Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Smell-O-Vision Cinema Again?

In the ever competitive world of movie making you often need realism and visceral appeal for success. Despite the present special effects wizardry, high definition images, and computer animation many movie goers are anticipating even more virtual reality effects. One of these "new" cinema sense experiences recently introduced into some Japanese movie theaters is dubbed Smell-O-Vision. "The scents will circulate through the theatre via machines filled with fragrant liquids located under the back row seats". At first whiff this seems like a novel idea. However, it was attempted a few decades ago.

"Todd's 1960 film Scent of Mystery (1960) delivered scents to the audience throughout the film using a more advanced process called "Smell-o-vision". Problems propagating scents in synch with the film and flushing the scents out between each showing led to Smell-o-vision's early demise." -via Wikipedia

In view of that historic failure I wouldn't be rushing out to buy shares in Smell-O-Vision companies quite yet even if the technology has improved. Full Story

Let's see...

  • Certain odors can cause nausea and wretching in some poor souls. Will the theater supply barf bags?
  • Many of the chemicals that create odors and scents are associated with allergic reactions - hopefully nothing that requires a paramedic in the theater or a syringe of adrenalin on standby.
  • As alluded to earlier - how will the scents be cued up to match the movie scenes and then dissipate quickly enough for the next scene? There could well be a peculiar mixture of odors wafting around the theater half way through the movie.
  • Who the hell decides what romance, love, joy, fear and anger smell like anyway?
  • You might get away with scents for flowers, food, coffee, etc. even if they are mixed in with the waft of stale, buttered popcorn, but how many will leave the theatre saying - "boy smelling that coffee Brad Pitt was drinking was an academy award moment".
  • What about some of the nasty odors that life conjures up? For the sake of realism do you want to smell smog, stale urine, dead bodies, formaldehyde and other nasty nasal delicacies while you relax in the cinema?
  • There might be a small benefit for some - the local cinema could actually become the ideal public place to pass gas without embarrassment - if you time it right.

  • I'm going to go out on a limb here, and predict the early second demise of Smell-O-Vision for this decade at least.

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