for 25 years, creating the technology that made it all possible (Higgins 2012).

In the logic of the script of the film, it is an existing Pandora planet; nevertheless, Pandora has inherent ontological characteristics of the virtual world. First of all, it is depicted in hyperrealism of the natural world, namely there are beautiful landscapes as well as a quest-like image that is typical for the world of computer games, where visualization plays a key role (Higgins 2011; Lee 2013). Evidently, such a scenario-playing space (setting) extends, expands and fills the void of real life, but many positive features and properties stop it. Moreover, there is nothing that would offend decent philistine taste or provoked boredom. Colorful eco-bait works at the level of simple curiosity as well as at the level of the productive capacity of the imagination, enticing the subject to transition to a new level of fullness of life (Ross 2012). However, a similar structure with a similar feature set but with a “man-made” shell (which can be seen in another movie being discussed in the paper) is the polar bunch of emotions that are strictly negative in nature.

On the one hand, visual effects have the positive side since in the very name of science fiction, there is a reference to technological advances to be used when filming, directing and visualizing the picture. For both The Matrix and Avatar, this conclusion is correct since both films amazed the critics and the audience due to their visual effects and the fact that before the films were released, people knew that they were supposed to use major technological advances of the era. In this particular case, the technology and not the plot or events in the movie created the initial attraction to both motion pictures. As a result, both movies were awarded Oscars for visual effects (Ndalianis 2001; Barnett 2000). As a result, this led to attraction since it is believed that the Movie Academy professional cannot be wrong. Provided they gave The Matrix and Avatar an award for visual effects, these are indeed worth seeing.

It is especially true for Avatar since the resonance created by the fact that James Cameron have worked on this picture for such a long time and applied such a huge effort to make it a real sensation in filmmaking world caused this film to be one of the most commercially successful films of modernity (Ross 2012). Avatar has become the fastest billionaire in the world that totals a billion dollars in a global box office (Ross 2012). The film was able to collect a billion only in 17 days from its release (as opposed to The Dark Knight, which being the most visited film of 2008, peaked this sum in six months after being released). Avatar has made a revolution in the minds of cinema owners, who still doubted whether to install expensive 3D-projectors in the cinema halls (Higgins 2012). As a matter of fact, the film started the new era of films by making a bid for the picture and technologies and not the content.

The director himself recognizes that by making this film, he intended to give a spectator real journey into the world on the screen to be nothing to distract from what is happening so that that they forgot that they were watching 3D and thought that they were on Pandora (Ross 2012; Higgins 2012; Lee 2013). He considered it the best way to make the magic of cinema moving to another planet (Lee 2013). In the end, he wanted to insert a bit of magic into the film. With Avatar in 2009 started the fashion for 3D-movies, but still in spite of the incredible number of such films, very few people could do that beautiful and impressive visuals.

Avatar is a story of love in the same way as Titanic, but the story here is not paramount. Cameron filmed a movie designed for large screens and the most modern cinemas so that it is unreasonable to watch the movie at home, while seven years ago, it looked like magic akin to the one that probably felt the first audience of “The arrival of the train” by the Lumiere brothers (Ross 2012). Avatar puts an end to a just arisen upward trend in mass movies. At the beginning of the 21st century, Hollywood producers suddenly realized that it was time to stop keeping the audience for a picture in only black-and-white range of perception (Pierson 2002). Thereafter, this confirms the feeling of attraction of millions of satisfied viewers because a modern culture checks beyond the limits and tries new opportunities listening to the resonance produced. Avatar proved that 3D can be embedded in the serious, grown-up movie (Ross 2012). It is now not just entertainment for children and not some nonsense that constantly appears on the screen. It is an extension of visual movie capabilities and an increase in the value of cinema campaign for the viewer.

Looking ahead, James Cameron is now working on the continuation of Avatar, where he again adopts visual effects and again promises to use latest technological advances, developing attraction to the movie. The director says that they will work with the most advanced tools and HDR HFR (Lee 2013). Although he is the founder of 3D fashion for movies, he claims that he is a real fan of it, and the team is planning to get incredibly bright projection for the perception that there will be no need for 3D-glasses. The new part of Avatar will be released in 4K format, namely with water, air and fire simulation. Undoubtedly, the future movies will look better than the previous ones (Lee 2013: Ross 2012). Therefore, perhaps in several years, some other student will compare the attraction derived by the filmmaking technology to two parts of Avatar.

In conclusion, both of the discussed films can be considered as a luxurious visual breakout. Although at this point, Avatar, undeniably, wins, at least at the expense of a much more advanced technology, The Matrix cannot be underestimated in these terms. Answering the initial question and comparing these two movies have shown that the technology development directly leads to the development of people’s attraction to motion pictures. Unfortunately, after Avatar was released, the audience is attracted to the fancy picture on the screen more and more every year. Thus, the content of the movies plays a significantly lower role than the visual impression.

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