3D is the Future, Animation is the Key

May 30, 2011

Disclaimer: This piece is my opinion solely. I have not read any article alluding to my following prediction. Take everything said here as food for thought.

I am not an avid supporter of 3D cinema. I have seen many 3D films, and I understand the concept enough to discuss it. I think for the most part 3D cinema is useless (Kung Fu Panda 2), I think it sometimes is repulsive (My Soul To Take 3D), but there are some instances where I love it (Piranha 3D). There are people that believe that 3D cinema is a fad that will pass, some think it is the end of cinema as we know it, and others eat it up as the gimmick it is.

And, for better or worse depending on perspective, I firmly believe that a time will come where almost, if not every, wide release film requires special glasses for viewing. The question is, how? Editing live action flicks for 3D viewing has proven to be a difficult and time consuming process, and filming using 3D-enabled cameras, in my experience, adds little to films and is on the pricey side. For live action, 3D is not sustainable because of these things. But movie studios love 3D because they can make a killing off of it, and they won’t give up easily. The key to a 3-Dimensional future is obvious if you think about it: CGI Animated films.

Every wide-release animated flick I can think of, at least recently, has been released as a 3D film. I assume the reason for that is ease of conversion and cost. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that it’s easier to make animated films in 3D than it is with live action. Animations on file are easily editable—Real objects on film are not. If I’m right, eventually every wide-release film will be animated. But don’t fear, even if my theory is correct, theatres will not be overrun with kids flicks. Turn back the clock to 2007, two years before Avatar allegedly popularised 3D cinema. Enter the justifiably PG-13 rated Beowulf 3D.

Beowulf 3D is, in my opinion, the film that set the landscape for 3D cinema as we know (and will know) it. It’s the CGI animated feature that left audiences puzzled, wondering why it hadn’t been filmed as live action. It could’ve been, and it arguably should’ve been, but it didn’t have to be. Even animated, Beowulf 3D looked almost realistic. Not quite there, but almost. And why was it distributed as a 3D flick? Because making it 3D was easy. Being highly profitable was just the icing on the cake for Paramount.

To the best of my understanding, there are games playable on XBox 360 & PS3 that look stunningly realistic, and that is amazing considering that “free roam” gameplay is dynamic. The proof is in front of our eyes: Live action cinema is nearly irrelevant due to the advancements in animation. And the amazing thing about animated flicks is that quality of acting is primarily dictated by the animators, who have control over every movement of every character and every object.

CGI Animation itself at the moment is a time consuming process, but that will change as time passes. And when time is no longer a hurdle, and video cameras become worthless, animated films & 3D cinema will rise. My opinion on this outcome is neutral, and I’m sure reaction to this would be immensely polarised. And if I’m proven wrong, then we can all live happily.

We’ll see.

Edit: Also, don’t forget, much of Avatar was animated. ;-)

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