The Young and Prodigious Spivet

French filmmaker Jean-Pierre Jeunet pulled no punches at the 2014 3D Creative Summit in London March 12 as he criticized Hollywood’s approach to 3D and bemoaned poor-quality exhibition.

“I think Hollywood is killing 3D,” Jeunet told the assembled international industryites on day one of the two-day event. The audience was there to see footage from Jeunet’s first 3D film, “The Young and Prodigious T.S. Spivet,” above. The outspoken helmer elicited applause as he criticized the use of 3D for fast-cut, action-focused summer blockbusters and also lambasted post-production conversion, leveling direct criticism at Paramount’s “World War Z.”

His stereographer on “T.S. Spivet,” Demetri Portelli, who also handled Martin Scorsese’s “Hugo,” blamed a late decision to convert “World War Z” in post, not allowing the filmmakers to plan for 3D. “A problem is that often the director and cinematographer don’t know they are making a 3D movie,” Portelli said.

“Post conversion is evolving,” argued Legend3D’s Jared Sandrew, who took part in a session on the process used on last summer’s “Man of Steel.” Sandrew told the audience that helmer Zack Snyder’s concerns about a post conversion focused not on the action scenes but on the emotional scenes. “He was afraid stereo would distract from the emotion of the characters,” Sandrew said.

Jeunet and Vision3’s Chris Parks, stereo supervisor for Alfonso Cuaron-directed “Gravity,” clips of which were shown, had a very different view. “This was a slow story, a perfect story for 3D,” said Jeunet of “T.S. Spivet.” “For 3D, it’s more comfortable when the film is slow. I don’t think 3D is good for action movies.”

“The films that filmmakers want to make in 3D are narrative dramas, helping actors communicate with the audience,” agreed Parks. “3D has much more power, and I think that’s the future.”

Parks argued it was Cuaron’s style of shooting that was key to “Gravity’s” phenomenal global success and the appeal of its 3D. “It wasn’t the money spent or the vfx that made this work in 3D,” said Parks. “It was the long takes and the use of wider angle lenses. Long shots involve the audience more in the film. You can do that on any film.”

Pixar’s Josh Hollander, director of 3D production at the animation studio, agreed that mistakes had been made with 3D in the past. “I think as an industry we’ve driven some of the audience away with films that didn’t warrant using the medium or didn’t use it in a nuanced, sophisticated way,” he admitted.

But Hollander believes audiences familiar with Pixar’s 3D movies and new audiences introduced or reintroduced to the format via titles such as “Life of Pi” and “Gravity” will see the continued potential of 3D. “I hope those audiences will return. 3D is still a young tool, but the industry has evolved — we’ve learnt how to apply it,” Hollander said. He especially highlighted 3D’s ability to effectively reinforce key emotions such as fear, sadness and joy with clips from “Up,” “Brave” and other Pixar titles. “In a subtle, sophisticated way it builds a connection with the audience in that moment.”

Hollander also revealed that Pixar has completed a 3D conversion of 2007’s “Ratatouille” and is currently at work on one for 2004’s “The Incredibles.”

Meanwhile, Jeunet also set his sights on 3D cinema exhibition. “I am very worried about the bad quality of projection in 3D,” said the filmmaker. “Today we are using Dolby, which is a good system. XPand is a very good system. Real D is a bad system. Why? Because if you’re too far to one side or too close it looks terrible. Then there are lighting issues. The active XPand system is dying out, and we’re going to be left with the bad system or, in the best cases, Dolby.”

The 3D Creative Summit continues March 13, including an interview with 3D pioneer James Cameron.

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