*** Official SPY KIDS 3D: GAME OVER Discussion Thread

Discussion in 'Movies' started by Steve Phillips, Jul 24, 2003.

  1. Steve Phillips

    Steve Phillips Screenwriter

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    SPY KIDS 3-D: GAME OVER opens tomorrow, and is using the red/blue anaglyph approach for the stereoscopic sequences, which comprise most of the film's running time. While I'm happy to see a new 3-D film, I wish they hadn't used the absolute worst process available.

    The 3-D was shot using Cameron's new digital cameras; but rather than use the more complicated and expensive polarized or field sequential formats, they decided to exhibit the film using the simple anaglyph technique. The reasons are pretty obvious: with red/blue anaglyph, the theatres don't have do anything special at all to show the film other than hand out the glasses. Since the film is opening on 3000 screens, they have to take the easy way out.

    Simple it may be, but is also a very poor quality solution. Red/Blue 3-D is plagued with ghosting, soft images, and the tinted glasses distort the color. Even in black and white movies, you end up seeing a pinkish colored image.

    All of the above are reasons why very, very, few 3-D movies have ever used the red/blue approach. Oh, I know, many sources claim otherwise, but they are wrong. The vast majority of 3-D features, whether color or black and white, were screened in polarized format, even during the 1950's boom, when over 60 3-D films were released.

    Red/Blue anaglyph was experimented with since the dawn of cinema. The first 3-D feature film, THE POWER OF LOVE (1922), used this process. MGM released a few short subjects in red/blue 3-D during the late 1930's and early 1940's. But since the system usually produced such poor results, it never found use outside of novelty shorts.

    When people claim that the old 3-D movies were shown in red/blue, I always ask them to use logic. We all know that the red/blue format looks terrible. If that was state of the art, do you really think the major Hollywood studios would have green-lighted dozens and dozens of 3-D movies? Of course not! The reason they did so was because of a major improvement in 3-D projection, the polarized technique.

    The Polarized 3-D technique was perfected in the 1930's. It used clear gray glasses, similiar in apperance to a pair of sunglasses. Projection set-ups were complicated, requiring two interlocked 35mm projectors (one for the left eye print and one for the right eye print); the installation of a special light reflective silver screen, special projection lenses, and a very attentive person in the booth!

    While it was complicated, polarized 3-D, with its clear gray glasses, allowed clear, bright, fully stereoscopic and natural looking images to be shown. Black and White looked Black and White, and normal color 3-D was possible as well.

    This process was shown to great acclaim at the 1939's World's Fair, but found only limited use for several years, mostly overseas. Germany released the first color polarized 3-D feature prior to World War II!


    It wasn't until 1952 that Hollywood began to take notice, however. Arch Oboler, creator of a popular radio show, decided to produce a color 3-D feature! BWANA DEVIL, a low budget jungle adventure starring Robert Stack, was released with great fanfare in late 1952. Audiences lined up around the block to have a chance to watch the film through the clear, polarized 3-D glasses.

    The success of the film was enough to get the major studios interested. Virtually every studio began rushing to get 3-D films into production. Some of them leased existing 3-D cameras; others chose to build their own experimental units.

    During 1953-54; more than 60 3-D movies were shot in the United States. All of them were screened in the polarized 3-D format. The majority of them were in color, and the films were of all genres. People tend to remember the horror and sci-fi entries, but there were also a lot of 3-D westerns, action adventures, crime dramas, even musicals and comedies. All of the big stars of the time appeared in at least one 3-D film.

    It was a big deal for a while. Profits were big.
    After a few months, though, it was apparent the fad wouldn't last. The reasons? The projection was just too cumbersome and expensive. Studios wanted to charge the theaters twice as much to rent the films, too. Often the projectors would get out of sync causing eyestrain for audiences. The films themselves are often blamed, but they were no worse than most of the ordinary flat films were.

    At the beginning, 3-D films played only in 3-D. But by the end of the cycle, some theatres were opting to run flat 2-D versions instead, and saving themselves the trouble and expense. Still, most of the movies that were shot in 3-D were released quite widely that way, contrary to what has been published by people who didn't check their facts. Only a very few of them were released flat only.

    Here is a list of many of the 3-D movies released in clear glasses, polarized format in the 1950's:

    BWANA DEVIL
    MAN IN THE DARK
    HOUSE OF WAX
    ARENA
    CAT WOMEN OF THE MOON
    CEASE FIRE
    CHARGE AT FEATHER RIVER
    CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON
    REVENGE OF THE CREATURE
    DANGEROUS MISSION
    DIAMOND WIZARD, THE
    DEVIL'S CANYON
    DRUMS OF TAHITI
    FLIGHT TO TANGIER
    FORT TI
    FRENCH LINE, THE
    GLASS WEB, THE
    GOG
    GORILLA AT LARGE
    GUN FURY
    HANNAH LEE
    HONDO
    I, THE JURY
    INFERNO
    IT CAME FROM OUTER SPACE
    JESSE JAMES V.S. THE DALTONS
    JIVARO
    KISS ME KATE
    LOUISIANA TERRITORY
    MAD MAGICIAN, THE
    MAZE, THE
    MISS SADIE THOMPSON
    MONEY FROM HOME
    MOONLIGHTER, THE
    NEBRASKAN, THE
    PHANTOM OF THE RUE MORGUE
    ROBOT MONSTER
    SANGAREE
    SECOND CHANCE
    SOUTHWEST PASSAGE
    STRANGER WORE A GUN, THE
    TAZA, SON OF COCHISE
    THOSE REDHEADS FROM SEATTLE
    WINGS OF THE HAWK
    DIAL M FOR MURDER

    Even The Three Stooges made a couple of 3-D shorts, and there were 3-D cartoons with Bugs Bunny, Casper, Woody Woodpecker, Popeye and Donald Duck, too!

    And no one saw them wearing red/blue glasses!


    However, the old red/blue format has been revived here and there for a few partial 3-D movies, such as THE MASK, FREDDY'S DEAD, and a few skin flicks like DISCO DOLLS IN HOT SKIN and WILDCAT WOMEN. Now we have SPY KIDS 3-D doing the same thing.

    What confuses a lot of people is that through the years, a few of the older 3-D flicks (usually the black and white ones) have been "downconverted" into red/blue anaglyph format for 8mm home digests, 16mm rentals at college campuses, even TV broadcasts. Universal even did a 35mm re-issue of CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON and IT CAME FROM OUTER SPACE in red/blue, but the results are sad to see.
    Instead of the original, clear, polarized images, the red/blue conversions were ugly, blurry, suffered from ghosting, and gimmick shots which didn't come off in the new version. The TV broadcasts were even worse!

    These horrible, compromised versions have been really damaged the reputation of not only the old films, but the concept of 3-D itself. Many people think the old movies are supposed to look that way! I say again, if 3-D was that bad, the studios would have never gone 3-D crazy in the first place.

    The clear glasses, polarized format has also been revived from time to time, however. Using a scaled down, single projector version which combined the left/right eye images on to one print helped solve some problems in in the booth, but created others. The reduced pictures weren't as sharp and tended to be darker than normal. This approach was used by several low budget movies in the 1970's, most notably ANDY WARHOL'S FRANKENSTEIN. Other polarized 3-D movies from this period include A*P*E, DYNASTY, REVENGE OF THE SHOGUN WOMEN, THE BUBBLE, THE STEWARDESSES, PRISON GIRLS, DOMO ARIGATO, THE CHAMBERMADES, THE GROOVE ROOM, THE CAPITAL HILL GIRLS, INTERNATIONAL STEWARDESSES, and MAGNIFICENT BODYGUARD, an early Jackie Chan flick!

    From 1981-85, the fad caught on again to an extent, and over 20 3-D movies were released in polarized 3-D, many quite widely. However, this time, the movies weren't so good and were mostly filled with lots of outlandish "off the screen" gimmick shots. These included:

    COMIN AT YA!
    PARASITE
    FRIDAY THE 13TH PART III
    TREASURE OF THE FOUR CROWNS
    SPACEHUNTER
    ROTTWEILER
    JAWS 3-D
    THE MAN WHO WASN'T THERE
    METALSTORM
    AMITYVILLE 3-D
    STARCHASER
    VENUS
    SEXCALIBUR
    EMMANUELLE IV
    SILENT MADNESS
    CHAIN GANG
    TALES OF THE THIRD DIMENSION
    HYPERSPACE
    HIT THE ROAD RUNNING
    HOT HEIR
    HOUSE OF WAX (national re-issue)
    DIAL M FOR MURDER (national re-issue)

    And No one wore red/blue glasses to see them! (If you find some FRIDAY THE 13TH or JAWS glasses with red/blue lenses, those weren't used for watching the movies, but for posters, gumcards and other 3-D items used to promote the films themselves.)

    Projection problems and cost, along with the gimmicky approach, again brought an end to 3-D features for the most part. Since then, just a few polarized 3-D features have been released, like RUN FOR COVER and THE CREEPS, and a few Russian children's films. All of these received very little distribution. Cameron's GHOSTS OF THE ABYSS played in polarized 35mm in about 50 theates around the country recently.

    In recent years, 3-D has made a comeback at theme park attractions and at IMAX theatres. In fact, these days, IMAX seems to be making more 3-D films that flat ones. An IMAX NASCAR 3-D movie is now in production! The IMAX theatres use both polarized 3-D, and a higher tech format called field sequential, which requires the audience to wear LCD goggles. This same format is even catching on at home, with DVD sets and PC games.

    OK, What does this LONG diatribe have to do with SPY KIDS 3-D?

    When you watch the red/blue 3-D scenes, just keep in mind you are looking at 1920's technology that has rarely been used for 3-D movies (it is much more suited to comics books and posters), and that afterwards, you still won't really have seen a 3-D movie at all.

    I hope Disney's planned 3-D zombie feature and James Cameron's upcoming 3-D feature film go the higher tech route, and use polarized, clear lens glasses. Advances in digital projection will make this even easier. I think that when the day comes that most of the theatres in the country are capable of projecting digital images, that is the day you'll start to see Hollywood play around with 3-D movies again on a more regular basis.

    SPY KIDS and its low tech red/blue 3-D just won't make the grade.

    Those with an interest in real 3-D might want to check out www.3dfilmfest.com, for details on the World 3-D Film Expo, in where over thirty of the 1950's movies will be shown in their original polarized, clear glasses, glory!
     
  2. Peter Apruzzese

    Peter Apruzzese Producer

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    Nice overview, Steve.

    I've become a fan of polarized 3-D recently, since I've been able to see a number of these films (including some rare titles) in their proper double-system presentations. It's a shame that most audiences don't know how good these can look.

    What's even worse is the misinformation being handed out. Robert Rodriguez, the director of Spy Kids, even said in the press materials that anaglyph (red-and-blue) was used for *all* of those older films and that the 3-D effect was only in black and white! He even made the foolish and uninformed statement that the cameras could never move and that *he* solved the problem of convergence. The New York Times even printed this misinformation word-for-word in a recent article!

    Having just seen a gorgeous dye-transfer Technicolor print of the rare 3-D film, Arena, in perfect double-system 3D, I'd love to get RR somewhere and tell him just how wrong he is. But nobody will tell him that.
     
  3. Peter Kline

    Peter Kline Cinematographer

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    Word has it that the 3D effects are not very good. Mr. Rodriguez has finally met his match. He obviously can't do EVERYTHING on a film. His misinformation statements make me less appreciative of his fine work in the past. He knows better then what he said. Lying, which is what he's done, is unacceptable. Bah.
     
  4. Jesse Skeen

    Jesse Skeen Producer

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    I've heard that most newer theater screens can't properly show polarized 3-D, which is why Freddy's Dead and now Spy Kids use the red/blue glasses. Most of the theaters that I saw the 1980s 3-D movies in were real dumps though and still showed the polarized 3-D with no problem, so I don't know what the major changes in screens have been. The theater I used to work at was built in 1989 and I was told that the screens there couldn't handle polarized 3-D, and neither could any other recently built theatres.
     
  5. Peter Apruzzese

    Peter Apruzzese Producer

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    Jesse:

    The screens need to be silver and not the standard matte white to present polarized 3-D. They are slightly more expensive and a little more subject to wear.
     
  6. Jeff Kleist

    Jeff Kleist Executive Producer

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    And from what I've heard, many theaters have cheaped out on getting silver screens.

    I did hear that there are polarized prints available, but I still have my 3-D glasses from seeing Starchaser: The Legend of Orin
     
  7. Steve Phillips

    Steve Phillips Screenwriter

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    Sometimes they just try to apply silver paint to a regular screen, which isn't the best idea. This is what Regal Cinemas did in two auditoriums in Las Vegas recently when they ran the 35mm GHOSTS OF THE ABYSS. The theatres smelled of paint for days afterward.
     
  8. Nick Sievers

    Nick Sievers Producer

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    I noticed Mark Pfeiffer has seen the new Spy Kids film, what is your verdict on the 3-D?
     
  9. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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    Steve Phillips --

    Your thread originally entitled "SPY KIDS and low-tech 3-D............." has now been merged into the existing thread on this film. There was no need to start a new thread, especially as you were a participant in the earlier one.

    M.
     
  10. Mark Pfeiffer

    Mark Pfeiffer Screenwriter

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    My original post got lost, so here's the meat of it...

    My ears must have been burning, Nick, as I opened the thread not long after you posted my name. [​IMG]

    Rodriguez employs the "extra" dimension fairly well, but the image isn't exactly going to knock one's socks off. (Too bad too. I saw this digitally projected, and the non-3-D parts looked great.) First 3-D movie I've seen theatrically, save for the IMAX films. It's hard on the eyes in a physiscal sense, although Rodriguez nicely acknowledges this in the movie.


    This would have been stunning in the IMAX 3-D with those different types of glasses, but the reality is you're talking exponentially fewer screens on which you could show this.

    I'm of the opinion that 3-D is a fun gimmick, but the "wow" factor of it wears off after awhile. The IMAX films are perfect examples of this. At first it's amazing and then merely familiar. Perhaps a narrative driven IMAX film that effectively uses 3-D would change my opinion on that. (Spy Kids 3-D was the first non-IMAX 3-D movie I've seen theatrically.)

    FWIW, the movie is good even if the 3-D isn't the greatest thing you've ever seen.
     
  11. Steve Phillips

    Steve Phillips Screenwriter

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    I agree, most of the more recent (including the many in the 80s) 3-D movies, were way too gimmicky and didn't use the process that well. Most of them were exploitation films which, when viewed flat, are pointless.

    However, watching the older ones form the 1950's, you find that they used the depth to bring you into the story, not so much to distract you from it. Sure, some of the older films were still full of shots of things flying at the camera, but not nearly to the extent the newer ones do. Most of these can still be enjoyed without the gimmick, but they are still better seen in the intended stereoscopic versions.

    I think what made the older ones work so well is that 3-D was much more compatible with the way movies were shot at the time. Longer shots, less camera movement, thank kind of thing.

    They still have a lot of experimentation to do to make 3-D work TODAY.
     
  12. BertFalasco

    BertFalasco Supporting Actor

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    Will there be any complications on a DVD with a 3-D film?
     
  13. Sean Laughter

    Sean Laughter Screenwriter

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    My only 3D exerpience is the "ride films" at the Disney theme parks and the like. Actually, it is mainly shows, like the old Michael Jackson 3D thing at Epcot (can't remember its name now), a muppet 3D movie, a "Honey I Shrunk the Kids" 3D movie.

    My absolute favorite 3D experience though was the Terminator show at Universal Studios. Just amazing atmosphere and amazing use of live-action actors mixed with 3D film. The group of friends I was with (one of many high school band trips to Florida) went through that thing at least ten times throughout the day (mostly in the morning when there was no line whatsoever).
     
  14. Steve Phillips

    Steve Phillips Screenwriter

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    Not really. Red/Blue anaglyph works better on DVD than it did on tape because of the extra resolution. The DVD will include a couple of pairs of glasses. Bumping the color up a notch or two above normal will help.

    But it will still be lame old 1920's style 3-D.

    They COULD do a field sequential version on DVD, which would be a marked improvement, but it won't happen. They don't think enough people have the LCD glasses.
     
  15. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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  16. Marvin Richardson

    Marvin Richardson Supporting Actor

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    3D never works for me, except in two cases: Terminator 3D at Universal, which is the second best use of 3D ever, and right next door at Islands of Adventure, The Adventures of Spider-Man has the most incredible 3D ever, and its an actual ride, too. Great ride and great 3D if you ever get to go.
     
  17. Steve Phillips

    Steve Phillips Screenwriter

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    The best I've seen so far was a revival of THE CHARGE AT FEATHER RIVER, a Western from 1953. I saw it in New York a few years ago, shown in the original dual-projector polarized 3-D. It was absolutely amazing. I'm looking forward to seeing it again at the upcoming L.A. festival.

    All of the polarized 3-D movies from the fifties have better 3-D than the stuff that came later. I've never been much impressed by the theme park attractions. Personally, I thought CAPTAIN EO had poor 3-D.

    Marvin, if 3-D NEVER works for you, how can you say that the Terminator film is the second best use of the process ever? [​IMG]

    I've seen about 60 3-D films, and that isn't even close to all of them that have been made. After the World 3-D Expo, I'll have caught up with over 30 more!
     
  18. Marvin Richardson

    Marvin Richardson Supporting Actor

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  19. Steve Phillips

    Steve Phillips Screenwriter

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    It has been written that up to 10 percent of the population has trouble with stereoscopic vision, meaning they either don't have it at all, or to a less extent. The space between your eyes, astigmatisms, all of these things come into play. Eye doctors often use 3-D technology when giving optical exams. If you aren't seeing any depth during various movies; it could be you are part of this percentage.

    Of course, if the 3-D movie is incorrectly shot and/or projected, it can give you eyestrain and be hard to focus on even if your vision is perfect. I've got perfect vision (with contacts) but I've seen some 3-D that made me reach for the aspirin bottle, that is for sure.

    SPY KIDS 3-D and the 1920's red and blue glasses may have that effect on more than 10% of the audience.
     
  20. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    This thread is now designated the Official Discussion Thread for "Spy Kids 3D: Game Over" please, post all comments, links to outside reviews, film and box office discussion items to this thread.

    All HTF member film reviews of "Spy Kids 3D: Game Over" should be posted to the Official Review Thread.

    Thank you for your consideration in this matter.


    Crawdaddy
     

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