James Cameron Criticizes Post-Production 3D & Talks Glasses-Free 3D

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James Cameron Avatar James Cameron Criticizes Post Production 3D & Talks Glasses Free 3D

It’s no secret that we’re suspicious of 3D films here at Screen Rant (our own Paul Young wrote an excellent article about the trend back in March) but when someone of James Cameron’s stature starts talking about the subject, the smart thing to do is listen.

Cameron, whose multi-billion dollar grossing Avatar is widely touted as an example of “good” 3D, recently appeared at Blu-Con, a Blu-ray trade show in Beverly Hills. During the conference, Cameron spoke out about the state of 3D filmmaking, why he feels that post-production 3D conversion is a mistake and how 3D TV will force Hollywood to begin filming in 3D in the next few years.

According to the BBC, Cameron criticized Warner Bros. for announcing that Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part One would be released in 3D, only to backtrack once the company realized that the post-conversion process would take too long and delay the film’s release date.

Cameron cited this as an example that post-conversion 3D is a mistake, saying, “I maintain you can’t do a good conversion of a two-hour movie with high quality in a few weeks like they tried to do with Clash of the Titans.”

Cameron went on to say that shooting in 3D is the only option for new films and that 3D conversion should only be used to update a classic film… like his own Titantic.

“My personal philosophy is that post conversion should be used for one thing and one thing only – which is to take library titles that are favorites that are proven, and convert them into 3D – whether it’s Jaws or ET or Indiana Jones, Close Encounters… or Titanic. Unless you have a time machine to go back and shoot it in 3D, you have no other choice. The best alternative is if you want to release a movie in 3D – make it in 3D.”

While I agree with Cameron’s sentiment on shooting in 3D, I firmly disagree with his assertion that studios should convert their classic films to 3D and re-release them. I love Star Wars, as I’m sure many of you do too, but I was appalled when I heard that George Lucas was re-releasing all six films in 3D. It just feels like a cash grab (because it is), and I don’t see how it can do anything but further dilute the quality of the franchise.

To me, it’s the same problem as when Ted Turner made the much-criticized decision to show a colorized version of Casablanca. As Humphrey Bogart’s son said at the time, “If you’re going to colorize Casablanca, why not put arms on the Venus de Milo?” Just because you can do something doesn’t mean that you should do it.

Colorized Casablanca James Cameron Criticizes Post Production 3D & Talks Glasses Free 3D

"Play it again Sam, but this time...in 3D!"

In addition to his thoughts on post-production 3D, James Cameron also talked about the future of 3D filmmaking, specifically 3D on TV. According to Cameron, the thing that will make Hollywood filmmakers begin shooting in 3D is TV.

“The thing that’s going to be the coffin nail for conversion is when the broadcasters start broadcasting thousands, if not tens of thousands of hours a year in 3D. If you’ve got 5,000 cameras doing live sports feeding in over many different network delivery systems, it’s going to be pretty hard for Hollywood producers to claim that 3D is just too complicated to make a movie in 3D, when it’s being done every day by people a lot less talented and a lot less well-funded.”

But what about those annoying glasses? Will people really want to sit down and watch 3D TV if they have to wear them? No worries, says Cameron, because glasses-free 3D technology is on its way within the decade.

“Once we get to auto-stereoscopic, that’s watching 3-D without glasses, it is going to be the way we watch all of our media. That’s probably eight to 10 years away.”

All of our media? I don’t know about that. Until last year’s forced transition to digital broadcasting, some people in the U.S. were still using analog TV sets. Switching to 3D in under a decade seems like an awfully big change.

3d glasses and money James Cameron Criticizes Post Production 3D & Talks Glasses Free 3D

Given Cameron’s considerable expertise in the area of 3D technology, he’s certainly more qualified to make predictions on the subject than I am, but I must say I’m hopeful that he’s off-base. With the exception of only a few films, I haven’t enjoyed 3D in the theaters and the little bit of time I spent with a 3D TV was also unsatisfactory. I’ve yet to play a glasses-free 3D handheld game console (talk to the guys at Game Rant for that), but I suspect it wouldn’t change my opinion.

I firmly believe that when it comes to 3D, as with any new technology, it’s really just about the money. Every time you choose to see a 3D version of the film instead of a regular screening, you’re voting with your wallet. If you’re not into 3D, find a different screening. If you are into 3D, well, Jim Cameron says your glory days are coming soon, so you better get ready.

Source: BBC

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  1. I think you are misinterpreting his intention on the “SHOULD convert to 3D” thing.
    I think Cameron seems to have a bit of trouble expressing himself at times, and that leads to a lot of false assumptions about what he meant. He does say that post-conversion should be kept for “classic films” that you can’t go back in a time machine and re-film.. as compared to a film you shot last week and SHOULD have initially FILMED in 3D when you had the chance.

    I don’t think he is saying that every studio has an obligation to convert every classic film, which is what you’re saying he said with “his assertion that studios should convert their classic films to 3D and re-release them”. He doesn’t make that “assertion”. Re-read the quote you cite in your own article. You and he are saying different things.

    • I agree with Mike, he’s simply saying that the only time a studio should use conversion is if they intend to re-release a movie already filmed in 3D. He never said that they should do that to all of the classics, just pointing out the only situation where conversion is acceptable.

      • Ken J, I think you meant ‘…if they intend to re-release a movie already filmed in 2D’.

        I also agree that Cameron is meaning that any future films made should be in ‘NATIVE’ 3D, as opposed to being ‘CONVERTED’. Only past 2D-filmed movies should be ‘CONVERTED’ (if the studios must) is the point he is making. Correctly, of course.

        • PedanticOne, I think you meant that you think Ken J, meant to say, “he’s simply saying that the only time a studio should use conversion is if they intend to re-release a movie already filmed, in 3D”

          Comma before the ‘in 3D’, clears things up and makes all the difference.

          • Oh, oops, yes, I forgot to put a comma there, lol. A film that was already filmed in 2D before 3D technology, and someone wants to re-release it but make it 3D, that’s the only time when they should convert it. There, lol.

    • @Mike E. “Favorites that are proven” was the words that he used. Not “classic films”

    • You’re right Mike. I should have used different wording. Cameron isn’t saying that all studios should convert their classic films, only that IF they are going to use conversion it should be for classic films and nothing more. Given that Star Wars will be re-releasing in 3D, however, it seems like this is a trend that could have legs, and that is what I don’t want to see happen.

      • Something that would rather not see happen either Rob :(

      • You know if the Star Wars conversion makes Lucas a lot of bucks (which in undoubtedly will), we’re going to be inundated with classic films being converted to 3D and re-released. The Indiana Jones films, the Aliens films, the Jurassic Park films will all be perverted by 3D in the name of the almighty dollar. I’m personally not a fan of 3D, although Avatar looked phenomenal in 3D.

  2. Also, why do you guys always show the red and blue glasses when talking about 3D? I don’t think I’ve seen a single 3D movie/tv/anything that uses those type of glasses in about 10 years…

    • Because they are still the classic example of 3D glasses.

      • And because at least as of earlier this year, if you bought a DVD version of a 3D movie (Journey to the Center of the Earth), it came with those crappy, two-color cardboard glasses.


        • Ugh i hate those glasses…

          • They were pretty cool for those 3D dinosaur books you could get as a kid ;)

  3. “If you’re going to colorize Casablanca, why not put arms on the Venus de Milo?”

    There is no serious professional who studies classic art who would compare the colorization Casablanca to the placing of arms on the Venus de Milo..I mean c’mon..I know film is considered art is some circles but that is a pretty bold statement to compare one with the other..

    • Yes true GK333. But Turner should never have effed up old B&W with colorization. Period. That is just my humble opinion though. :)

    • GK,

      I don’t think it’s that much of a stretch (although, yes, not quite the same) – in both cases it’s someone coming in after the fact trying to “improve” the original.

      One thing that no one ever seems to mention is what the potential problems are with 3D television for visual acuity and how are brain processes what we see – especially for children. ALL media in 10 years? What will be the effect of watching 6 hours a day of “fake” 3D on a child’s vision?


      • Who’s letting their kids watch 6 hours of t.v. a day lol!?

        • sully,

          A better question would be: Who DOESN’T?



      • Vic, what you just said about the potential problems of viewing long periods of 3D TV is a valid point.

        @Sully…Bad parents, that’s who man :) Parents who let the TV become the babysitter basically.

        • Those parents should be helping their kids with dioramas (do kids still make thoses lol :)).

          • I wonder if all the 3d viewing and testing is getting to Camerons brain and he’s gonna go Howard Hughes and get all crazy. Spruce Goose in 3D: a James Cameron project 8-)

  4. wow. 3D without glasses is gonna be amazing!

  5. I don’t think I vote with my wallet when I see a 3D movie. I personally wanna have the 3D experiance. That’s like saying every time you pay to see a musician live rather than just listening to the CD you’re voting with your wallet. Just my opinion though :). I actually like 3D films.

    • Not the same comparison Sully. For your music argument, it would be more like if you bought the CD instead of downloading the MP3′s. By choosing to see a film in 3D, you are essentially seeing the same film as you would in 2D (the movie itself hasn’t changed), but you are paying a 50% upcharge for the “privilege” of watching the 3D version. So yes, by choosing to watch a 3D version of a film, you are voting for 3D with your wallet.

  6. I can’t wait for the glass-less 3D.

    Sony already put a patent on glass-less TVs (the technology involves multiple layers within the TV itself, 7 I think). The new Nintendo 3DS has already done this and it looks bloody awesome! The screen is small so it’s easier but nonetheless when I saw demos of it I was blown away. Sony PSP2 is rumored to have similar technology.

    But it is very far away.

    • A long time ago in a distant galaxy? ;)

    • Jeebus. Give it a rest people.

      Why does every James Cameron thread turn into personal attacks on the guy. He makes movies and talks about movies. He’s not talking about politics or other issues like some actors in Hollywood. He’s talking about what he does and what he knows. You’re bashing him for not creating jobs? Talk to someone that actually has control over it. Give Obama a call.

      Also, not at how much money Cameron actually gave to charities, especially those dealing with the cleaning up the environment.

      • Ogb,

        Totally agree. Just cause the guy makes money off his art everyone wants a hand out. He’s done a lot for the enviorment.

        • Doesn’t he create jobs everytime he makes a movie??

          • EXACTLY!! You beat me to it, Sean!!

    • Let’s see. Avatar made a billion dollars. That’s a lot of theater employees to shovel popcorn, sell tickets, and pour Pepsi. Then there’s the crew, who spent a year employed on just that movie. Not to mention the toy manufacturers, the print ad people, etc.

      I’d say James Cameron did one man’s fair share of helping the economy and creating/maintaining jobs. It’s at least more than you, or even me, are ever going to do.

    • So, instead of trying to work and get a job, poor people should just wait around for rich people to give them money? Damn, redistribution of wealth is so awesome, why am I breaking my back working every day? I should just sit around and wait for hand-outs!

      • That sounds like the Obama way, Ken. :)

        • @Anthony

          Shhh, don’t ruin my sarcasm, I want someone to agree with me thinking I’m serious! lol

          • HAAHAHAHAHA ooops sorry man!!

  7. I guess it shows just how many people love a Megalomaniac :)

  8. Eh (these days) I’m looking for positive news, not how 3D is going to change my life, weather I like it or not, in converted or motion captured.
    This guy (cameron!)could do so much more then forcing his 3D down my ass, is all I’m saying,,,
    You don’t like it who cares,,,! :/

    • For crying out loud.
      The man makes movies for a living. What do you want him to do? Suddenly start talking about changing the world and society? You want him to become an environmental activist full-time?


      That’s what he’s talking about.. unlike you.

      If you don’t want to read about what he does, then don’t f***ing READ articles about what he does instead of trashing him … FOR WHAT HE DOES.

      “This guy Cameron” is doing exactly what he wants to do: make movies.

      • What?? You act like there is some document signed in history that guarantees all of us the freedom to choose to do what we want to do or something! Don’t be silly, uturn is right, he has money, so he’s obligated to distribute it. It’s not fair that he was innovative and got rich from it while some poor person is living just off the free stuff the government gives them, they deserve to be rich too! :-D

  9. I agree with his principles of converting certain films but you just won’t be able to control things once the box has been opened and we could soon find mediorce or fx lite films being converted by the bucketload. Admittely the prospect of a 3D Star Wars or Lord of the rings, especially would be enticing if done properly. I too agree that it’s a opportunity to make more money rather than a creative process in filmaking. I do find it ironic that Cameron should bemoan the current 3D conversion era, since Avatar was responsible for all this in the first place

  10. Although ths is very late in the game, as a UK viewer I only recently saw the season 9 finale of Smallville and it was one of the most epic and exceptional epiosde of any tv series ever.. Agaim I apologise for this comment but it has to be said

    • There is a Smallville thread you know….

  11. Also to add that to mention Titanic in the same sentence as Jaws, Close Encounters, Indiana Jones etc, is just wrong. Notice how these are all of Spoelberg’s films which I suppose proves a certain point in terms of the two directors respective careers