Thursday, June 23, 2011

Paramount Making Demands of Theaters to Save 3-D (Updated)

It seems that while Michael Bay was making an international promotional swing for Transformers: Dark of the Moon, he was also working hard to try to get the best 3D version of the film to audiences in part by trying to get theaters to display the film in the best way possible. Meanwhile Paramount issued their own demands.

The New York Times is reporting that movie goers have started to become disenfranchised with 3-D with the percentage of overall sales dropping consistently below 50% for the first time since it suddenly became popular after the success of Avatar. As predicted, Hollywood doing constant poor post-production conversions on films that do not benefit in any way from 3-D has resulted in the public getting tired of paying out extra money for little benefit. The hope seems to be that Transformers: Dark of the Moon will remind the public of what 3-D can do. Considering Paramount spent an extra $30 million for real 3D, causing the budget to hit $195 million, they have a vested interest in 3D sales.

As anyone has gone to 3D movie is aware, between the glasses and the 3D effect, the result is often darkened view that can result in a loss of detail. Michael Bay has spoken about it in past interviews and decided to take action. He has been calling the chief executives of major theatres that they need to show the movie in a brighter and sharper way. The side effect is it will burn out projector bulbs at a much faster and therefore cost theaters more money. Bay is also demanding a Digital presentation whenever possible rather than typical film reel.

He told the Times, "If this was having my name on it, I was determined to make it technically perfect. We’ve spent an enormous amount of time making sure the eye is transitioned from shot to shot. If you pan too quickly it will give viewers a jittery feeling."

While Michael Bay's intentions are ones I agree with, it seems that Paramount has stepped in and made further demands that is angering the theater executives according to Deadline. While Bay seems to want Digital for best possible display, Paramount is refusing to provide 35mm Technicolor 3D prints if the theaters have a Digital theater. On top of that, they are demanding that it play in the Digital theaters for at least four weeks. This is a move to lock out Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows Part 2 from as many 3D screens as possible while also giving Paramount a chance to again lock down those theaters when Captain America is released on July 22nd. If you are a theater owner, locking up critical hi-tech screens like this is not going to go over well, especially since there is a good chance Harry Potter will take the U.S. box office crown with DOTM a close second.

Considering Harry Potter 7 Part 2 is a post converted 3D film (aka not Real 3D) that already has a very dark color palette, Paramount might be unintentionally helping movie goers from wasting their money. I suspect by the end of July critics will use DOTM as 3D done right while Harry Potter 7 will be the poster child on why movie goers are abandoning the 3-D format as being an unnecessary extra expense.

From Deadline, "Instead of working together on the 3D situation where the public is seemingly growing apathetic, Paramount takes the 'every man for himself' attitude. Real smart. That’s why exhibitors are going to take every opportunity to dump all over them when they can. Watch what happens in November. In a 4-week span you have 7 films from different studios all jockeying for 3D. Paramount’s line will be 'Katzenberg [Puss N Boots] & Scorsese [Hugo Cabret] are insisting on Digital theaters” and the other 5 will be beating their brains out to get whatever dates they can. Should be fun to watch."

The solution to the 3D "wars" is very simple. If the movie studio isn't willing to pony up that extra $30 million or so for a film to be designed and filmed in mostly Real 3D, than chances are it doesn't need to be released in 3D. It should be something that practically announces "this movie is special". As 3D has been abused over the last year, all it really announces is this movie needs a gimmick. My advice on 3D remains if it isn't Real 3D (like Green Lantern and Harry Potter 7), just watch it in 2D. A corollary to the 3D rule is by default all animated CGI films (like Kung Fu Panda 2) are Real 3D by default because they are created in 3D in the computer anyway and more or less "post-converted" to 2D.

So what does this long article mean to you? Honestly not a whole lot. You are probably not going to know if your local theater has Digital or 35mm film nor if they followed Bay's advice to crank up the brightness. Just consider this a way of being informed when trying to decide if paying that extra $3 or $4 for 3D is worth it to you.

Update: An article from /Film indicates that for the digital print of the film, Paramount is issuing a print that is "almost twice the brightness" compared to standard 3D prints in effort to compensate for brightness issue. Also, a post from Alamo Drafthouse Theatre Tim Teague gives a little perspective on why theaters tend to not kick up the brightness as those bulbs do not come cheap. The Drafthouse has spent $23,000 on bulbs in just the past four months. If you like really technical explanations, here are some numbers.
Standard brightness for a 2D digital cinema system is 14 foot-lamberts, measured off the screen. About 75%-90% of the light is lost in 3D, so the informal standard for 3D systems is 3.5 FL, measured through the glasses. That’s the light level for which 3D pics are color graded. The special DCPs for “Transformers 3″ have been graded for 6 FL, almost twice the brightness of the usual 3D standard. By comparison, the dual-projector Imax Digital system averages only 5.5 FL for 3D.

22 comments:

  1. I don't think simply the added darkness of the glasses is the sole reason so many people don't like 3D movies, and it's a little shallow to assume it is. The main complaint I hear from most friends and family (and my own main complaint) is that 3D movies just give people headaches and they get dizzy and that feeling will ruin any movie, even if the movie is technically very good. If a movie can't be enjoyed in regular 2D, and is only exhilarating and engaging in 3D, doesn't that sort of imply that the movie sucks?

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  2. I'm just going to call the 2 theatre's in my town and bug them enough to give me an answer if they show in Digital and if they project the image to it's potential.

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  3. 3D complaints I hear:
    * wearing the daft glasses
    * the prize raise
    * the 3D effect is crap (in 98% of the movies)

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  4. Sure, the darkening effect isn't the SOLE reason why many people don't like watching movies in 3D but it is a big reason. I'll pay to see TF in 3D since that's how much of it was filmed, but every single "3D" movie that has been released over the past few years, including Avatar, looks better in 2D because the colours are much more vibrant. Why pay more to make a movie looks worse?

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  5. I think using real 3D should be used sparingly, justifiable for action or thrillers...like DOTM or Jaws. Fast & Furious was OK in 3D, but the 2D version would've sufficed (I lost the vote amongst friends on that). In my opinion, 3D is a complete waste for animated movies. It's overkill by now. Viewers have adapted to it enough to not jump at "sudden near objects". After DOTM, no more 3D for me for a while.

    As for Paramount...I don't care what their issues are, as long as I can see DOTM in IMAX 3D in a Bay-compliant theater. Plain and simple. If made & presented correctly, everyone (viewers, production, theater execs, etc.) will collectively get more bang for the buck.

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  6. I got a ticket to a sneak preview of the movie this coming Monday. It is so good to be me!

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  7. Wow people are getting tired of 3D...........No shit, maybe it's because it is overrated, I can't wait to see the DOTM but I will not waste my money or time watching it in 3D, I'm sure the movie is going to be badass enough without it.

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  8. Great post. And how do IMAX theatres feature in this? Do they also have the brightness issue? & are they digital? My (Australian) IMAX website tells me: "Transformers DOTM 3D will be digitally re-mastered into the unparalleled image and sound quality of The IMAX 3D Experience". So I'm no clearer, lol. Bah, it'll still be insane. Just wondering.

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  9. I've watched a few IMAX 3D films. They have the same brightness problems.

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  10. Current ancient technology for stereoscopic 3D is just a useless gimmick that causes eye-strain in the short run and damages human early vision system on long exposures. It's a fake 3D effect that is not worth paying for. And it damages people eyes, it's a worldwide shame that multinationals are allowed to sell such a dangerous product.

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  11. http://www.slate.com/id/2215265/

    The Problem With 3-D
    It hurts your eyes. Always has, always will.
    By Daniel EngberPosted Thursday, April 2, 2009, at 6:13 PM ET

    Vision researchers have spent many years studying the discomfort associated with watching stereoscopic movies. Similar problems plague flight simulators, head-mounted virtual-reality displays, and many other applications of 3-D technology. There's even a standard means of assessing 3-D fatigue in the lab: The "simulator sickness questionnaire" rates subjects on their experience of 16 common symptoms—including fatigue, headache, eyestrain, nausea, blurred vision, sweating, and increased salivation. (Japanese scientists use a native term, shoboshobo, to describe the "bleary eyes" that sometimes afflict 3-D viewers.) Despite all this work, no one yet knows exactly what causes this visual fatigue, or "asthenopia"; in any case, there's little reason to think it can ever be overcome.

    One potential explanation for the discomfort lies with the unnatural eye movements stereoscopy elicits from viewers. Outside of the 3-D movie theater, our eyes move in two distinct ways when we see something move toward us: First, our eyeballs rotate inward towards the nose (the closer the target comes, the more cross-eyed we get); second, we squeeze the lenses in our eyes to change their shape and keep the target in focus (as you would with a camera). Those two eye movements—called "vergence" and "accommodation"—are automatic in everyday life, and they go hand-in-hand.
    The eye-movement issue may even carry other, more serious risks. A long session of 3-D viewing tends to cause an adaptive response in the oculomotor system, temporarily changing the relationship between accommodation and convergence. That is to say, audience-members may experience very mild, short-term vision impairment after a movie ends. I won't pretend there's any hard evidence that these transient effects could develop into permanent problems. But if 3-D becomes as widespread as some in the industry claim—every movie in three dimensions, for example, and television programs, too—we'll no doubt have plenty of data: Small children, their vision systems still in development, could one day be digesting five or six hours of stereo entertainment per day. There's already been one published case study, from the late-1980s, of a 5-year-old child in Japan who became permanently cross-eyed after viewing an anaglyph 3-D movie at a theater.

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  12. not that i'm a big avatar fan but when i seen it in 3d i thought it was amazing, it didn't bother my eyes at all, but thats just me, it seems that the prevailing wisdom is that 3d sucks because all these new movies are post converting them, i personally love 3d if its done right, but obviously theyr'e not going to do it right, and i believe it was done on purpose to destroy the whole real 3d experiance because they just don't want to spend the money to do it right, and it sends a chilling affect on the industrie, that's truly whats happening and that is truly a shame, but i think real 3d will survive, kinda like imax did and maybe it's better to choose how we want see the movie anyway, but personally i wouldn't watch this movie any other way but in 3d

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  13. All of this 3D BS is null and void for me. I got the cheap tickets for an early morning viewing of DOTM for next Wednesday and I bought 2D glasses. 3D is pretty stupid to me and actually ruins the movie for me. I need to take about four extra pills just to not feel ill for the next two days after watching 3D movies. Not worth it :s

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  14. I'm not able to see 3D images cause I don't have stereoscopic vision. I actually share this problem with about 10% of the human population.

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  15. I'm among the "was it filmed or otherwise *intended* to be 3D from the get-go?" crowd. I dind't see GL in 3D - and it still looked great.

    I agree CGI films like Panda & HTTYDragon can benefit - but they're essentially filmed in 3D from the get go.

    Gotta spend the money - AND BRIGHTEN - the post-converted films, or the public will continue to drift back to 2D. I'm still undecided about IMAX, esp when all I have nearby are lieMax screens.

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  16. If done right, 3d blows 2d away, after seeing a movie done the right with 3d cameras for the right movie, going back to 2d is kinda boring, but its not for everyone, and some movies should stay 2d and if you have eye trouble with 3d then dont watch it in 3d, but to say its bullshit and gimmick because you personally dont like it is just plain dumb, you don't speak for everyone, you speak for yourself, i personally like 3d but only if its done right with the right movie, i can always go back to 2d for other movies

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  17. I think it basicaly comes down to choice, if you like 3d GREAT!!! go have a good time watching it in 3d, if you like it in 2d GREAT!!! go have a good time watching it in 2d, isnt that what it comes down to folks, ITS YOUR OWN DAM CHOICE!!!

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  18. @Anonymous 6/23/2011 5:08 PM: There is no "if done right" thing. Stereoscopic 3D is an outdated technology that seriously hurts human visual system. True 3D already exists with holographic displays and projects that multinationals have in their labs but they want to earn a lot of money first by selling a dangerous outdated fake 3D, they don't care if people got blind in the process as long as they got their money.

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  19. So what are we supposed to do 8:05 pm live under a rock, all i was saying was that i seen movies that were post converted, and movies done with 3d cameras and to me it just looks!! better than 2d and you might be right it might be bad for my eyes but you can say that about anything, like you shouldn't use cell phones, you shouldn't spend too much time on the computer, you shouldn't use microwaves, shouldn't spend to much time in the sun, and on and on and on, you know and i know there are studies on every fucking thing, and my eyes feel just fine, still got 20/20 vision, and there is always some mother fucker making money on all of us.

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  20. Most of the movies that claim to be in "3D" don't really show anything that is worth the extra money. The glasses are a bit darker, the 3D effect is a hit and miss, mostly a miss. Most of the 3D is done after the movie is complete in post processing and just done to cash in on the "3D" gimmick. Avatar is the only exception because it was actually filmed with 3D cameras and uses it "correctly". I hope that Transformers 3 does a great job with the 3D effects and brings it back.

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  21. @Anonymous 6/24/2011 1:31 AM: Avatar was the main scam that thanks to tons of dumb people that spent their money on it pushed whole Hollywood and industry into the sell 3D scam era. No, Avatar didn't use 3D correctly, it barely used it, it sucked even worse than other movies. Anyone telling the opposite is just repeating the marketing machine bubbling.
    If you want to get blind go on and give them your money for damaging your eyes watching movies in fake 3D. They surely won't care if you got blind and they will get richer thanks to anyone being dumb enough to waste money on 3D gimmick.

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  22. @Anonymous 6/23/2011 9:55 PM: no, you can't say that about anything. It's not some "maybe stereoscopic 3D could damage human eyes" statement.. it's a fact, this outdated technology damages your eyes badly. Use it just a few hours a month and your eyes will start suffering all sort of issues sooner than you think, use it weekly or daily and you will get blind or mostly blind for sure. It's just how it is, it's a fact.

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