Today's Future
Issue: Volume 38 Issue 3: (May/Jun 2015)

Today's Future

I remember the day my best friend told me she was going to Disney World in Orlando. I was in fifth grade. And, yes, I was jealous. Disney World was that faraway place where magic came alive. She was the first person I knew who had actually stepped foot in the kingdom, which had opened just a few years earlier.

She told me about rides and wonders that defied belief, all in different lands. Among them, Tomorrowland. It was the future, in the present. (EPCOT’s Future World opened years later.) Her visit correlated with the opening of the Carousel of Progress at Disney World, having been moved from Disneyland, and before that, the 1964–65 World’s Fair. 

In fact, so many changes occurred in Tomorrowland just about the time of her visit, many of which were necessary to keep up with the futuristic theme. Flight to the Moon was replaced by Mission to Mars – six years after man actually walked on the moon’s surface. And in that same year, visitors were transported around Tomorrowland via the futuristic WEDway People Mover. 

And the crown jewel: Space Mountain, a futuristic thrill ride if there ever was one! (This was well before man’s latest race, not to space, but to build the most intense roller coaster possible.) What can be more fun than sitting in a “rocket” and blasting through the dark with the stars and planets around you? (Park admission was $6 then, and has since soared to over $100 in present-day dollars.)

That was Tomorrowland, yesterday. Now we are able to experience an entirely different side to Tomorrowland, past and present, with Disney’s sci-fi movie of the same name. It brings the lure and mystique of this contrived world to life, even if it’s just for two hours in the theater. 

Like the visionaries who built Disney’s Tomorrowlands, the crew from ILM were tasked with re-creating this amazing futuristic environment, using tools and techniques that Disney animators in 1975 could never have imagined! See “Building a Future” on page 6.
Another kind of future was revealed at NAB 2015. This one involved HDR. And it is coming, and soon, to our homes. Are you in the market for a 4k TV? You might not know it yet, but you will be. At the conference, manufacturers were sharpening their tools – figuratively and literally – so content providers can deliver crisp, clear images that make 2k look fuzzy. Camera vendors and display companies are offering wares for this shift in resolution. Standards are being discussed. Yup, change is a comin’.  See “It’s an HDR World” on page 28. 

For years, comic-book characters have been battling villains, first on the printed pages, then on television and at the theater. The Avenger team was introduced in the early 1960s. A slightly different group of Avengers kicked off the summer blockbuster season, with Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, and the Incredible Hulk – all movie superstars in their own right (and in their own films) – along with Black Widow and Hawkeye. Besides achieving box-office domination, the group will be battling the baddie Ultron to save the world once again (and, quite probably, the year’s box--office numbers). 

Let’s not forgot the superheroes of the studios whose visual effects turned these comic-book themed movies into success stories. See “Power Players” on page 22.

Lastly, some of us wear our emotions on our sleeves. But in the new Pixar film Inside Out, the main character’s emotions manifest in the form of personified emotions. At Pixar, the challenge was designing each of these emotive characters. Another challenge: By depicting two parallel worlds (the real world and the mind world), the team was essentially generating content for two features, and then some. See “A Frame of Mind” on page 12. 
With this, the summer movie season has begun, to be followed in the near future with exceptional entertainment at home. So, kick back and enjoy the ride to these imaginary realms.