The Nerd is the Word: An Unexpected Rant

Welcome back for another issue of The Nerd is the Word: An Unexpected Journey. In this issue, our hero stops in Cardiff to refuel his TARDIS from the rift.

To preface this particular issue, I’ll start with last Thursday, where I waited for around two hours in the freezing cold to see Peter Jackson’s latest epic, “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” (you can read my review here) in 3D. When I said I was seeing it in 3D the responses from people were pretty much the same, “You’re seeing it in 3D? Why?”

There has been so many backlashes against 3D movies over the years, with reasons pretty much the same across the board: “It’s too expensive.” “It gives me headaches.” “I can’t see any difference.”

I pulled a list of 3D films since 2005 from Wikipedia with how they were made 3D. I culled the list down to only major motion pictures that received (or will receive) wide release in the US and ended up with a list of 98 films. From that list, 34 of them were filmed in 2D for the most part, and then converted to 3D in post-production. 34 films, 34.7% of the total, were post-converted.

That isn’t a whole lot of post-converted films, however, the list is made up of the more major films to be released in 3D, such as the Marvel super hero films, “Clash of the Titans” and its sequel and many other films.

The point I’m making is that for the majority of films that movie goers are seeing in 3D, they weren’t filmed as such. 3D became a major thing for movies after the success of James Cameron’s “Avatar”. Though I didn’t enjoy the film, I will concede that it is visually stunning and the 3D was wonderful. This set the bar very high for any other film coming out in 3D since.

The issue is not that 3D technology is bad, Avatar showed that. Even with post-converted films, I enjoyed the 3D in “The Avengers”. It has nothing to do with the technology, but rather, the time and energy the film makers put into the 3D work.

The idea of 3D in this day and age is not stuff flying off the screen at you, but rather 3D creates depth. Occasionally, things come out of the screen but not to the same effect from early 3D. The best way to look at 3D is to think of the screen as a cube with an open front, almost like that diorama you made in elementary school. When you post-convert a film, you’re essentially building a diorama. To dumb the process down so that I’m not getting to the tl;dr length, you basically go, frame-by-frame and cut out your foreground, middle ground and background.

The major issue is money. The average conversion price ranges from $50,000-$100,000 per minute. Not per film, per minute. This makes the 3D conversion cost for “The Avengers” over $14 million of its $220 million budget (assuming the high end of the price range). Money is what makes Hollywood run, and if they are not confident to make the money back, the conversion process can be one of the places to cut corners.

A sloppy conversion job can lead to three sections, a foreground, middle ground, and background, without the smooth look that reality has. But when 3D is done right, it is worth your money.

The idea is that we don’t want to shun 3D, but we need to get Hollywood to allow directors to do what they need to do with 3D, to make it quality. And on the flip side,  studios should not force directors to make their film in 3D if they have no interest in the medium. It all comes down to passion; they have to have passion and freedom to do this kind of stuff the way it should be done. The early adopter types should go see the movies in 3D, and then spread the word on if it’s worth it. It’s almost your duty as a member of the midnight showing crowd; you are the front line of the film-going community. You are the review that your friends listen to the most (unless you have bad taste in movies, in which case, maybe wait on stuff).

That’s my rant type thing for this week, so now, on to the pull list (for Dec. 19)

Thor God of Thunder #3 (Marvel): This is a fantastic book in the Marvel Now! lineup. You see everyone’s favorite Asgardian in three points in his life, up against a god slayer. We see the young Thor, brash and out for war; Thor during the middle of his life, the Thor that we are familiar with; and old Thor, the last of the gods, as we see what could be his last stand. Check it out; it’ll be worth your time and money.

Super Dinosaur #16 (Image): One of Robert Kirkman’s (The Walking Dead) other books. It’s a fun, all-ages book that doesn’t feel beneath you even if you’re older. If you’ve never read it, it’s the classic story of a boy and his talking T-Rex in a robo-suit (you heard me). The boy is a super genius and the dinosaur comes from the center of Earth, where dinosaurs still roam. The pair are a team working for the government fighting the sentient dinosaurs attacking the surface world. Get the paperbacks of old issues and check it out.

If you want to nerd out with Ian Hand, you can find him at the local cinema waiting for the midnight release of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. The saner among you can simply follow him on Twitter @IanHand253.

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