ScreenX provides enhanced immersion in theaters
Prof. Junyoung Noh and CGV commercialize ScreenX technology Screened films include Chinatown, The Priests, The Himalayas, and several Chinese films"Local technology expected to take over the Hollywood market"
The expedition climbs to an altitude of 8,750 meters. An avalanche creates a cloud of snow. The next crisis is a cliff. Climbers manage to hang on thanks to their ice axes, but there is nothing but white below. The suspense builds with the footage projected onto the main screen as well as the side walls. The Himalayas, a film directed by Suk-hoon Lee, was released for the multi-projection system ScreenX.
Director Lee filmed major scenes while keeping in mind the three-sided projection of ScreenX. The 270-degree projection of the 2,400 km long Himalayas makes the audience feel as if they are present at the scene.
Theaters today feature not only 2D films, but also films in 3D, 4DX, and ScreenX. Extensive research is being conducted into the new possibilities offered by expanded projection area. Film directors can enjoy more freedom of expression, while the audience gets to be fully immersed.
ScreenX is a multi-projection system jointly developed by KAIST and CJ CGV. While existing theaters only have one front screen, ScreenX projects footage onto the main screen and the side walls. The technology has been patented in Korea, the US, China, and Europe (181 completed out of 132 overseas patents). R&D was led by Junyoung Noh, a professor at KAIST, who is well-known as an expert in computer graphics.
"Three-dimensional films grew popular after the release of Avatar three to four years ago. But these films caused more strain on the eyes, and a new alternative was needed. A graduate working at CJ approached me with the basic idea of ScreenX, asking if it was technically feasible. We explored the possible options, and this led to actual development.”
The greatest advantage of ScreenX is that it can be introduced to existing theaters simply by adding low-cost projectors. This affordable technology can be applied to not only local theaters, but also overseas markets. The footage is projected onto the main screen and two walls, providing enhanced immersion for the viewers while maintaining the feel of a theater. Compared to existing three-dimensional films, ScreenX is more convenient because it does not require 3D glasses and does not cause dizziness.
The ScreenX theater is the same as existing theaters, except for the installation of five additional projectors on the sides and top. Footage is projected onto the front screen and onto fabric walls on the sides.
Wooseung Choi, the ScreenX team leader at CJ, said, “The side walls are your average walls, but we have developed technology that allows projection onto the sides. The audience can experience a more majestic environment when watching fantasy genres on ScreenX.”
◆ "ScreenX to take over the Hollywood-centered film market "
The first film screened using ScreenX was Chinatown, released in May last year. This was followed by The Priests, which came under the spotlight for its exorcism scene. The Chinese fantasy thriller Mojin: The Lost Legend, will also be released at the end of the year on ScreenX.
The key to ScreenX is that multiple projectors must be synchronized and move as if they are one. Professor Noh explained, “To prevent distortion, the projectors must move as if they are one body. We also had to pay attention to technical details to prevent light from the sides entering viewers’ eyes.”
Another important phase for commercialization was implementation in actual theaters. To find theaters suitable for ScreenX, a database was built for all theaters throughout the country. Tests were conducted when theaters were not open to the public.
Professor Noh, who only had access to empty theaters in the early morning, said, “All my exhaustion was replaced by satisfaction with the successful launch of ScreenX.”
Similar to how 3D films are shot using two cameras, ScreenX films are best when shot with three cameras. However, films shot on one camera can be easily adapted for ScreenX.
CGV and KAIST are entering their third year of the joint research project. The two teams plan to expand from infrastructure to technology development, so as to easily produce creative content. Professor Noh said, “We will develop technologies from the perspective of content makers, so that ScreenX can be more widely utilized. We will also minimize any distortion that may occur depending on where the audience is seated.”
ScreenX is currently installed for 78 screens in 47 local theaters including those in Hongdae, Pangyo, Yeouido, and Sejong. Professor Noh said, “The film market is dominated by Hollywood, but Korea can now move to the forefront with ScreenX.”
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