In a similar exercise to promote Avatar, Paramount Pictures have pre-released eight scenes of the upcoming converted version of Titanic, designed to create a buzz and kill off any doubts that the conversion will tarnish Cameron’s 1997 blockbuster.
James Cameron and Titanic Producer Jon Landau presented the footage to bloggers and Journalists at the Paramount Lot yesterday and received glowing feedback from the audience.
"I think it looks spectacular," said Cameron in an introduction before the presentation. He continued If I had 3D cameras at the time and there had been 3D theatres at the time, I certainly would have shot it in 3D."
James Cameron and Jon Landau carefully selected clips based on what would trigger memories of the film and condensed the arc of the film within 18 minutes.
The Oscar Award winning film is being converted into 3D by a team of 300 artists at a cost of 18 million dollars, a tiny fraction of the likely profits the film is likely to generate. By the time they will have finished, the team will have spent 60 weeks converting the film (compared to the 9 weeks it took to convert Clash of the Titans although that conversion did employ many more artists).
James Cameron recently screened 18 minutes of the film at the IBC in Amsterdam, at the time saying “"It is a highly subjective process and mind-numbingly tedious. It literally is as simple as asking yourself – is that character in the foreground or background of another character? and making them bigger or smaller accordingly. You have to take depth cues from every part of the frame."
It is fair to say that audiences at both yesterday’s and IBC’s screenings were blown away by the quality of the conversion. Steve 'Frosty' Weintraub from Collider.com said “The footage I saw this morning left me speechless. I’m not joking around when I say it’s the best post conversion I’ve ever seen and it looks like they originally shot it in 3D back in 1997.”
Brian Gallagher from Movieweb.com said “As James Cameron mentioned before, they spent a lot of time making sure this looked as beautiful as it could, and that level of commitment shines through every frame. This isn't gimmicky 3D. This isn't break-the-plane shock value 3D. This is, simply put, James Cameron 3D, at its finest.”
Cameron said he is still against post 2D to 3D conversion compared to filming with stereoscopic cameras but believes that if it is done right there are some titles that should be converted. And ‘doing it right’ sounds incredibly tedious as Cameron explained…
"I'm very much against conversion, for films that have a choice, but I do believe that there are some titles, think of your 10 or 20 favourite movies of all time, that I think should be converted to 3D, but it has to be done right. By the time we're finished, we'll have spent 60 weeks and about $18 million, working with 300 artists between two companies. It's an extremely labour-intensive process. I've got a team of three technical people within our company, who look at every image, several times over, and give notes based on what they know. They know their way around 3D very well, so they process it and bring it up to me in two or three or four-hour sessions, where I'm going through, frame by frame, multiple times, until the depth is worked out. Even then, it's not perfect. It's 2.99D, it's not really 3D. The point I'm trying to make is most conversions which are done in a hurry-up way in post-production, are 2.4D."
Before the conversion process started, the original 35mm film was digitally re-mastered at an upscaled resolution of 4K (four times HD) and was colour corrected and ‘cleaned up'. Both 2D and 3D versions will be released worldwide on April 6th 2012.
The 2D to 3D conversion of Titanic is likely to surprise movie-goers who do not regard conversion as an equal to filming in native 3D but there can be no denying that conversion is improving all the time. Audiences at the ‘Creating New 3D Experiences” conference at MIPCOM earlier this month were shown a colourised, 3D converted version of Harold Lloyd's Safety Last film – it was impossible to distinguish that it had not been originally filmed in 3D.
The Prime Focus conversion of Immortals is looking very good and approximately half of Transformers: Dark of the Moon was converted. Director Jonathan Liebesman also said that Chris Nolan is converting Inception to 3D for a 3D Blu-Ray release (although the studio has not confirmed that).
All Star Wars films will be re-released in 3D starting with Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace 3D in February 2012, converted by Prime Focus and it was announced at IBC that Tom Scott’s classic Top Gun (another Paramount Pictures film) is flying into 3D screens next year after being converted by Legend 3D.
Paul Verhoeven recently told 3D Focus TV that he would like to see his 1998 bug film Starship Troopers converted to 3D.
As the technology improves and costs are reduced, expect to see a lot more 3D re-releases.
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