We aren't the biggest fans of 3D movies around these parts, and there are a number of reasons why. From being forced to pay extra for the “privilege” of watching movies in three dimensions, to having to wear those glasses someone else has already had on their sweaty noggin (we know they clean them – but how well do they clean them, really?) to realizing that those 3D projectors require bulbs to burn brighter – thus often leading to dimmer viewings of 2D films down the line (that’s a whole other complicated kettle of fish. You can read more about that here), there are a lot of reasons to not be a fan.
The biggest reason by far is because not all 3D films are created equal. For a true, high-end 3D experience, you need to see a film that was actually shot in the format on 3D cameras. Unfortunately, not all 3D movies are made this way. Many are shot in standard 2D and then postconverted into 3D – and the results are generally inferior. Remember when people complained about the 3D in Clash of the Titans a few years back? That was postconverted. It never looks as good as something shot on 3D cameras.
So, the question for the discerning film fan becomes: "how can I tell which 3D films were shot in the format and which were postconverted?" The answer used to be “read a lot of movie sites and message boards and hope someone mentions the info you’re looking for," but times have changed.
Website Real or Fake 3D will now answer that question for you – saving you a lot of headache (and potentially a few bucks) in the process.
Perusing the lists of titles is an interesting experience. First thing I notice is that there are more films this year being shot in 3D than there are ones being postconverted. That gap would even be wider if not for the inclusion of 3D rereleases like Jurassic Park and Star Wars Episodes II and III, which obviously weren’t shot in 3D when they were made years ago (they have also been put on the backburner for now and won't be arriving in theaters this year).
There are a few surprises in the “Fake 3D” column though. Man of Steel, Thor: The Dark World, World War Z and Pacific Rim are all postconverted. In Pacific Rim’s case, it’s a bit of a hybrid with the CGI using native 3D models, according to the site.
To be fair, the postconversion process has certainly gotten better over the past few years (see G.I. Joe: Retaliation as a good example) – but if you’re paying a premium price for the 3D experience, you really should be seeing a film that was shot properly for the format. As Real or Fake 3D mentions, there’s only so much that can be done in post – you can’t just magically create material to enhance the 3D effect after the fact.
Take a look at the site before you splurge on a your next 3D feature. Finding out the latest blockbuster was postconverted might not change your mind about seeing it, but at least you’ll know to lower your expectations about the quality of the 3D going in – and as G.I. Joe used to say, “knowing is half the battle!”