A few years ago, the word “interactive” was all the rage and was used everywhere, such as in video games, and even babies were expected to have an interactive experience through their toys. Nowadays, the word that marketing departments of all video equipment brands adore is “immersive“. Almost every year at Christmas, a new technology is released with the promise of making our viewing experience more immersive than before. Watching an immersive film is inevitably dreamy.
"But first of all, what does immersive mean?"
Immersive comes from the word immersion, which means to be plunged into something. In this case, in the entertainment industry, we immerse ourselves in an immersive film as if we were really there.
Virtual reality, augmented reality, and now mixed reality with augmented reality headsets like Hololens – all these concepts of virtual content and interactivity are becoming increasingly present in our daily lives.
We have moved from simple PlayStation controllers to virtual reality headsets. Everyone has in mind the image of someone with a virtual reality headset – like the famous Oculus Rift or HTC Vive VR headsets – who gestures in all directions. Obviously, he is in total immersion, or almost, in virtual worlds!
The virtual environment is becoming more and more present, and this democratization of the immersive experience in a broad sense has been a strong trend for several years. People have fun in an escape game, take virtual museum tours, watch 3D immersive films on Saturday nights in large UGC or CGR theaters, spend a weekend at the Futuroscope amusement park to be shaken in its dynamic simulators (there are clearly no equivalent chairs at home!)… In short, we crave thrills!
HOW DOES IMMERSIVE MODE APPLY TO VIDEO?
An immersive film is a cinematographic experience that tries to reproduce reality, therefore in which we are immersed as close as possible to reality with our different senses. Obviously, out of the 5 human senses, the sensation of immersion will be mainly through hearing and sight.
But how far can we push the immersion experience?
Do we really want to feel 100% of the real world?
No, even if you want to experience this immersive film as close to reality as possible, you are surely not inclined to smell all the smells of the immersive film, to be harnessed with a haptic device to touch it, and even less to feel some tastes! Not to mention the technical difficulties that this poses.
The sight as well as the hearing, at the immersive level, will pass by the 3D: we will see in 3D, and the immersive sound will come from all sides.
All this remains very promising…
Why is the reality of immersive performances disappointing?
Disappointed by an immersive film? It’s normal.
These are all nice promises, but you have to face the reality: the result of the immersive film is rarely as bluffing as what we are sold.
For example, maybe you have this kind of TV at home: Smart TV or connected TV, Full HD 4K TV, with LED backlighting, or the recent curved screens… There is no lack of marketing innovations to sell you an immersive experience!
Or maybe your cinema offers these technologies: IMAX 3D projections, RealD 3D, Dolby Atmos or Auro 3D sound, ICE room, etc…
It’s easy to understand why companies love this kind of technology: it has an undeniable “wow” effect and is very easy to sell to consumers, even if you have to pay a significant additional cost. Yes, because we all love to live a unique experience, an intense sensory experience, with its adrenaline shot! So the promise of an immersive film is necessarily tempting.
But in my opinion, they fall into the same category as 3D movies, that is to say nice innovations but completely dispensable.
Do you remember an immersive movie where 3D actually added real immersion to the story, apart from a few pretextual scenes to justify the technology? And more importantly, have you ever come out of a 2-hour 3D viewing session without a headache from the glasses?
I’m willing to bet that you haven’t, we’re far from having touched reality. Not to mention the hassle if you’re already wearing glasses to superimpose the 3D glasses, it’s annoying to the point of spoiling your immersive film session.
It’s no coincidence that 3D screenings are getting less and less popular and that people are returning to 2D screenings. Studios and cinemas have noticed this and no longer offer a large catalog of 3D films, not to mention the fact that these are very expensive investments for cinemas. Paying 50% more to be disappointed by this so-called added value? No thanks, even for moviegoers, even to see our best films.
So how do you deliver a successful immersive film experience?
We all want to experience our best fantasy or science fiction movie as intensely as possible, as long as it remains natural. How can we reinforce the immersion compared to the classic 2D and find the atmosphere of our cinema room? And for an immersive film, between the sound and the image, what is the best lever for the most natural immersion possible, allowing to retranscribe reality as well as possible?
Visual immersion through 3D vision? And as a video editor, these technologies clearly do not concern me. Filming in 3D requires the use of 2 cameras, which is very expensive and requires a large technical team. And as we’ve seen, the viewer doesn’t buy it anymore.
Is immersive sound possible?
Yes, especially now that our Computer Music software softwares like Logic Pro are designed to work on immersive sound!
Like me, if you can’t act on the image, you can (and must) act on the sound to create immersive films. It is through the sound ambiences that your films will be more immersive and that we will find in part the atmosphere of our dark rooms. Stereo sound from the 50’s was an innovative invention at the time and already a first step towards immersion, now we are talking about 5.1 and even 7.1 surround sound for an even more intense and immersive experience with 360° sound.
Of course, when you put it like that, it’s not as impressive, it doesn’t make videographers drool with envy, but it’s the key to immerse your viewer in the heart of the action you’re filming and give an immersive room atmosphere.
For proof, watch 1917 or any other war film or documentary without sound. You’ll find it hard to believe how important the battle in progress is…
To create effective immersive environments, it’s better to invest in a home theater with good quality speakers and good surround sound speakers than to buy the latest 3D TV.
The advantages of working with sound?
And the good thing is that audio immersion is much easier (and cheaper) to work with in post-production!
Did you forget to record the sound of the waves for your vacation video? You can upload it to the internet and add it to your edit without anyone noticing.
Is your Sunday lunch sequence lacking life? A few sounds of cutlery, the crackling of a barbecue in the background and the song of a bird in the tree can make up for it.
In fact, before investing in expensive video equipment, ask yourself if you can make more progress by improving your sound. For a result that lives up to customer expectations, there’s no need to give in to the siren song of the latest fashions. Immersive sound is the easiest and cheapest way to get close to reality and keep a great memory of your immersive film!
In conclusion of this article!
As I present in this article, making an immersive film requires a lot of means for a not necessarily convincing result.
This does not prevent you from working on your soundtrack to give the listener an immersion.
If you need an immersive mix, contact me by mail and submit your project!
I would love to hear your opinion on this article, so feel free to leave me a message in the comments.