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Thursday, May 3, 2012

Smell



After a busy month of shoots, now it's time to clear the laundry! The maid complained that they are dirty and even smelly! Quite embarrassing, but not entirely my fault really. Productions have costumes, but there are times when the directors prefer something different during production. So, I usually ask what is needed the day before and bring a few sets of clothes. Some shoots are long and stretch for weeks and  the same clothes have to be kept in the same conditions for weeks for the need of continuity. 

Fortunately, cameras cannot smell. Imagine if it can, we will need an odour designer, on top of the sound designer, set designer, costume designer...etc. Then, further to the shout out of "silence on set" before slate, we will probably need a shout out (by a smell-recordist) to the effect of, "all other smells neutralised...", or better yet, "...all smelling good!". Then, ambient  smells,  prop smells,  costume smells, ...etc.will have to be closely monitored and managed. Quite a job!

But this will add yet another dimension to even the advance 3D cameras. 'Smell' will be an opportunity for film-makers, advertisers and web-designers to evoke emotions that will cause literally compulsive response. That is a new frontier that can spearhead new trends in online marketing, online games, movies and even remote aromatherapy healing.

Scripts will have to carefully consider the odours they intend to write into their story. For instance, smells picked up at the crime scene can be useful subtle hints for the audience to explore the riddle of "who has done it"!

This is not too far fetched as it sounds as the technology is already here. 'Scentography' experts claim that they are able to encode digital odours as digital data and then play them back as smells. It is possible to generate billions of odours by blending different proportions of 100 to 200 'scent primaries'; just as a computer monitor can display millions of colours by mixing different proportions of red, green and blue. For more information about 'odours', click here and here.

And all these are not entirely new. In the late 1950s, Americans were treated to "Behind the Great Wall", a documentary employing 72 scent cues, ranging from nightclub smoke to Oriental spice, synced to scents pumped through the theater's ventilation system and dispensed from under each theater seat.

With the advent of technology, film making can only get more interesting! :)

With 3D cameras and smell capture, the next seemingly immutable dimension would be 'time'. Can we stretch and compress time when we tell the story, just like when we are in a dream? Can the audience be made to experience that time drags on slowly in painful hard times in the story? And so much faster in happier times? Can we? That is, barring the use of drug induced hallucinations! :)



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