Iron Man 2 in 3D: No, That’s Not Cool


When he started this little rumor in the wee hours of this morning, Ain’t It Cool News head redhead Harry Knowles was filled with “geekgasmic fury bridled with awesome euphoria” as well as several exclamation point inducing shots of nerd-ecstasy. Several hours later, as many of us begin to investigate this claim that Marvel is experimenting with the conversion of Iron Man 2 to 3D, we begin to realize that this might not be as exciting as it sounds. Here’s the gospel, according to Knowles:

Right now, there is a 1 minute demo of IRON MAN 2 converted to high quality digital 3D. I’m told this one minute is totally like Kim Basinger & Mickey Rourke in 9 1/2 WEEKS. HOT! Crazy Hot! Right now the Suits at Marvel & Paramount & now also Disney are considering this 1 minute.

At the same time that this is happening, they are fishing for bids with 3 different companies to see what the cost and time it would take to convert IRON MAN 2 to a complete 3D film.

Now, lets take a moment to consider what’s actually being said here — Iron Man 2 has already wrapped principal photography. It was not shot using cameras designed for 3D, it was shot on standard cameras. That means that the film would have to be converted to 3D after the fact. Which isn’t as cool as it sounds.

But before I get into the technical nitty-gritty on this one, let me say this: I like 3D, when it’s done right. The format clearly has more to offer than a theme park ride gimmick, as evidence by its use in films such as Henry Selick’s Coraline or the over-the-top slasher extravaganza My Bloody Valentine 3D. Unfortunately, there are a lot of studios that want to apply this format to just about every movie (Dreamworks) in order to raise ticket prices. But the piece they’re missing is the creative one, the ability to make 3D about depth of field and not yo-yos flying at the faces of the audience.

Yet, even most of those movies are 3D movies from the start, which is half the battle. Those movies, including shtick-bombs like Journey to the Center of the Earth 3D are shot with a special 3D camera, which essentially has two lenses, one for each eye. Many of the other films you see in 3D are CG-animated films, which can be rendered twice, creating a 3D environment. And as my good friend Peter at /Film points out, it is easy to see why going back and re-rendering a movie like Toy Story for 3D works.

With live-action, the process is much different. The 3D effect is created by essentially creating a 3D environment and graphing the original 2D image on to a 3D polygon. You still have a 2D image, it is just wrapped around a 3D computer wire-mold. Think of the difference between a pop-up book or a shoebox diorama as opposed to a scale miniature model. Looking at the diorama appears to be more of a 2D image that’s sticking out at you, whereas the miniature model actually is in 3D. Such is the case with 3D rendering. There is a clear quality difference between live-action films shot in 3D and films that are rendered in 3D. Take, for example, the 3D elements of the latest Harry Potter movie. You can see how they created that in the video below.

Taking all of that into consideration, I’m not sold on Iron Man 2 in 3D. I will reserve final judgment for the time if and when we get to see some 3D footage, but on process alone I don’t think it’s a good idea. There are claims out there that the technology has come a long way and that it looks really great, but all of those sources are inside of a studio who benefits from you spending $14 on a 3D movie ticket, not from independent experts who have no stake in the game. Iron Man would be a cool character to see in 3D — but I’d want it done right. And for now, I think it is probably too late in the game to do it right this time around.

What do you think about Iron Man 2 in 3D?

Neil Miller is the Founder and Publisher of Film School Rejects. For almost a decade, he has been talking movies on television, the radio, and the Internet. As of yet, no one has stopped him.

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