Thursday, September 30, 2010

Yet more fun with Stereoscopic ..

Lucasfilm, in their unquestionable wisdom, has decided we need more stereoscopic theater:

The Star Wars saga is about to get a lot more dimensional. Lucasfilm announced Tuesday that all six Star Wars movies will return to theaters in 3-D

The movies’ 3-D conversion is being handled by outside vendors and will be overseen by Industrial Light & Magic visual effects supervisor John Knoll. “It’s not going to look like [conversions] we’ve seen in the past,” Knoll told Variety. Stereoscopic conversion has been a sticky subject of late, especially after the much-criticized last-minute conversions of movies like Clash of the Titans and The Last Airbender.

I had the immense pleasure of working with Aristomenis Tsirbas on the stereoscopic render of his movie, Battle for Terra. Meni took great pains to set up a pipeline and testing environment for purpose of exploring stereoscopic viewing. He and the artists involved spent a lot of time testing the stereoscopic limits and going scene by scene to determine what the correct stereo presentation should be. It really gave me some perspective on this type of movie watching.

I've decided, I'm not a fan. Now, I *do* enjoy the addition of the extra dimension and being able to be immersed in the scenes. However, from what I've been able to find, few directors take the time and effort that Meni did in those months. One of my biggest criticisms of Avatar, was the feeble use of the stereoscopic "third dimension" considering the technology that was created to make it that way.

What I really find even more difficult to watch are the 2D to 3D conversion films. The process involved is horrendously time consuming and expensive. The resulting products are remarkably darker and the extra dimension is generally from the screen back to infinity. Meaning, the resulting picture is more like a diorama than a 3D experience with very little of the picture breaking the convergence plane.

While I am sure that the Star Wars movies in 3D will bring more money back to The Ranch, I'll continue to hope that someone starts to get adventurous and break the plane a bit more frequently and boldly. I'll risk a little eye-strain to justify the extra money I spent to see the film.


Anonymous said...

Lucas hasn't made a film worth watching since 1980. No one cares.

And bad FAKE 3D, ala Alice in Wonderland, thankfully will be the death of 3d.

Joel Fletcher said...

The Star Wars films are filled with brief cuts editorially. Short cuts in 3D = headache! Also, even the best 2D to 3D conversions pale in comparison to a movie actually shot it stereo. It's more greed from the studios that will ultimately turn off the audience and hasten the demise of this latest incarnation of the 3D fad.

Floyd Norman said...

This latest fad from Hollywood's snake oil venders is quickly bringing on 3D's ultimate demise. The sooner the better in my opinion.

Anonymous said...

This latest fad from Hollywood's snake oil venders is quickly bringing on 3D's ultimate demise. How so? By year's end, it's likely that seven of the top ten grossing movies of the year will have been stereoscopic releases. If you count Avatar, which grossed its majority in 2010, that'd make eight out of the top ten, leaving only Iron Man 2 and Inception as non-stereo blockbusters.

Anonymous said...

By year's end, it's likely that seven of the top ten grossing movies of the year will have been stereoscopic releases.

Correction, they will have had been released in stereo and normal. Just because a film was released in stereo, does not make it necessarily a stereoscopic film. You have to follow the numbers.

For example, Toy Story 3 actually took 5% more money on the 2D versions than the stereoscopic version, and that's following a trend before it where a film's 3D takings are getting less and less of the total takings.

So if we follow this clear trend, the fad of 3D will eventually pass, just like it did in the 50's and the 80's.

Anonymous said...

Toy Story 3 made 60% of its total take through 3D showings. Where are you getting your figures?

Here are some good, recent analyses of 3D box office figures. In short, 3D revenues are increasing across all movies released in the format, not declining.

Anonymous said...

First of all, while Toy Story 3 did make 60% of it's earnings from 3D screenings, this graph does show it's a declining fad:

Second of all, I was talking about the per theater earnings of the 2D version to the 3D version. Since 3D ticket prices are obviously higher than 2D ones, you can't outright compare the earnings of both of them to support whether 3D is doing well or not. You have to look at the average earnings a theater gets from the number of screenings of the 2D and 3D versions.

If a movie releases a 3D version that plays on 1000 screens, and makes $1000 per screen, and a 2D version plays on 100 screens, but makes $2000 per screen, then obviously from the total 3D made more, but the 2D version was actually more profitable.

I wanted to see the latest Resident Evil and I could not find a 2D version to save my life.

And that's what the studios are doing, they are artificially limiting the number of 2D screenings from certain films that have 3D versions and proclaiming the 3D is doing better than 2D, when in fact, the 2D screenings are more profitable. The reason for the limiting of 2D versions is explained below.


The real reason for the recent 3D fad:

This whole 3D push is being driven by money, specifically from two fronts: the studios and projection companies.

The studios want to transition to digital projections because it saves them millions of dollars in film prints, and the projection companies obviously want to also sell more equipment. But up until recently, they both were having a hard time convincing theaters to spend on the costly upgrades because it there was not much incentive for the theater as it only amounted to a small perceived quality gain.

When the both the studios and projection companies realised they can use 3D to make this transition, they went balls in. Then all they needed was a film that everyone wanted to see to drive the change, and along came Avatar. Only then did the theaters start rolling over and begin buying the new equipment.

But make no mistake, once the majority of theaters have gone digital, the studios will drop their fascination with 3D because they got wanted in the first place: digital distribution, and that's what it's all about.

Anonymous said...

The graph you cited showing that 3D is a "declining fad" has been thoroughly debunked, for example in the second link I posted above.

If you don't enjoy stereoscopic cinema, then buy a ticket to a flat screening instead. But please stop spreading misinformation to support your opinion.

Anonymous said...

It's not misminformation, it's a fact, the per screen profit of 2D Toy Story 3 was 5% more profitable than the 3D version.

Anonymous said...

This will tell you everything you need to know about the falling profit per screen of 3D movies:

The graph on page 2 says it all. The only reason why 3D profits are being reported as increasing, is because screens are being converted into 3D from 2D, reducing the number of 2D versions of movies shown, but the profit per screen for 2D movies is increasing more than the 3D versions.

Anonymous said...

Those graphs are nigh indecipherable and the article itself admits no definite conclusion can be drawn:

...there's still the caveat about whether 3-D revenue and 2-D revenue are really interchangeable. It's possible to interpret the declining numbers another way. It may be that interest in 3-D has remained constant while the number of 3-D theaters has increased.

Far more likely an explanation.

Again, eight out of ten top grossing movies in 2010 were available in stereoscopic versions. That's the most telling figure and the one that matters to the studios.

Anonymous said...

Of course a bunch of the top films this year had stereoscopic version, it's a new fad that everyone wanted to check out for themselves at least once, and now it's popularity is waning. Just like all fads.

Jones said...

My God, finally a bunch of people who see how naked the Emperor really is... I actually started to believe I´m the only person in the world who strongly dislikes stereoscopic movies,and when even Roger Ebert, of all people, wrote that he liked the 3D in Avatar, I was about to give up hope...
Thanks for restoring my faith in mankind to some extent :-)

Site Meter