4-D Movies: Changing the Film-Watching Experience

Posted on September 15, 2011 in Media and Culture

By Arshia Chatterjee:

“3D is the future of movies”. Indeed, at the time that this assertion was made, it seemed like 3D movies would be the ultimate theatre experience in years to come, what with the release of Harry Potter, Avatar, Titanic and Toy Storyin 3D. The most famous 3D movie series of all time has probably been Spy Kids, and there is barely anybody who is not familiar with the Spy Kids film franchise. Now, after a much awaited eight years, the new Spy Kids 4D movie, called All the Time in the World is out. With 4D replacing 3D, which had become the supreme movie experience, the film world has undergone a major makeover.

The hype and hysteria surrounding 3D films died down sooner than expected. It seems like there is a new contender to be the“future of movies” now, a phenomenon that has recently begun to emerge — 4D.4D combines the three dimensional sense of the 3D movies with yet another facet. Till a while back, 4-dimensional movies such as Pirates of the Caribbean, Spongebob Squarepants and Shrek were being shown only exclusively at theme parks or special theatres, but recently the trend has picked up in several other places, including individual movie theatres in various countries. 4 dimensional movies feature “special effects” such as wind, rain, mist, water sprays and even the seats shifting during the movie to offer a wholly rounded experience of movie watching.

Reviews from people who were audiences at 4D movie screenings are mostly positive, especially from children who are delighted at the feeling of almost being a part of the movie itself. Initially, 4D movies began to incorporate a sense of smell by projecting numbers onto the screen according to which the audience would scratch special cards given to them to smell what the characters on screen smell too. Since then, this method has evolved momentously. Gone are the scratch cards, and instead, it only takes a swipe of one finger to fill the entire area with scent. Recently, in Disneyland, a preview of Mickey Mouse was screened. My friend was a witness to it, and recounted to me in great detail with extreme excitement about how the Mickey and Donald were throwing tomatoes at each other on screen, while simultaneously the audience was being sprayed with squirts of ketchup.

Going to watch a movie has grown and progressed beyond conception. In a recent interview, James Cameron stated that if today’s technology had been available to him when he was in the process of making his famous Titanic, he would have used it to the maximum. Statistics also prove that since the advent of three and four dimensional movies, the number of people visiting the theatres has escalated. One of my friends is a video game fanatic and seems to think that the movie experience has become more like a game and much more involving and interactive since the films have been screened in 3D, and now that 4D is becoming more common, he is absolutely on top of the world.

Not all feedback has been positive though. Although younger children go completely nuts over 4D movies, most other audiences complain about it. Headaches, due to the bright lights and strong smells, have been a constant complaint because of which a majority of people I know prefer to watch movies without any “special effects”. Also, some people who are movie buffs and enjoy watching and constructively commenting on movies seem to think that these special effects take attention away from the plot and acting. A recent screening of Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides has received more negative than positive reviews, because of the constant water sprays which started to make the people in the audience feel uncomfortable and clammy. A report also states that a great deal of people, while watching the latest Transformers, Dark of the Moon, complained about the extra-loud noises and of queasiness because the predominant smell throughout the 4D movie was supposedly that of burnt rubber.

Upon asking my friends how they felt about four dimensional movies, the prevailing response that I received was one of groans and sighs. “The tickets are too expensive”, was what most of them said, and this was followed by complaints about how the “special effects” are too unexpected and take one by surprise. The water sprays they said are uncomfortable and the strobe lights and the intense smells give rise to headaches and a sensation of sickness. Although I did receive some positive appraisal from a couple of people, the number of individuals who said they prefer normal movies, or even 3D, over 4D definitely outweighed the number that sounded satisfied with 4D movies.

Three dimensional and four dimensional movies have transfigured film-watching beyond imagination. But it is yet to be seen what kind of reception 4D movies get from the larger public, and more importantly, it is yet to be seen how long the 4D rage lasts before it too becomes a thing of the past and gets supplanted by something more revolutionary.

Youth Ki Awaaz

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