The Cine Chamber

The Cine Chamber during development phase. A computer monitor sits in the middle of the Gray Area Theatre surrounded by video screens. The color projected onto the screens is a light cyan.

The Cine Chamber is a surround video system, developed by Recombinant Media Labs, that features 10 video screens combined with an 8 channel audio system. It is an immersive video environment that you sit in. Unlike a traditional movie / TV / video screen, the Cine Chamber literally surrounds and takes over the viewer’s field of vision. Unlike a dome IMAX or a virtual reality head set, it does not encompass the whole of the field of vision, but rather it is like a stretched movie screen that wraps around your head.

If you think of theatre in the round, the Cine Chamber is actually the inverse, because the audience is surrounded by the performance (the screens), as opposed to performance being the focal point of the room. In the Cine Chamber, the audience has to focus to the outside of the space they are in and move their heads around in order to see what’s going on. The audience also does not have to be seated, they could also be standing or walking around the space.

Developing a piece for the Cine Chamber requires a very different approach as compared to a single screen, as you have 10 times as much real estate to play with. Even better, you have things that are going to be happening out of some of the viewer’s sight. Depending up on where they are looking, and what interests them in the work, they are going to miss some of the presentation no matter what. In order to truly view the entirety of a Cine Chamber piece, you have to view it at least 3-5 times, making sure that you view it from a different vantage point each time.

Developing my piece, 09/09/2020: The Day of the Red Sky, was challenging for the both content and format issues, because it wasn’t just a piece about a difficult event, but it’s a piece in a complicated format.