It's rare that I find myself giddy to drive down to Long Beach at 6:30 AM on a Saturday morning, but that's where some of the brightest minds in the entertainment industry were this past weekend. The occasion? 5D: The Future of Immersive Design. Hopefully, I'll be able to pull together everything I learned at the breathtakingly ambitious conference - convened by visionary production designer Alex McDowell - for a semi-comprehensive report by Wednesday. Failing that, I'll just regurgitate the most brilliant ideas, which would only consist of a complete transcription of every panel and the keynote address by MIT's Henry Jenkins!
Before I get lost in my notes, I should single out my very brief, off-the-cuff conversation with Joseph Kosinski, the immensely gifted commercial director who's been charged with putting a 21st Century spin on TRON. If you're unfamiliar with Kosinski, go to Anonymous Content's website and check out his reel (the directors' names are listed to the right); you'll see some familiar ads (e.g. his "Mad World" spot for GEARS OF WAR) and some maybe not-so-familiar spots (I'm especially enamored of his "Baby" commercial for Chevrolet). Visually, he's undeniably talented, but what sets him apart is his background in mechanical engineering and architecture. Those nifty contraptions you see in Kosinski's commercials? He designed and built many of them himself.
This is precisely the kind of nerd you want directing TR2N. (And that's the official title, so let this be the official end of my complainin'.)
After he wowed the audience during the "Narrating Space" panel at 5D, I approached the stage and called Kosinski down for a quick Q&A. I didn't want to mess with the informality of the conference, so I didn't stick a recorder in his face. To his credit, he didn't run away when I identified my press affiliation; in fact, he was kinda jazzed to talk about the movie (albeit in as vague a sense as possible). Here what I got out of him:
1) Lisberger is involved as a consultant. Kosinski couldn't be happier about this. He mentioned that Lisberger (and, presumably, Syd Mead) initially wanted the light cycles to have external riders, but they couldn't convincingly pull it off with the technology of the early '80s. So those light cycles you saw in the Comic Con test footage essentially reflect Lisberger's original design.
2) The Comic Con teaser was shot in stereoscopic 3D, and the film will be, too. Kosinski is particularly excited about the look of the game grid in this format.
3) Shooting TR2N will be a "twenty-four month" process, but Kosinski's already been at it for a while now. He didn't give me an exact date, but he seems confident that the movie could be ready for late 2010.
4) As we reported last week, WATCHMEN's Michael Wilkinson is designing the costumes. He officially joins the production this week.
It's not much, I know, but I like the mystery surrounding this project. It makes me nostalgic for the pre-release hype from 1982. What's different this time is that the script (from LOST writers Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis) is just as important as the design. Hopefully, we'll be able to tease out a few more bits of info from Kosinski before he goes under for the next year.
And if you're inclined to complain about the lack of precise information, you should know that Kosinski was a veritable spoiler-machine compared to production designer Rick Carter, who sat on the conference's last panel and spilled not a goddamn thing about James Cameron's AVATAR. I will say, though, that every time I discuss this project with his colleagues, they get very excited. And when a guy like Alex McDowell says AVATAR will be a game-changer, I get very excited.