DreamWorks CEO, Jeffrey Katzenberg is excited about, Monsters vs. Aliens. So excited in fact that he traveled the country to show clips and discuss the new 3D technology DreamWorks employs in this animated film. In December, Katzenberg made the trip to Seattle despite the unusually snowy weather. Before the clips roll, Katzenberg gives a brief presentation on his view of 3D. He recalls two major revolutions in film to date. The first was when films went from silent to “talkies” in the 1920s, the second was the arrival of color in the 1930s. Katzenberg believes 3D might be the next great revolution in film.
Katzenberg remembers the old 3D movies as, “my father's 3D,” with the blue and red filter glasses, also known as anaglyph. He goes on to explain the first applications of 3D in film were more or less a marketing gimmick to support mediocre or worse projects. The film would be shot in two dimensions and the 3D aspect would be added post-production. This led to some pretty shaky images and moviegoers sometimes became dizzy or even vomited during the film. Katzenberg comments, “This is no way to treat your audience.” It's no wonder the old 3D technology fizzled.
With the relatively recent arrival of digital media, 3D has a new breath of life. As Katzenberg put it, “In the same way that digital technology has radically altered special effects ... it’s completely transformed 3D into a medium that can actually replicate the most remarkable human sense of all - the sense of sight.”
Katzenberg remembers his “eureka-moment” when he went to see The Polar Express: An IMAX 3D Experience. He immediately called his production team and started the transition from 2D to 3D at DreamWorks. In his words, “If you think about what’s happened in the home in the last decade, the rate of innovation is breathtaking. You now have huge, flat-screen TVs, High-Def, Blu-Ray, stereo sound. It’s an amazing thing that has happened. As that has occurred, the theater experience has remained constant. This is an opportunity to reclaim a unique experience that can only be recreated in a theater.”
Starting with Monsters vs. Alienson March 27, 2009 and moving forward DreamWorks will be working exclusively in 3D on all projects. They have completely re-tooled their studio with the latest “InTru 3D” software from Intel. Films will now be conceived and created in 3D for an enhanced experience.
If the complete transition at DreamWorks doesn't convince you that Katzenberg thinks 3D is the next revolution, he mentioned others are also getting into the game, James Cameron and George Lucas to drop names. He has also already had talks with Luxottica Group, the world's largest eyeglass manufacturer, to get them working on permanent alternatives to the disposable polarized 3D glasses.
The transition at the production companies is not the only piece of the puzzle. Theaters also have to be equipped to show the digital 3D films. Katzenberg reassured us that a large number of theaters already have the RealD technology installed and others theaters are currently being upgraded.
The introduction of 3D does not mean 2D is gone forever. All 3D films can easily be converted to 2D for use in older theaters, DVD releases and trailers. Katzenberg noted that the film still has to be good in 2D to be successful. The 3D can't make the whole film, it will only enhance the viewer experience.
As Katzenberg wraps up his presentation he gives us the queue to put on our 3D polarized glasses and takes us through a few clips from the upcoming release, Monsters vs. Aliens. As the clips progress there are definite style changes in the use of 3D. Katzenberg also brings this to our attention and explains that with the new technology the production team is learning while they are creating. The first clip was finished six months before the last clip and you can see the difference. As DreamWorks advances through the learning curve the 3D aspect of the films will only get better.
The last 3D film I saw was Fly Me to the Moon where they seemed to focus on the action coming out towards you, in your face and around your head. Monsters vs. Aliens seems to bring you into the film instead and gives the screen tremendous depth. I personally prefer the latter. Again, the clips look great. If the rest of the film is as good as the selected clips DreamWorks will have a winner on their hands.