Breaking the Fourth Wall with John Gaeta
Since working with the Wachowskis on The Matrix movies and Speed Racer, John Gaeta has been experimenting with motion sensing technology (Kinect) as a way of converging movies and interactive media into a more compelling, mind-bending and unifying experience: In other words, breaking the fourth wall. We had a wild conversation, which was streamed live on Sunday at the inaugural Palo Alto International Film Festival.
Gaeta began by tracing Eadweard Muybridge's pioneering experiments in photographic motion (appropriately in Palo Alto and the festival's iconic logo) to his "Bullet Time" innovation in The Matrix to the current Kinect work with games that he's doing at his Float company in San Francisco.
Then Gaeta offered a provocative scenario: "The whole sensor revolution, really, is starting to pour itself in all manner of application," he suggested. "For instance, the only way to port people in a holographic way would be real time spatial acquisition of them and their textures and to bring them into some common viewing space… Over time, people have gotten better and better at combining technologies like HD video and image capture and other types of spatial acquisition to come up with a way of making a virtual construct of it.
"You're about to have sensors in your life in a most prolific way, so your life is going to be metricized at some point in the next 10 years, including facial recognition. And by choice, billions of people are going to put sensors in their homes so they can get all sorts of cool shit -- super immersive entertainment. They'll be able to interact with their televisions and their mobile devices and then there won't be TVs anymore and you'll have your big, immersive boom room."
But what will it mean for movies?
It's Gaeta's contention that while the movie industry is creatively stagnating, we're on the verge of a new renaissance of technological innovation that will transform both movies and interactive entertainment into a deeper and more subjective experience. We're talking holographic immersion with complete volumetric capture so viewers can watch from the viewpoint of the director or select their own individual perspectives. In other words, imagine going into the Matrix with Neo, or being transported into the watercolor heaven of What Dreams May Come, let alone the mysterious Pandora or the nightmarish Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge (one of Gaeta's faves).