Comic Con 2007: Real-D

In addition to the Beowulf , more 3-D stuff was demo'ed. Oops, I mean “stereoscopic.” That's the term the owners of the Real-D company prefer to “3-D.”

The CEO and president were there. I didn't bother to take down their names because I doubt you care. Anyway, this is the new 3-D system that was used first on Chicken Little, then Monster House, Meet the Robinsons, and The Nightmare Before Christmas.

One day they hope to use it on an actual good movie. (Just kidding, they didn't say that — but it's true.)


The process originated with the military, which was surprising but probably shouldn't have been. It is the best 3-D I've ever seen, with none of that flicker or slight double-vision when you turn your head. It is “not a little gimmick” but “a profound evolution.” That's what they said, anyway, and we can but hope.

Demo footage shown includes some of those irritating pre-movie trivia quizzes and ads, amde visually exciting thanks to the pop-out effect. A Cg scene of Santa Claus flying through Times Square. A live football game; this, admittedly, is not as impressive as the CG stuff, but they also promise UFC matches in 3-D down the line, and that oughta be something.

Retro-fitted scenes from Antz looked great. An original scene gave us a snake that really comes right out at you all the way to where you see minute detail on it. Footage that looked like Finding Nemo but wasn't in the movie (maybe part of a future Disney spin-off?) sent us deep into the ocean, where the audience POV ultimately centers on a tiny seahorse. The ability to zoom in on such little things in huge 3-D scapes is where this process seems to really shine.

But we still haven't gotten the full effect yet, because, like MTV-style cutting, hand-held, and so forth, nto every viewer can handle the new stuff without getting nauseated or headachey. They say it's gonna take a while before the audience can become attuned a little bit and handle crazier stuff.

2-D live action movies can be converted — a National Geographic documentary called Lions of the Kalahari is next. Upcoming movies shot in the format with it in midn include the Jim Carrey Christmas Carol remake, James Cameron's Avatar (he says he'll never shoot in 2-D again, which I doubt), and something called Monsters versus Aliens, which I assume is self-explanatory, because all they gave us was the title.

So can performance-capture animation bring back dead actors, like John Wayne? It can give you their look…but a performer would still have to embody them.

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