Monday, December 27, 2004

Why 3-D?

I have been obsessed with 3-D since childhood. Be it movies, comic books, ViewMasters, you name it. As a kid, with colored pencils, I would even make my own anaglyph perspective drawings. I actually missed the 3-D movie revival in 1982-83, and didn't see my first theatrical 3-D movie until the (now hard to find) sci-fi animated cartoon, STARCHASER: THE LEGEND OF ORIN, in 1985. That was the same year that a late night horror movie host sent us to the neighborhood 7-11 to get glasses for the special showing of the low-budget Canadian horror film, THE MASK (I still have them!). I tried to track down everything I could find that was 3-D related, including buying a Super 8mm camera attachment from Spondon Film in England, which allowed you to make anaglyph movies in-camera.

In case you're wondering what anaglyph is, it refers to 3-D images viewed using red and blue colored glasses. Theatrical movies, including all of the 80's features, use polarized glasses for a full color experience. Unfortunately, the polarizing system is fairly complicated to use. It requires a special projector lens, and some calibration - plus a highly reflective silver screen for best results. Recent big screen 3-D ventures (including FREDDY'S DEAD and SPY KIDS 3-D) have been distributed anaglyph - which is done in the lab, and requires no special modification to the projector.

As technology improved, the home marketplace saw the rise of a superior full-color 3-D system, known as field sequential 3-D. Field sequential systems use electronic shutterglasses to blink the right and left eyes alternately on and off so the viewer sees a full 3-D image. Although I believe it was primarily developed for the medial industry, the system was exploited by the Japanese in the late 80's, with a laserdisc format known as VHD, to release full-color 3-D versions of the early 80's 3-D movie wave. Titles such as FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 3, JAWS 3-D, SPACEHUNTER: ADVENTURES IN THE FORBIDDEN ZONE, HOUSE OF WAX, etc, all found their way to this format, and have now turned up on DVD on eBay. Aside from catching a revival showing of one of these films in a theater, this is the best way to see them. Recent IMAX shorts, such as HAUNTED CASTLE and ENOUNTER IN THE 3RD DIMENSION, have turned up for sale domestically in this format. You can get more information on the system by visiting, who sells an affordable set.

Anyway... since I believe that every movie should be made in 3-D, I did some digging. What kind of 3-D could be produced with home made CGI? More specifically, could it be done in Poser? Well, low and behold, it can. I won't get into the technical specifics of that now (we'll wait for a slow news week), but basically what you're doing is rendering the movie twice, once for the left eye, and then again, 2-degrees to the right. These two versions can be combined in post-production to make field sequential 3-D, anaglyphic 3-D, or any other 3-D format that will eventually be dreamed up. And, the upside is (for all exhibition considerations), you have a perfectly acceptable 2-D version of your movie as well.

Before I started working on the movie (actually before I even started on the script), I made the FRANKENSTEIN VS THE WOLFMAN teaser trailer that you can find elsewhere on this website. I even have a field sequential version, in living color, and it rocks. So, the future bodes well. I have seen and studied a lot of 3-D movies, and it's resulted in a lot of theoretical knowledge. I've always wanted to make a 3-D movie - so here's my chance. Besides, 3-D is on the cusp of another resurgence. The 3-D POLAR EXPRESS is the highest grossing IMAX film to date. Robert Rodriguez is apparently doing another 3-D kids movie, THE ADVENTURES OF SHARK BOY AND LAVA GIRL, and James Cameron (who is currently making 3-D underwater IMAX movies) plans to return to the big screen with the 3-D sci-fi epic BATTLE ANGEL.

When I get the photo gallery up and running, I'll post anaglyph versions in addition to the 2D screencaps, so you can see how it looks.