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3-DBusinessFeature Film

3D Animation Movies: Fad or Future?


The new blog Market Saw keeps readers updated about the latest 3D craze sweeping the feature animation biz (and movie industry as a whole). The site also has a list of upcoming 3D features including major studio films like Bolt, Coraline, Monsters vs. Aliens, Frankenweenie and Ice Age 3, as well as some animated features I hadn’t heard of such as Gaumont’s Boat and New Line’s Planet 51. This Wall Street Journal piece gives more background on the growth of 3D movies, and this page offers the perspective of Jeffrey Katzenberg, who is one of the technology’s biggest proponents and has announced that all of DreamWorks’s animated features from 2009 onward will be produced in 3D.

  • dan

    I personally think it’s just a fad and part of an larger experiment. The idea is to provide an environment to watch movies that you can’t get at home. It’s the old how do we get more bums in theater seats argument. Also I imagine that it will help out with movie piracy but I doubt it.

    My guess is that you will see a slight pop in attendance, then people will fall back into their routines and enjoy their 50+” TV’s at home. Convenience will always win in the end.

  • That lead picture is awesome.

    In any case, Katzenberg loading up on CG films doesn’t surprise me. Although I do wonder if he’ll try to stick to an interest of one or two CG film releases a year from DreamWorks Animation… the demand may cause movies to get crappier and crappier and crappier.

  • Hooray for stereoscopic 3D! Phil McNally was ahead of the curve on this technology. With him at Dreamworks, the artistic ways of how that extra dimensionality is used will only advance and improve.

  • red pill junkie

    Jerry posted a story about Planet 51 a while back, it was being made by a spanish studio called Ilion.

  • It could be interesting but so far it’s in the hands of some pretty dull and unadventurous filmmakers. Coraline looks really cool though, I hope they maybe make good use of the medium. It doesn’t seem so novel any more, maybe that means filmmakers will start sinking their teeth into it a little deeper.

  • Sean D.

    I think you should clarify that the “3D” that your article is talking about refers to Stereoscopic, and not CG.

    I personally think it’s a great trend, and I enjoy watching them immensely. I loved the Beowulf experience, even though I’m not entirely sure I would have enjoyed that film in a standard viewing. Most of these animated films I’ll pass on, but I can’t wait to see the original Star Wars trilogy when that comes out in 3D.

  • Marmax

    I used to work at a place that could even make a 2D animated film that has already been finished into a 3D stereoscopic movie. We could set depth and gave girth to the characters. I remember that Brad Bird had seen our demo reel and commented on how amazing it looked -not his actual words;). It was really expensive and time consuming to do. making 3D movies into a stereoscopic 3d is much, much easier to do.

  • I hope in the future 3d glasses come with some sort of liquid aspirin dispenser or something.
    Much as I love 3d imagery it gives me a migraine like nothing else.

  • I’ve always been a stereoscopic 3D fan. I hope it remains a way to make a movie special for many years to come. I don’t think it will be a revolution like sound and color became. At least until they can get rid of those glasses. Avatar (though not a fully animated film) will open many peoples’ two eyes. And the 3 Toy Storys will kick butt, especially if Lasseter supervises the depth.

  • I hope it becomes a fad and not the future. I mean, it’s okay, to add a nice little depth like they did Meet the Robinsons, but if they make it the prime focus of the movie like Spy Kids 3 did, I’ll pass.
    Also I hope they no longer have red-blue glasses. Using those make me sick to my stomach.

  • matt

    Don’t forget Toy Story 3 will be in (stereoscopic – Sean D is right that you should clarify that) 3D as well. And the first two re-jigged.

    Which leads me to something that might be good for an article Amid – industry views on using stereoscopic as a way of telling a story in a unique way, or whether it will just continue to be ‘pasted on’ rendering it a novelty.

    What I mean is (sorry I’m not more articulate), for stereoscopic to be used correctly the visual language needs to change to properly accommodate it. There are issues with editing and shot selection when it comes to stereo. For example, cutting/jumping between different framing/focal lengths can be quite disconcerting as it takes longer for your eyes to adjust and therefore affects pacing and the sequence of shots. Also movement on the x-axis or z axis etc.

    These concerns actually change the visual language of a film and require a different approach to achieve the same tonal and storytelling goals.

    What we have at the moment is a novelty approach where movies like Beowulf (like the story but…) have made no concessions whatsoever in the visual vocab and you have the same old cheesy “comin’ at ya!” bits dropped in and monster zooms that seem to have no correlation to the tone of the story itself.

    Then you have the shoehorning of “viewmaster” stereoscopic effects into movies like Superman Returns where the half-arsed depth looks like nothing more than flat cards in space. Superman’s S3d or 3d-s (stereoscopic 3d – if I can coin that term/acronym) sequences were atrociously obvious in this respect. At least in the 3d-s Nightmare before Christmas care seems to have been taken to project the 2d characters onto properly rounded versions of themselves. That was my impression though – I haven’t seen an article about what technique they used there. – Can anyone help? In any case that was much more successful in my humble (non-qualified) opinion.

    Do you know Amid whether Coraline is actually filmed in stereo3d or whether it’s being applied in post as per Selick’s “Nightmare”?

  • Dear Sir,

    The logician says “True statements are true in every language, false statements are true in no language.” Images are a language.

  • The best Stereoscopic format out there now is IMAX 3D due to the large screen that extend almost to the edge of your peripheral vision, both vertically and horizontally.

    In 3D movies projected on regular theatre widescreens, the “frame” become much more a perceived element of the image and the result is rather like looking thru the mailslot on your front door.

    If you have a choice, (and many movies will be released in multiple 3D formats) IMAX 3D is the one to go see. “Polar Express” in IMAX 3D turned into a pretty fun movie, zombies or not.

    However, some 3D movies like “Beowulf” were shown in IMAX theaters but didn’t get the full-screen treatment and were projected letterboxed. That was disappointing. I don’t know of any way to learn in advance if a movie at IMAX is properly formatted.

  • $10 is too much for a movie already, I’m not gonna pay another $5 just to watch Ice Age VIII with one more dimension.

    A more pressing concern is what’re you gonna do if you’re on a date? Try to make out with those dumb plastic glasses on?

  • Mr. Semaj

    I guess they decided to make Rapunzel in 2D.

    Not that I’m complaining.

  • Steve Gattuso

    Great. 3D renderings of 2D films with 1D characters. I have the same problem as Zekey. 3D gives me a headache. Last thing I saw in it was “Open Season,” a film that 3-D added absolutely nothing to.

    Next year: The return of Smell-O-Vision!

    • Rod Araya

      R. Araya Sez: ”It´ll Never Work!”

  • Rhett Wickham

    I’m with Steve and Zekey on this. I wrote on this back when Jeffrey Katzenberg made his announcement from the stage in Europe, filled with hubris and declaring “I can honestly say to you with every ounce of conviction in my being: I have seen the future of movies, and this is it.” He alluded to how it would drive other markets, including how you could have 3-D glasses ground into your own prescription for regular use. Since I’m already just rehashing what I wrote on this subject elsewhere, I’ll close with something I said in the article (and which I still believe today): taking a cue from Mr. Katzenberg, I can honestly say with every ounce of conviction in my being: I have seen the future of movies and it is good storytelling that doesn’t require anything more than some popcorn and the same prescription I’m wearing right now.

  • I love watching good stereoscopic 3D movies (though I’ve only seen one or two), and I do hope that films will eventually transition to it like they did from silent to sound and from black/white to colour.

    The thing is, there is an unfortunate association of stereoscopic 3D with bad filmmaking. But has anyone ever watched the first ‘talkie’ movies? Good God, they were awful. But of course, it would be foolish to assume that all talkie movies are awful.

    3D is an excellent technique which allows me to more fully enter into the filmmaker’s world. I hope that the industry switches to it. Once it does, so will the talented people who actually know how to make good films.

  • Graham

    Maybe next they’ll do a remake of “The Tingler”

  • Stringman

    Sitting front row at 3D “Avatar”, I expected might be a bit hard on the eyes (only seats left, got there late), but I had no idea I was in for hours of nausea and headache, lingering long after the movie. It wasn’t until I did some web searching I even realized it *was* a “migraine”, as I never get them. Gonna avoid the 3D from here on in, believe me. It was cool but I would have liked to enjoy the awesome visuals without the pain and hoping the movie would end.

  • Daniel

    I have to agree with one of the previous posters: the future of film is the same thing that worked 50 years ago and that thing is storytelling. You can sit down and watch a black and white movie, a 2d movie a 3d movie or whatever else producers create and/or rehash and the movie will only be as successful as it’s story allows it to be. For the majority of the movie going public the novelty of the technology can only go so far. People will eventually grow tired of people waving knives at the screen and breaking the fourth wall if there’s no substance to the whole thing. It’s story telling and how technology will be used to enhance that story that will draw butts into the seats. No matter what people think of Avatar and I have my issues what Cameron did was find the story and did everything he could with the technology he had on hand to draw the audience in. And bless the man there were no na’vi shooting arrows directly at the screen.

  • PipEye

    I too am betting 3D is a fad. I saw both Avatar and Coraline in 2D and didn’t feel I missed a thing, or that stuff coming straight add me would have added much to my experience.

  • Dear Amid,



    He has a passion for it obviously.

  • HH

    God, I hope its a fad. I’m tired of the theaters only giving me the option of 3D to see a new movie. It sucks, but I’m only bitter cause I can barley see out of one eye. After Avater 3D I had to spend the rest of the evening in a dark room my head hurt so much.

  • Seems like it’s a Fad. The article says it right there, the big fat studio’s just want money. And since their current slate of films aren’t making dough, they’ll try anything!

    Seriously, 3D has been around a long time. It hasn’t really been improved in any way. So it’s not “the future”. The studios want to make you think this cause it’s new, to most new generation of film goers. But that’s just to catch on the “fad” and possibly make some money.

    Don’t belive the hype. Enjoy what you want to enjoy. But don’t follow the crowd.