April 20, 2014

Scrolling Headlines:

UMass men’s lacrosse falls to Hofstra on Senior Night, 11-6 -

Saturday, April 19, 2014

VIDEO: UMass United Rally in support of Derrick Gordon, LGBTQ community -

Friday, April 18, 2014

Student rally in support of Gordon, LGBTQ community -

Thursday, April 17, 2014

John Ashcroft faces criticism during speech -

Thursday, April 17, 2014

UMass football continues move in new direction in annual Spring Game -

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Thousands gather in Amherst Commons for 23rd Annual Extravaganja -

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Sexual violence is not ‘normal’ -

Thursday, April 17, 2014

One year after Boston Marathon bombings, UMass doctor Pierre Rouzier continues passion to help -

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Photo Slideshow: UMass United Rally -

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Get Yourself Tested at UMass -

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Library labyrinth targets stress -

Thursday, April 17, 2014

There is nothing to debate about global warming -

Thursday, April 17, 2014

UMass hits the road to take on LaSalle -

Thursday, April 17, 2014

No. 11 UMass women’s lacrosse looks to extend winning streak against Richmond -

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Southeastern Conference commissioner Mike Slive latest McCormack Executive-in-Residence -

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Got a little Irish in you? -

Thursday, April 17, 2014

UMass doctoral student awarded Soros Fellowship -

Thursday, April 17, 2014

UMass Dressage Team discusses the lesser-known sport -

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Canelas: Things worth watching in Spring Game 2014 -

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

‘The Walking Dead’ finale resurrects a dull season -

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Trumbull talks filmmaking

Rebecca Brossoit/Collegian

The role of the “special effects man” has become a dominant and integral one in modern filmmaking. What used to be the hallmark of a B-movie has become the key for box-office success.

Last Friday afternoon, special effects pioneer Douglas Trumbull gave the keynote address at the third annual Information & Communication Summit at the University of Massachusetts in the Student Union Ballroom. Trumbull addressed both his own work and his plans for the future of the film industry.

The casual filmgoer may not know Trumbull’s face, but they’ve almost certainly seen his work. Beginning with Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey,” Trumbull has created some of cinema’s most memorable images and moments. Whether it’s the arrival of the Mothership in “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” or any scene from “Blade Runner,” Trumbull has certainly made his mark on movie history. His work from the 1970s and ‘80s still holds up, and in many cases surpasses the digital effects of today’s films.

His address focused on the role of technology in filmmaking. Trumbull spoke about his belief that technology should help filmmakers. Apart from his work on classic science fiction films, Trumbull has also developed and patented groundbreaking film technologies. These innovations, such as Showcam, are designed to make film a more immersive experience.

Trumbull was particularly proud about Showcam, an invention he has been working on and perfecting since the late 1980s. The Showcam’s intention is to act as a window into another world. Despite being unable to adequately demonstrate the effect on the Student Union Ballroom’s projector, Trumbull communicated how truly awe-inspiring a Showcam film could be. He entertained the audience with a story about how even Steven Spielberg was wowed by a Showcam demonstration.

For all the genius and talent behind Trumbull’s innovations, there is a surprising lack of recognition or appreciation for his work. In a short clip that Trumbull played during his presentation, the film critic Roger Ebert described Trumbull as “a guy with an idea that would cause trouble for everybody in Hollywood.” After a deadpanned “right,” Trumbull described his frustrating attempts to convince the film industry to embrace and adopt new technology.

Trumbull also addressed the current 3D phenomenon, which doesn’t seem to be going away any time soon. Though it can “look cool,” Trumbull said 3D is projected in such a way that it is too dim. Presently, cinemas rely on outdated traditions to deal with 3D. Trumbull would rather have a good image shot in 2D than a poor one shot on 3D.

Another theme of Trumbull’s address was the theme of storytelling. Trumbull referred to movies as “magical” and moviemaking as an “adventure.” He criticized the reliance of Hollywood studios on big, mindless blockbusters like “Transformers,” and expressed his disappointment in the tendency to treat audiences as less intelligent than they actually are.

Though his frustration with studios forced him to quit the film industry, Trumbull is working on a new sci-fi epic. He intends it to be the first film shot entirely on a virtual stage, another innovation of his. Trumbull has directed two other films, including “Silent Running,” which has become a cult classic. His current film is still in pre-production, but if the brief glimpse Trumbull revealed are any indication, it looks like a truly groundbreaking feature.

Trumbull, who lives in the Berkshires, took questions after his presentation. He answered questions about everything and even gave one young filmmaker advice on how to shoot a particular scene. Trumbull’s advice for all aspiring filmmakers is to be “persistently resilient.” As good as that advice is, it probably helps to be as enthusiastic about moviemaking as Douglas Trumbull so clearly is.

Danny Marchant can be reached at dmmarcha@student.umass.edu

 

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