All of you know this feeling. It comes when you are pleasantly surprised or thrilled by something that exceeds your expectations – whether it’s an experience, an action or a realization. Explanations of brain chemistry and neural reactions won’t help you understand the feeling – it’s the feeling itself that counts, and that’s enough.
But it’s more difficult to explain why this particular experience has triggered the WOW response. How did this experience differ from the previous one? Did it strike a chord, trigger the emotions, produce mind-provoking thoughts? We try, but the explanation remains elusive nevertheless.
A special, immersive experience
Cinema is one of those things in life that tend to give people a special experience. People go there to be entertained. They want to be a part of a group, sharing the same emotions or response. They want smiling attendants, good comfy seats and tasty snacks, (or no snacks at all)… But above all, people go to the movies to see, well, a movie. One that captivates them: whether it’s a story that makes you think, elicits compassion with the protagonist, makes you feel scared, adventurous or just plain happy.
All of these effects have one thing in common: THE EXPERIENCE. The cinema’s job is to immerse you in the story as completely as possible – and having you feel comfortable in your seat, and (dark!) surroundings is all part of that.
However, there are two senses that must be satisfied above all others: sight and hearing. If the movie is not realistic and ‘larger than life’, then the immersion is not successful, and you are inescapably aware of it. And the same thing happens if the sound is too weak, too loud, or not naturally immersive.
What are the key elements of an immersive picture?
The two main visual elements that immediately provoke a WOW effect are the size of the screen, and bright, colorful images.
It’s the size first of all. The larger the better, one would say. Large screens require large auditoriums – and people are impressed by large volumes of space, whether it’s a cathedral, a mammoth cave or a massive city square.
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