Posted on Tuesday, July 13th, 2010 by Adam Quigley
Pixar has already returned to the money-regurgitating well twice now with 3D re-releases of Toy Story and Toy Story 2, which returned to theaters simultaneously last year. Now it appears as though other entries from Pixar’s library may be getting a similar treatment, according to a recent interview with the studio’s stereoscopic (3D) imaging supervisor, Bob Whitehill.
Ratatouille is the current contender being taken into consideration, and apparently director Brad Bird is open to the process. More info after the break.
Ratatouille is one that we’re exploring doing [3D conversion on] and Brad Bird is very open to some changes, you know, some very subtle changes but slight reframings. If a character’s reaching forward and a pinky goes off screen, we’ll adjust the camera and the character a little bit to have the hand on. So that said, if the director’s open to minor modifications on a library title then that’s wonderful and we’re really excited about doing that.
I’m not convinced this will have much benefit for either the movie or the studio. The Toy Story & Toy Story 2 3D double-feature earned them a respectable $30 million, but that was before other studios had taken to declaring their entire film line-up be 3D releases. Would audiences really be as eager now to shell out $10-$15 bucks for a single, more recent Pixar title? Maybe this conversion could serve them well once 3D TVs start becoming more prominent in households, but that’s probably still a long ways off.
And having recently seen Despicable Me in 3D, the glaring difference in quality to Toy Story 3‘s 3D made it obvious that this is the one area where Pixar is lacking. While I absolutely understand the need to respect the integrity of the film, the use of 3D shouldn’t be so subtle that it’s barely noticeable. Given that we’re still at the point where colors end up being slightly muted in 3D, the extra cost just isn’t worth it.
That said, Pixar has released at least one project that looked amazing in 3D, and that’s the short Day & Night, which played in theaters prior to Toy Story 3. The difference here is that Day & Night was actually developed with 3D in mind, instead of merely tacked on as a way to earn some additional revenue.
Whitehill addresses this very issue during the interview, albeit in less self-destructive terms. After explaining how they tried as hard as possible to avoid making changes to the image in all three Toy Story conversions, he made a comment that confirmed my suspicions: “The big leap will be when we have a director who’s really interested in using a lot of 3D to help tell their story, and do it fairly aggressively.” It seems that this isn’t the case right now, and Pixar’s underwhelming 3D presentations are a reflection of that. The silver lining here? They’re not simply taking the original film and altering it without the director’s approval. That’s something to be happy about.
As of now, Pixar’s current 3D roster includes Cars 2, Brave, and the live-action John Carter of Mars. Only time will tell if Ratatouille and others join the list.
You can check out the full interview below.