This morning, I traveled to the Paramount Pictures lot to view footage from James Cameron‘s 3D conversion of Titanic. Regular readers probably know that while I’m a 3D advocate, I absolutely hate post converted 3D. Disney has recently proven to me (and many others) that a well done post conversion can look great in the medium of animation. We’ve seen the post conversion process improve over the past two years, but the best post conversion live-action footage still looks like fake cardboard cutouts to my eyes. Even Cameron admitted in his introduction before the screening that post converted 3D is really only “2.99D — It’s not really 3D.”

We screened 18 minutes of footage, which was comprised of clips from throughout the whole movie. We saw slow dramatic scenes, and tense action sequences — a good mix. I cam out of the theater as a believer. This is the best post converted 3D footage I’ve ever seen. Even though the film is 15 years old, the 4K restoration looks incredible, almost like a new movie.

And the 3D looks almost as good as natively shot 3D — actually, if I had never seen the movie before, you would have been able to convince me of such with some of these clips. It may help that Cameron’s cinematography is usually slow and steady and wonderfully composed for depth. It also helps that Cameron spent one year and something close to $20 million to convert the film to 3D. While this is time and money that new releases will never have to post convert, it sets a bar for the 3D re-releases we’re likely to see in the future.

You can watch a video blog I recorded with Steve from Collider and Alex from FirstShowing below:

Is the 3D in Titanic 3D alone worth the price of a premium 3D movie ticket? No, probably not. I don’t think the 3D alone will ever be worth the price of a full movie ticket.

Titanic is a movie that needs to be experienced on the big screen, and for that reason alone, it is worth the price of a standard 2D movie ticket (yes, Titanic is being re-released in 2D as well as 3D). I think Titanic is worth revisiting on the big screen, and chances are you know some people who never got to see it projected before (remember, it is 15 years old at this point). Members of the press around me were in tears during some of the classic moments of this movie (and remember, we only viewed 18 minutes of clips, not the full movie). That said, I think the extra cost of a 3D ticket might be worth it in this instance.

It should be noted that we saw the footage in the best possible circumstances, in Paramount’s premiere movie theatre with the best projection and sound system money can buy. I suspect the lamp in the projector was at max, and its very likely that you won’t see Titanic this good when it gets to your multiplex. Movie theatres often run their 3D projectors at a lesser power rating in order to get more life out of the bulb. The result is a darker picture and crappier 3D experience.

This is one of the reasons I highly recommend you see Titanic 3D in an IMAX theatre. While we did not get to exrience this footage on an IMAX screen, I am convinced this will be the best possible presentation option available. No matter which IMAX theatre you go to, you can relax knowing that the projection and sound settings will be at the top levels — something that unfortunately can’t be guaranteed at most theatre chains (aside from maybe the Arclight and Alamo Drafthouse chains).

The other reason I would recommend viewing the movie at an IMAX theatre is that you will see more than you would in a normal 3D theatre. Cameron announced that since the film was shot in Super 35, they were able to remaster the entire film at a larger aspect ratio than its original (and normal 3D re-release) theatrical distribution. This means you’ll get more image at the top and the bottom, which hopefully provides a more immersive experience.

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