Friday, February 6, 2009

A few words on the Friday the 13th Part 3: 3D Deluxe Edition DVD

I just picked up the Friday the 13th Part 3: 3D Deluxe Edition, which has been a long time coming - something I've been waiting for since 1982 (I was too young to see the movie in a theater at the time.) I can only express my disappointment with the 3D transfer on the disc.

When the disc first started up, I was thrilled to finally see the "Ladies and Gentlemen: the first few minutes of the movie are not in 3-D but you will need to wear your special glasses anyway" screen prior to the movie, something not seen on any home video format before. But the thrill was short lived as Paramount, for some reason, decided against encoding the opening title sequence in 3D, one of the most memorable moments of the theatrical experience. I can only guess as to why this was omitted; maybe it has to do with the fact that the titles are bright red and would not code well in the red and blue anaglyphic process used for the disc. (In theaters, the film was presented in a full color, polarized process, a forerunner to today's Reel D system.)

The disc's version of the movie goes full 3D beginning with the scenes in the roadside convenience store. And it is here that the disc's biggest shortcoming becomes apparent. For proper 3D alignment, the right and left eye images should be lined up with each other from top to bottom so that your eyes can cross/adjust focus to focus. But the entire Friday the 13th Part 3 disc is mis-aligned, with (for example) the right eye image being slightly higher than the left. Your brain attempts to compensate by having your eyes try to bend the left eye image upwards and the right eye image downwards so they meet as a three dimensional object. This causes eye-strain and headaches in the viewer. The larger the screen the movie is viewed on, the more pronounced the effect.

Unfortunately, the entire movie is rendered this way - as if the telecine operator lined up the image by the top of the frame and not the side-by-side alignment of the 3D image pairs. This is in no way representative of the 3D effects that can be experienced on the recent Polar Express or Journey to the Center of the Earth discs, or even the low budget Night of the Living Dead 3D remake.

The best way to see Friday the 13th Part 3 3D at home remains to be via the bootleg copies of the Japanese VHD disc, which recreates the full color theatrical version by way of electronically controlled LCD shutter glasses.