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Interview: Ted Schilowitz explains Barco Escape's triple-screen film experience on Tomorrow DailyTed Schilowitz has a pretty fun job: He gets to analyze and imagine what moviegoers want to see in the future when they go to the movies.
[MUSIC] Welcome back to the show. We are very excited to welcome our next guest. This man is the Chief Creative Officer at Barco Escape. He's also the resident futurist at 20th Century Fox. How do I apply for that job? Yeah. We're so excited to have Ted Shilowitz here with us. We might have some openings, you never know. I'm interested. He needs an assistant future. We might have a need for an assistant future. In fact, we have a whole team of people that are Kind of on the curve with us that are figuring things out. So [UNKNOWN] we'll talk about that and then we'll talk about [UNKNOWN] because you have some really exciting stuff happening with Star Trek Beyond this weekend. So let's talk a little bit about the title [UNKNOWN] because to me This seems like a really cool, sexy, mysterious job and I wanna know what the day-to-day entails because to me the idea of being a futurist means your sort of a think tank about the future and you go, listen 20th century Fox I think the future is going to have way more robots than this. So you need to put more robots into this movie. Sort of. [LAUGH] It's a little more pedestrian than that. I often refer to myself as a glorified lab rat. I am a guy who's constantly we have a bunch of labs. One of our labs is called the bunker, the VR bunker where it's like this little staircase and- I wanna live in the VR bunker! Can we, can we rent it? Yeah. [LAUGH] You can rent it you can come over and visit, we'll have you over to visit. That would be awesome. When you talk about it, it sounds like we built the bat cave. It's like the most amazing place in the world. When you go to it there's a bunch of technology inside a room. A bunch of VR and AR stuff. A bunch of monitors. A bunch of future thinking stuff. But it's just a dark room, we're really comfortable with that. But then we're sort of spread out all over the lot we have a big theater on the lot where we experiment with stuff with the [UNKNOWN] escapes stuff. We have an area in the tower the [UNKNOWN] tower that. Sure. Is called the Fox Innovation Lab, where I go through the whole- That's where you phoned Bruce Willis over and over again to repeat- Among other interesting things. So you're not, it's not that you are advising film makers about what the future's gonna be to put in their movies. It's that you're developing technologies To expand and improve the ways we appreciate movies. They both kind of dovetail together but it's more the second one, it's more looking at what is around the next corner, what's around the bend here that may become important, relevant, and extraordinarily valuable for the entertainment industry. And what we've done over the past few years since I've kinda taken on this very odd and interesting job Is really driven Fox into the forefront of the conversation of being the studio that is most forward thinking. The most, what I call lean forward as opposed to lean backward. Not afraid of taking risks, not afraid of figuring things out. Not afraid of seeing what is the things that people are working on in the dark corners that are gonna become things. And interestingly enough the timing of me joining Fox when I left this movie camera company, right when I retired from that And one of my friends at 20th Century Fox is president of post production there, who's part of this little posse of pioneers, I think Ted Galliano said, come and be the futurist at the movie studio. Just, you kinda have your eyes and ears on a lot of things, and you've always been sort of on the forefront of this stuff. Sure. Helping build stuff and start companies and figure things out Would you be willing to do that for the movie studio, and essentially help guide us a little bit into what might be relevant? What's next, right, what's next. And the timing was really interesting because a lot of this VR stuff started to happen right around that time. So I was very early on with the Oculus guys. Very early on with the Valve team, and the ETC team, and the Sony team, and the Samsung team, and Microsoft, and the Hololens, and this small group called ODG that's Doing next gen AR stuff that we're working on. And those are just the highlights and there's tons more out there we're exposing. But all day long, I just experiment and have these various things on my face or, in an immersive cinema experience with Barco. The first two movies we did with Barco Escape were two Fox movies the first two Maze Runner movies. That we're really successful and now, of course, we're on the cusp of Star Trek Beyond in Escape. So, let's talk a little bit about Barco Escape because I think a lot of people probably don't know that A, it exists, because there's so few theaters that can play Barco Escape, Content and then, on top of that, what you guys have plan for. It's a little bit like IMAX where it's sort of a cinematic experience. There's never get a home. Right. Until one of those things that you have to see, sort of appreciate, but for those people out there who are not familiar with Barco Escape. Explain a little bit about what that is and why it's So intense as a film as a movie goer to see it. So you're right the footprint is relatively small. It's a new format for those a generation from now we'll be telling our kids that our grandkids. Remember when they were just like 30 or 40 theaters around the world that you could see this in before it became the thing, right? Right. So that's where we are now. Which it's kind of a romantic time to be involved in something new and exciting. But in terms of what it is, what you will see when you go to a movie theater, so it's a three screen experience, instead of a one screen experience. Okay. You're, of course, familiar with going to the movies and the movies is essentially From. When we have been created up until a hundred years. And basically been something like this. Some geometric form by the way subway or rectangle. A box in front of my face. Or really a big box in front of your face. Sure. Which are very exotic and great and IMAX is a where Barco does all the underlying technology for IMAX projection. So, we're a big fan of that and collaborate with them a lot This is something even more different and more special than that for out of the home experience. So, instead of the movie just being in front of you it actually surround your periphery and we bring you in the certain scenes of the movie when it's appropriate to really take Advantage of this. Let's go all the way and not just be watching the screen but actually kind of inside the experience. So the film is actually have to be shot with this in mind, right? Not necessarily. In the case of Star Trek, it's actually because it's such a CGI, the effects heavy movie. All of the most, so there's some augmented stuff with cameras but most of the material is actually created In post-production in [UNKNOWN]. Interesting. With all of the space battle scenes, and all the epic action scenes, and all the stuff that you know. So all the things you would expect when you see a regular screening of the movie. Right. Imagine all of those key moments When it's not just this, it's this all around you. Is this something that later on can then be applied into a VR environment so that you can then be looking around you later on at home? Yes. Yes, in fact it's very often referred to, Barco Escape is very often referred to in the trade, now that we have a trade for this sort of stuff, as bricks and mortar VR. We that know that people like to socialize. We know that people like this, they like real connection, and they like to sit with their popcorn and their candy and enjoy the experience. And we are you know, somewhat isolating experience, although we are working on social Expanding that right. Yeah. Of course. That's a bit of a, I'm telling you one story but there's actually another story in there too where You will become a very social thing. Sure. Which is part of my Facebook would be interested in having DR around as a technology. Sure. But, within a theater environment, this is sort of most immersive, most VR like, and we know that with modern audiences. Once you get a taste for something that what we call break that out of the rectangle Whether that is something you're going to put on your face or some sort of glassware or some theme park style experience, you want more of that. I want something that separates from the home experience. I can get a really good big screen at home. Yeah. I want something different. I want literally something that is like I went to a theme park, but I can go every Friday night, every Saturday afternoon, every Sunday morning. With my family don't have to spend hundreds of or thousands of dollars to get on a plane and go to Orlando or you know or to Los Angeles which is far away. But go to my local multiplex and have this kind of immersive theme park style experience in a movie. It's interesting that you mention that because I think that's one of the things the movie industry has struggled with I think a little bit historically as televisions have gotten bigger and cheaper and higher def and We have seen more and more streaming content come into homes. People go, well why should I go to the movies? Why, if I can get that on my 70 inch TV that I bought at Best Buy last week for two grand. And I think it's really interesting that you guys are always looking for the what's next of bringing people into the theater, not only as a, like you said, a social experience. Cuz that's always when I like to go see movies, where You going on opening weekend and people are cheering and They're just having a great time. People who are really into that movie are there to see it. It's a buzz right? It's a buzz. You could see experience that the high's and low's of with everybody else. Very collective social experience really interesting. But you're also kind of now having to not only give movie goers that. Experience but also the visual experience to go with it and that make people say, hey I wanna come back to this or I wanna do this more often because it's not something I can get in my house. I know that going to CA, Chris Nolan movie in IMAX there are those moments were [SOUND]. Yeah and you fall into the screen. It expands up. Is that kind of the same experience here, that there are certain scenes where it will just envelope you? Yes. similar but way more intense than just going from here to here. Yeah. Cuz you were just expanding the square, expanding the rectangle. Which by the way I love. Sure. And it's part of the inspiration. There's nothing wrong about all these other experiences. Right? Just instead of expanding vertically, you're going this way. We go whoosh, all around you. Way this way. Right. So- It's essentially a 180 view all the way around. There was a moment at Comic-Con a few years ago where that was done in [UNKNOWN] Is that similar? Similar and they're doing that again. You're gonna see some stuff around movies. Because in areas other than a movie theater, other than a multiplex, where you can expand that vision and you have the budget to expand that vision, like a theme park, like a big convention like Comic-Con This happens. Big trade shows do this all the time. Like if you go to the E3 Gaming Show, you'll see they'll set up. That big 360, right. They'll set up a whole bunch of Barco projectors and they'll do this kind of thing. Sure.>> Our mission was to take that to everybody. So, not just people that work in the industry, or if you're lucky enough to go to Comic-Con and be in Hall H and wait eight hours to do that experience, right? Hey, if you're lucky enough. Unbelievable. Yeah. I'm lucky to be working in the industry and I can Go and do that stuff. Right. But I'm so impress of those two letters, so committed to the entertainment. Those are core customers that want a bunker escape. Sure. They don't want a normal experience. Right. They want a special experience, right? They want them to see at the best possible way in the most fun environment. And what we're doing is. Expanding that footprint to every city around the world is the plan. So we'll have little over 30 theaters now for buckle escape. Okay. Worldwide. So essentially what I'd like to say is, if you're a super fan. You can get likely anywhere in United States now. You can get on less than an hour flight and find a buckle escape, or likely drive. Less than an hour to a couple of hours, which people will easily do. If you live in any major population area, give or take, you're gonna find one with an easy striking distance. So, two in LA, you have a couple up in the Bay Area in Northern California, we have one in Palm Springs area, we have a bunch in Texas We have one end Minnesota. We have another and all over the U.S. If you go to a website called ready to escape so ready and the number two escape- OK Or just google Barco escape- And it will give you You'll see a listing and then you can click and go to your local theater and buy tickets and it'll tell you which one cuz it could be the regular version, the IMAX version, the big screen digital version and the [UNKNOWN] version And the end goal to have the entire film shot like this. It's one of the goals so we're��� Why do you think it works better at shorter moments? I think it's project to project. Just like any, other sort, of creative entity. There's no one right way to skin the cat. There's no one right approach to it so. With Star Trek with a little over 20 minutes, those key battle action scenes, which totally lend themselves. And trying not to give anything away but you know the big climax scene in the movie with What happens there. Yes. So imagine that visual experience. Inside it, yeah. We were doing our final QC, what's called QC quality control screens last night at 3:00 in the morning cuz these things are coming in hot, right? [LAUGH] Finishing up the last day with the team from Bad Robot, and it's just insane, right? When that music kicks in, I imagine if it's all around you, it's gotta be pretty cool. Right. At 3:45 AM last night I'm sitting there going This is the best thing ever. [LAUGH] There's only five- You're like, I'm up at 3:45 in the morning. A bunch of technicians and the producer, yeah. This is worth it, that's awesome. If you could retcon any movie into Barco Escape, what would you do? [SOUND] Well, working with Jerry Bruckheimer. Okay. And we've talked about redoing Top Gun in Escape, which- Wow. My God, that would be awesome. We've been talking to Michael Bay. We've been talking to a lot of really big A level film makers. We've had them all into the theater. They've all seen stuff. All the major studios are interested because they're [UNKNOWN] right? It's so immersive yeah and the other thing as you said I mean everyone's looking for that next thing and it's really interesting to see sort of [UNKNOWN] taking the lead in terms of Saying hey guys. We have got this locked down. We're experimenting on everything, and we feel this is the way for it. This is the really cool thing that people want. Yeah. We would tell you that we're not the ones that know all the answers to any of this, right? It's a creative process. We take in lock step and hopefully fall more than half a step behind the creators, behind the people at that robot in this case, behind the people that [UNKNOWN] in other cases. Where we wanna make sure that the technology drives the story, not the other way around, right? Or sorry, the story drives the technology, not the technology driving the story. Sure. And it's really really important, and when you see Star Trek you'll see how that works. The other thing that's really critical, I think, is that we're taking this and putting it in normal movie theaters all around the world. So there'll be 100 by year's end. And then we move to thousands in a couple of years. It's just one of those formats that you're like, this is the movie you're gonna go see. Right. We're working, as you were asking about production and stuff, we're working on Two new movies now. One that's shooting in South Africa called "24 Hours To Live." Mm Hmm. With Ethan Hawke in it, and it's a big movie they're shooting, big action scenes. And a movie up in Canada called "Recall". Mm There's a bunch of cinemas in Canada with cineplex theaters and imagine theaters. So Canada's also got their share of Star Trek fans. Right, all those sort of different experience, yeah, totally. Yep, so we're all over, the footprint's quite large. I can't wait to see it in person myself. Yeah. It sounds really, really cool, and it's. I get to go see it this weekend. You're gonna go see it in Barco? Yeah, I'm gonna go see it in Barco Escape, I'm very excited, I can't wait See it. Let me know. [UNKNOWN] everybody, thank you so much for being here. Where can, you already said it's, what's the website again for the escape. Ready2escape number 2. Ready2escape with the number 2. Or just Google [UNKNOWN] escape you'll find it and Likely you're within striking distance of getting to one of these theaters now. And for the next couple of years they'll be one in every neighborhood. They'll be more, They'll be more you guys. So that it is for our interview. Thank you so much for stopping by. My pleasure, thanks for having me. And we'll send you our resumes for those Yeah Assistants you jobs. Sounds good. [LAUGH] We'll be right back guys with more Tomorrow Daily so stick around.