While France boasts a skyrocketing number of 3D animated films in development and production, 3D live-action projects are scarcer to come by.“CGI-animation naturally lends itself well to stereoscopic 3D, but on 3D live-action features, the lensing and post-production has proved to be considerably more tedious and expensive,” explains Yann Marchet, one of the organizers of Paris fx, the two-day showcase of Gallic vfx and animation that runs Dec. 15-16. Alain Chabat’s $61 million comicbook-based comedy “Houba: The Marsupilami and the Orchid of Chicxulub” was rumored to be in 3D, but the producers decided to stick to 2D. “We realized the film was complex and ambitious enough as a 2D feature,” says Chabat, adding that he’s looking forward to experimenting with stereoscopic 3D on a smaller-scale film. Meanwhile, Christophe Gans’ $68 million “Fantomas,” the bigscreen makeover of the French detective novels, was skedded to start shooting this fall, before being postponed to next summer. Frank Mettre, post-production supervisor at Thomas Langmann’s outfit La Petite Reine, says the “Fantomas” filming was delayed to allow for more time to work on the script and planning for 3D on the pic, which is expected to feature about 1,100 visual effects shots. “There are no simple vfx shots when you deal with a live-action 3D film,” Mettre says. “Even a tiny shot requires the same amount of work as a medium-size shot, so we have to plan everything very carefuly.” Mettre said he and Gans are even studying the option of shooting some big action scenes in 2D and converting them afterward to stereo 3D. “On wide-angle scenes where you’re shooting with multiple cameras, it’s much easier and more cost-effective to film in 2D — as long as there are no close-ups on faces, it can work,” says Mettre, adding that lensing in stereo 3D adds about 20% to the pic’s budget. Mettre says he also is considering doing post-production in Belgium or Canada, two countries offering generous tax breaks. “We’ve got great vfx artists in France, but the fact that our tax shelter is capped at one million for local shoots drives us to consider working with overseas facilities,” said Mettre. There are currently two other French live-action 3D pics in post-production, the 1922-set suspenser “Behind the Walls,” about a young novelist who retreats to the countryside and becomes victim of strange visions and nightmares, and Wim Wenders’ “Pina,” a biopic of legendary choreographer Pina Bausch.
3D fuels French animation boom | Pics on board for new TRIP | 3D F/X stalled in Gaul