Titanic 3D – Trailer & Pics

Something odd happened to me as I watched the trailer for Titanic‘s 3D re-release: I got a bit nostalgic for a James Cameron film. The sweeping camera, the intense emotion, the inevitable sinking feeling, and a time when seeing Kate Winslet naked was a treat rather than an inevitability, all rushed back to me, 12 years after I first saw the film. Have I got James Cameron wrong? Was I too harsh when I declared him a prick?


This is a 3D re-release after all, making it more expensive, more difficult to watch and therefore plain unnecessary. In essence, modern-day prickish James Cameron has taken the good work of pre-prick Cameron and retroactively pricked it up… if that makes sense. It’s as if he looked at his back catalogue, saw something of genuine quality and couldn’t help but ruin it. It’s enough to make me shake my fist in the air and shout out in a growl, “CAMERON!”, but I haven’t done that since the last general election (political!)

The trailer is below, and is a bizarre case of a 2D trailer for the re-release of an old film made into in 3D, therefore unable to showcase any of the new draw. There are also some fresh new stills, some including a pre-prick Cameron, which are also from a film over 10 years old. To repeat a joke, you can get 280,000+ more stills by buying Titanic on DVD.


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In summary: I do quite like Titanic, just not in 3D please.

A Science Lesson for Harvey Weinstein

We all know and accept that movie marketing is based around coining phrases, pretending all ideas are original, that the film is great and, of course, sending bloggers free stuff to review (our email address is in the column on the right). Even so, the latest marketing for Spy Kids: All the Time in the World has tipped me over the edge. They are presenting the film in “4D Aromascope”. So that means that the fourth dimension is… smell!

You don’t need a physics degree to know that smell is a sense and not a dimension. But seeing as I do have a physics degree (ahem) let’s see what the fourth dimension is with the help of Wikipedia.

As you can see from the diagram above the first three dimensions are essentially the three directions within which an object can move. On a flat 2D plane you can only move in two dimensions, moving out of the plane makes a third. In cinema everything is technically 2D but those silly glasses sometimes give the effect of the image coming out of the screen, hence 3D. Lovely. We may not be a fan of 3D but the name makes sense.

The fourth dimension is time. The only direction a 3D plane can move in is time itself, or I suppose in the case of a cinema you could have the screen moving around. So a 4D film is simply a 3D image progressing through time, or a regular 3D film playing. Project a 3D film onto the side of a van and drive around town and you will get a 5D film!*

What is definitely not a fourth dimension is a scratch and sniff card! The last time I scratched and sniffed I was at the panto and was scared of girls. How little has changed.

Harvey Weinstein, we await your humble apology.

*That stuff about 5D is in no way accurate.

More Proof 3D Sucks

It has been a while since we had a proper rant, James Cameron must have been keeping his head down, but the old 3D debate rages on and we have a new big hitter on our side. Walter Murch, film editor and sound designer extraordinaire, has written a letter to Roger Ebert, film critic… extraordinaire, to explain why 3D just doesn’t work.

It has a lot to do with the way our eyes focus and how a 3D film is all the same distance from our face, making our eyes focus at a different distance to which they converge… I’ll let Murch explain:

“Hello Roger,

I read your review of “Green Hornet” and though I haven’t seen the film, I agree with your comments about 3D.

The 3D image is dark, as you mentioned (about a camera stop darker) and small. Somehow the glasses “gather in” the image — even on a huge Imax screen — and make it seem half the scope of the same image when looked at without the glasses.

I edited one 3D film back in the 1980’s — “Captain Eo” — and also noticed that horizontal movement will strobe much sooner in 3D than it does in 2D. This was true then, and it is still true now. It has something to do with the amount of brain power dedicated to studying the edges of things. The more conscious we are of edges, the earlier strobing kicks in.

The biggest problem with 3D, though, is the “convergence/focus” issue. A couple of the other issues — darkness and “smallness” — are at least theoretically solvable. But the deeper problem is that the audience must focus their eyes at the plane of the screen — say it is 80 feet away. This is constant no matter what.

But their eyes must converge at perhaps 10 feet away, then 60 feet, then 120 feet, and so on, depending on what the illusion is. So 3D films require us to focus at one distance and converge at another. And 600 million years of evolution has never presented this problem before. All living things with eyes have always focussed and converged at the same point.

If we look at the salt shaker on the table, close to us, we focus at six feet and our eyeballs converge (tilt in) at six feet. Imagine the base of a triangle between your eyes and the apex of the triangle resting on the thing you are looking at. But then look out the window and you focus at sixty feet and converge also at sixty feet. That imaginary triangle has now “opened up” so that your lines of sight are almost — almost — parallel to each other.

We can do this. 3D films would not work if we couldn’t. But it is like tapping your head and rubbing your stomach at the same time, difficult. So the “CPU” of our perceptual brain has to work extra hard, which is why after 20 minutes or so many people get headaches. They are doing something that 600 million years of evolution never prepared them for. This is a deep problem, which no amount of technical tweaking can fix. Nothing will fix it short of producing true “holographic” images.

Consequently, the editing of 3D films cannot be as rapid as for 2D films, because of this shifting of convergence: it takes a number of milliseconds for the brain/eye to “get” what the space of each shot is and adjust.

And lastly, the question of immersion. 3D films remind the audience that they are in a certain “perspective” relationship to the image. It is almost a Brechtian trick. Whereas if the film story has really gripped an audience they are “in” the picture in a kind of dreamlike “spaceless” space. So a good story will give you more dimensionality than you can ever cope with.

So: dark, small, stroby, headache inducing, alienating. And expensive. The question is: how long will it take people to realize and get fed up?

All best wishes,

Walter Murch”

Star Wars in 3D

Sigh. The inevitable has happened and Star Wars will be completely re-released in cinemas in 3D. George Lucas the original tinkerer strikes again.

Phantom Menace will be released in 2012. In 3D. Yep, that’ll help. Simon pegg has summed up my feelings well:

On a different note, it’s odd to think that eleven years ago I could be easily convinced that Keira Knightly was Natalie Portman.

Christopher Nolan is Wise

Ignoring for a moment Memento, The Dark Knight and Inception, (and the rather unflattering photo just above) Christopher Nolan is still a wonderful man. Why? Because he’s “not a huge fan of 3D.”

I will now let Nolan explain as i copy directly from the LA Times: “The truth is, I think it’s a misnomer to call it 3-D versus 2-D. The whole point of cinematic imagery is it’s three-dimensional. … You know, 95% of our depth cues come from occlusion, resolution, color and so forth, so the idea of calling a 2-D movie a ‘2-D movie’ is a little misleading.”

Nolan goes on to explain that 3D films are less bright and that 2D films are by no means “flat”. I agree wholeheartedly and can’t think of any of my favourite films that I find lack depth in any of their frames. And as far as Nolan’s work goes Inception looks to have plenty of amazing imagery that looks amazing in 2D even on my laptop screen.

Samara’s Coming for You

I’ve said before that I don’t like 3D in a lot of circumstances, horror films being a major exception. When I heard yesterday that The Ring 3 would be in 3D I got a little bit excited.

3D is all about breaking down the barrier between the viewer and the film that the silver screen puts up, it should make you feel like what is happening onscreen could actually physically affect you. With a big 3D action sequence the camera angle changes so much and the 3D is so minimal it’s clear you’re not in the same reality as the film.

When a scene is framed perfectly, as in Disney World’s Honey I Shrunk the Audience, the 3D is all that more convincing. I think I’ve gone off topic…. The Ring is most famous for having a demon child, Samara, crawl out of the TV to kill her victims, what better use for 3D is there? If Samara were to appear to be crawling out of the cinema screen towards me I think I’d have a minor heart attack.


Oi! 3D! Stop Touching Things!

With growing complaints about the weak 3D conversion of Clash of the Titans I’m getting worried about the number of films new and old about to undergo the treatment.

Alice underwent the conversion to 3D rather than being filmed in the format and reactions were underwhelming, personally I forwent the 3D to reduce cost and discomfort. Den of Geek has collected some reviews of Titan’s 3D and they are all bad and they went so far as to say that the 3D made the film worse as “the difference was negligible and the rest of the film just looked darker and foggier as a result of the tint in the glasses.”

With 3D bringing big bucks at the box office studios are keen to convert old 2D films to 3D to milk that cash cow for all it’s worth. MTV has a list of potential contenders including Titanic, Star Wars, Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings, all of which will somehow be made into “glorious” 3D. The problem is that unless you film in 3D the effect is going to be pretty limited, probably just making some objects appear in front of others.

Of course you can always protest by seeing these films in 2D instead, that is if they are available to you. Today Cineworld tweeted me to say, “We’ll try to offer a 2D alternative if the site’s big enough to accommodate showing 2 versions of the same film.” Despite this my local cinema is only offering the 3D Clash of the Titans when I watched Alice there in 2D just a few weeks ago.

Done properly 3D can be a real draw for audience but when you stick 3D on the end of every title and don’t do the job properly people are going to catch on and spend their money elsewhere.

Fifth Final Destination Will Be 3D

ShoWest has delivered yet more movie scoop as it is revealed that there will be a fifth Final Destination and it was also announced at bloody-disgusting.com that it will be in 3D.

The Final Destination series is a big guilty pleasure of mine as they are knowingly over the top with too actually becoming a parody. There’s nothing better than watching the chain reactions that lead to a death while you try and guess just how it’s going to happen. It’s like Casualty gone mad.

Also, while I find 3D a bit pointless sometimes, I think horror is the perfect genre for 3D as it isn’t afraid to go full on and throw things in your face. If all you do with 3D is make the background seem a bit further back than the foreground then you might as well not bother, filmmakers should focus on adding depth to their characters not the scenery.

I look forward to ducking blood, guts and shrapnel in a few years when the next Final Destination is released.

James Cameron 3D in Your Face!

James Cameron has said that not only is he hoping to re-release an extended Avatar back into cinemas this Autumn but that Titanic is undergoing the 3D conversion for a 2012 re-release. Do the two highest grossing movies of all time need to be back in cinemas? Shouldn’t Avatar let the autumn releases have a chance at making some money instead? Is there any real benefit to somehow making 2D movies 3D?

Grrr argh etc…

Cameron Tangles with Spiderman’s Webb

Two days ago MTV reported that James Cameron had met with Marc Webb to discuss the 3D possibilities for the new Spiderman reboot. I was going to let it slide but considering Mild Concern’s coverage of both the new Spiderman and James Cameron, and a nudge from @dtdwhedon, it had to get a mention.

Obviously Webb is taking on a big project for his second feature, has never dealt with 3D technology before and Cameron is the current expert in the field. For these reasons it makes sense for them to meet and discuss it, I only hope that their discussion goes no further than the technicalities.

Webb has so far shown himself to be a dab hand at dealing with realistic characters, leading with story over flashy visuals, and the more this translates into his next feature the better. I only hope Cameron doesn’t rub off on him too much; I don’t want to see photos of Webb posing with a camera in the next few years.

Also, when are we going to meet our new Peter Parker?