Jan 15, 2019
By Kelby Clark
Ted Schilowitz on augmented reality, immersive cinema, and gadgets.
“I'm an explorer,” says Ted Schilowitz, when asked to describe his job as futurist-in-residence at Paramount Pictures. “The way I see it, if you don't have anybody exploring, you're never going to learn anything new.”
Futurists are usually on the payroll of companies whose bottom line depends on anticipating consumer behavior, such as those in retail or consumer technology. But now that technology’s changing the way video is created and consumed, professionals like Schilowitz are carving a new niche in divining the future of entertainment.
Schilowitz was a futurist at Fox before joining Paramount in 2017, a few months after Paramount CEO Jim Gianopulos made the same move. Earlier in his career, he was the first employee and founding team member of RED Digital Cinema, which manufactures digital cameras, and a co-founder of G-Technology, which specializes in advanced external storage.
At Paramount, he investigates and tests relevant new technologies in the industry and finds new ways to enhance moviegoers’ experience with the Paramount content library. For example, an exploratory partnership with Intel Studios led to a 10,000-square-foot studio that can film volumetric video, which creates a more immersive VR experience (more on the technology here). A preview of the volumetric video experience was on display at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in a 20-second demo of Paramount’s Grease.
Schilowitz spoke with Viacom while in Las Vegas for CES on how next-generation technologies will shape the future of entertainment.
" We're making our screens more like our brains, and that's what's really remarkable. "
V: How do you think technology will affect moviegoing in the near future?
TS: So, everything is in service to the story. Without story you have nothing. Without story you just have technology. It's not compelling. But, if you think about a story, that's not just something you watch on a flat screen, it’s something that you actually participate in and are immersed in. That’s an interesting area to explore, as it challenges the status quo of entertainment, which very well may break the boundaries of what we think of when we want to entertain ourselves.
The next really big change that's coming is what we call trackable facial screens. That's what VR and AR allow you to do. The screen knows where you are, knows where you're looking, knows where you are in physical space. It's effectively borderless. We're making our screens more like our brains, and that's what's really remarkable. That's potentially the future of a style of the cinematic experience.