Now with all that said about “Battle: Los Angeles,” the special effects in the movie were brilliant, and when being literally shook by every bullet that comes whizzing by, it is hard not to be sucked into the action. This shaking comes courtesy of a very new home theater, video game and cinema technology known as D-Box seats.
Using three different axes of motion, the seats control the movement side-to-side, forward and backward and up and down, along with providing different levels of vibration to the corresponding action on screen. The technology works nearly the same as 3-D rides such as “Star Tours” at Disneyland, except the level of intensity with D-Box is considerably lower. The user is able to adjust the level of intensity from high enough to buck the viewer back and forth violently to just low enough to make the seat vibrate slightly when a bomb goes off next to the camera.
What is interesting about the D-Box motion seats is that when the camera is removed from the action, there is as little motion from the seats as there would be if one was actually there filming the action. This creates an incredibly immersive experience for the viewer, especially in a movie such as “Battle: Los Angeles” where the camera is wobbling the whole time as it tries to keep up with the sprinting characters as they duck, dodge and take fire from the alien invaders. Also fascinating is that although the angles jump from camera to camera, the viewer has a much deeper connection when the LCD screen is all they can see and the surround system speakers are all they can hear; the camera becomes the viewer’s eyes. They are now intimately connected with the action and are able to place themselves in the situation on screen.
In “Battle: Los Angeles,” the seats shudder each time a jet flies overhead, so when the characters are in a helicopter spiraling out of control, the seats buck like crazy and gets the audiences’ heart pumping and adrenaline flowing. With this amount of physical connection to the film, it is hard not to become emotionally invested. As a movie, “Battle: Los Angeles” is incredibly disappointing and barely mediocre, but when the audience is engaged in the same actions as the characters, the believability of the action is intensified tenfold.
Although still in its beginning stages, it will be interesting to see what kind of movies this technology will influence. Despite a growing prevalence of pirated films, this technology, as well as other advancements in 3-D and surround sound, will make going to a theater an actual event. Already being sold in limited quantities for home theaters and even played with video games, this is merely the tip of the iceberg for cinematic innovations.