Friday, September 30, 2005

Thoughts on Disney 3-D

This is pure speculation on my part, but while I was reading a press release regarding Chicken Little being projected in 3-D (w/ glasses), a thought suddenly popped into my head. What if this whole DFA shift from traditional animation to CG animation was an engineered event to open up a whole new revenue source for Disney? ...continued...

For a moment, let's pretend that Disney was looking to not only put more people in theatre seats for their movies, but potentially open up a revenue source where other film makers had to pay Disney to display their 3-D movies in those specially equipped theatres. You are probably thinking that 3-D had its chance back in the 40's and 50's. The difference is that 3D CG films is a natural use for 3-D projection. The objects all exist in 3D space, they just need to be rendered twice (one for each eye). Sure you can go back and fake 3-D to already existing live action or traditionally animated films, but it would'nt come close to CG 3-D.

The first film to showcase this new technology in mass will be Chicken Little. Disney is helping to install the hardware in some 100 theatres across the country by the time CL releases. Before Wilbur Robinson comes out (Disney already announced that it will be displayed in 3-D too), there will be a much larger number of theatres equipped. Think about it. If Disney can get their "Disney 3-D" into most of the major theatres, any other company that produces a film and wants to jump onto the 3-D bandwaggon will have to pay a licensing fee to display it using their techniques. Not only are they potentially getting more people in seats for their movies (from the "wow" factor), they are potentially opening up a new revenue source from other movie makers that want to do the same.

By now you are probably wondering what this has to do with Disney dumping traditional cartoons for computer ones. Disney already got beat by Pixar with the move to CG. They've got to be pissed they didn't do it first. How do you one-up the competition (and yes, Pixar is competition to them)? You go one step further with 3-D projection. You push 3D a little further. If they are going to take advantage of this new technology and sell it as THE way to display animated films, they have got to go balls out and be completely CG.

Disney is accomplishing a few things with the release of Disney 3-D and Chicken Little. First, their first full CG film. Second, their first full CG film that will showcase new 3-D technology and potentially excite more people to go to the theatre. Third, possibly opening up a new revenue source when other film companies want to release a film in 3-D and use their equipped theatres (that will require them to license Disney's technology). Sure, they are taking a risk that no one really cares for 3-D. But if people do, they are locking in a potentially lucrative niche for themselves.

Makes perfect sense to me.


Rita Earle said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
jason said...


hate it when that happens. :(

anyway.. I think you make an interesting point, but I'm curious.. how is it to wear those goggles for 70-90 minutes? I would imagine that for many viewers, it would get tedious after a while..
but then again, I could be totally wrong.

Staloren said...

Good point! Never thought of that. :o Although I wear glasses, and probably wouldn't notice.

otherthings said...

Interesting theory, except for a few things:

(1) "Simply" rendering every shot from two cameras is never as simple as it sounds. Lots of effects work and lighting uses cheats like garbage mattes and 2D image processing that become really tricky (i.e. expensive) when you try to do them for two cameras at once.

(2) Anyway, I've heard that that's not how Disney is doing Chicken Little 3D. I heard that instead they're using some kind of wacky post-process that uses I don't know what kind of ultra-sophisticated vision techniques to glean 3D info directly from the final rendered frames. Yeah, sounds crazy to me too, and I don't know if it's true, but that's what I heard.

(3) Stereo is a great gimmick and I'm sure it'll sweeten up the box office a bit, but trying to turn specialized projectors into a cash cow has been tried before, with not-so-hot results. (Imax, anybody?)

Captain3D said...

Hi All. I set up and supervised the stereo on Chicken. Although it was not simply re-rendering the right eye...the stereo is produced from the original scene geometry combined with the final rendered frames and it looks damn good.

I kept it pretty conservative and solid so a full feature should be very comfortable to view.

Cant wait to see it...Phil

Ethan said...

I worked on Shrek 3D Imax. Only a few scenes were fully rendered and projected on an Imax screen in 3D. The results were truly amazing to see. As you know, this was a doomed project from very early on, but if Disney has pulled it off with Chicken Little, I'll be eager to see the results. I think there could be a strong future for this technique. But Jason is right, even on Shrek we were worried that the film wouldn't last for 70-90 minutes. But the only way to find out was to do it and see.

ibarra said...

way back in 89, after creating luxo jr. and tin toy,pixar did a short called Knick Knack. It was premiered at siggraph in boston in 3D.

ibarra said...

way back in 89, after creating luxo jr. and tin toy,pixar did a short called Knick Knack. It was premiered at siggraph in boston in 3D.

3D fan said...

Polar Express was 92 minutes, and people loved the 3D experience.
Animation CGI is best experienced in 3D just as color is generally better as well. Live actors can be
shot in 3D, but maybe only 6 to 10
films per year ought to come out
in 3D as their primary release mode. This will preserve the novelty aspect. The new 6 perf 35mm
CINE 160 process is generally better than current 2K digital 3D,
and SO MUCH LESS EXPENSIVE TO INSTALL. It also delivers much of the look of 70mm prints to regular
non-3d movies.