Star Wars 3D Will Be a Moment of Truth

By  |  Wednesday, September 29, 2010 at 3:32 pm

Unlike the most die-hard Star Wars fans, I have no strong opinion on whether Star Wars should be re-released in 3D, but when the conversion is finished and released in 2012, I think it will be a pivotal moment for 3D movies.

This is only partly because of Star Wars’ ability to draw a crowd. Of course, Star Wars 3D will bring people to theaters — assuming 3D hasn’t been dismissed as a cheap gimmick in two years, and that’s not a given — but it will also prove, or disprove, that 2D-to-3D conversion can be done in a way that doesn’t completely stink.

Obviously, Star Wars was not originally filmed in 3D. Doing so requires two cameras, positioned carefully in a way that can mimic the vantage point of each eye. The really good 3D movies, like Avatar, use two cameras.¬†Cheap live-action movies, like Clash of the Titans and Piranha 3D, don’t bother, because the process is too time-consuming and expensive, and it shows. Michael Bay and James Cameron have expressed¬†scorn and skepticism for 2D-to-3D conversion. Dreamworks Animation Chief Executive Jeffrey Katzenberg ripped cheap 3D as Hollywood’s newest way to “make a bad movie worse.”

Star Wars, we’re told, will be different. John Knoll, a visual effects supervisor for Industrial Light & Magic, said in a statement that the 2012 release date is necessary for a quality 2D-to-3D conversion. “It is not something that you can rush if you want to expect good results,” he said.

If time is really all it takes to craft believable 3D from a 2D movie, the implications are huge. A successful Star Wars 3D would surely spawn other re-releases — imagine The Matrix, Terminator 2, Aliens, The Road Warrior, Indiana Jones — thereby extending 3D to the classics. A failure would expose the pitfalls of 2D-to-3D conversion on a grand scale, jeopardizing any future efforts.

How fitting, then, that the first re-released Star Wars film will be Episode 1: The Phantom Menace. If Jar Jar Binks isn’t the biggest cause of headaches when filmgoers don their glasses, 3D will be in big trouble.


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6 Comments For This Post

  1. StocktonJoe Says:

    Converting 2D films to 3D will be viewed in much the same was that "colorizing" Black and White films was viewed some years ago. It just isn't going to go anywhere. That's not to say that 3D movies will fail. Although I think they will, just as they failed in the 50's.

  2. JaredNewman Says:

    Interesting comparison, and good point. One thing to consider, though: Color eventually became the standard for film and television. I don't think the same thing will happen to 3D (and most of the industry folks I've spoken to don't think so, either). Retroactively converting might still be desirable unless filming in 3D becomes a lot easier.

  3. JaredNewman Says:

    Also, was colorizing a total flop, or did it help to spur interest in color films and television? I'm not old enough to know the answer.

  4. Glypodont Says:

    Colorization as we know it was only invented in the mid-1980s, so color had already been the standard for 30 years. Turner invented it for more or less the OPPOSITE purpose: to get people who would watch something in black and white interested in the massive library of B/W films that he had acquired.

  5. kano Says:

    Well preter jackson had mentioned that he will bring the Lord of the Rings trilogy to 3D , althrough im guessin it wont be released till around 2014 or prehaps round the time of the hobbit release which is most likly around 3 years away so if you think about it preety much major franchies will get a 3D conversion , the matrix producer has said his against those films been converted prehaps he dident like the way Clash of the Titans looked and i dont disagree with him lol but mabey the studio will and once he see’s or hears good things about starwars maybe even titanic ( which is been released in 3D 2012 ) he might change his mind , thise films would defind 3D i think they suite it well.

    Cameron has also expressed interest in the possiblity of T2 and T1 been converted in 3D im preety sure ive read on the net the some parts of T2 have been converted for test while he also said Aliens is possible as well i think its better to be hearing from the directors that there will be a release in 3D form and not the studios.

  6. Harry McCracken Says:

    They better not touch SUPERMAN II.