Flattie: A film shot conventionally, in two or three dimensions, rather than in 360-degree virtual-reality (VR) format.
Flattie has been around for at least two decades, but I first encountered it last week in a story in the April 25 New Yorker by Andrew Marantz about “the pioneers who are making the first virtual-reality narratives”:
Anthony Batt, one of Wevr’s three founders and its head of content, is a forty-eight-year-old with artfully tousled hair and a bushy, graying beard. Some of Wevr’s projects are computer-animated, some are live action, and some combine both elements. “We start by identifying people with interesting minds, and then we wrap them in a creative bear hug,” Batt said. This can entail weeks of meetings, phone calls, and test shoots designed to help directors unlearn much of what they know about two-dimensional films—or “flatties,” as V.R. triumphalists sometimes call them. Neville Spiteri, Wevr’s C.E.O. and another of its founders, said, “We’ve had traditional scripts that can’t work as V.R. unless they’re totally rewritten.”
Flattie also appears in a story for the May 1 issue of Scientific American defiantly titled “Why VR Will Not Replace Movies.” Writer David Pogue sets the stage by noting that in 2014 Facebook bought the fledgling VR company Oculus for $2 billion. He sets up the pro-VR argument:
“Even the greatest cinematic achievements are inherently oppressive to the viewer,” asserts Digital Trends. “The camera tells you what to look at.” Ewww. Who'd want that?
And according to Gizmodo, the VR movies at this year's Sundance Film Festival could be the “first nails in the flatties' coffin.” (“Flatties” is the derogatory term for traditional movies.)
The usage has appeared in print since at least 1996, the year of a symposium cited by the digital artist and theorist Lev Manovich wrote, in a chapter for The Digital Dialectic: New Essays on New Media, published in 1999:
Digital media redefine the very identity of cinema. In a Hollywood symposium on the digitization of the cinema, one of the participants provocatively referred to movies as “flatties” and to human activity as “organics” and “soft fuzzies.” As these terms accurately suggest, what used to be cinema’s defining characteristics have become just the default options, with many others available. When one can “enter” a three-dimensional virtual space, viewing the images projected on the screen is hardly the only option.
Flattie is reminiscent of its cinematic predecessors with truncated pet names: movie for moving picture (of North American origin, and first seen in print in 1909, according to the OED) and talkie for talking picture (1913). In the 1920s, toward the end of the silent-film era, there was a brief vogue for speakie to refer to a stage play; the OED attributes the usage to Charlie Chaplin.