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Thursday May 11 1:08 AM ET

360-Degree Movie To Debut on Net

By GARY GENTILE, AP Business Writer

LOS ANGELES (AP) - When you're riding in the front seat of a car and someone in the back says something, you might turn around or glance in the rearview mirror.

But if you're watching a movie and a character shouts something off-screen, unless the director turns the camera on the speaker, all you'll get is the disembodied voice.

Until now.

A four-minute film made exclusively for the Internet uses new technology to offer a running, 360-degree look at the world, with action in every direction, every second. There's no such thing as ``off screen'' in ``The New Arrival.''

The film is the first so-called ``immersive'' movie and debuted Wednesday on the Web site of AtomFilms and at the Cannes Film Festival. The technology behind the movie was developed by Be Here Corp. of Cupertino, which makes the camera lens and software, and the Intel Corp. (NasdaqNM:INTC - news) of Santa Clara, which developed the technology to compress the video and move it across the Internet.

In the film's first scene, the camera is pointing out the window of a moving car. Voices come from the back seat, and by pointing and dragging the picture with the computer mouse, the audience can see who is talking, or focus on the driver or any other character for a reaction.

The plot makes use of the technology by planting visual clues throughout, many of which aren't seen unless the film is viewed several times from different angles.

The main visual clue is the placement of the camera itself - what appears on screen is the point of view of the film's main character. The viewer becomes that character moving down the hallway of a retirement home in a key scene. Voices come from behind, and if the viewer rotates the point of view with the mouse, it is revealed that the main character is in a wheelchair being pushed down the hallway.

The new lens actually captures about 80 percent of a sphere, creating blind spots where the director, camera operator, lighting crew and other technicians can hide.

The film was written and filmed by director Amy Talkington, whose short film ``Second Skin'' made its debut at the Sundance Film Festival.

``The challenges ranged from the banal, like where do I stand, to the larger challenges of how do you rethink narrative storytelling in a way that uses the 360-degree format,'' Talkington said. ``The difference in a way is like that between painting and sculpture.''

Many of the tools available to a director were missing from this experience, Talkington said. There is no editing, for instance, and only one camera is used.

The movie cost $25,000 to produce and took about a month to film.

The three companies are sponsoring a competition to choose the next script made using iVideo technology. Filmmakers can submit a two-page treatment by June 16 at the AtomFilms Web site. A panel of judges will pick three finalists and the winning script will be chosen based on votes cast on the site. The winner will be announced in July and given funding to make a movie, to debut in September.

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On the Net:

AtomFilms, The New Arrival: http://www.atomfilms.com/default.asp?spot-id=88

Intel: http://www.intel.com

Be Here: http://www.behere.com 

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