It's another big movie moment in the Beverly Hills production office of director Rupert Wainwright. He dims the lights, draws the curtains, and turns on his Epson PowerLite Pro Cinema 1080 projector to show his latest multimedia storyboard. Creative sparks fly during an otherwise routine meeting of the film's writers, visual effects supervisor and producers.
"There's nothing like that fired-up feeling at the beginning of a project when ideas and financing fall into place," said Wainwright. But Hollywood faces the same challenge as any other business when it comes to communicating and selling ideas throughout all stages of a project. In an unpredictable industry with soaring talent, production and marketing costs, making the right impression at the right time is a matter of survival.
"It's all about visual impact," he said. "You never stop trying to get people to love your movie, from the moment you come up with the concept until your last DVD sale. So, powering up my Epson projector in my office is usually a great way to get people to look up from their BlackBerries or iPhones and really pay attention." Linking it to his Apple Macintosh and DVD player, he uses the 3LCD projector and a large, portable projection screen to display virtually every type of video image imaginable such as location photos, costume ideas, multimedia storyboards with music, computer pre-visualizations, renderings, reference films, casting tapes, dailies and editing.
Many professionals in the film industry and movie fans are familiar with Wainwright's recent remake of "The Fog" with Selma Blair, the thriller "Stigmata" starring Patricia Arquette and Gabriel Byrne, the indie film "The Sadness of Sex," and several other projects. The former British actor, who left his native soil for UCLA film school, first earned his reputation directing award-winning ads for Reebok, Frito Lays, Honda, Gatorade, McDonalds and Sprint, and music videos for rapper M.C. Hammer. Wainwright's most recent commercial spot helped the Russian resort of Sochi win its bid to host the 2014 Winter Olympic Games.
Keeping it Light
In the early days, he would present an abundance of creative ideas on paper or a TV monitor. "Of course, everything usually turned out fine, but it was more of a challenge to give demos and get others excited about my ideas," he said. He first started using a multimedia projector when he was working on a movie version of the TV classic "Outer Limits" at MGM before the Sony acquisition. He immediately noticed a big difference in how his ideas were perceived.
Wainwright discovered that he could create a cinematic viewing experience with the projector. "In this industry, we are constantly setting up, taking down or moving offices," he said. His fellow directors and producers often complain about the inconvenience of moving personal AV systems from office to office three or four times a year.
For the first time, he saw an alternative to the heavy, bulky nature of tube, plasma or even LCD screens that were "just too prohibitive, expensive and cumbersome." Putting a huge plasma television in his office didn't make sense to him because he didn't have the space. "Plus, people like having big screens, but the widest flat panel TV is only a quarter the size of the enormous projected image I'm currently getting," he said.
Fantastic Image Quality
Wainwright was drawn to what he calls the "fantastic image quality" of the projector. His Epson PowerLite Pro Cinema 1080 projector uses a three-chip (3LCD) display with native 1080p resolution to create brilliant, color-accurate images that compete well against the soft ambient light in casual viewing settings like a home or office.
"There is something about this projector that makes the image look more organic and richer than seeing it on a TV screen," he said. "When you see a projected image on a big screen, you're pulled directly into the experience. When you watch something on TV, particularly a movie being made for the big screen in the first place, you feel as if it's just there, and you're not in it."
Built on Epson's high definition 3LCD digital image technology, the PowerLite Pro Cinema 1080 projector has true 1080p resolution (1,920 x 1,080 pixels) for brighter, more accurate colors. The projector also has a high contrast ratio for a wider range of blacks and an overall stunning picture in Wainwright's presentations. 3LCD technology uses three individual LCD chips to project images with smooth, rapid motion video that is free of artifacts. It works without a moving color wheel and offers accurate color registration, assuring detailed video images that are crisp and rainbow-free.
"The 3LCD engine really does an outstanding job reproducing the exact colors I want to show, projects really nice shadow details, and reproduces blacks and dark grey tones without any annoying gradations that I've heard are common on many single-chip DLP-based projectors," he said. "Image quality can play a big role in making the right first impression in this industry."
Wainwright saw the PowerLite Pro Cinema 1080 as so integral to his work that he mounted it to the ceiling of his Beverly Hills production office. "I guess you could say that I now have a perfect way to immediately transform my office into a personal movie theater, creative zone, and entertainment facility at any given moment," he added. "So, going to work is becoming an increasingly enjoyable experience, which certainly contributes to my energy." He has also found ways to incorporate the projector into his personal life by frequently connecting it to his Mac, disc player, digital set top/cable box, camcorder, gaming console, and more.
Making It Happen
Ever since "The Fog" opened at number one in October 2005, a stream of studio executives, producers and writers have been in and out of offices at Wainwright's production company, Breathless Films. "I love what I do, but I'm not the only one who does it," he said. "The projector is another tool for me to get the right people to stop, look and listen." He believes it is helping him secure more deals ". and what I hope and expect to be some very good films in the near future."
One of Wainwright's current projects, "Mort," is based on the novel by best-selling fantasy fiction writer Terry Pratchett. Constantin Films and Oscar-winner Paul Bamborough, who invented the Lightworks electronic editing system, produce the film. He is also co-writing the movie with Larry Wilson ("Beetlejuice" producer and writer).
During pre-production, the director uses the projector to present research clips, stills, drawings and storyboards. Rather than burning and sending discs, he prefers presenting his ideas to the team in person. "The 'Mort' project is very complicated with a lot of intricate design ideas," said Wainwright, projecting a storyboard full of wizards, witches and other medieval characters. "The image quality of the Pro Cinema 1080, with its color accuracy, black levels, contrast, wide color gamut and details in dark shadow areas, helps me effectively display the project's detailed design ideas."
Another script he's working on is a feature based on the 1993 FBI/Branch Davidian siege, "Waco, Texas" with investigative researcher and producer Michael McNulty. Collecting archival footage for the film, they are also interviewing the survivors, FBI agents and government officials involved in one of the most tragic events in the nation's history. The projector has played a key part during development by allowing the team to view its findings on-screen. "Everyone will come in, sit down, run the projector, and start focusing on the project," he said.
Workhorse Keeps Going
Once the film is in production, the Epson projector never gets a day off. "I think it's working as hard as we are," said Wainwright. After each day's shooting, he views the dailies on the large screen in his office. Projecting the first unedited prints in his workplace is a "much more satisfying experience" than watching them on a small TV or in a screening room.
"I think a projector like this is a 'must-have' for any serious film maker during all phases of a project," he said. "Even during post-production, I keep the projector active all the way through the editing process. It only makes sense to watch the film take shape on a big screen because it's made for the big screen."
A good cross-section of old and new Hollywood's decision makers go in and out of Wainwright's production office, from cutting-edge technocrats to Oscar winning producers.
The director watches mouths drop open as other filmmakers see his projection system in action. "The big screen experience and visual impact of the Epson PowerLite Pro Cinema 1080 projector really turns heads and gets their attention," he said. "It's proved to be a great filmmaking tool for me." Posted with permission of Epson America, Inc.