Tag Archives: 3-D

‘Christmas’ for Disney, Imax

Disney and Imax are back in business together, inking a five-picture deal that commences a year from now with Robert Zemeckis’ 3-D holiday release “A Christmas Carol.”

The Mouse House — the market leader in 3-D — has been noticeably absent when it comes to exploiting Imax screens, choosing instead to play its digital 3-D titles in conventional theaters only.

Relations between Disney and Imax grew strained after the two partnered on “Fantasia 2000,” which celebrated the 40th anniversary of the acclaimed animated feature.

But the ongoing shortage of conventional 3-D screens, plus the success of other Imax studio partnerships, provided an opening for Disney and Imax to come together once again.

The five-picture deal was announced in Singapore, where Walt Disney Studios Motion Picture Group prexy Mark Zoradi and Imax toppers, along with other studio execs, are attending a 3-D conference.

“Disney’s commitment to 3-D is great for Imax moviegoers, and dovetails ideally with our strategy to build a slate of top-quality movies from the best filmmakers that lend themselves to the Imax format,” Imax Filmed Entertainment chair-prexy Greg Foster said from Singapore.

Zemeckis’ “Christmas Carol,” a reworking of Charles Dickens’ classic tale toplining Jim Carrey, opens Nov. 9, 2009.

Source: Variety

Katzenberg: 3-D vision goes beyond animation

SINGAPORE — It’s a 3-D world, and Jeffrey Katzenberg thinks it’s time to reflect that on the big screen — and not just in animated films.

“In five to seven years, all films, regardless of budgets or type, will be made in 3-D,” the DreamWorks Animation boss said here Wednesday during his keynote at the inaugural 3DX Film and Entertainment Technology Festival.

“3-D is how we see, how we take things in. It’s natural,” Katzenberg said. “This is not a gimmick, it’s an opportunity to immerse the audience, to heighten the experience.”

He added that the migration to 3-D will happen on all screens, including mobile phones and laptops.

Katzenberg was joined by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Group president Mark Zoradi and others in stressing the industry’s commitment to 3-D as the future of film.

Moviegoers’ early response is clear, Zoradi said, citing the success of such 3-D titles as “Chicken Little” and “Hannah Montana and Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert.”

“Consumers clearly prefer 3-D if they have a choice,” he said, adding that 3-D films could bring in two to three times the business of a 2-D release.

Zoradi touted his studio’s new five-picture deal with Imax, which will kick off with Robert Zemeckis’ “A Christmas Carol” in November 2009, adding that the slate could involve projects from Tim Burton and Jerry Bruckheimer, though no details were disclosed.

Producer John Landau, now working with James Cameron on “Avatar,” said that 3-D would “do for cinema what stereo did for the audio industry.”

All the film industry has to do is “demystify” 3-D for consumers, whose perception of 3-D may be of “gimmicks on B films” and “theme parks that forced things off the screen,” Landau said.

Zoradi’s presentation Wednesday included the first public screening of 3-D footage from “Beauty and the Beast” (originally released in 1991), which Disney is re-rendering for a 2010 release, as well as Disney’s “Tron 2,” set for 2011 or 2012.

The addition of “Beauty and the Beast” brings Disney’s number of digital 3-D releases for 2009-10 to 11, with another six to come in 2011. This would give Disney more than 50% of all 3-D releases during the next three years; 11 of those would be animated.

“The biggest barrier (to 3-D) is not product, it’s the installed base of digital cinemas,” Zoradi said.

Katzenberg predicted that 35%-40% of admissions for March DWA release “Monsters vs Aliens” will be for 3-D. For a film coming out 15 months later, he envisions 80%-85% of admissions for the company’s next “Shrek” installment to be for 3-D.

Stressing the technical advances that made the latest incarnation of 3-D different from past efforts, Katzenberg said 3-D “will bring people back to the movies who have stopped going.”

“This is not my father’s 3-D,” he said. “There’s no ghosting, no eye strain and best of all, you don’t throw up. Throwing up is not good for anyone’s business.”

All agreed that 3-D’s ability to immerse audiences in the film is the key.

“There is nothing more immersive than 3-D,” Landau said. “On ‘Titanic,’ our goal was to use visual effects to make people feel part of the film. With ‘Avatar,’ we’re using technology to transport people to another world.”

Katzenberg said that theatrical digital 3-D represents a “unique opportunity for cinemas” to create an experience that consumers could not get at home, “and it will be many years before they can.”

Among the reasons cited was the fact that light diminishes the quality of the image.

“The only place in the home to replicate this is in the coat closet … and I would not want to spend two hours there watching a movie,” he said.

Source: Hollywood Reporter

NAB focus on 3-D

3-D stepped to the forefront at NAB on Monday.

The entire day at the Content Theater was devoted to 3-D case studies and demonstrations, and technology partners DreamWorks Animation and Hewlett-Packard got into the act in a separate presentation.

One Content Theater highlight was a live 3-D closed-circuit television transmission from Burbank with Howie Mandel and his “Deal or No Deal” exec producer Scott St. John applying the technology to a gameshow format they’re developing: “Would You Rather…,” based on the existing game title.

The transmission was shown on a projection screen and on specially modified flat-panel HD displays from Hyundai. Produced with technology from 3ality, the company best known for its work on “U2 3D,” the demo used the same “passive” Real D polarized glasses used in many movie theaters, unlike the “active” shuttered glasses needed for most 3-D capable TV sets now available.

Steve Schklair, topper at 3ality, said the satellite feed used the same bandwidth as a standard 2-D transmission.

DreamWorks Animation used the platform of a presentation with its technology partner Hewlett-Packard to tubthump its 3-D brand: DreamWorks Ultimate 3-D, in which the film is made in 3-D along the entire pipeline. DreamWorks Entertainment chairman Roger Enrico tubthumped the brand, saying, “The difference from what’s been done before is so great we needed a new name.”

Enrico showed a clip from the upcoming “Kung-Fu Panda” in Ultimate 3-D, with digital projection by Real D. Clip was notable for crisp images, especially for a temporary theater, and for the lack of the usual spears-flying-into-your-face gimmicks often used to tout 3-D.

More substantively, DreamWorks and HP also announced a new flat-panel monitor system, monikered DreamColor, aimed at providing ideal color fidelity for digital artists at one-quarter the cost of a high-end monitor.

DreamWorks Animation topper Jeffrey Katzenberg, in taped remarks, called color fidelity “a longstanding challenge throughout the film industry and especially the animation industry”; DWA, he added, had asked HP for “a solution that would do for video fidelity what THX did for audio fidelity.”

Source: Variety

James Cameron on 3-D

Director James Cameron’s upcoming “Avatar” must rank as one of the most anticipated film projects in recent memory. His first narrative film since making the No. 1 box office hit of all time, 1997’s “Titanic,” “Avatar” will be the realization of Cameron’s long-held dream of melding digital 3-D stereo with epic bigscreen storytelling. Variety’s David S. Cohen conducted this email interview with Cameron, which is the director’s most extensive exploration of 3-D to date.

You’ve worked in 3-D before and have been an evangelist for this technology. As a storyteller and director, what does 3-D add to the creative side of a project?

I believe that Godard got it exactly backwards. Cinema is not truth 24 times a second, it is lies 24 times a second. Actors are pretending to be people they’re not. Day for night, dry for wet, Vancouver for New York, potato shavings for snow. It’s all illusion, but the prize goes to those who make the fantasy the most real, the most visceral, the most involving.

This sensation of truthfulness is vastly enhanced by the stereoscopic illusion. Especially in the types of films which have been my specialty to date, the fantasy experience is served best by a sense of detail and textural reality supporting the narrative moment by moment. The characters, the dialogue, the production design, photography and visual effects must all strive to give the illusion that what you’re seeing is really happening, no matter how improbable the situation might be if you stopped to think about it — a time-traveling cyborg out to change history by killing a waitress, for example.

When you see a scene in 3-D, that sense of reality is supercharged. The visual cortex is being cued, at a subliminal but pervasive level, that what is being seen is real. All the films I’ve done previously could absolutely have benefited from 3-D. So, creatively, I see 3-D as a natural extension of my cinematic craft.

A 3-D film immerses you in the scene, with a greatly enhanced sense of physical presence and participation. When most people think of 3-D films, they think first of the gimmick shots — objects or characters flying, floating or poking out into the audience. In fact, in a good stereo movie, these shots should be the exception rather than the rule.

Watching a stereo movie is looking into an alternate reality through a window. It is intuitive to the film industry that this immersive quality is perfect for action, fantasy and animation.

What’s less obvious is that the enhanced sense of presence and realism works in all types of scenes, even intimate dramatic moments. Which is not to say that all films should be made in 3-D, because the returns may not warrant the costs in many cases, but certainly there should be no creative reason why any film could not be shot in 3-D and benefit from it.

The new 3-D, this stereo renaissance, not only solves all the old problems of bad projection, eyestrain, etc., but it is being used on first-class movies that are on people’s must-see lists. These are fundamental changes from what happened with the flash-in-the-pan 3-D craze of the ’50s. 3-D is also a chance to rewrite the rules, to raise ticket prices for a tangible reason, for demonstrable value-added.

As the film’s director, how do you handle shooting material for trailers, TV commercials and other media where you can’t count on 3-D being available?

All films are made to serve many masters. Every director knows his film will be seen by more people on DVD or network TV on a small screen than in a theater. Does that change the way we direct? Not much. First and foremost, the film must be a good movie. The 3-D should always be thought of as a turbocharger, an enhancer, to a work whose raison d’etre is vested in its story, its characters, its style, etc.

Before I decided to make a major movie in 3-D, I had to resolve to my own satisfaction that the 3-D would not degrade in any measurable way the 2-D viewing experience. Only when I had done enough 3-D production and testing to answer these questions was I willing to proceed.

I don’t think the economics of 3-D are clear yet, and won’t be for a few years. I think it is a mistake under any circumstances to make a film which is dependent on 3-D for its success, either aesthetically or commercially. The film should not be marketed first and foremost as a 3-D experience. The film should be sold on its merits, and the consumer should be informed that they can purchase the experience in 2-D or, for a couple extra bucks, in 3-D. It should be like ordering at Starbucks. Lots of choices. If the new media of the last decade has taught us anything, it is that people like choices, and they like control.

How do you shoot differently for 3-D?

On “Avatar,” I have not consciously composed my shots differently for 3-D. I am just using the same style I always do. In fact, after the first couple of weeks, I stopped looking at the shots in 3-D while I was working, even though the digital cameras allow real-time stereo viewing.

Having said that, I am not above milking a good 3-D moment, as long as it doesn’t interrupt the narrative flow.

There are a couple of minor adjustments that need to be made to lighting and camera placement to create a smooth and unobtrusive stereo experience. But once you learn these few tricks, you stop thinking much about them.

I compose the shots on a 2-D monitor, while in the back of my mind I’m imagining it in 3-D. That way I know I’m always making a good 2-D movie as I go along. I also edit in 2-D, for the same reason.

How about the way actors work or the way you work with actors?

I made it my mission to keep the 3-D out of the actors’ consciousness completely. Every once in a while, one of them would go over to the theater and watch some dailies and come back wide-eyed. But it really didn’t change a thing they were doing on set.

We’ve been told that “Citizen Kane” was a great example of how to shoot for 3-D: great depth of field, wide-angle lenses, etc.

I think it’s a myth that you want deep focus in 3-D shots. I find the opposite is true. With 3-D, the director needs to lead the audience’s eye, not let it roam around the screen to areas which are not converged. So all the usual cinematic techniques of selective focus, separation lighting, composition, etc., that one would use in a 2-D film to direct the eye to the subject of interest, still apply, and are perhaps even more important.

Every time I watch a movie lately, from “300” to “Atonement,” I think how wonderful it would have been if shot in 3-D.

How does 3-D change the way you cut a film? The current trend toward very quick cutting, so popular now in action films, seems not to work in 3-D. Or does it?

The new cameras allow complete control over the stereospace. You should think of interocular like volume. You can turn the 3-D up or down, and do it smoothly on the fly during a shot. So if you know you’re in a scene which will require very fast cuts, you turn the stereo down and you can cut fast and smoothly. The point here is that just because you’re making a stereo movie doesn’t mean that stereo is the most important thing in every shot or sequence. If you choose to do rapid cutting, then the motion of the subject from shot to shot to shot is more important than the perception of stereospace at that moment in the film. So sacrifice the stereospace and enjoy the fast cutting. Stereo is just another color to paint with.

Right now, 3-D is pretty much being used for films that have some spectacle in them; nobody’s talking about using it for domestic dramas. But does 3-D change the experience of watching actors act?

I plan to shoot a small dramatic film in 3-D, just to prove this point, after “Avatar.” In “Avatar,” there are a number of scenes that are straight dramatic scenes, no action, no effects. They play very well, and in fact seem to be enhanced by the stereo viewing experience. So I think this can work for the full length of a dramatic feature.

How important is it to work in an all 3-D post-production pipeline?

You don’t need to be in 3-D at every step of the way. I cut on a normal Avid, and only when the scene is fine cut do we output left and right eye video tracks to the server in the screening room and check the cut for stereo. A shot is judged on the merits of performance, operating, lighting, etc., and not 3-D. I think this is a healthy approach.

There are already calls to increase the frame rate to at least 30 frames per second for digital 3-D because certain camera moves, especially pans, look jumpy in 3-D. You’ve been an advocate for both 3-D and higher frame rates. What do you think is the solution?

For three-fourths of a century of 2-D cinema, we have grown accustomed to the strobing effect produced by the 24-frames-per-second display rate. When we see the same thing in 3-D, it stands out more, not because it is intrinsically worse, but because all other things have gotten better. Suddenly the image looks so real, it’s like you’re standing there in the room with the characters, but when the camera pans, there is this strange motion artifact. It’s like you never saw it before, when in fact it’s been hiding in plain sight the whole time. Some people call it judder, others strobing. I call it annoying. It’s also easily fixed.

Our current generation of digital projectors can currently run up to 144 frames per second, and they are still being improved. So right now, today, we could be shooting 2-D movies at 48 frames and running them at that speed. This alone would make 2-D movies look astonishingly clear and sharp, at very little extra cost, with equipment that’s already installed or being installed. I’ve run tests on 48 frame per second stereo and it is stunning. The cameras can do it, the projectors can (with a small modification) do it.

So why aren’t we doing it, as an industry? Because people have been asking the wrong question for years. They have been so focused on resolution, and counting pixels and lines, that they have forgotten about frame rate. A 2K image at 48 frames per second looks as sharp as a 4K image at 24 frames per second … with one fundamental difference: the 4K/24 image will judder miserably during a panning shot, and the 2K/48 won’t.

If every single digital theater was perceived by the audience as being equivalent to Imax or Showscan in image quality, which is readily achievable with off-the-shelf technology now, running at higher frame rates, then isn’t that the same kind of marketing hook as 3-D itself? Something you can’t get at home. An aspect of the film that you can’t pirate.

Of course, the ideal format is 3-D/2K/48 fps projection. I’d love to have done ‘Avatar’ at 48 frames. But I have to fight these battles one at a time. I’m just happy people are waking up to 3-D.

Maybe on “Avatar 2.”

It’s turning out that 3-D that’s optimized for one screen size doesn’t look right if the screen size gets a lot bigger or smaller. Technologists are talking about the need to turn down the stereo for big screens and turn it up for small screens as a movie goes through its life cycle at a multiplex and then on to homevideo.

I don’t agree with this at all. I think the effect you are describing has more to do with the fact that people tend to sit farther from monitors than they do from cinema screens, when calculated as a ratio of viewer distance to screen width. I certainly would never change the stereospace of a film to fit different screen sizes. In fact, for photographic films, it can’t be changed. The interocular is set at the moment of photography. People will tell you they can fix it later, in post, by changing the convergence, but they are wrong.

As for 3-D in the home: The only limitation to having stereo viewing in the home is the number of titles currently available. The technology exists and is straightforward. It should be remembered that good 3-D requires a more immersive relationship between audience and screen. Unless you’re willing to sit within four feet of a 50-inch monitor, which only a few geeks (like me) will do in a home setting, then you’re not going to get the same bang for the buck out of a 3-D movie on a home system as you would in a theater, regardless of whether the resolution of the image is the same. So there may always be a greater distinction between seeing a 3-D movie at home vs. seeing a 2-D movie at home. Which is good. Because 3-D then becomes a technology which will help preserve the health of the theatrical exhibition business in a time when it is besieged.

In fact, I would go so far as to say that 10 or 15 years from now, stereo displays will be ubiquitous, from cinemas to open-air advertising, to home screens and down to handheld devices. It may be that eventually all of our news and information, as well as our sports and entertainment, will come to us in stereo.

In the future world shown in “Avatar,” all display devices, including handheld devices and even photos, are all in 3-D.

We evolved to see in 3-D for a reason. It made us better hunters, or allowed us to spot and avoid predators. Why wouldn’t we want this Darwinian edge in our workplace, in our sports and entertainment, in all our peak visual experiences?

You know what I think.

— Jim out.