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September 23, 2006

Superman Returns in 3D

We finally got round to seeing Superman Returns in iMAX 3D. There are only four short 3D scenes, and they were produced by 2D-3D conversion rather than 3D filming (the 3D lover in me goes 'how hard would it have been to have 2 cameras?') but of course the entire film has been rejigged for iMAX and it does benefit from the larger screen.

The 3D is spectacular, and I didn't notice conversion artefacts (though the Photo 3D list, who were watching out for them, found loads). However, there were elementary mistakes made in terms of windowing errors, depth of 3d presentation, hyperstereo miniaturisation, and so on. This stuff isn't rocket science; you can learn all you need to learn about what does and does not make 3d work for viewers' brains in about a day. They used a great many people to do the conversion; they could get this stuff right.

I still loved it though; not so much for this, but because it seems clear to me that quite soon someone is going to release a really big action movie (think LOTR or similar) shot in 3D throughout, and it will be brilliant.

As for the film, it's got lots of nice special effects but the plot is sappy. I surely wouldn't have gone to see it on the big screen if not for the 3D. People who a little familiarity with the conventions of story telling will find little to suprise them in this story. Lex Luthor! Green kryptonite! Cute tousle-haired child! Plot to take over the world! Check.

I didn't notice any really cheap 3D effects at all, unlike the trailers for other 3D films, which were full of them. The trailers included Ant Bully and Open Season, both full-length 'real' animated features with simultaneous 3D releases. We'll probably see both of these at some point; but we are surely still waiting for the first remotely serious film to have a full iMAX 3D release.

iMAX offers the best 3D at present; the polarising glasses are very high quality and the prints are good and well-registered. It's lots of fun, and although expensive for a cinema ticket (£12 at the bfi for a full-length film), it's pretty cheap by London entertainment standards.

And I know I'm a mad fan of 3D, but it is simply a better way to watch movies; the 3D scenes in Superman were at their very best not when showing the wild special effects, but on the closeups of people. We'll know this technology is reaching maturity when a director chooses to film a drama, rather than an action movie, in twin camera stereo, just because it heightens the sense of realism for the audience.

Posted by Alison Scott at September 23, 2006 06:04 PM

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