Features & Columns

Barco Demonstrates A New
Method of Cinematic Escape

THREE WAY: Barco demonstrates a new method of cinematic escape— the three-sided screen.

The first really wide movie screen was of a size that will never be seen again: for the 1900 Paris Exposition, Raoul Grimoin-Sanson demonstrated "Cineorama," a circle of ten 70mm arc-light projectors blasting a screen of an 11.1 ratio: 330 feet wide and 30 feet high.

"Paris saw two of the half-cylinders of our present-day Cinerama brought face to face," historian Kenneth Macgowan says of the massive projection. Then, years before 1950s "Cinerama," Abel Gance used three synchronized screens to tell the story of Napoleon.

Cut to 2015. At this year's Cinequest, the Barco projection company is previewing what it hopes to be the next step in widescreen: "Escape"—a three-projector, three-sided screen previewed last fall with The Maze Runner at seven theaters nationwide, including Redwood City's Cinemark Downtown.

Barco's Ted Schilowitz is billed as a "CinemaVangelist"—"A made up title for a made up world," he says playfully. "For my work at 20th Century Fox, my title is 'Futurist.'"

With the help of several Fox executives, Josh Courtney from VODA studios, and Arnaud Paris from Stereographics, Schilowitz will be at Cinequest March 1, demonstrating the possibilities of Barco's Escape system. The program includes a number of shorts made for the Escape format—an excerpt from a Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga concert, travel footage from YouTube sensation Devin "Supertramp" Graham, and a travelogue of Burning Man. Also demonstrated is the pre-vized (the pre-visualized computer animation template) of an upcoming film about the Golden Gate Bridge, as well as an Escape hookup to a real-time gaming system to demonstrate one more facet of the system.

On Mar 1 and Mar 7 at 2pm, and Mar 8 at 3:30pm, a second program will show the Escape formatted version of The Maze Runner with added behind the scenes footage. Unlike previous ultra-wide screen films, no new spaces have to be developed for the three-sided system. For a cost of some $200,000 and a week's labor, Escape can be installed in existing and so on.

With the help of several Fox executives, Josh Courtney from VODA studios, and Arnaud Paris from Stereographics, Schilowitz will be at Cinequest demonstrating the possibilities of Barco's Escape system, by screening the Escape-formatted sequences from Maze Runner, along with some behind-the-scenes footage from the hit film. The bill also includes a number of shorts made for the Escape format—an excerpt from a Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga concert, travel footage from YouTube sensation Devin "Supertramp" Graham, and a travelogue of Burning Man.

On March 1 at 4:45pm, the pre-vized (the pre-visualized computer animation template) of an upcoming film about the Golden Gate Bridge, as well as a projector hookup to real time gaming.

Unlike previous ultra-wide screen films, no new spaces have to be developed for the three-sided system. For a cost of some $200,000 and a week's labor, Escape can be installed in existing theaters. "We believe that we're experimenting with the future of the medium," Schilowitz says. "This is the beginning of the journey not the end of it."

According to him, indie and mainstream studios are considering this technology with interest. Rather than recoiling at the thought of Michael Bay assaulting your peripheral vision, ask instead: how could P.T. Anderson or David Lynch use this?

Barco Escape

Various Times and Venues

Cinequest, San Jose