Tuesday 25 May 2010

Studio Execs, Please don’t kill 3D cinema

These weekend I went to the cinema not once, but twice (to see Robin Hood and Prince of Persia, both good films.) One thing that struck me was the number of adverts for 3D movies. It seems that after the success of Avatar, all the film studios want a piece of the 3D pie.

So far the investments in 3D seem to be paying off: not only can cinemas charge more for tickets but 3D cannot be replicated (yet) in a pirated version downloaded for free from the internet. Consumers can benefit from an improved movie experience and cinemas are doing better revenue-wise.

Having been extremely impressed by the visual effects in Avatar, I was recently very disappointed by the 3D effects in Clash of the Titans. From conversations with a friend in the film industry, I learned that Avatar was originally filmed stereoscopically, using two cameras to capture video, one for each eye. In contrast, Clash was not originally intended to be a 3D movie. It was shot with a single perspective, and the ‘depth’ effect was added later with a digital overlay. This created an unconvincing picture, it interfered with the other computer graphics, and generally made it a worse visual experience.

Unfortunately many of the “3D” films that I have seen advertised are apparently being made the same way. This is quite alarming to me: 3D technology has the potential to create a revolution throughout our visual media, but if it is implemented badly consumers will be put off. I hope that movie studios realise that by taking short cuts for fast money this year, they could lose out significantly in the longer term.

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