Avatar’s James Cameron told [Deadline] recently. "Now, you’ve got people quickly converting movies from 2D to 3D, which is not what we did. They’re expecting the same result, when in fact they will probably work against the adoption of 3D because they’ll be putting out an inferior product.”According to the article, the cost of the conversion is not minor with an average cost of $100,000 per minute. Assuming TF3 is around 140 minutes (like previous films) that means an additional $14 million at least. With the 3D format on the cusp of going mainstream with 3D TVs, 3D Blu-ray and even portable video games (just announced Nintendo 3DS) it seems the studios are determined to use it to eke out every dollar possible.
“I shoot complicated stuff, I put real elements into action scenes and honestly, I am not sold right now on the conversion process,” says Michael Bay. Paramount and DreamWorks are pressuring him to allow Transformers 3 to be dimensional-ized after the fact, because there simply isn’t enough time to shoot with 3D camera and post the film between now and its July 1, 2011 release date.
Bay investigated shooting at least some Transformers 3 footage with 3D cameras, but found them too heavy and cumbersome for the fast pace action scenes he shoots. Bay feels the process of sending out 2D film for 3D conversion is more problematic and pricey than studios are admitting. Too often, companies selling 3D retrofitting services arrive with a sharp demo reel, but leave with a deer-in-the-headlights look when Bay gives them his own footage to convert, on a tight deadline.
“I am trying to be sold, and some companies are still working on the shots I gave them,” Bay said. “Right now, it looks like fake 3D, with layers that are very apparent. You go to the screening room, you are hoping to be thrilled, and you’re thinking, huh, this kind of sucks. People can say whatever they want about my movies, but they are technically precise, and if this isn’t going to be excellent, I don’t want to do it. And it is my choice.”
Said Bay: “I’m used to having the A-team working on my films, and I’m going to hand it over to the D-team, have it shipped to India and hope for the best? This conversion process is always going to be inferior to shooting in real 3D. Studios might be willing to sacrifice the look and use the gimmick to make $3 more a ticket, but I’m not. Avatar took four years. You can’t just shit out a 3D movie. I’m saying, the jury is still out.”
“This is another example of Hollywood getting it wrong,” Cameron said. “Sony says, we’re doing Spider-Man in 3D.’ The director doesn’t say, `Hey, I want to make the movie in 3D.’ The studio says, `You want to direct this movie? You’re doing it in 3D, motherfucker!' That’s not how it should be. I’ve tried for the last seven years to get filmmakers excited, and they all hung back while Pixar and DreamWorks did animation and me and a couple others did live action. We prove the point, and now filmmakers are being told to make their movies in 3D.”
Avatar does prove that if a film plans on it, a CGI heavy action film can be made but Transformers 3 simply doesn't have that kind of time with 15 months to get a completed product out. My understanding is the conversion process takes about 3 months. That means that Bay, ILM and Digital Domain would have to have a completed film by March of next year to meet the July 1st, 2011 release date. Considering that both TF1 and 2 were being tweaked quite literally past the world premiere, I don't think it is feasible in the time frame provided. Of course if you throw enough money at a problem, time becomes less of an issue, but is Paramount willing to make that kind of commitment for box office results that currently only have two data sets (Avatar and Alice), one of which was an unlikely to be repeated phenomenon?