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[KOREA REALTIME] Coming Soon: Surround Movies With a 270° View

CJ CGV Co. Ltd. The X, showing in a ScreenX movie theater.

A South Korean company can make a movie literally jump off the screen – onto the theater walls.


The ScreenX technology by the country’s largest cinema chain CJ CGV Co.Ltd. makes use of sidewalls as supplementary screens and enables a 270-degree view for the audience, its developers say. Movie fans at the ongoing Busan International Film Festival saw the world premiere of the first feature film shot with the technology on Friday, in the form of a 30-minute spy thriller directed by cult Korean filmmaker Kim Jee-woon.


In “The X,” Mr. Kim showcases myriad ways to take advantage of the expanded screen space, from a panoramic shot of a bullet-slinging chase to a technically simpler scene involving a phone conversation between killers. The wider scenes were shot using three cameras simultaneously filming different angles, according to Paul Kim, senior producer for ScreenX. But that meant everything had to get out of the enlarged view-span, including most crew members and the lights, said Mr. Kim the producer.


Over 30 people on the set had to be lined up directly behind the camera to secure an unobstructed view at one point, and lights had to be installed on cranes overhead and on the floor to avoid being shot, said the producer. In a (traditional) shoot, you have one façade. Now we need an entire set for a scene. What was usually one wall now becomes 270 degrees,” the producer told Korea Real Time. “It was a lot of trial-and-error.” Screening the films also requires for-purpose equipment that includes multiple projectors and a server charged with seamless syncing between images.


The sidewalls are painted with a shade of dark gray that the developers say is the optimal color for supplementary projection surfaces. Installing silver screens on the walls was ruled out early on, as reflections from them would interfere with the main screen, according to the producer.



Busan International Film Festival Three cameras simultaneously shoot a sequence for ScreenX movie “The X,” shown at the Busan Film Festival.

Refitting a conventional theater with the ScreenX gear will set the owner back between 150 million and 200 million South Korean won (between $139,300 and $185,800) per screening room, the producer said. The goal is to do it fast and with accuracy, he said, adding that the renovation takes three days on average. When you gut it all down, its not cost effective.

A potential problem for moviegoers, though, is the location of their seats, as those assigned closest to the sidewalls will get an incomplete experience. In The X, fast-paced action scenes shot with ScreenX cameras appeared to leave the audience distracted, with eyes struggling to follow rapid movements on three screens. The producer Mr. Kim said CJ CGV would next attempt a full-length motion picture with the technology, while expanding the ScreenX-enabled cinema footprint further to its outlets in South Korea as well as China, Hong Kong and the U.S. As of early this month, CJ CGV has 40 screens inside 22 South Korean cinemas installed with ScreenX equipment.