Tuesday, July 28, 2009

G-FORCE: Conversion Magic Attracts The Masses

Jim here. I finally got to see Jerry Bruckheimer's G-FORCE last night and I have to say the 3D was done very well. I have been invited to see 3D live action test reels from various companies like In-Three and PassmoreLab but have not been able to check them out yet, so my first initiation to converted live action 3D movies was G-FORCE from Disney.

Here is the bottom line: 3D conversion IS a valid approach to creating a stereoscopic movie. Valid in that if done correctly it looks great. From a consumer's view, there is little to be concerned about as the end result is fairly equivalent to what can be accomplished with 3D cameras.

And consumers are loving it. G-FORCE is number one at the box office this weekend with $31.7 million of which 56% was derived from 3D screens (which accounted for only 43% of the total sites). 75% were parents and children.

I will say that on a professional level, my opinion is using 3D cameras is still the way to go as it gives the director and DP much more flexibility in creating the look you want, especially depth - but when it comes to the consumer, most will be completely satisfied with the result.

In-Three of Westlake Village, CA is responsible for this movie's 3D conversion (they call it dimensionalization). I scrutinized G-FORCE quite closely for anything I found distressing and there was nothing. Some scenes were flatter than others - confirmed by removing my RealD glasses and seeing little distortion. I find conversion works very well for layering of one element on another - like the heads up displays used by the animals in the film. It is magical how the conversion process reaches into 2D frames and stretches out a 3D environment - very cool. At times I would have liked to see more extreme depth, but perhaps that is not possible at this time with 2D->3D.

Stereoscopic dimming was not bad either. As you may know when you don those polarized 3D glasses, the light from the screen is essentially divided in half - 50% for each eye - so dimming takes place. To see this, simply remove your glasses during the show and see just how much brighter the screen is when you can see it all at the same time with both eyes. In the case of G-FORCE, there were no moments of extreme darkness and therefore indiscernable action. Far from it. So well done!

The storyline is simple and aimed at your basic children's interests: cute pets, food, love and relationships. The action is tame, yet full of special effects - which brings me to my final point...

Michael Bay - you are full of it, and/or ignorant of 3D. I asked Bay whether or not TRANSFORMERS 3 will be in 3D during ShoWest this year and he said that the way they shoot is too "aggressive" for it. Sorry. Wrong. Even if you chicken out of shooting TRANSFORMERS 3 in native 3D, you can clearly utilize a conversion company to get the job done. One scene in the finale of G-FORCE has what is essentially a transformed robot made up of smaller components (appliances to be precise) and it is a very complex piece of CG. IT LOOKED STUNNING. Your point is not well taken Mr. Bay - research it. See some demo reels - it can be done is a spectacular way - and it should be done. It really brings audiences into the shot and makes the robots even more intimidating. So, do yourself a favor and make your next giant robot movie in 3D.

In the past I have expressed my reservations about first run movies being converted in post from 2D to 3D because I think native 3D is the better path - more depth and control. I still think that is the case only in that it gives the seasoned 3D director an edge in making a superior product. However for the less experienced directors with more of a post production budget, 2D to 3D conversion makes sense and is a viable alternative. G-FORCE is an excellent example. The 3D was done well!

It is still beyond my grasp as to why someone like Tim Burton decided to go with conversion as he is far from being inexperienced - but I am prepared to write a glowing review of ALICE IN WONDERLAND should it warrant it. Because conversion works. Conversion works and quite frankly I am relieved that it does - this really should solidify stereoscopic 3D as not only the future of cinema, but its past as well. James Cameron and Peter Jackson have both just expressed a deep interest in converting their epics TITANIC and LORD OF THE RINGS to 3D - so should others. There are classic movies begging to be rejuvenated with 3D and even take another run at theaters - THE MATRIX for example.

So go see G-FORCE with your family - the kids will love it. And the 3D is very well done! :-)

Thanks to Empire Theatres for the screening. Stats courtesy of Box Office Mojo.

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