Nowadays, 3D movies are coming out at your local theatre at a rampant rate. After a while you probably can’t help but wonder, “Can all those movies really be worth the extra cash I’m paying at the box office?” Well, I’m going to open up the third dimension on that question.
First: only a few movies actually are shot in 3D. “Avatar” re-started the 3D craze because it not only had ground-breaking high-tech special effects, but it was photographed with a new 3D system created by its director, James Cameron. Essentially, the rig he helped design involved special high-def cameras which were mounted in a configuration where one camera shoots normally and the other shoots through a mirror, thereby allowing the cameras to be close enough to one another to simulate the distance between our human eyes. As a result, the movie looked spectacular and was in true 3D.
Second: most of the other “3D movies” are actually 2D, “normal,” movies which were then converted in post. The “Clash of the Titans” 2010 remake is a perfect example of this. They shot that movie normally with just one camera at a time, resulting in a final flat image. Later, they took that movie and others and artists took the time to go frame-by-frame and separate out the elements in each shot to simulate 3D. They would take like a person standing in the foreground and cut them out from the background behind them. They would then set that person a little more to the left for one image, then a little more to the right for the other image. What about the hole behind them? They would fill that in with drawing more of the background which is there to extend into the hole left behind by cutting out the person that was there.
Third: What is the end result of converting then? It looks fair, but the effect tends to make people in each shot to appear like cardboard cut-out figures standing closer to you than the rest of the background. It doesn’t seem to look quite as real than as if it had been actually photographed with 3D cameras.
Finally, what exactly do you get with this 3D nowadays? I remember back in the 80’s when 3D was out and what effect I got out of it. Honestly, I thought that 3D was better at having objects seem to come out of the screen much better than today’s 3D. Sure, it was done with film projectors then, but somehow the effect was better. Today’s 3D is really much better at giving the sense of depth, like you can reach into the picture. Some things somewhat seen to come at you, but keep in mind that 3D only promises to make things seem separated from each other, not necessarily to jump out at you.
Why do studios convert movies? Simple: money. It’s very expensive to shoot anything in 3D. However, converting a movie afterwards actually saves money. Personally, if I were to pay for a 3D movie, I’d prefer to pay for something actually shot that way. The movie-makers went that way and that way is true to their vision. If you’re not sure how a movie was shot, just do a little research on-line for it and you’ll find the truth behind it.
We’ll see you–in 3D or 2D–at the movies!