George Lucas, the author and director of Star Wars, said during his appearance in the latest edition of CinemaCon, that 3D images are the future of the film industry. Pretty soon, present images will be akin to black-and-white films, something obsolete and of bygone time. Why is that technology so enticing for the film industry? To what extent the development of three-dimensional images has made the difference in large studios and cinemas?
It is not an invention of this century; decades ago, the cinema had tried three-dimensional (3D) images. Power of love (1922), Zum greifer nah (1937), In tune with tomorrow (1939), and Creature from the black lagoon (1952) are some of the 3D predecessors of most popular Avatar (2009). "In 1950-1960 it was the first boom of stereoscopy. 3D movies caught the attention of large studios and more than 70 films were produced. However, it fell into disuse due to display poor conditions, causing dizziness, and the use of complex, expensive equipment. The next big step in the 3D world was taken by Polar Express (2004), exhibited in 3,584 ordinary, 2D movie theaters and only in 66 IMAX sites. In 2009, Avatar unleashed madness on 3D. It has been the most expensive film in the history and also the highest box-office success," said Serxio Gómez Recouso, the official responsible for services at Dygra Films, the pioneer of 3D and Digital 3D in Spain." 3D is the recreation of virtual contents in three dimensions and Digital 3D is the projection of contents in stereoscopic format," Gómez Recouso elaborated.
In 2009, more than 15, 3D films were exhibited, and a dozen more in 2010, featuring the adaptation of videogame Tron: Legacy. 3D animation has been used to take to the screen several videogames which have been more attractive by means of 3D. A team of producers is already working on films such as Resident Evil: Afterlife, Lost Planet, Heavy Rain, EverQuest and Halo. Why does the film industry target at such technology?
In the opinion of Venezuelan moviemaker Carlos Caridad, this is one way to fight piracy. "Basically, a pirate is not able yet to copy a 3D film and many people will want to see films that way; perhaps it is the last resort for exhibition in movie theaters." For his part, Gómez Recouso pronounced sentence: "Turnout at movie theaters is coming back thanks to 3D. In bringing up to date in terms of digital projection, they are foretelling disappearance in the short term of analogical movies with 35-mm projectors, because (3D films) improve the quality of display, cheapen costs and, last but not least, facilitate good programming of contents, such as music shows, concerts, operas and even soccer games."
Proceeds at IMAX 3D movies were apparent in 2004 with Polar Express. "Twenty-five percent of total takings came from IMAX 3D movies. What does it mean? Each 3D screen would collect 14-fold more than a 2D screen!" Gómez noted. Then, Avatar came together with over USD 1 billion in takings worldwide.
"I am convinced that 3D will fully prevail, in the same way as color did," George Lucas said at CinemaCon 2011. While a determined Hollywood industry is keenly aware of it, the Venezuelan film industry is still cautious about such technologies. "Venezuelans are shy of engaging in 3D because we lack cameras; they are too expensive. New cameras are coming up now, which makes 3D much easier, and I think that very soon there will be people making such films in the country," said Carlos Caridad, the author of Blogacine.com.
Hologram in films seems very distant yet. "Technology is moving forward at fast pace and nowadays there have been awesome results in Japan through a musical ensemble including a virtual singer in shape of hologram," Gómez Recouso said.
Translated by Adrián Valera
María Magaly Contreras (55) is Venezuelan. She lives in Zulia state, northwestern Venezuela, and advertises herself as a "tarot card reader, clairvoyant and spiritual guide" on her @marletmaga Twitter account.