Disney Research is all about pushing the boundaries of technology, particularly in how it pertains to film. Now, the Disney team has released its experimental high-tech surreal short film about immortality, Lucid Dreams of Gabriel.

The film, which was originally expected four months ago, takes advantage of some new filmmaking technologies that the Disney Research lab in Zurich, Switzerland is working on, including multiple frame-rates within shots, high-dynamic range tone mapping, artistic shutters, super slow motion and temporal video compositing. It was shot at 120 fps in RAW format using an Arri Alexa XT with Zeiss prime lenses.

Lucid Dreams of Gabriel is a non-linear story about how a mother achieves immortality through her son, love and time. The film tells the story from three characters' perspectives: the mother, the son and a messenger with the ability to alter time. These characters travel through three realms: the present (shot at 24 frames per second), the supernatural world (shot at 48 frames per second) and a dream world (shot at 48 frames per second), all to find out about the purpose of their lives.

Because Disney shot the film at 120 frames per second, the company suggests watching the film only in HD (720 or 1080) to experience its full effect.

Disney Research explains their technology and process of Lucid Dreams of Gabriel in detail on the project's website. In particular, their "Flow-Of-Time" technology includes "global and local frame rate variations; slow motion and retiming; artistic shutters: rainbow, motion strobe, MotionSmoke; and compositing, temporal alignment."

Challenges Disney faced in the production of the film include using a story wrapped around highly experimental technology, as well as a limited budget with a small cast and little dialogue.

"We wanted to control the perception of motion that is influenced by the frame rate (how many images are shown per second) as well as by the exposure time," says Markus Gross, Vice President Research.

Disney's Research lab in Zurich also created much of the technology used for creating the ice effects in the hit film Frozen, as well as other technologies used in both Tangled and Maleficent.

[Photo Credit: Disney Research]

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