Prince Of Persia: The Sands Of Time

Update: Disney says that Prince of Persia is not being released in 3D after all. The signage at the convention is inaccurate, and the on-site rep must have been misinformed.

JoBlo came across a poster promoting upcoming Disney Digital 3D releases while walking around the floor of Disney’s D23 fan convention. The big surprise — Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time was listed on the line-up. Disney reps confirmed that the film would be released in Digital 3D in addition to the regular 2D release. The film was not shot in 3D however, and is being converted in post production.

This isn’t the first time that producer Jerry Bruckheimer has made this decision. The family action-adventure film G-Force was converted to 3D after the fact, but most of the film’s creatures were computer generated, which makes things a bit easier. While I’m one of the few web bloggers who believes that 3D is more than a gimmick, I still am not convinced that post production 3D processing is good enough for public consumption.

Here are some of my thoughts, transplanted from an earlier article about Marvel possibly considering converting Iron Man 2 to 3D:

The few live action 3D films have mostly been shot using 3D cameras, which essentially feature two lenses, one for each eye. Many of the films you see in 3D today were animated using a computer, created in a 3D digital environment, and rendered twice. If Disney wants to convert Toy Story into 3D, they return to the original animation files and render the movie with a second eye camera (there is more to it, but I’m trying to keep this simple). But with a live action film, there is no way to return to the original digital files, because there are none.

The 3D effect is created using a couple different methods, but basically they must recreate a 3D environment and graph the original image on to the 3d polygon. For a film like Nightmare Before Christmas, a stop-motion animated film, the process is passable. For sequences with humans, its less effective. Anyone who saw Superman Returns in IMAX with the few 3D sequences know what I’m talking about. You kind of get this 3D cut out effect, with layers of depth but the objects look flat. I’ve heard it has gotten better, but have not seen the 3D upconversion of the last Harry Potter film. You can see a video about how this process is done below.

I don’t yet believe that 3D created as a post process is ready for prime-time, and neither does George Lucas. There is a reason why you haven’t seen the original Star Wars films rereleased in 3D yet, even though he announced the possibility in 2005. Producer Rick McCallum confirmed a couple years later that Lucasfilm is “planning to take all six films and turn them into 3-D,” but they are “waiting for the companies out there that are developing this technology to bring it down to a cost level that makes it worthwhile for everybody.” The fact that only the first 15 minutes of the latest Harry Potter could be converted shows you the time and expense involved. Also, it just doesn’t look great. I’m not saying that it won’t eventually. But right now, its not ready for primetime. And if it was, you’d be seeing a lot more full feature films considering 3D up-conversion.

Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland is being converted the 3D after the fact, and that is true. Tim Burton decided to shoot the live action using a 2D camera. But what you must remember is that most of that world is going to be created in the computer. Even most of the characters are performance captured. And most everyone that knows anything about the 3D process, thought Burton made the wrong decision to film the live-action segments using 2D cameras. It just doesn’t make sense.

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