My Thoughts on 3D

3D glassesWhen I heard the news that Warner Bros were ditching the 3D version of Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows part 1 it came as a big but pleasant surprise.

I really enjoy seeing movies in 3D. I loved the 3D aspect of Avatar. The 3D in Up, Toy Story 3 and Coraline was beautiful and really added to the atmosphere of these stories. I enjoyed the in your face use of 3D in Monsters vs Aliens. And I even thought that the 3D in Piranha 3D, which wasn’t great, was worth it. I have also seen movies where the 3D didn’t add anything and was done so badly that it was distracting. Now, apart from Piranha 3D, all of the movies that I enjoyed were made in 3D, from the start, without any stereo conversion.

I have just spent several days at work doing a stereo conversion test shot. We have been experimenting with various techniques for recreating the image from a different angle. All of these processes get part way to a result but all have the same problem – they cannot make up parts of the second view that didn’t exist in the first. To get the rest of the way involves a lot of manual paint work which takes a long time to do properly.

The results of these conversions look like lots of 2D layers arranged in 3D space rather than a single 3D image. Again, there are ways to improve the results but they require more manual work.

I’m sure it is possible to create a convincing and effective 3D image through a conversion process but to do it properly will be a slow and expensive process.

I was worried that the universal criticism of the quality of the 3D conversion of Clash of The Titans had fallen on deaf ears at Warner Bros, or had at least been drowned out by the sound of cash registers. Perhaps in the case of Harry Potter they realised that they have to treat this franchise with a little more respect. I would be very surprised if they cancelled the 3D conversion of Part 2 but they have plenty of time to make sure that it is done properly before next summer.

In conclusion I’m all for 3D movies but only if they are planned to be in 3D from the start and not hastily converted for the sake of it.

I don’t think this wave of 3D is just a fad. I think it’s here to stay and with the evolving technology and artists learning from experience it will get better and better. I often compare 3D to surround sound. It used to be a gimmick, used not so subtly on loud action films. But now even romcoms come with 5.1 audio. I think surround sound is often more effective at drawing you into the movie when it is subtle and barely noticed. Personally I think if 3D is going to stick around it will follow the same path and perhaps in 10 or 20 years time it will just become the default.