Film to be released on Imax 3D and digital 3D screens

National Geographic Entertainment has picked up worldwide distribution rights to laffer “Blue Man Group: Mind Blast,” the first bigscreen project from the performance trio that has become an entertainment franchise.

Nat Geo will release the stereoscopic 3D (S3D) pic on both Imax 3D and digital 3D screens.

Mark Katz, president of distribution for National Geographic Cinema Ventures (a division of National Geographic Entertainment), said the pic will have a similar release pattern to their “Sea Monsters: A Prehistoric Adventure.”

“It will go out to digital 3D theaters in multiplexes, museums and other venues, but we won’t treat it like a big day-and-date release on thousands of screens,” Katz said.

Pic stars the original Blue Men, Chris Wink, Matt Goldman and Phil Stanton, in a comedy that explores the human mind and brain.

David Russo is directing from a script by Lisa Robinson. Charlotte Huggins and Janice Doskey are producers; Barbara Darwall of Blue Man Prods. is exec producer.

Katz said the pic was “a natural fit” for Nat Geo’s library because they’re experienced with movies that straddle entertainment and education. “These films have a long shelf life, often five to 10 years,” he said.

Pic is old-school in one respect: It is being shot on 15-perf 70mm film, not with digital cameras more common for 3-D today.

“It’s a giant-screen film, so you need that level of resolution,” said d.p. Sean Phillips. “The Imax screen, especially the Imax dome screen, is huge and needs very, very high resolution.”

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In the last Techbytes column, in which I covered Technicolor’s new system for projecting stereoscopic 3D (S3D) from 35mm film, I quoted longtime George Eastman House backup projectionist and 30-year Kodak vet Darryl Jones about his experiences with past versions of S3D side by side with 2D.

To clarify: Jones has not seen the new Technicolor system, nor has anyone at the Eastman House. The interim director of the museum’s motion picture department, Ed Stratman, writes to say, “Technicolor is a great brand, so I — and many others — are eager for the launch of its new system and the system’s solutions to the problems of the past.”

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It truly was an only-in-L.A. evening last Wednesday at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences Wishire HQ as the aud crowded into the Goldwyn Theater to see a two-hour presentation, “Behind the Motion Picture Canvas: Film Formats Through the 21st Century.” Rob Hummel, CEO of Prime Focus post-production North America, shared his passion for the topic, and the very sizable crowd gave him rock-star treatment in return.

Hummel offered a primer on widescreen — and not-so-widescreen — formats, how they differ and how they’re used creatively. (S3D was mentioned, but only briefly.) One highlight: Hummel showed clips from two pics helmed by Lawrence Kasdan and shot by John Bailey: “Silverado,” shot in Super35, and “The Accidental Tourist,” shot anamorphic. The pics have the same widescreen aspect ratio, but Bailey and Kasdan used Super35 to get great depth of field on the Western vistas of the former, but chose anamorphic, which uses longer lenses and gives shallow depth of field, to emphasize the isolation of the protagonist in the latter.

Another tidbit: Panavision developed a special anamorphic lens to give one major 1960s actress a little extra squeeze. (Think of it as the analog equivalent of “digital cosmetic enhancement.”)

Hummel, an unabashed fan of large-format images and the quality they offer, drew applause by jabbing at 2K digital projection, which is only a bit sharper than full HD TV: “Do we really want to be just imaging for the adequate?,” he asked. Showing a full 4K image, he went on to add, “Unless we demand that quality, they’ll be happy to provide the HD quality they’ve developed for broadcast.”

The drumbeat continued, though, when cinematographers Bailey, Stephen Burum, Allen Daviau and Caleb Deschanel joined Hummel. Amid discussion of their own work, they echoed the Acad Sci-Tech Council’s warning that digital has a shockingly short shelf life. Deschanel quoted a Belgian archivist: “We say our digital master is good for 50 years or five years — whichever happens first.”

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