After the early tests (1838),a golden era (1952-1955), a revival (1960-1979), and the beginnings of IMAX 3-D (1980-1984), it seems stereoscopic movies are in for a new-new-new revival!
James Cameron is the leader of this movement that never quite stopped, after having filmed two 3D IMAX 3-D films, he “is committing ALL his future film projects to 3D.”
“Adding 3D stereoscopic display to the burgeoning digital cinema rollout is the best way to save the theatrical experience. And, bring people back to the movies.” he said in his NAB’s Digital Cinema Summit keynote.
Indeed, you can’t copy a 3d movie; who has stereoscopic displays at home? (Well.. I have but I’m not a normal guy..)
From Wikipedia: “In November 2005, Walt Disney Studio Entertainment released Chicken Little, in the new digital 3-D format known as REAL D” (who bought Stereographics, the famous 3d glasses maker).
Disney discovered that something like 10% of its screens (those with 3D projectors) generated more than 25% of the revenue from “Chicken Little” in 3D. (…)
Shooting in 3D Cameron says adds about 15% to overall production costs. Transforming a blockbuster film afterwards – such as exploiting In3′s 2D to 3D technology services – costs more. Still, George Lucas is committing the Star Wars saga to the treatment as is Peter Jackson for the Lord of the Rings trilogy and King Kong.
And more is coming! DreamWorks Animation announces its intention to produce all of its films in stereoscopic 3D technology starting in 2009.
The trend is set.
3d movies imply new ways of filming, of course on the hardware side, but the composition has to deal with the 3rd dimension to create a new grammar. Lenny Lipton, CEO of REAL D says :
The control of space is different. What is accomplished in planar, or 2D, filmmaking with focus and lighting and perspective can now be addressed in additional ways. (…) Placing objects in relationship to the plane of the screen. This is entirely in control of the filmmakers. In other words, pay attention to what plays at the plane of the screen, what plays in audience space, and what plays in screen space or behind the plane of the screen.
If you’re interested in the technique, the REAL D blog is interesting.
In order to take full advantage of the new technology, DreamWorks intends to make films with the stereoscopic 3D concept in mind from the beginning of the production process. The company believes that this approach will increase its storytelling opportunities and create a more immersive movie-viewing experience.
“Historically, 3D has been used primarily as an add-on or a bonus feature,” Katzenberg (Chief Executive Officer of DreamWorks Animation) said. “And while audiences have enjoyed that, they haven’t really seen the true potential of this technology. We’re going to use the latest stereoscopic 3D technology to build our movies from the ground up. We believe that this will create more opportunities for our artists as well as more compelling experience for the audience.”
The growth in the number of theaters capable of projecting 3D films has dramatically risen in the past two years. It is expected by 2009 that there will be several thousand screens equipped for 3D.
Last week I was invited at La Géode‘s (IMAX theater in Paris) inauguration of their digital stereoscopic projectors. They use 6 Barco Galaxy projectors and Infitec technology for filters and glasses (Note that the displayed image isn’t 360°, it’s “only” about 30mx20m). Some 3D effects were really well done, and I can’t wait to see movies that are specially tailored for this kind of displays!
Once you’ve started tasting 3d viewing, getting back to 2D is frustrating.
But the next step is even more interesting. Some people you know are already working on stereoscopic, realtime 3d, interactive content (so many words!) for such theaters, and that, my friends, is really impressing. Stay tuned!