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The business of film, television & new media production in the Northeast
imagine magazine logo
The business of film, television & new media production in the Northeast

by Carol Patton

douglas trumbull magi pods

Magi Pods, a revolutionary new way to experience motion picture developed by special effects pioneer Douglas Trumbull.

Douglas Trumbull’s industry revolutionizing Magi project is on full display in the Berkshires

If you’re a sci-fi or thriller fan or movie goer who pays attention to or ever watched the Academy Awards, there’s no way you don’t know the name of legendary special effects pioneer, Douglas Trumbull (2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY, BLADE RUNNER, CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND, STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE). He’s provided the magic of special effects for Stanley Kubrick, Steven Spielberg, Ridley Scott and more. He’s won Academy Awards and numerous other awards including, I’m happy saying, an “Imaginnaire.”

Trumbull was born with special effects in his blood. He is the son of Donald Trumbull, a mechanical engineer, who created special effects for THE WIZARD OF OZ. Doug’s early work began at Graphic Films in Los Angeles. The small animation and graphic arts studio produced a film called TO THE MOON AND BEYOND about spaceflight for the 1964 New York World’s Fair. The film caught the attention of director Stanley Kubrick. Need I say more? Yes….

Stanley Kubrick asked Trumbull to work with him to give audiences a genuine experience of the future of space travel and artificial intelligence. That’s what Kubrick asked of Trumbull. And Trumbull delivered.

A group of IMAGINE readers and cinema enthusiasts arrived in the Berkshires to spend a day with this larger than life keeper of “special effects” lore. He embodies the institutional memory on the subject along with a few peers. It was a special day to remember filled with the work, stories, anecdotes and life experiences of Douglas Trumbull.

Click here to take the October 11th tour!

douglas trumbull special effects pioneer

A day with Doug Trumbull in his studios.
Doug Trumbull, Carol Patton, Karen Allen and
Diane Pearlman. Photo by George Marshall.

Trumbull, once again, is pioneering. This time it is the future of immersive digital media – the thrill and awe of “going to the movies” is about to be re-introduced to the world of cinema – the magic of Trumbull’s Magi project is readying to roll out. We expect this as it is not the first time, as Mr. Trumbull played a major role in developing IMAX and introducing it to the world. An awesome feat considering 70mm film and cameras are super expensive – the camera cumbersome. IMAX is still the very most popular way to see action movies in the theatre today. But, make way for Magi Imaging and Magi Pod.

douglas trumbull special effectsAs Hollywood keeps building tent pole, blockbuster, enormously budgeted movies, the actual theatre size and screens keep shrinking – so does the box office. What’s missing in this picture? Most everyone is missing the thrill of going to the picture show, the joy of going to the movies. We’re about to get it back.

Trumbull Studios has developed and patented a revolutionary new way to capture, edit, post-produce and project motion imagery for theatrical features, television, location based entertainment, and VR/AR mixed reality. Douglas Trumbull showed us a fundamentally new way to create and exhibit motion pictures. We are introduced to the future of movies by the innovator himself – we learned how movies will be made and then, all of us tucked into Doug Trumbull’s Magi Pod and after a brief introduction to the experimental movie we were about to view, we put on our 3D glasses and experienced the movies of the future. The screen itself is huge and curved and it sucks you right in.

The Magi Pod is totally a thrill. It’s the finest 3D ever seen. The magic number is 120 fps for capturing and projecting. Sound is around you with thundering 32 channel surround sound. Rotary subwoofers deliver powerful infrasonic sound and motion. And guess what? Your seat is involved – like you were on a ride. Put it all together and it is exhilarating beyond all expectations.

It’s interesting to note that Doug Trumbull created the special effects for Universal’s BACK TO THE FUTURE Ride, a simulator ride that was inspired by the BACK TO THE FUTURE film series. Universal spawned the ride in its Florida, California and Japan locations. And in Las Vegas, Trumbull created the special effects for the Luxor Hotel ride – depicting an Egyptian theme. I remember the hotel personally because of the ride, its beam to outer space and the inclinator (an elevator that rises diagonally) to my hotel room when I attended NAB.

And, one last thing, the Magi project has future medical and scientific applications as shooting,
processing and exhibiting at 120 fps – you see the absolute. There’s no mind tricking involved here.

IMAGINE is planning another trip to Trumbull Studios on Wednesday, October 11, 2017. If you would like to come with us, email me at and we’ll try to get you on the trip list. There’s only room for sixty and the cost is modest and includes a set style luncheon. I suggest you respond early if interested. The Future is now.