• Interview


CHOI Yong-seung, the Creative Director Behind PSYCHOKINESIS’ Screen X Direction

Feb 12, 2018
  • Writerby SONG Soon-jin
  • View2825
“Creating Filmic Space with Screen X”

It’s been 6 years since CGV’s multi-screen system, Screen X, was introduced to the world. Screen X started with releases of domestic blockbuster films such as The Himalayas (2015), TRAIN TO BUSAN (2016), and The Battleship Island (2017). International titles like Mojin: The Lost Legend (China) (2015), Call of Heroes (China) (2016), The Great Wall (USA, China) (2017), and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (USA, UK, Australia) (2017) were also released in Screen X to expand the format’s footprint. Screen X has also covered diverse genres while looking for ways to expand, including documentaries on idol groups such as TVXQ Concert and BIGBANG10 the Movie: BIGBANG MADE, as well as children’s movies like Bungaeman (2016). Most recently, children’s animation Pororo, Dinosaur Island Adventure (2017) proved Screen X to be a successful medium for young viewers. TRAIN TO BUSAN’s director YEON Sang-ho made a noteworthy step in the evolution of Screen X content by preparing his latest film Psychokinesis for Screen X theaters from the film’s planning stage. We asked creative director CHOI Yong-seung, who is at the center of all Screen X productions, about his future goals and challenges.

What are the criteria you look for when selecting a film to screen in Screen X?

I question if the film’s experience or message can be maximized through Screen X technology. Also, I look for any new kind of experiences that can be made available from changing it from a 2D format. In other words, I check for how compatible the genre is to the format. Secondly, I check if whatever the filmic space the film is trying to portray will align with the space provided by Screen X and how compatible it is. Lastly, I look for directorial compatibility. These are the three points I look for.

Director YEON Sang-ho’s Psychokinesis was the first feature to use three cameras in Korea. I heard you were involved with the production from the very beginning. Could you tell us in detail how the production method was different from previous projects?

Previously, we worked on changing movies into Screen X format after the shooting of the film had finished. Due to security reasons among others, it was hard to run Screen X production at the same time. But with Psychokinesis, we included Screen X’s three cameras at the shoots. The Screen X production was mixed well into the regular shooting process, and that was very meaningful. Previously with other films, we did the expansion of the screens for Screen X formatting in post-production while CG work was being put in place. With Psychokinesis, we were able to use the footages taken with the three cameras, which resulted in a film that has a delicate sense of distance and color. It also improved the 3-dimentional representation. In addition, YEON Sang-ho suggested that we try different and various directional attempts aside from just an extension of the screens. For example, the inner workings of a character we didn’t get a chance to show on the center of the screen would be captured, or humorous scenes were drawn out in pencil sketch illustrations and montages. Our goal was to provide an experience that differentiated itself from the original 2D format. In addition, Psychokinesis showed supernatural powers through the three screens which allowed an enhanced thrilling experience.

What do you think is the biggest strength of Screen X?

If theaters originally screened with just one screen, Screen X uses the front screen as well as the two sides. It has a 270-degree expanded screen. You will feel like you are inside the movie, which makes you focus even more. That’s why action, SF, and fantasy films that have a lot of movement and visuals can take advantage of the extra space and express more diverse expressions.

BIGBANG10 the Movie: BIGBANG MADE and SECHSKIES Eighteen are just a few live performance films that you continue to challenge. However, this genre has a hard time doing well at the box office in Korea.

Up until now, Korean live performance films or documentaries just roughly recorded the performances. Although the covered content was high in value, it had its limits in showing the charms of actually being at the performance. There was no merit for the audience to go to a theater instead of the actual concert. In that sense, Screen X is the most fitting technology that allows you to feel like you’re actually at the concert. The three screens show the front, the left and the right of the stadium, so it’s easy to feel like you’re physically there. Also, using montages (showing different scenes at the front and at the sides) not only helps one feel like they’re watching the concert from the first row, but also allows them to observe the whole space at the same time. Unlike VR experiences, several people can share the feeling of being there together. I don’t want to limit ourselves to performance films, and I want to plan and produce popular musical films like Les Misérables (2012) and La La Land (2017) as Screen X movies too.

Children’s content is the perfect genre to be turned into Screen X films. Pororo, Dinosaur Island Adventure was released at the end of 2017 and accrued over 820,000 viewers. How much influence do you think Screen X had on its success?

Children were our main target, but we also had to consider their guardians as well. That’s why we focused on emphasizing the new technology and highlighted that it was a premium screening theater in order to differentiate it from a 2D movie. In terms of content, the 3-screen composition also helps to draw out focus from children. We used screen extensions and montage editing for songs called “Looking for A Friend” and “Para Pam”. We found that the children were highly focused and responded positively. Some kids even got up and sang along the sides of the walls. When kids have positive responses, the guardians are naturally satisfied. While producing Screen X content for children, I learned that the theater is more than a medium to tell stories, it’s a place where you can have an experience. 

Which film do you think had the most positive result from using Screen X technology? 

Mojin: The Lost Legend had the strongest positive response. Globally, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales sold the most number of tickets, while TRAIN TO BUSAN and BIGBANG10 the Movie: BIGBANG MADE were the most popular out of the Korean films.

What kind of stories or genres are most suitable for Screen X technology?

Films that take space as an important variable such as Gravity (2013) or TRON: Legacy (2010) are suitable for Screen X, while stage art and musical films are the genres that make best use of the Screen X technology.

What are some of the Screen X films scheduled to be released in 2018?

Our plan is to release 10 Hollywood films this year. After last year’s release of Pororo, Dinosaur Island Adventure, we saw potential in animation and we plan on developing it more. Including The Underdog, we are planning to release 3 animated films this year.
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