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You want to make a Horror or sciFi movie? Have you considered 3D..?

Looking for a way to make your genre film stand out from the rest?

How do you give your film that extra edge over the competition? That extra something they don't have, that distributors will take notice of, and will draw an audience in? And, working backwards, may also appeal to an investor?

We now have a network of thousands of 3D movie houses. It has never been easier to screen a 3D movie, yet who here is doing it? Last week Pizza 3D caught my eye - a very savvy Hindi 3D horror movie. On 22 August FrightFest screens Shockwave Darkside 3D - an indie Sci-Fi from the US. In November the London 3D Film Festival will show Charlie Victor Romeo - a film about what happens when flight crews face real life emergencies, and currently getting rave reviews. It can be done, and it can be done on a low budget.

On November 20 The L3DFF will host The Producers' 3D Lab - a day of industry professionals who will give advice on how you can get it done. If you're thinking of making a 3D movie, or are curious about this route, then get on the mailing list below.

London 3D Film Festival:
Mailing List:

Shockwave Darkside 3D:
Pizza 3D:
Making of Pizza 3D:

There is a long history of successful horror and sci-fi 3D movies. Audiences love them. Make one!

  • We did! They didn't! OK, there were some performances that weren't amazing, but there are a lot of crappy horror performances. The sales agent wanted 3D, advanced the extra costs, we gave them 3D, had a heap of 3D particle VFX, but sales are lacklustre. Firm theatrical sales in LATAM and India, but surprisingly little 3D traction in the major territories (the ones with the 3D screen networks). In fact I think those sales were largely the 2D DCP. And this was a major sales agent, prominent stand at Cannes, 10' promo posters and one of their 'picks'

    So, I have to say, the appetite isn't as great as the number of screens suggests. If it was, I'd expect to see more 3D TV networks to meet it, but they're just not there. By all means make a 3D movie, it's an interesting discipline, just don't expect automatic sales just because. In fact last feature we wrapped last week we shot 2 camera but very much 2D! Distributors and (different) sales agent more interested in 4k and talent list than 3D. Proof of the pudding will be at AFM of course, so take this all for what it is, one company's sales in two and three dimensions - your experience is bound to be different, just thought it worth chipping in!

    5 years ago
    • Thanks for chipping in Paddy.
      Yes indeed, thanks to Avatar there are way more screens than demand, but that's a good thing. You won't be stuck for finding one!
      So, from what you're saying, your film bombed at the Box Office, and 3D failed to save it..? We can't blame 3D for that. The film has to be good in its own right.
      Sales agents now want 4K do they? (Sales agents want 4K? WTF!) Or a decent marquee? The Next Big Thing..? 3D won't meet that hunger - you'll need all the other stuff to sell a film too. But what 3D can do, if it's appropriate, is give you that extra edge. The right project will always benefit.

      5 years ago
    • @Karel Bata Heh heh, kinda, but it wasn't so much that it bombed and 3D didn't save it, more that the market for lower-end 3D films isn't even as big as the sales agent believed (to their cost! They must have hated that). Comparing tent pole movies with the rest isn't a straight comparison. People don't buy Porsches because they're red, if you see the analogy. Of the other 99% of films, I'm not convinced it's that big a draw.

      China is an interesting one - it's going to be a very important market for certain types of Hollywood movies for the next decade, but they're already making very similar domestic films not capped by the '34 per year' foreign films quota. It's not an open, free market, so not much point trying to make one of the 34 when those that are succeeding already place loads of Chinese product placement in their films and releasing different versions of the story there to appease local tastes (and 'the party').

      Hollywood Deadline suggests the trend in the US is very much downward The Beeb and ESPN killed off their 3D outputs through poor traction.

      Right now though, for every 3D screen, there are several 4k ones, and 4k is being touted as the new domestic format as well. In terms of fashion, it's bang-on, whether or not it makes the blindest bit of difference to the storytelling.

      That's my experience anyway - but I would love to be proved wrong!!

      5 years ago
    • @Paddy Robinson-Griffin I'll come back with a longer reply, but for now it's interesting the way the article is framed. The income from 3D is a major part of Hollywood's revenue streams, and any reduction is seen as something to worry about. So it's passed one peak? There'll be another.

      And 3D now is "just 39% of the total box office"?
      Just..? LOL.

      5 years ago
    • @Paddy Robinson-Griffin Hey, just noticed - that article is nearly six months old!

      BTW The BBC didn't announce it was junking 3D. That was a rather big-mouthed Andy Quested. Since that 'BBC Announcement' (as the press reported it) they produced Wimbledon 3D, Come Dancing, and the anniversary Dr. Who. Did you know Wimbledon 3D was on? They didn't bother telling any one. So, yes, it bombed. BBC politics.

      5 years ago
  • If you can make it 3D without sacrifice, well yes, why not, esp if it's a genre that fits.

    But a lot of the audience avoid 3D.

    a) Some people don't think the extra charge is worth it.

    b) Some people can't really appreciate it. I can see 3D but it means wearing glasses over glasses.

    It has to have crits saying its really special of 3D for me to do that.

    c) My lads - 11-13 - aren't interested in 3d either, they find it annoying to wear the glasses full stop.

    They have a 3D TV. They don't use it.

    My take - it's partly the tech. Needs to be no glasses. And partly that Directors haven't really developed how to tell the story in a way that really uses the 3D, and that skill will evolve over time.

    5 years ago
    • Yes that is also how I feel: it is a different basis for storytelling.

      5 years ago
  • Audiences avoid 3D...? Hmm...
    What's in the cinemas right now? Dawn of the Planet of the Apes at the Brixton Ritzy: one 2D screening @ £12, THREE 3D screeenings @ £13.30.
    I think the Ritzy knows what its customers want.
    Your kids don't watch 3D TV? Not surprising. Unless they're into sport there's hardly any content. Yet. But the sales of 3D sets in places like China are booming.
    Absolutely no argument with you that it's story first. You can't just bolt 3D on, but it is definitely a tool that can boost your BO performance.
    Maleficent has just passed the $750,000,000 mark - 36% of that audience being 3D. That's $270,000,000 that clearly like 3D...
    But really, why do you wear two sets of glasses? Get clip-ons. Then, for you, there's hardly any difference. The cinema should have them, or they're £2 on eBay.

    5 years ago
    • Marketing 101, an audience will move heaven and earth for something they want, and if they don't, it's not their fault.

      The lesson to learn from the fact that I have not bothered to buy clip-ons is that I have not found the 3D experience worth the effort involved in buying and then not losing the clip-ons.

      Whereas I will drop everything and drive 4 hours there and 4 hours back to spend an afternoon on my body board when the surfs up on a warm summers day. That's an experience I got sold on as an 8 year old on a wooden board.

      I'm sure 3D will one day be marvellous, and as I said originally, if I was making movie in the right genre and for that demographic, I'd do a 3D version. But I don't have a Disney sized budget.


      5 years ago
  • There is also a non-negligible number of people who can only see from one eye. Maybe you know quite a few and are not aware of that because they didn't need to tell you. If the projection technology could serve these, there wouldn't be any need for glasses either, thus serving all the other users better, too.

    And yes, 3D takes more of a sculptor's approach, while 2D more of a photographer's. I think it was Nik Powell who had told me that many cinematography students at NFTS come from architecture. A good thing.

    I'm also involved in the tech side of 3D. When you think through what can be done, indeed it can be a whole new world. Pretty much another art form (not referring to the current applications).

    That aside, I'm wondering if a film being 3D doesn't cover up its content with 3D stamping overshadowing what the film otherwise has to offer. How about a 3D Woody Allen film?

    5 years ago
  • What's your stake in this, Karel?

    Do you make films? Distribute them?

    I am old enough to remember the last exhumation of the 3D craze in the early eighties. We saw Jaws 3(D) and, I think, Friday 13th Part 3(D), and a few others - all in glorious polarised colour and, as I remember, no less authentic than so-called 'real 3D'. Simultaneously, the BBC were giving away red and green cardboard spectacles so that we could watch telly screenings of 1950s features - in black and white, if you donned the specs, or fuzzy colour if you chose not to (demonstrating the simplicity of both the 3D, and the early colour, processes: use filters).

    The audience response to the eighties revival of 3D was underwhelming. At that time, admittedly, the indies were still 'box-office' and directors from Scorsese to Coppolla to Woody Allen (not short on funding) were nevertheless shooting black and white to demonstrate they knew art as well as Kaurismaki and Jim Jarmusch.

    But, thirty five years ago, people would still queue round the block to catch whatever single film their local flea-pit was screening; indie films did the rounds with the rest of them. This time round, outside the major cities, corporations appear to have it more sewn up: a provincial twelve screen Cineworld will not deign to show a single indie movie once in the smallest room in the house even on the quietest night of the week.

    Businessmen take big financial risks with big-budget films and do what they can to protect their investments by buying stakes in retail, controlling supply, and restricting access to the competition.

    So it's take it or leave it with Planet of the Apes. Since we can always catch arthouse via Love Film or illegal downloads, but prefer to go out once in a while, we generally take what's on offer. As with most modern western 'consumer' experience, there is an apparent plethora of 'brands', but any genuine choice as to which share-held multinational ultimately banks your dollar is unbelievably limited.

    Don't get me wrong, I've seen many a 3D blockbuster. But I can rarely remember whether I actually watched it in 2D or 3D (only my bank statement would tell). I can count the exceptions - Avatar, Life of Pi, Gravity (which, without the sensory immersion, would have been little more compelling than Thunderbirds) - on one hand.

    So your metrics are surely unfaultable, Karel. But if 3D conferred as much leverage to mainstream film as you claim, would there even be room for indie? Perhaps that there are people clamouring to get 'your movie' into 'this space' simply signposts the tail end of another 'novelty' craze of which the fickle western public have already tired?

    Sure, the techie geeks in Japan, India and China, are falling over themselves, as ever, to enjoy the latest technology. But, if genre audiences still rave about minor Japanese Films shot in black and white and betamax, will they really pay extra to see it in 'real' 3D? Or is that experience mostly now for gullible teens during summer recess?

    5 years ago
    • @Eric I'm a film-maker who's now also the director of the London 3D Film Festival.

      1 - There are thousands of unused 3D screens, and
      2 - LOTS of people go to see 3D movies
      3 - These days you CAN make a 3D film on a budget
      4 - You can't pirate 3D films.
      There's a genuine opportunity here that's going to waste, and some of us are trying to get it moving.

      Your criticisms can be summarised as
      1) all 3D is shit.
      2) in the face of corporate power all indie film-making is a waste of time.

      Well, let's not bother then.

      5 years ago
    • @Karel Bata
      Your summary. Not mine.

      And I'm sorry if you find me snobbish or defeatist.

      Actually, I don't think 3D is shit. Avatar and Life of Pi were spectacularly good because they were 3D.

      But I've sat on the edge of my seat through any number of superhero movies over the last decade, and I couldn't tell you which were in which format. In fact, I couldn't remember them the next morning. That has more to do with formula than format.

      I have always loved 3D. I could spend hours, in the seventies, lost in the universe of View-Master even if the stereo images were just promo shots of a Ford Fiesta. I played one of the first 3D handheld video games in 1983. I would have killed to experience an industry-standard flight simulator, and fantasised that, one day, my living room might behave like the holo-deck in Star Trek. I regretted seeing the last Spiderman in 2D purely because of one crane shot of rainfall at a funeral, which I knew would have been mesmerising. And I'm still waiting for someone to join me to see Gravity in IMAX - as I say, that story demands as full an illusion as possible: it's a rollercoaster ride, not Art (Bullock and Clooney's flawless performances notwithstanding).

      But Moon wouldn't benefit much from an IMAX screening. It tells a different kind of story. Truth be told, if the story's imaginative, I care less about the delivery system. I could still get lost in Stalker or Solaris or Thirst or Streetcar Named Desire on a CRT playing VHS. Like Avatar, these are fantasies. But they don't invite you to experience the thrill of riding a dragon live, right there in the cinema; they are slower burning. In their own way, they are fairy stories, akin to those told round a fire (for FREE); their escapism comes from narratives steeped in symbolism and moral consideration. The heroes and villains are tangled up; hard to identify, impossible to separate. They may be less 'lifelike' and yet, afterwards, feel more like life.

      Such cinema could and should be made on any budget. And you are offering poor shooters the opportunity to sculpt in 3D instead of paint a flat canvas. Well good for you. Long may your festival prosper.

      Then you spoil it for me with point 4: the reminder that a key advantage of 3D is that it's currently harder to pirate.

      Isn't that really the crux? 3D needn't be shit, but there are no repeat fees in a story so memorable you need only see it once. "Movies" - especially 3D ones - tend to be about surging sensory experience; living in the moment. Some films - even and especially 'genre movies' - are not.

      I rejoice that 'corporate power,' with all the so-called intellectual property it claims to have bought and to own (about as lunatic to Native Americans as the concept of land ownership), has still not found a way to monetise imagination and story.

      5 years ago
    • @Eric M Colvin Agree with most of that, but I'm not sure I really follow the last bit. For independents piracy is an absolute killer. I'll let someone else argue that.

      Solaris would have been fascinating in 3D. So much of it is about the space the character is in, and his relationship to it (and it to him!). Likewise Vertigo, Citizen Kane, Inception, or Repulsion. The latter could easily be shot in 3D on a low budget.

      5 years ago
    • I like your four examples. Vertigo and Kane would certainly have thrived in 3D. And Rope might be fascinatingly remade with some upcoming 360 system which allowed the viewer to 'walk around' choosing his/her own POV (a technological version of promenade theatre that is already around in gaming). I suppose low budget might investigate all of this stuff for novel storytelling. But it will still be the story and not the tech which makes the film memorable.

      Wouldn't you say independents are so heavily affected by illegal downloading simply because there aren't enough independent outlets? Isn't it the lack of screening which hurts most?

      I mean, I could already find the full text of Neil Gaiman's American Gods online, but I still bought the paperback because I could. Downloading Arctic Monkeys songs for free did not stop people attending their gigs or buying their albums. On the contrary, it just flipped the bird to execs at EMI whose spectacularly powerful marketing machine tended, formerly, to pocket all the profits and leave bands famous but cripplingly broke. And, sadly, this applies to DVD distributors who garner tax breaks with underperforming sales.

      That's what I hate about intellectual property law. It feeds sharks. It's rare when the guy with the intellect gets what he deserves. Intellect is pretty meaningless, anyway, unless it is shared. But paying for it tends to finance a whole host of duplicitous heavies with far less intellect than acumen. And thus society is starved of ideas.

      Isn't this just as true with film? I have almost never downloaded, even though I know those who do and would help me. Sure, I'm grateful I can locate stuff for research online. But trying it (and liking it) would not stop me wanting to see it on the big screen. I prefer to see good film in the cinema. It pisses me off that, where I live, I simply can't - I'm not in London, or Leeds, or one of our larger cities, so I'm not offered independent cinema - just blockbusters. Is that the pirates' fault?

      5 years ago
    • @Eric M Colvin Low budget is certainly a good place to try out stuff. And 3D is crying out for innovators who'll take it out of the Hollywood Blockbuster ghetto.

      Piracy. It's SO easy to download a video. You can't now hope that your cinema audience will grow - it will just be stolen. Any distributor will tell you that DVD sales, which used to be so important, are negligible. Look at what's happened to Blockbuster. Ask this as a separate question and see what response you get.

      On the other hand CVR's audience (see link above) is growing. You can't pirate it. You want to see it? You have to go to a cinema.

      5 years ago
  • Wow I had no clue people were this passionate about 3D vs 2D or vice versa.

    2 questions:

    Is the one stepping on the other's feet?

    And how do you make 3D on a budget?

    5 years ago
    • I find it very tiresome. And I don't understand it. One moment everyone's really excited about 3D, then two years later it's the unwanted bastard child. To some anyway.

      Yes you can make 3D on a budget. Come along to L3DFF and see what other people are up to, meet some of them, and go to the 3D Producers' Lab where experts from around Europe will be talking about the financial and technical opportunities and pitfalls.

      5 years ago
    • @Karel Bata I am not technical on film making so it would be greek to me. But I am very hands on with the budgets for the projects I get involved with.

      Current ones being EIS packaged are genre features slated at 500K and 700K all in (pre, filming,post, sales/marketing and everyone properly paid and looked after).

      Are there 3D solutions that could fit into that and if so, what would be the additional costs, roughly?

      Tell me it would add an extra 15-30K and I'll take it seriously.

      5 years ago
    • @Marlom Tander It'll be more than that, but needn't be as much as many people think. Certainly less than the income generated if it's the right project.

      It depends on the deals you strike, and the technology you use. We've been waiting for THE one body 3D camera to emerge that will be competitively priced and relatively easy to use. Disappointingly that hasn't yet happened. But things are moving, and at L3DFF we'll show a number of solutions that don't break the bank.

      5 years ago
  • p.s. Woody Allen in 3D? No. The demographic is entirely wrong.

    5 years ago
    • There's your problem.

      When talkies were invented did anyone say it was for limited demographics?

      When colour was added, did anyone say that?

      While any particular film will have a target demographic, a film technology shouldn't.

      When Directors have developed a story language that uses 3D properly, no one will be talking about demographics, and the likes of Woody Allen will be shooting in 3D.


      5 years ago
    • @Marlom Tander same feeling here.

      5 years ago
    • @Marlom Tander It's to do with an age group reluctant to wear the glasses. Bertolucci wanted make a 3D movie, but his producer told him his ageing audience wouldn't wear them!

      Personally, I love Woody Allen, but don't see his films as suitable for 3D. Though Manhattan, under Gordon Willis, might have worked very well.

      5 years ago
  • A few years back I met a Paramount exec at a party and asked him, "What's with all the 3D?" His answer was simple: "We need to get asses in seats instead of those asses pirating our product."

    Personally, I can't stand 3D for two simple reasons: it gives me one hell of a headache, and 2, I really hate the dimming of the screen because of those glasses. Muted colors are the worst. Perhaps when technology gives us 3D without the glasses, I'll be more accepting. Avatar was the last 3D film I watched, and I'll not see another until technology improves.

    5 years ago
    • Then you've missed the latest Dolby glasses, as used in the Barbican, or the awesome IMAX Odeon screen in Leicester Square.

      Never mind...

      5 years ago
    • @Karel Bata Ok, so that's a 200 mile round trip :-)

      5 years ago
    • @Marlom Tander Oh, you don't live in London? I didn't realise. You don't count then.

      5 years ago
    • @Karel Bata Leicester Square might be a little far for me. I rushed down to my car and plugged it into my Google maps. It said "Turn right on Melrose, drive 5,403 miles." Perhaps I'll look around here in L.A. for those new Dolby glasses.

      5 years ago
    • @Dan Selakovich Over the Atlantic? Got a submarine-car? :)

      5 years ago
    • @Alève Mine My submarine car is in the shop, but google maps didn't take that into consideration! Stupid google.

      5 years ago
    • @Dan Selakovich This is one of those cases where driving and walking take the same amount of time...

      5 years ago
    • @Paddy Robinson-Griffin @Dan Selakovich :))

      5 years ago
    • it may not be long until google figures shop contents out.

      5 years ago
    • @Paddy Robinson-Griffin HAHAHAHAHA!

      5 years ago
  • Maybe one of the issues is that you have to edit for either 2D or 3D? As 3D is an illusion requiring extra brainpower to process/make sense of the image than 2D, you just can't cut to the same pace without exhausting your audience (or making them feel sick as the neutral plane moves). At least for me the films that work better as 3D don't have horror-style shock edits, but the slow shots like Gravity. Imagine the Saw films where they bang a load of sequences of maybe a dozen frames together in a rapid montage, just how horrid that would be in 3D.

    5 years ago
    • A rapid montage could be made to work - you just make it 2D and float it behind the screen to maintain the 3D effect. The audience wouldn't have time to spot what you'd done. It's a bit of a myth that 3D has to be slow. There are several ways that allow you to cut quickly when needs be, like using an active depth cut

      It's just a problem. All problems have a solution.

      5 years ago
    • Stop it, Paddy, you're winning me over to 3D!! Anything that stops shaky-cam and quick edits I'm all for!

      5 years ago
    • @Karel Bata I don't see it as a problem, rather a different framework. If you watch the football coverage in 2D and 3D, they are cut entirely differently. Instead of 20-odd angles rapidly cut with close ups, it's a lot slower with wides from 5 angles. Some may prefer that, but it's not the same thing.

      I note that you were not impressed with the article I linked being 6 months old - that was actually one of the more recent ones as the downward adjustment in expectations had been going for 3-4 years by then. The Beeb had been planning dedicated 3D freeview channel/s but the sets weren't selling at the rate everyone predicted, the market just wasn't there. If there was, we'd be watching EastEnders 3D by now.

      I'm not saying it doesn't have a place, but having made and sold a 3D horror (not great sales, but several global territories and interest from a mini-major for a 360 deal), and knowing the home adoption rate is weaker than expected (the next fashion wave for TV upgrades seems to be Ultra HD/4k - although I suspect it'll be a slow sell too), I just can't get excited about it. It's great that you can! I even hope you're right and it is a big thing just dormant. Maybe it'll hit critical mass and recover, maybe not. Big waste if it doesn't.

      5 years ago
  • I mean a problem as in a puzzle. The big myth about film-making is that it's all about creativity. It's not. It's about solving one problem after another. "How do I get this shot?" How you solve these problems is where your creativity comes in. And of course if you enjoy it, it doesn't feel like you're solving problems at all, just getting on with it and having a great day.

    5 years ago
    • So what you're saying is: it IS creativity. Am glad.

      How can you be so sure it doesn't feel like solving problems and work days are always a good time?

      5 years ago
    • @Alève Mine - Film-making is like living your life: a ton of problems to deal with. Some do it creatively. Some look for formulas. Both approaches offer rewards. But which will be interesting to a third party?

      Cryptic eh?

      5 years ago
    • @Karel Bata Why would you want it to sound cryptic? It doesn't, and anything is fine.

      5 years ago
  • It seems to me that some of the best filmmakers in the world are excited by the possibilities of stereo 3D. Filmmakers who have already made films in 3D include, Steven Spielberg, Wim Wenders, Alfred Hitchcock, Robert Zemeckis, Ang Lee, Martin Scorsese, Alfonso Cuaron, Peter Jackson, Jean Pierre Jeunet, James Cameron and the list goes on. I understand that some of the 3D films have been more successful than others, (Gravity and Pina) but these are some of the worlds top directors engaging with the technology.

    I'm a big fan of stereo 3D. I think it's a great opportunity to do new things. I understand that some people don't like it and prefer traditional 2D and that's fine, that's a taste thing, and those people don't have to watch 3D films because there's also 2D films out there. (I don't understand why there's been an adverse reaction to 3D from some - I don't like Tuna sandwiches but I'd never argue against them, I just won't eat them)

    As a filmmaker I'm excited by what hasn't happened in 3D films yet and the possibilities of finding new ways to tell stories, create meaning and immerse the audience. Something that I'm (hopefully) doing with in an experimental short film I'm making.

    In the early days of cinema, the language wasn't set and it took many films introducing techniques like close-ups, moving shots, montage etc each creating different emotions in the audience. It'd be interesting to see what 3D offers. So, I think to dismiss it this early on would be a shame.

    I also think that to treat 2D and 3D the same is misleading. The approach for each should be different and this is where it could be confusing audiences. A lot of films are made with a 2D mindset but shot or converted to 3D as an 'add-on'. In my mind these are not 3D films, they are 2D films being shown in 3D. A film made specifically for 3D like Gravity is a 3D film and when people watch it in 2D they are watching a film with something missing.

    My understanding is that 2D and 3D activate different parts of the brain. 2D activates the analytical part of the brain and 3D activates a more primal part that is responsible for spacial awareness. As such, a different approach is needed for each discipline. 2D seems better placed for more intellectual and complex stories, whereas 3D seems better for more immersive experiences.

    Last year I took part in online open sessions run by the fantastic Cross Channel Film Lab which included research that they'd done into low budget stereo 3D and VFX.
    If you want to find out more about 3D and some of the stuff that's going on with low budget 3D filmmakers you can see some of the lectures that they recorded on there website ( and a particularly great one about new narrative approaches for stereo 3D:

    5 years ago
  • Very welcome post Matt! Love your positive attitude. I hope you're coming along to the fest.

    Not so sure I agree with the brain stuff. There's a lot of guff talked about that. Never heard the analytical v primal argument before. Is that a French thing? Why should sound not be primal too..?

    There is definitely something experientially different about 3D that separates it from color or sound. Remove either of those two from a film and it's still much the same. 3D is something else though. It really *feels* different. Something new is happening. I think it's to do with the fact that to see 3D you need both halves of the brain communicating. 2D doesn't require that. Not to the same degree anyway. So (my 2p) I think that's makes 3D feel so different.

    5 years ago
    • It's worth watching some of the videos on the link in my last post. They explain the science behind it better than I can. But yes - the point is, 3D films offer a different viewing experience which requires a different approach to making them and I think that's what's exciting. Now I just need to find funding :)

      5 years ago
    • @Matt Freeth Looking forward to seeing what you come up with! I'm all for exploring new possibilities.

      That said, a traditional approach to 3D (not too traditional!) can still produce a satisfying film. A large chunk of the audience go to a 3D movie for the stick in yer eye! Or laser beam.

      Speaking of which, interesting interview with X-Men stereographer here: Good blog.

      And check out

      5 years ago
  • @Paddy, You wanted a montage sequence in 3D? Try the Marvel credits. There's a rapid montage of images right there. By keeping them on the same plane there's no problem.

    5 years ago
  • Some folks are going for it with a low-budget 5K 3D doc they've just shot about the Burning Man Festival.

    5K means it can get an IMAX release. IMAX cinemas are cropping up everywhere, and they need content.

    It's a French production company.
    3D production is big in France. So why do we have such a downer on it here? Is our thinking so locked into what Hollywood is doing that we can't see the opportunities outside of that? (And really, the next person to say "I hate 3D" is a total loser)

    p.s. 5K is probably Red-speak for 4k!

    5 years ago
    • "(And really, the next person to say "I hate 3D" is a total loser)"

      maybe we're just old and get headaches easily. ;) I personally am a loser for so many other reasons!

      5 years ago
  • Wow... too much to read so I apologise if this has been said already.

    I love 3D movies and don't mind the glasses. I watched Life of Pi on a 3D TV and it was incredible. I would go to the Imax and watch any rubbish movie, just for the visual majesty.

    As a kid, when I watched 3D I wanted to feel like a flying fish would jump out of the screen and land on my lap, but now I just appreciate what looks to me like "mega HD". The resolution/detail seems amazing in a 3D movie.

    Having said this... If kids don't like it...

    "c) My lads - 11-13 - aren't interested in 3d either, they find it annoying to wear the glasses full stop.

    They have a 3D TV. They don't use it."

    Then until there is new tech, this could just be another flash in the pan.

    5 years ago
    • Yay! Someone sounding positive!

      And speaking for the audience that yield 36% of the Box Office profits. They didn't just walk into the wrong cinema.

      Most kids love 3D! If they're not watching their 3D TV that's just a measure of the current lack of content.

      5 years ago
    • @Karel Bata You're selling me Karel, and that ain't hay. I'm an old bastard that's set in his ways. You've convinced me to at least see the latest 3D tentpole to see if those migraines hit.

      5 years ago
    • @Dan Selakovich Go see Guardians in 3D. And make sure you pick a good seat - that's about central, and at least a screen width's back. Regrettably that formula means that many cinemas are just not suitable for 3D, leading to folks reporting bad experiences. It's not the film, it's not 3D, it's the cinema.

      Seriously. It's a real issue. New cinemas are going for the shallow and wide - the expanded living room - rather than the traditional long and narrow, or the wedge. ALL 5 screens in the new Curzon Victoria have only about 30% of the seats optimal for 3D. I dropped into the the Odeon Tottenham Court Road today - same issue. It's not good for 2D viewing, but even worse for 3D.

      Cinemas shouldn't be selling tickets for an experience that will give you a headache. I have no idea why this is being allowed to happen.

      On the other hand, an IMAX (it needs to be properly set up to be allowed to use the name) will give you a superb experience (if the film is good!).


      5 years ago
    • @Karel Bata Thanks. There are a ton of Imax screens here, so I'll take your advice! Looking forward to it.

      5 years ago
  • There's a number of things that I find problematic with 3D.

    Firstly, the 'language' of 3D cinema is very different to that of traditional 2D and many (particularly indie) directors and crews just aren't familiar with it (Cameron spent *years* working out the kinks) - traditionally we've used DoF to focus viewer attention but that can fall to pieces in 3D since our eyes naturally defocus whatever's unimportant in our field of view. There's a lot more to shooting *good* 3D than just having the camera(s) for it.

    Secondly there's the issue of post-production - software had now caught up largely so editing and grading isn't necessarily an issue (although you're still dealing with double the footage) - CGI is a pain in the ass though since if you're doing anything sophisticated you're doubling your render times and that can balloon your budget and your schedule. Admittedly, there's ways of conforming 2D footage to 3D but that never looks as good (and the tools for this remain propriety and prohibitively expensive to the best of my knowledge).

    Lastly there's the issue (for me) of 3D films being screened in 2D - since composition needs to be handled differently to create a truly effective 3D film, and since most 3D films have the terribly cliché 'gunshot at the audience' or similar, when you do watch these films in 2D they're lacking in comparison to the best of what traditional cinema has to offer.

    Don't get me wrong - it has its place but it's a niche and it always will be. Besides - 4k and *spit* high frame rates is the next big thing :D

    5 years ago
    • I think most of the things you note as problematic, are the things I find exciting about 3D. I think it's getting an unnecessarily bad response from some people. It may appear to be a niche, but I think that's looking at it in the wrong way. It's its own medium (or should be treated as such) and then a lot of the problems disappear. Sure post takes longer and is more expensive (just like 4k) but that's just part of the process. If CGI is a pain in the ass for 3d films don't put it in your films, find other ways. Filmmaking is a lot about solving problems and for me that's the fun of it. 2D has had over 100 years of brilliant people working stuff out and building conventions and pushing the form. 3D is exciting to me because there are problems that haven't been worked out, there's a language that hasn't been fully developed and if you work these things out you will breaking new ground. Plus like I said before, if you don't like 3D, don't watch it.

      5 years ago
    • @Matt Freeth Spot on!

      One of the things I really like about 3D is that (if you're that way inclined) you find yourself doing stuff *nobody's done before*. You're breaking new ground. How often do you do that in 2D?

      5 years ago
    • Andrew, I taught directing for awhile, and one of the things that had the biggest impact on the student's framing was that I told them "pretend you're shooting in 3D." Their composition and blocking improved overnight. As for the rest, I don't know enough about it to comment.

      5 years ago
  • Andrew, your post is TOTALLY misinformed. Where did you get all that?

    Para 1 - The language is not that different - for instance, Vertigo would make a great 3D movie. Yes, Cameron/Pace spent years working out the technical issues. And that saves you doing it! No idea what you're on about with the focus thing.

    2 - Post is a learning curve, but not that difficult (get a 3D experienced editor!) and not double the effort. Whatever you do in one eye is going to be replicated in the other, such as grading, and roto-work. CGI is a doddle - you just create another virtual camera. The tools are proprietary? Not any more.

    3 - Composition needs to be handled differently? Jeez, it's a creative opportunity. Isn't that the point? But most 3D films are still framed as if they were 2D so you don't have to change any old habits if you really don't want to. I've no idea how many films use the 'stick-in-yer-eye', and many don't, but I assure you that is seen as a cliche, and only ever there as a crowd pleaser (and then ironically) like the many similar cliches that you see in 2D movies...

    4 - Colour was a niche once.

    5 years ago
  • Umm - no.

    1) The language may not be 'that different' but it's still different and getting the best out of a 3D shoot requires that you know the differences. Avatar is still the technical benchmark for 3D films precisely because Cameron took the time (and the extensive 3D pre-viz) to figure it all out.

    Re: focus - in 2D shoots we use depth of field to draw the attention of the viewers to precisely what we want them to focus on - DoF has to be managed somewhat differently in 3D precisely *because* it's 3D - our eyes ignore/defocus the unimportant parts of our field of view to allow us to focus more clearly on what's important - bad use of DoF in 3D filmmaking (as happens very often in 2D->3D conversions) is one of the factors many that can cause eyestrain in viewers.

    2) Post - I mentioned editing and grading were pretty much cake now (although again, you're doubling your footage and the associated storage requirements) - CGI is different though since you're doubling your *render* times - a single shot that might take (for example) an hour to render for a 2D movie now takes two since you need left/right versions. That time adds up and time is money. The proprietary tools I mentioned are for 2D->3D conversion (patented by Digital Domain I believe) - that may have changed though since I last looked into it though.

    3) I disagree - almost every 3D film I've seen (except Avatar tellingly since Cameron avoided it) has that cheesy into-the-screen schlock - it seems if you're going to make a 3D film these days (and in the past) you've got to poke the audiences eyes out.

    It's obvious you're passionate about 3D filmmaking an I applaud that but just throwing it out there as a way to make your movie stand out is naïve.

    5 years ago
  • 1 - Avatar is not the benchmark. It's actually a very conservative use of 3D. I think Pina is the benchmark for many. A very different kind of film, and much more the sort that an indie might consider making.

    Focus - still no idea what you're talking about. Our eyes don't defocus unimportant parts of our field of view. That's not how it works. Ever heard of saccades?

    2 - The final rendering is actually a small part of the CGI process. For tests you can do renders to 2D.

    Proprietary 2D->3D tools? What? Convert from 2D? Why would an indie production even consider that? Pina, Charlie Victor Romeo, Pizza 3D, 1 Way Up, all shot native 3D. No conversion.

    3 - You're talking about cheesy tropes which exist in every type of film-making. You don't have to do that. You see a rule book? You can throw it away. Up to you. Avatar had one stick-in-yer-eye shot right at the beginning. Cameron knew some of the audience wanted that, so he got it out of the way and didn't do it again.

    I am not 'throwing it out there'. There are 1,600 3D screens in the UK. 58,000 world-wide. Currently you can't pirate 3D. It offers some great creative opportunities.

    Pizza 3D:
    Making of Pizza 3D:

    Some folks are going for it. At some point there will be the 'break-out' indie 3D feature and everyone will want to jump on the bandwagon.

    5 years ago
  • Ok, I was tired when I wrote that last one, I'll try to be more specific:

    Re: Focus - in 2D cinematography it's perfectly acceptable (and frequently desirable) to have the foreground and background planes out of focus since when observing a 2D image our eyes naturally gravitate to the part that's in focus. This is why the focus-pull is such a useful and dramatic/artistic technique - it allows us to smoothly draw attention to specific elements that might be narratively or aesthetically important.

    In 3D cinematography having the foreground out of focus is a no-no since, due to the way our depth perception works we *should* be able to focus on the foreground yet we can't - effectively you're impairing the audiences vision and it creates headaches and eyestrain. Likewise, focus-pulls in 3D are forcibly trying to get an audience to refocus to a specific point in a 3-dimensional scene and their use should be minimal and extremely light to avoid viewer discomfort (accenting really).

    For 3D to be consistently comfortable for the viewer, they should be able to chose their own focus point but if they're free to look wherever they want, how do you draw attention to what's artistically/narratively important?

    You have to be aware of the depth of the scene in your shot and place your actors/dress the environment appropriately to draw your viewers to the most prominent elements. Lighting plays an even bigger role in 3D than 2D since it can be used to emphasise or de-emphasise as necessary.

    Lastly, since when a film is shot (properly) in 3D attention is paid to the techniques that make 3D work/comfortable, when the same film is viewed in 2D it'll look 'flatter' and less filmic than a film purposefully shot and playing to the strengths of 2D cinematography.

    Oh - and I'm a 20+ year VFX veteran (who rendered their first stereoscopic images in 1994) - please don't presume to tell me how long it takes to render complex VFX. Maybe they take minutes for the kind of productions you're used to working on but for the quality I demand/expect, they need render farms.

    5 years ago
  • In 3D you must always have focus on the foreground subject? Where are you getting this from? Here's stills from Scorcese's Hugo: or Coraline: The focus is comfortably in the background.

    Or for soft Backgrounds here's Coraline again:

    If you want to see 3D focus-pulls, subjects out of focus, and gawdknows what else that break these 'rules' someone's told you, go see Guardians in 3D. It's all in there. Great movie too.

    One old 2D cliche (you see it a lot in UK TV) that you can't use is out of focus objects drifting across the foreground. These are meant to suggest 'mystery' or give a sense of depth. Very distracting in 3D. But with 3D you don't need to create 'depth' - it's right there. Likewise goodbye to irritating shaky-cam. Hated that.

    You say a 3D movie always looks flat in 2D? Ask the folks who saw Guardians in 2D. Did it look flat? I doubt it. Do those stills from Hugo or Coraline look flat?

    And it was you that talked about an hour of CGI rendering, suggesting you we were talking about that end of the market. I would think that when a team spend a month working on one shot the final render time is proportionately tiny. But all that's irrelevant to a smaller indie anyway.

    Rather old, but excellent article on 3D perception: from which comes the great quote, "Technologists find bugs, and fix them. Artists find bugs, and explore them."

    5 years ago
  • Yep - that Hugo shot is exactly the type of shot you should avoid in 3D since we *should* be able to focus on the actor/foreground and we *can't* - sorry, but that's just plain bad 3D cinematography and it's the kind of thing that gives people headaches/eyestrain. Note though that in both shots you've illustrated, the foreground is only slightly out of focus - as I mentioned previously you *can* do this stuff but it has to be far more subtle in 3D than in 2D. Trying to shoot 3D without knowing the quirks of the medium will result in a bad 3D film.

    Backgrounds are fine for being out of focus since the eyes have the midground/foreground to gravitate to.

    And what I said is that by shooting 3D you're having to discard/rethink some of the things that give 2D its artistry/look - since chances are that most people are going to see your indie film/trailer in 2D you're actually making your feature look more mediocre than it has to be (do you really think that Pizza 3D trailer in 2D looks like a film you'd pay money to see?).

    And sorry - 'Guardians of the Galaxy'? Meh. Haven't seen it and have no desire to. Last 3D movie I saw was Gravity and that was very well done - kudos to the director and cinematographer (and of course the VFX teams that did 75% of the work).

    5 years ago
    • A shame Scorcese didn't have you around to tell him he was doing it all wrong...

      5 years ago
    • @Karel Bata And do you really think Scorcese knows everything about 3D cinematography? He's been directing 2D his entire career (whilst I've been creating CGI 3D imagery throughout mine) - directors will want the shots they want - that doesn't mean it was the right shot for a 3D picture - as I noted below, a better way to shoot something like that (in 3D) would have been outside the window looking in, the skyline reflected in the glass.

      5 years ago
  • Thanks for the article - it actually doesn't contradict anything I've said:

    "Coraline" was really the first 3D movie to explore soft focus through shallow depth of field, which was considered a big no-no in 3D. It's why the other stereo experts who were interviewed for "Coraline" before me told the DP, Pete Kozachik, not to use it.

    When I met Pete, he was upset. It looked like they were going to prevent him from using depth of field and rack focus blurs in the movie, and he felt that these were incredibly useful artistic tools for him. He didn't want to lose them, just because was doing a 3D movie.

    The first thing I said when I got on is, "No, Pete needs this." Not only can you do depth of field blurs in a 3D movie, but you should do depth of field blurs in a 3D movie.

    The general rules of using DOF in 3D are different than they are in 2D, of course, so Pete, John Ashley, Chris Peterson, and I then spent several lunches discussing how to approach it. I don't know what the final percentage was, but I imagine that over a third of "Coraline" has some sort of shallow focus. It worked very, very well for the storytelling, because of Pete's artistic vision as a DP.

    Just to repeat: "The general rules of using DOF in 3D are different than they are in 2D" - precisely what I've been saying and if you don't know them you risk making a bad 3D film.

    5 years ago
  • AND "Coraline was really the first 3D movie to explore soft focus through shallow depth of field, which was considered a big no-no in 3D." Showing that a lot of the 'rules' (as in 2D) get challenged, and are found to actually be more like flexible guidelines, particularly as the audience visual literacy matures.

    Like crossing-the-line. Once a no-no in 2D, but now seen as a useful tool. In 3D you can cross the line a lot more liberally. Quite what the limits are though has yet to be worked out.

    Back to DOF - Gardner showed that you can have shallow DOF. What we've found since is that can be much shallower than Coraline dared to go. And Hugo demonstrated, and Guardians proves, that you can have a soft foreground.

    It all comes down to whether you want to face a challenge, or play it safe.

    But I would counsel caution to anyone doing a 3D movie as their first feature. You should always get a stereographer on board, or a DOP who *really* understands 3D - a lot of folks claim they do.

    5 years ago
    • "But I would counsel caution to anyone doing a 3D movie as their first feature. You should always get a stereographer on board, or a DOP who *really* understands 3D"

      On this we'd agree.

      "Gardner showed that you can have shallow DOF. What we've found since is that can be much shallower than Coraline dared to go. And Hugo demonstrated, and Guardians proves, that you can have a soft foreground."

      Shallow DoF is fine in 3D - provided you're not impairing the audiences vision by blurring out the foreground elements. The examples you've shown in both Hugo and Coraline show minimal blurring (and the Hugo shot is still bad 3D cinematography - the correct way to do something like that in 3D would've been outside the window looking in with the Paris view in reflection).

      And for the record - (experienced) cinematographers new to 3D may have been cautioning against shallow DoF (for valid reasons - after all, better to be safe than screw up your very expensive 3D film) but that conservatism is more down to the medium being new to a lot of filmmakers than any practical experience.

      That doesn't mean there aren't rules you should follow though and if you don't understand the importance of our vision being able to focus on elements it should be able to focus on in 3D space then clearly you haven't thought enough about the subject.

      It's not about facing a challenge or playing it safe - it's about being smart, professional and doing the tests and the research *or* being an enthusiastic but misguided amateur.

      5 years ago
    • @Andrew Morgan You're now agreeing with me that any newbie should get professional help, and study the subject rather than diving in head first.

      Only an idiot would do otherwise. And it doesn't really support your main argument that 3D is crap.

      5 years ago
  • 3D rigs are getting smaller all the time:

    5 years ago
  • Here's a good example of a stereoscopic shallow focus-pull - (anaglyph red/blue glasses) - watch it repeatedly and it'll strain your eyes - it's not because it's anaglyph - it's because this technique *should not* be used in 3D cinematography (it's preventing the viewer from focussing using their eyes).

    5 years ago
    • Also, if you pause at the end of that clip and just look at the blurred oil drum in the foreground you'll feel your eyes getting tired since they're trying to focus on something 3-dimensional that they *should* be able to focus on but can't - it's like trying to read a book without glasses when you're farsighted.

      5 years ago
    • "watch it repeatedly and it'll strain your eyes" Like anything else you watch repeatedly then....

      Watch the end of that shot in 2D for a long time and you'll find that eyes get tired? How often do you watch something out of focus in 2D for a long time..? You've invented a problem.

      5 years ago
    • @Karel Bata I'm sorry Karel, but you're just making yourself look foolish - it's a known fact that poorly created/shot stereoscopy can cause headaches and eyestrain and I've discussed and demonstrated some of the reasons why. If you don't want to believe that compromising our ability to focus naturally isn't a problem then fine - I'm done here.

      5 years ago
    • @Andrew Morgan Your examples are flawed:
      1 - look at this shot repeatedly
      2 - stare at this frame for a long time
      You don't do either in the cinema.

      3D perception is dynamic. Staring at a freeze frame until you see a problem is not how to plan a shot. Unfortunately this very practice is done all too often, leading to an unnecessary conservatism, and the creation of bad 'rules' - such as that evereything has to be in focus. It took a while to break through that one, and some clung to it, despite the fact that all 3D films of the 50s had soft backgrounds - No choice with that stock.

      Meanwhile 45% of tickets sold for Guardians, which took £160 million over the first weekend, were for 3D screenings...

      5 years ago
  • Discussion seems to have diverted away from the original point and turned into one about whether 3D I good or bad. Personal of experience of not liking it or your kids not liking it, is not a strong argument against. I know some kids who love it, but I don't think all kids do. Like with anything, some people like it, some people don't, it's a matter of taste and something that not everyone will ever agree on.

    More importantly, if one was to shoot a 3D feature, what advice can you give? Are there places for filmmakers to connect with experienced 3D DOPs and/or stereographers who are interested in low budget films? Are there sources of funding specifically for developing 3D projects (shorts and/or features)? What sales agents, distributors or distribution models are best for low budget 3D films?

    Also, on a slightly separate note, as I'm working on a 3D short, what do you recommend I do with it when it's finished. It's more of an expressive film than narrative, but I think it does something quite different with 3D.

    I've found little support for making stuff in 3D and I've come across no schemes that support or fund filmmakers in this area (the brilliant Cross Channel Film Lab is the closest I've found).

    5 years ago
    • sorry wrote that on my phone so apologies for bad grammar.

      5 years ago
    • Yup. You always get someone coming in with "I hate 3D!", which turns into arguing over whether their 'reasons' have any real basis. They don't. But really, as you say, it's a matter of taste, so WHY are they wasting everyone's time..?

      Meanwhile, the punters love 3D - 45% of tickets sold for Guardians, which took £160 million over the first weekend, were for 3D screenings.

      Ravensbourne used to run a questionable MA 3D course, but that's now folded. However there's a promising new BA is Liverpool

      We have CS3D in April, but that's just a niche trade fair showing off US product and with no interest in independent films. Says it all about the attitude here...

      In Europe it's very different. October sees the Beyond3D Symposiumn
      December has 3D Stereo Media
      The biggest 3D fest is in LA next month

      BTW Here's a superb page on 3D

      5 years ago