M+E Daily

CPS 2022 Keynote: Filmmaker Explores Where We’re Headed With New Tech

Artificial intelligence (AI) and other new technologies are allowing filmmakers to expand beyond movies to theme park attractions and other projects, film director and animator Jerry Rees said at the 6th Dec Content Protection Summit (CPS), during the keynote session “Evolving Threats and Where We’re Headed: Storyteller’s Perspective”

Interviewing Rees, Richard Atkinson, president of the Content Delivery & Security Association (CDSA), said: “The security’s great but a protected film that’s crap is meaningless. Right? A great film that maybe is less protected is probably going to be better for everyone involved. And so there’s some balance here.”

With that in mind, Atkinson said he realised that a filmmaker like Rees was needed to speak at the Summit on behalf of the creative community. Both of them had worked at Disney, Atkinson pointed out. Rees worked alongside other key filmmaking figures who worked at Disney, including John Lasseter and Tim Burton, Atkinson noted.

Rees started as a traditional Disney feature animator and worked on films including The Fox and the Hound, he noted.

Then Tron “showed up in our building and I went and knocked on their door” to say I was interested in working on it, he said, adding: “I was the only feature animator that was classically trained that wanted to dive into the computer world.”

Many people saw computer use in film as “the enemy,” similar to how a lot of artificial intelligence (AI) is viewed now, Rees said.

Of Tron and the use of computers, he said: “My insistence at the time was that it would become our new canvas for storytelling. And, at the time, we were dealing with effects in inventing things [and] there wasn’t even animation software back then.”

The making of Tron involved “doing stop motion inside of a computer, giving every single frame an address for all objects,” he said, noting: “There was no slow in and slot algorithms or anything, so we were inventing a lot of stuff…. We called our system a state-of-the-art dinosaur by the time we were done because we had to stabilise things for the duration. But, at the end of it all, it was just kind of odd that there was so much potential that was born.”

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, however, thought the Tron filmmakers cheated somehow, he recalled, explaining: “They thought we pushed a button and the film came out. So they gave us no recognition, no awards, no anything for Tron. Now, in retrospect, people see it as quite a landmark thing.”

The film also helped to create a “big canvas where art and entertainment and computers and [now] the metaverse [are] blended,” he said, adding he went on to help create rides at Disney theme parks that involved the use of film and technology, including Tower of Terror and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith.

Presented by Fortinet and produced by MESA, CDSA’s Content Protection Summit is sponsored by Convergent Risks, Richey May Technology Solutions, GeoComply, Signiant, Verimatrix, Shift Media, EIDR and EZDRM.