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Bay, Cameron Talk 3D

19 May, 2011 By: Chris Tribbey

(L-R): Michael Bay and James Cameron

HOLLYWOOD, Calif. — Once firmly in the 2D-only camp, director Michael Bay finally decided to try out 3D with Transformers: Dark of the Moon, out in theaters July 1.

It only took a push from the best 3D director in the business.

“I think all films benefit from 3D to a degree,” said Avatar director James Cameron, who joined Bay at Paramount Studios May 19 for a discussion about 3D.

Meanwhile, separately, Paramount Pictures, 20th Century Fox and Lighstorm Entertainment announced that Cameron’s Titanic will be re-released theatrically in 3D April 6, 2012. The date comes close to the 100th anniversary of the Titanic's ill-fated maiden voyage (April 10-15).

Attendees at the event were treated to the opening five minutes of Transformers: Dark of the Moon, 10 minutes of additional footage and the theatrical 3D trailer debuting May 20, all in 3D.

“It’s a toy, another fun tool to get emotion and character and create an experience,” said Bay, who suggested at ShoWest in 2009 that 3D “might be a gimmick.”

A plea from DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg couldn’t make Bay do a film in 3D. It took a visit to the set of Avatar. Bay said Cameron told him he had done everything but 3D, and needed to take a chance. “You sunk the Titanic,” Bay replied.

Shooting Transformers: Dark of the Moon started out great, with Bay finishing the first day of shooting saying, “I love 3D.” Then his producer called and told him the hard drive with the entire first day’s shoot had crashed.

“You’ve got to calm your [director of photography] down, and say ‘I’m just a director with a little dream of doing a 3D movie,’” Bay said.

Cameron said Bay has done well with his first 3D film, saying he enjoyed the depth.

“I like how you use it aggressively,” he said.

“Bottom line is, if you want to do good 3D, it’s very expensive,” Bay said, pointing out that 3D added $30 million to production costs. “I didn’t add any days to my shoot. That’s the one thing I wouldn’t let [3D] do.”

Bay said many movie fans are being turned off by poor 3D, with Cameron adding that good 3D films can get people back in movie theaters, instead of watching VOD or films on tablet computers.

“3D gets people back to the cinema experience we love, but we’re abusing it,” Cameron said. 

On the home entertainment side, Cameron said he believes active-shutter glasses will be replaced by passive glasses for 3DTV and, “You’re going to see tablets and laptops that can do 3D without glasses” in 3 to 5 years. Eventually large-size HDTVs won’t need glasses either, he said.

“It’s really just being held back by the content,” Cameron said. “We can’t make the [films] fast enough.”

“Two of the most talented directors in the industry,” Rob Moore, vice chairman of Paramount Pictures said of the discussion. “They also happen to be responsible for the two highest-grossing films in Paramount history (Titanic and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen).”


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