Wednesday, March 17, 2010

2 Much 3D?

I've found 3D movies a lot of fun, but I worry that the bloom may not be comin' at ya - it may be coming off the rose.

Sure, we just had the great success of Avatar - but unlike most movies released in 3D, it was specifically designed for, and shot in the process. James Cameron shot his movie using at least two cameras per shot, to get the proper 3D effect. Tim Burton, directing Alice in Wonderland, did not. Instead. the 3D was done entirely in post production. I did not see the film in 3D, I saw it "flat" - but many reports I've read indicate the 3D is superfluoous at best, and distracting at worst.

In this piece I've linked to below, a pseudonymous CG supervisor at a prominent VFX house explains why the post technique is not nearly as effective.

The Movie Studios' Big 3D Scam - movie studios - Gizmodo

Key quote:

The process of making a movie 3D after it was shot is a complicated and time consuming process but can be somewhat convincing. The problem is it will never reflect the same results as if you were filming using two cameras, simultaneously, from slightly different perspectives. Endless rotoscoping provides layers that can be separated to fake a different perspective for the second eye, but that's what it looks like, layers. So yes, you can push things away and pull things forward and enhance the depth, but the content within each layer has no depth. We use our eyes everyday and whether you know the geek stuff or not it's just not what we are used to seeing. 

Now we have a bevvy of films coming in 3D. Some will be designed for the process, like DreamWorks' How to Train Your Dragon. Some will not, like the Clash of the Titans remake. As Cameron himself points out in this interview, 

You know, everybody is an overnight expert. They think, "what was the takeaway lessons from Avatar? Oh you should make more money with 3D." They ignore the fact that we natively authored the film in 3D, and decide that what we accomplished in several years of production could be done in an eight week (post-production 3D) conversion with Clash of the Titans. If people put bad 3D in the marketplace they're going to hold back or even threaten the emerging of 3D. People will be confused by differences in quality.

I've had a lot of fun with the new 3D wave, but it's clear the studios are starting to use it as a way to make more bucks without artfully adding more bang. I'm not going to be seeing Clash of the Titans in 3D - in fact, I plan to skip it altogether, since that will be less a movie than a greedy cash-in on 80s nostalgia. Part of the reason the original Clash was fun was because the effects (created by the legendary Ray Harryhausen) had that funky old-school charm, even back then. Clash of the Titans looks like just another case of CGI sensory overload - and even moreso in 3D.

Bottom line - unless I know a movie is shot with 3D in mind, I won't be bothering with the extra expense.

What do you think?


Allison Dickson said...

I'm looking at it like you, Eric. If I had known that Alice was not shot for 3D ahead of time, I wouldn't have plunked down the extra money to see it in 3D.

Cameron made me believe in the native technology, but I'm frustrated at all of the cheap knock-offs that are now flooding the market.

kEnny said...

I agree so very much!

Kim said...

I agree! I am not "buying" into the hype. It is like the cheap knock-offs made of popular toys trying to cash in on the popularity of the quality item. I rarely spring for 3D anyway - Avatar was an exception because I knew it was filmed that way - and it really showed. I think "after the fact" 3D is just cheesy and I refuse to pay extra for it.