Lunch with my favorite producer, Sheila Taylor, last Friday. Sheila is not only a great friend, and the author of the Forewords for Save the Cat!, but when she’s not being the world’s coolest person, she makes movies.
Sheila and her producing partners at Practical Pictures are currently working on Final Destination 4 and have been in post-production for a year. One reason is this installment has something its predecessors didn’t: 3-D.
3-D will give this amazingly successful franchise an extra dimension, and introduce it to a brand new audience, but the experience in 3-D filmmaking has been an exciting education for all involved.
3-D is not new but adding to the sizzling box office with something extra is a recent surprise for the film business. Both Monsters Vs. Aliens and Coraline got a financial boost thanks to this special effect, and while audiences don’t have to see the movie in 3-D, having a higher ticket price for 3-D movies is a boon.
But what does 3-D mean for screenwriters? Should we be devising scenes with a hero flinging a yo-yo right — at! — us or figuring out new ways for our slasher movies to splatter — out! — toward an audience?
Not every movie deserves 3-D treatment, of course, but if your movie has action, a fantasy world, or a horror element, thinking 3-D might not be bad. And while the traditional means of using 3-D still hold, often as a wink at the audience as they are — attacked! — by random objects coming at them, as Sheila explained, it’s the sense of depth, and of a “world” that vanishes back into the screen that’s really new.
There are several tiers of 3-D experimentation, but all offer new creative challenges. On the high end, both James Cameron and Bob Zemeckis have tied the technique to narrative, and their effect houses are considered the best. At a mid-range, adding in 3-D to a movie might not add that much cost. And even a combination of 3-D effects and computer animation make for some really great thrills in My Bloody Valentine, which proved this year that the traditional scare effects 3-D is known for really do add to the experience.
On the set, 3-D playback is now possible thanks to a movable truck/theater that can instantly let filmmakers view footage and go back for re-takes if the 3-D effect isn’t all it can be. A full-on 3-D “Video Village” is yet to be available, but with the boom in 3-D production, it will probably be in the offing soon.
For we screenwriters, the idea of just nailing down a story is challenge enough, and maybe the actual necessity of 3-D enhancement is best left to producers and studios. But given the technical boons available, and the demand of the marketplace, we must always be looking for ways to write to the technology, too. I personally have a whole new way to think of my family comedies coming — at! — my writer’s group soon!
- Sarah Beach
I guess we could say that 3-D tech is FINALLY “coming of age” now. Which is neat.
And I’ll be glad when we get beyond the “object comes AT the audience” shock effect, and really start making use of the 3-D.
Mainly because years ago, when I lived in Austin, Texas, one of the local independant stations ran 3 classic 3-D films on TV (on Halloween, I think). One of them was *The Creature from the Black Lagoon*. The underwater sequences in 3-D were WONDERFUL – because it really was a three-dimensional space – fish swimming through the scene in all directions, underwater plants waving around, the Creature moving through the middle of the space.
So far, a lot of the non-animated 3-D still treats the live action in an almost 2-D way. The people are tied to the ground (gravity), and they usually act on a vertical plane perpendicular to the camera’s line of sight. Flat, instead of diagonal into a scene – if you follow what I mean. It’s slowly changing, but not enough yet. I thought *Coraline* handled it quite well, for the sense of depth really worked in many of the scenes.
With more and more people creating a theatrical experience right in their own homes, with big screen TVs and surround sound systems, a 3D experience will give consumers another reason to go and see a movie at the cineplex. I haven’t seen a 3D offering yet, but looking forward to it.
- Bradford Richardson
I-B-3D! – Now, in spectacular smell-o-vision too!
- paul teolis
I give in 3 years before going bust either to not enough cinemas investing in the equipment needed to show 3-D movies, but also audiences going fickle, as usual, with the technique.
just create engaging stories and audience will come.
…not to mention “Bolt” in 3-D. :)
3-D is fantastic, no doubt about it. Currently I live in Dublin, Ireland, and fortunately for me we’ve got here an excellent multiplex investing in RealD technology to increase the number of screens suitable for 3-D. Combine it with Unlimited Card offer which allows you for 20 euro a month to enjoy any number of movies anytime and you won’t be surprised why loads of people here could actually put this cinema’s street as their second correspondence address.
As for screenwriter’s point of view, spectacular 3-D effects of breath-taking action sequences depend more on the camera setting than phrasing. It’s not our job to play with camera angels so I wouldn’t really bother. I guess it’s better to spend more time adding some subtext instead. Besides, I could bet that a lot of those “throw-at-the-audience” tricks are made up ad-hoc when shooting the scene and they surely must be the apple of director’s creative vision’s eye.
- Elizabeth Fais
I saw “Bolt” in 3D and it was terrific. Not at all cheesy, like the old 3D movies, such as “Jaws 3D”. The new technology adds an extra layer of depth, so the scenes appear more real. Kind of like what the multi-plane camera did for animation back in the Disney golden age. They new 3D glasses are cool too. So NOT the funky old cardboard things with the red and green plastic lenses. I’d totally pay to go see another high-tech 3D movie! =^..^=
- Joe Gribble
3D is going to explode:
The Film Dayton group met at Wright State University on 31 Mar to ‘witness’ I23D — a new technology that can (almost) automatically convert video (from a single camera) into 3D imagery. Some movie guy in Israel came up with the technology and a group of innovators in Dayton is trying to bring it to market. If anyone’s interested, contact info for Larrell Walters can be found on http://filmdayton.ning.com/.
Tell him Joe Gribble sent you….
- nintendo dsi r4
I totally agree with your comment that 3D is going to explode because if you see 3D movie then you will feel more excitement and also you will feel every moment of movie to you own..
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Oh, bwaaahaaaahaaa, the evil genius of it all. A dozen possibilities just hit at once. Time to go play 3-D in my scripts.
Keep being great, Blake.