When The Sci-Fi Channel renamed itself to SYFY in July 7, 2009, a promotional launch of the new name was held at Rockefeller Plaza in New York City. One of the items used to promote the new name was a giant View-Master® viewer with twin video screens in place of the magnification lenses.
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Director Louis Leterrier says he was quite underwhelmed by the 3-D effects that were slapped on after the movie Clash of the Titans was finished being filmed.
"It was not my intention to do it in 3-D and it was not my decision to convert it in 3-D," commented Leterrier. Clash of the Titans, a remake of the 1981 film, has been getting mediocre reviews, but it's getting absolutely slammed when it comes to the 3-D effects. The movie was not filmed in 3-D, but producers decided to add the effects due to a spike in consumer demand for three-dimensional content. The result looks like something slapped together at the last minute for a cheap shot at some extra box office revenue.
Leterrier was quite bold in his response to the 3-D question, saying, "If you don't like 3-D, don't go see it in 3-D." He also took a subtle slam at Disney's recent remake of Alice in Wonderland, which also added 3-D effects after-the-fact.
Conversions, they all look like this. Alice in Wonderland looks like this," he noted. Lackluster 3-D effects or not, though, Titans soared in the box office. During its opening weekend it took in $61.2 million, surpassing the competing new release Tyler Perry's Why Did I Get Married Too, and the second weekend of How to Train Your Dragon, combined. With Alice in Wonderland taking the fifth spot, this is the first time three concurrent 3-D movies have been in the top five box office slots at the same time.
This reporter agrees. The 3-D effects on Clash of the Titans was distracting. It is a much enjoyable film in 2-D.
Vin Diesel and Rob Cohen, who brought you the first XXX movie are coming together to do XXX 3-D, which should be in theatres by December 2011.
Cohen wants to shoot the film in 3-D from the start like James Cameron did with Avatar. "I feel what we did in the beginning of the decade was bring a different attitude to the action movie and a different kind of hero. With the new 3-D instrument and the techniques I can apply, we can create a different kind of cutting-edge experience in 3-D. It takes place on Earth in real time. That's a new dimension to be explored, and I'm excited."
Filming is expected to start in Europe after Diesel completes work on another entry in the Fast and the Furious series.
The Stereoscopic Displays and Applications Conference is part of the IS&T/SPIE Electronic Imaging symposium. The Symposium runs Jan. 23 through 27, 2011 at the Hyatt Regency San Francisco Airport Hotel, just south of San Francisco, California. Twenty-two other imaging conferences, including three other 3-D conferences, share the symposium, providing good synergy across the imaging community.
The Stereoscopic Displays and Applications Conference itself will run Jan. 24 through 26, with Andrew Woods and John Merritt’s excellent short course the day before, on Sunday, Jan. 23.
SD&A will be posting videos from the 2010 conference on the Web in the near future.
The program schedule at the 3-D Center of Art and Photography in Portland, Oregon is now more regularized. The center will be opening either a new gallery exhibition or a new Stereo Theatre show each first Thursday.
In the Stereo Theatre
"Beyond single lens photography, stereo photography has the magical ability to draw you into a space. More than remembering the event from a flat image, you are reliving the moment by the active engagement of your eyes and brain. In essence, you are time traveling," said creator Franklin Londin.
In the Gallery
The 3-D Center of Art and Photography is located at 1928 NW Lovejoy in Portland, Oregon. Call (503) 227-6667.
The 3-D Center of Art and Photography has regular monthly Stereo Theatre and 3-D Art Exhibitions. Open Thursday - Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. First Thursday (Free), 6 to 9 p.m. Admission for adults (over 15) is $5.
The A Nightmare on Elm Street reboot opened strong at the box office with a $32.2 million performance. Talk has now turned to the possible 3-D sequel. Warner distribution president Dan Fellman revealed that a 3-D sequel is moving forward.
"We don't have a story yet, but this is the largest horror opening in the April-May corridor, and it just proves there's a lot left in the franchise," said Fellman.
Film producer Brad Fuller spoke more about the 3-D sequel. "We think that 3-D movies have to be designed and written as such. If Eric Heisserer and Wesley Strick came to us with a Nightmare sequel script that is for a 3-D movie, we'd be fools not to make it."
"Using 3-D for a Nightmare sequel has to work conceptually for us, though. I don't want to shoehorn the story just so we can use 3-D technology. I do really think this movie and the visual style would work well within a 3-D environment, though, so you never know," added Fuller.
With the release of Shrek Forever After in 3-D on May 21 in the U.S., Dreamworks Animation is preparing to convert the first three installments of Shrek into a 3-D Blu-ray Disc release, the film studio's CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg announced at this week's National Association of Broadcasters Convention in Las Vegas.
"Our movies exist in digital files to begin with. To go back and rebuild to a quality 3-D experience is not inexpensive, but we are about to achieve a pretty high quality result," he said. The price could cost $20 million per film and take 18 months.
The company is investing in technological innovations with post 2-D to 3-D conversion to improve the stereo process, predicting that within one to two years, films could be available in 3-D for home entertainment.
He noted that George Lucas plans to convert Star Wars and James Cameron is testing the conversion of Titanic in 3D, he said. "They are not going to do anything to diminish the importance of those films. Jim is a perfectionist."
Katzenberg also predicted that glasses-free 3-D viewing in theaters and billboards is 10 to 15 years away, though handheld devices with 3-D capability and medium-size auto-stereo monitors will happen sooner.
RealD, a leading provider of 3-D technology to movie theatres and potentially consumers, outlined a bevy of growth opportunities and risks in its regulatory filing that jump out at you. The biggest question is whether RealD’s Avatar fueled growth rates can be replicated in the years ahead.
RealD has its technology deployed on 5,321 theater screens in 51 countries putting it in front of the 3-D pack and it has wide distribution with theater chains such as AMD, Cinemark and Regal. There are plans to add its technology to an additional 4,900 screens.
Meanwhile, RealD supplied the glasses and projectors to show the film Avatar, which was a runaway hit.
For the year ended March 27, 2009, RealD reported net revenue of $39.67 million, up from $23.4 million in 2008. For 2009, the company had a net loss of $16.3 million, a bit better than the $17.9 million in lost in 2008.
And then came Avatar. For the nine months ending, Dec. 25, 2009, the company lost $20.3 million on revenue of $95.9 million. There’s real growth there, but can that Avatar boost be sustained?
Among the more interesting items in RealD’s initial prospectus:
Currently, polarized eyewear, including our RealD eyewear, is not regulated by the FDA, or by state or foreign agencies. However, certain eyewear, such as non-prescription reading glasses and sunglasses, are considered to be medical devices by the FDA and are subject to regulations imposed by the FDA and various state and foreign agencies. With the rising popularity of polarized 3-D eyewear, there has been an increasing level of public scrutiny examining its potential health risks. Polarized 3-D eyewear, including our RealD eyewear, may at some point be subject to federal, state or foreign regulations that could potentially restrict how our RealD eyewear is produced, used or marketed, and the cost of complying with those regulations may adversely affect our profitability.
Speaking of those health risks. The company said:
Research conducted by institutions unrelated to us has suggested that 3-D viewing with active or passive eyewear may cause vision fatigue, headaches, motion sickness or other health risks. If these potential health risks are substantiated or consumers believe in their validity, demand for the 3-D viewing experience in the theater, the home and elsewhere may decline. As a result, major motion picture studios and other content producers and distributors may refrain from developing 3-D content, motion picture exhibitors may reduce the number of 3D-enabled screens (including RealD-enabled screens) they currently deploy or plan to deploy, or they may reduce the number of 3-D motion pictures exhibited in their theaters, which would adversely affect our results of operations, financial condition and prospects. A decline in consumer demand may also lead consumer electronics manufacturers and content distributors to reduce or abandon the production of 3-D products, which could adversely affect our prospects. In addition, if health risks associated with our RealD eyewear materialize, we may become subject to governmental regulation or product liability claims, including claims for personal injury.
Is investing in RealD something that has depth or will it just leave you cross-eyed? Only time will tell.
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides starts shooting this summer in late June/early July) in Hawaii.
The film will be shot in both 2-D and 3-D. The majority of the Walt Disney Pictures film will be shot in third dimension. Almost all the actor bits and dramatic scenes and all with a good two-thirds of the film will be captured that way. The remaining special effects will be shot in normal 2-D and then converted to 3-D.
Apparently, Captain Jack Sparrow will square off against the lord of all pirates, the darkest privateer of them all and captain of The Queen Anne's Revenge, Blackbeard.
The Los Angeles Times is reporting that everyone inside Hollywood has known for weeks that DreamWorks Animation chief Jeffrey Katzenberg has been furious with Warner Bros. for releasing Clash of the Titans just one week after the vocal 3-D proponent's How to Train Your Dragon -- and then adding insult to injury by giving Titans a cynical, quickie 3-D conversion to lure more 3-D zealots to the multiplexes.
But just how incensed is the Katz Man? Let's just say when Katzenberg sat down with the editors of Variety to discuss the future of 3-D, the gloves were off, with all of the jabs and punches being directed right at Warner Bros.
Katzenberg called the studio's attempt to pass off Clash of the Titans as a genuine 3-D movie "disingenuous" while warning that if Warners or other studios release more dingy-looking 3-D conversions "we [will already have] killed the goose that is delivering us golden eggs." He even took direct aim on Warners studio chief Alan Horn, referring to Horn's well-known personal concern with keeping ultra-violence, cigarette smoking and Hummers out of his movies when he said: "Alan Horn has such a great conscience about things that go on in his movies ... he cares. What happened on Clash of the Titans?"
As Katzenberg sees it if you're going to demand that moviegoers pay an extra $5 to see a 3-D movie, it certainly ought to be real 3-D, not fake 3-D. Eventually the public will catch on to the hustle and revolt. Katzenberg made a persuasive case that there's a huge difference between movies that are, as he described it, "authored" in 3-D and movies that are converted in post-production. In fact, he said that what Warners did with Clash of the Titans was "analogous to taking a black and white film and colorizing it. It's technically possible to do, but it's not what the creators designed. And it doesn't look right."
He even defended Tim Burton's hybrid 3-D work on Alice in Wonderland, saying that while the live-action scenes were shot in 2-D, Burton specifically designed shots and sequences that, in post-production, could be amplified to "actually deliver a pretty high-end 3-D experience."
Katzenberg warned that a continuing stream of shoddy 3-D conversions would be a disaster for the emerging art form, arguing that "if we take the low road, we'll be out of the 3-D business in 12 months." He bluntly laid out his vision this way:
We've seen the highest end of [3-D] in Avatar and you have now witnessed the lowest end of it (in Clash of the Titans). You cannot do anything that is of a lower grade and a lower quality than what has just been done on Clash of the Titans. It literally is "OK, congratulations! You just snookered the movie audience." The act of doing it was disingenuous. We may get away with it a few times but in the long run, [moviegoers] will wake up. And the day they wake up is the day they walk away from us and we blew it.
Katzenberg has his own biases, since his entire business model largely depends on the extra revenues that 3-D tickets will deliver. But as someone who only cares about the art of movies, not the cash on the barrelhead, I'm in his corner on this issue. Having seen Avatar, I'm convinced that 3-D, in the hands of an ambitious filmmaker, can add an amazing new level of visual imagination to what has been a pretty stagnant art form. But if the studios are going to treat 3-D like a cash cow, audiences will quickly catch on. And as Katzenberg knows all too well, once burned is twice shy. As soon as moviegoers feel the stink of exploitation, they'll stay away in droves from all 3-D films, whether they're good, bad or just plug ugly.
An Edward Muybridge #1615 stereocard sold for $750 with one bid. The card features dismounted cavalry troops in the Modoc War. The caption reads "On the start for a Reconnaissance of the Lava Beds ."
An Edward Muybridge #1621 stereocard sold for $675 with one bid. The caption reads "Generals Jeff. C. Davis, Hardie and Gillem; and Officers of the Modoc Campaign." In similar condition, this view has previously sold on Ebay for more than $2,000.
An 1869 Vice President Schuyler Colfax Party Utah Stereocard sold for $405 with 13 bids.
This is a very rare, original, 1869, stereoview photograph of United States Vice President Schuyler Colfax and his wife and traveling party near Echo City, Utah Territory by A. J. Russell. This wonderful and important, Western Americana stereo photo measures approx. 7" x 3 1/2" and is mounted on its original, yellow colored, flat card mount. It is titled in manuscript on the reverse "No 315. Colfax, Bowles & party at Echo, Utah". This stereoview is a portrait of a group of men and women posed at the foot of a butte near Echo City, Utah. Pictured are Vice President Colfax and his wife, Samuel Bowles a close friend of Colfax and the editor of a Springfield, Massachusetts Newspaper along with other party members who had traveled to Utah to take part in the ceremonies surrounding the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad.
Although this stereoview is not signed by the photographer it is a listed view from the Andrew Joseph Russell catalog of images and was part of his series titled Echo City Series.
A.J. Russell worked as a Civil War photographer for the United States Military Construction Corporation and was the only member of the armed services to serve as a photographer during the Civil War. After the Civil War he was hired by the Union Pacific Railroad to document construction along the Transcontinental Rail line. He is most famous for his photo "Joining of the Rails" taken at the moment the continental railroad was completed on May 10, 1869 in Promontory, Utah. Around this time he took many photographs in Utah including scenes along the UPRR and images of the ongoing construction, portraits of Native American Indians, general Scenic Views, portraits of Vice President Schuyler Colfax and his party (who traveled to Echo City for the ceremony of the "driving of the final spike" and the connection of the eastern and western tracks completing the Transcontinental Railroad), etc.
After 1870 Russell returned to New York where he became the world's first photojournalist working for Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper until the early 1890's. From 1869 to 1875 Russell published 15 different series of the photos taken during his time in Utah. In 1875, Russell sold a number of these negatives to O.C. Smith who published the stereoviews and Imperial views, under Smith's own name, from 1875 to 1878. More than 400 A.J Russell stereoview glass plate negatives and 200 Imperial view glass plate negatives are in the A.J. Russell collection at the Oakland Museum.
A tan View-Master® Personal® camera sold for $207.03 with 20 bids.
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