An honest piece. Thank you. In her absorbing book When Old Technologies were New, author Carolyn Marvin, writes principally about 19th century technologies but touches on newer media, saying:

Electrical and other media precipitated new kinds of social encounters long before their incarnation in fixed institutional form. In their institutionally inchoate manifestations, they inspired energetic efforts to keep outsiders out and insiders under the control of the proper people.

Later she writes:

The temptation to derive social practice from media artifact has also supported another notion, common to media analysis, that separate media embrace distinct and self-contain codes, or spheres of interpretive activity.

Both touch on your experience and perhaps others.

Whether it’s 3D, mobile, drone, VR, or holograms, it’s possible to see how these tech births enter social practices usually through commercial enterprises and astute marketing. Then a veritable industry of gear and accessories builds itself around a piece of tech, with new rigs, lenses etc., and discussions about whether VR outdoes 3D or mobile phone filmmaking is better than the DSLR. Which gives you more intimacy and fidelity? At some point the percentage gains are marginal when processed through the Net. ‘Why not buy both?’ the salesman said to me. Clever!

3D presented an interesting case. With depreciation in sales and built in redundancies not shifting as many televisions as manufacturers wanted, what else could they do? 3D sets would create new markets. Alas that wasn’t the case. Our quest for realism, or is that more realism (the philosopher’s rainbow) is taking us on a journey of HD, 2K 4k…, @24FPS and now Ang Lee’s 120 FPS Billy Lynn’s Half Time Walk (fantastic on the big screen...).

The excitement with VR looks similar, but from Marvin’s book those self-contained codes, what makes VR compelling is perhaps not so unique. The general experience can still be viewed as predicated on the one thing we’re universally drawn to and a langue that factually-based VR has yet to reform significantly, cinema. Ideas that drive technology is as much needed as technology that drives ideas. And at the moment it generally looks one way. Whether it’s panoramic frames or an elliptical ones, in spite of some clever immersive VR films, we’re still generally at the equivalent of the 1920s actualités. Here’s looking forward to the breakthrough.

Cheers David

Written by

Top Writer & Creative Technologist, Int. Award Winner. Cinemajournalist. Cardiff Uni @jomec. PhD (Dublin). Visiting Prof UBC, Ex BBC/C4News. Apple profiled.

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