Tag Archives: Film

IMAX 3D version of Top Gun

I watched the 2D to 3D conversion of Top Gun, presented in IMAX 3D.

Digital IMAX is not real IMAX for those of us who used to see the big screen IMAX. Digital IMAX 3D is a tiny screen with a really, really, really loud sound system. So loud that I wore ear plugs through the entire movie (I often carry earplugs with me to protect my hearing).

The only meaningful difference between IMAX 3D and Real 3D theaters is IMAX 3D is really, really, really loud. Yeah, the IMAX 3D sound system is “better” and goes to at least 11. Maybe 111.

The 2D to 3D conversion mostly works well.  Many of the original scenes used narrow depth of field to convey depth so that in this 3D conversion, those out of focus section are still out of focus. Not my preference for out of focus to convey depth in 3D when actual depth can convey the same idea.

There were several scenes that probably work better as 2D-to-3D conversion than if they had been shot in 3D. During the conversion process, depth maps are created and they can be used to position subjects where ever needed. The aerial combat scenes are an example where this works well – in real life, it would have been tough to capture the deep 3D effects due to the need for very wide lens spacing in a true 3D camera. Another example was a brief clip of an air terminal building, and one of planes on the flight lane, where a 3D camera probably would not have captured depth so well due to the placement of subjects from near to far.

This was the first full length 2D-to-3D conversion that I have watched and I thought the conversion was done well and worked out well and I will go see other converted movies in the future.

Overall, I enjoyed the movie more than I thought I would. My recollection was that I liked the movie when it first came out long ago due to the fact that I liked the flying scenes (even if somethings were a little goofy – I have a pilot’s license and I can be picky about such things), but had remembered not liking the cocky, arrogant attitude of the young pilots portrayed in the movie. (I’ve known a few military pilots and they were neither cocky nor arrogant but professionals.)

In the final assessment, I’ll pay a premium for 3D – but I would not pay a premium for digital IMAX. Today, the IMAX brand means its really loud and the screen size in digital IMAX is not the giant IMAX screens of the past.  May as well see the same movie, if available, on Sony 4K/RealD 3D instead for a bit less money.

That out of the way, the U.S. Navy rocks and anyone who watches the movie will want to enlist immediately afterwards 🙂

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The coming of age of 3D?

3D movies have been around for 40 to 50 years, but the genre has never taken off.

Shooting 3D in film was very complex and 3D was often used primarily as a gimmick to make the movie different, not to tell the story.  Hence, few movies have been seen in 3D.

In the past decade, the big change has been digital technology that makes shooting, editing and fixing 3D video “footage” much easier. But Hollywood could not release many blockbuster 3D films because comparatively few theaters were equipped to project 3D. Today, at the end of 2011, half of the world’s theaters will have been upgraded to digital projection systems – which means they can all do 3D now. As this conversion takes hold on the remaining theaters, the market for 3D films will be much larger – that is, capable of being shown in most theaters.  Did you know that many movies shot in recent years were actually shot in 3D but only released in 2D?   Some of these may be re-released in the future as 3D movies or 3D TV releases.  Let’s hope ticket prices are appropriate and not excessive, a problem that is hindering consumer enthusiasm for 3D at this point.

In December 2012, Peter Jackson‘s movie version of The Hobbit will see Part 1 released. Jackson is shooting The Hobbit in 3D at 48 fps in “5k” (an HD image is almost 2K) using paired RED EPIC cameras. I have a hunch that this movie will inspire a lot more interest in 3D.

Separately, at the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show, 3D LCD TV displays and projection TV systems were everywhere. Gradually, their prices will come down and more and more consumers will have 3D capable systems. In the interim, you can watch 3D using red/cyan or other colored glasses on a regular TV – this approach is not as good as true 3D but its okay and its cheap.

Camera companies demonstrated 3D consumer cameras at CES. However, shooting good 3D is complicated and I we are a long ways yet from a truly satisfactory point and shoot 3D system for all purposes. Editing 3D also requires about 2x the computer horsepower and hard disk storage – not something every home video enthusiast will have readily available.

At the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show, in just two weeks, we know that at least one company will be announcing a glasses free 3D TV. Technology like this has been shown in the past but has not yet entered the mass market.

3D is coming. Will it just be a gimmick?

People said color movies were a gimmick. People said talking movies were a gimmick. Some even thought original B&W movies were a gimmick – after all, they were just a silent, B&W version of stage plays!

As all the pieces come together – good stories, good story telling skills, 3D production equipment and 3D viewing equipment, 3D will become an important part of future entertainment.  And my guess is that The Hobbit will change attitudes towards 3D – it is likely to be the right 3D movie at the right time.

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“Peter Jacksons Hobbit Wont Save 3D Movies”

Peter Jackson
Peter Jackson (Image via RottenTomatoes.com)

I think this writer is off his rocker: Peter Jacksons Hobbit Wont Save 3D Movies and Thats a Good Thing – Forbes.

He argues 2D movies are better and will be better still when shot and projected at 48 fps instead of 24 fps. Okay. He then says that 3D adds nothing to the viewing experience. Hmmm.

Except that real life is, you know, in 3D.  And the author’s argument seems to be that life would be better if it were only in 2D.

Actually, his long winded argument boils down to ticket prices for bad 3D movies are too high so 3D will just be a short lived fad. Like talking pictures were once said to be a short lived fad, and then color movies were a short lived fad. Or not. Each time people said the new technology did not add much to the movie experience.

What I think he means to say is that most 3D movies so far – with some exceptions – have been made to exploit 3D as a gimmick and then charge way too much to see them.  The added costs for 3D are apparently about +10%, but they have charged far, far more than that to watch them.

A great tale, with great acting, and a great director, shot in 3D, will be more interesting than a 2D version of the same movie. But it comes down to how much they charge to see it.  The movie distributors and theaters have not yet figured out that the price to value ratio needs to be appropriate – and they are not there yet.

I think The Hobbit will be another amazing film from Peter Jackson and will inspire more interest in high quality 3D.

Heck, I plan to start building my two camera 3D rig this weekend (really).

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