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  1. #1

    The Details on Star Wars 3-D Movies

    The Details on Star Wars 3-D Movies

    Here's the lowdown on the Star Wars saga's conversion to 3-D, including which SW movie gets it first and when.

    The June '06 issue of Popular Science has an article on the emergence of new 3-D movie technologies from 2 different companies, "Real D" and "In-Three", the latter of which is now hard at work converting the Star Wars saga from 2-D to 3-D. Here's how the article opens...

    [FONT=Arial]In March 2004, staffers at Industrial Light & Magic in San Rafael, California, filed in and out of a screening room, drawn by news of a technology demonstration. Tech breakthroughs on the ILM campus are nothing unusual, of course -- this is, after all, the special-effects shop that George Lucas founded back in 1975 to create the never-before-scene visuals of Star Wars. But this was different. This time, outsiders had arrived to show ILM's own work in a whole new, trippy light.

    The staffers put on pairs of thick glasses and watched as clips from Star Wars were played. Suddenly the screen itself seemed to dissolve away, as scenes stretched out toward the audience. Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi's faces grew closer to viewers as the characters prepared to chase a would-be assassin. Pod cars buzzing in the background really appeared to be hundreds of feet away. It wasn't like watching a big screen on a wall; it was like looking through a massive picture window. Soon, the Jedi Master himself came in. George Lucas sat down, put on the glasses and, within a few minutes, passed judgement: "I'm sold! I'm sold! I'm sold!"

    What Lucas witnessed that day was better than any 3-D he had ever seen. No shaky pictures. No color loss. No distortions that disconnect your eyes from your stomach. He was among the first to see the next generation of 3-D movies, marked not only by their clarity but by their range.[/FONT]
    The article goes on to explain that In-Three's technology will work in regular movie theaters rather than only IMAX and other specialty theaters.

    In-Three's system will use special electronic LCD glasses that turn the left and right frames on and off within 300 microseconds so that instead of polarizing image angles or color shifts, it simply shows different images to the left and right eyes. The system projects via a single digital projector that is shooting alternating frames for the left and then right eye while sychronizing with the LCD glasses turning those frames on and off over and over, the left-right-left-right frames come by so fast that the eye and mind aren't able to perceive them as on/off but rather as a natural, constant, stereoscopic view with full color and brightness.

    Converting a traditional 2-D live-action movie to 3-D can take as long as a year. After a patent war with another 3-D company, In-Three is, for the time being, very tight-lipped about their conversion process. What is known about the process is that within each frame, each object must be trimmed out, moved around, and altered with a sense of depth.

    Most importantly for us Star Wars fans, the article mentions that one of the first public viewings of this new 3-D will be in theaters Spring of '07 with the 3-D release of Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace; the other 5 movies in the Star Wars saga will follow.
    Last edited by JediTricks; 05-29-2006 at 06:26 PM.
    Darth Vader is becoming the Mickey Mouse of Star Wars.

    "In Brooklyn, a castle, is where dwell I"
    The use of a lightsaber does not make one a Jedi, it is the ability to not use it.

  2. #2
    Interesting that it won't require specialty theaters as had been speculated earlier.

  3. #3
    That's what makes In-Three's system so special, the other current prevailing system that only uses a single digital projector requires a higher-reflection silver screen such as those in IMAX theaters which can cost $25k, that's part of why there aren't many theaters using them; meanwhile the In-Three system works on regular matte screens, and the glasses are expected to cost theater owners $20 a piece plus a sterilization machine cost, cheaper than buying new screens. Putting them in regular theaters is going to be HUGE if it works out right, the article suggests that moviemakers like Lucas, Peter Jackson, and Spielberg are eyeing this 3-D technology as the next significant cinematic upgrade, like what sound or color was to cinema of the early 20th century.

    My personal concern is that because the glasses are doing some of the work, they are more prone to fault than polarized glasses used in IMAX 3-D and Disneyland's 3-D movies like Captain EO and Honey I Shrunk the Audience.

    I was a little surprised that they were starting with Ep 1, not that it doesn't make sense of course, but I kinda thought starting with Ep 4 would show off what they could really do by taking a 30-year-old movie and turning it into flawless 3-D.

    Spring 2007 is great news, just in time for the 30th anniversary. I wonder how long it's gonna take to crank out each additional ep in the saga though.
    Last edited by JediTricks; 05-29-2006 at 06:46 PM.
    Darth Vader is becoming the Mickey Mouse of Star Wars.

    "In Brooklyn, a castle, is where dwell I"
    The use of a lightsaber does not make one a Jedi, it is the ability to not use it.

  4. #4
    This is indeed great news. Especially for those of us in markets that don't have but one IMAX theater! I think it's logical (from Georgie's point of view) to start with TPM to kinda hammer the idea that you should start from Episode I and make the natural progression. I'm assuming that's what he's trying to do.
    Up, up, and OKAAAAY!!!

  5. #5
    Changes to the films, anyone?
    Tommy, close your eyes.

  6. #6
    Maybe they will do what they did with the special editions back in 1997 and release each one a month after the other. Makes sense to me if they can do it in the time frame between now and then. It would be great for the 30th anniversary.

  7. #7
    I was thinking it would be 1 per year for 6 years.

  8. #8
    That would make sense, given that further changes to the OT are pretty much confirmed. There's not much to do to the prequels, aside from replacing the Yoda puppet in TPM and possibly dropping Jimmy Smitts into a Senate scene.
    Tommy, close your eyes.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Slicker
    This is indeed great news. Especially for those of us in markets that don't have but one IMAX theater! I think it's logical (from Georgie's point of view) to start with TPM to kinda hammer the idea that you should start from Episode I and make the natural progression. I'm assuming that's what he's trying to do.
    It could be simply "first episode in the saga", but the article mentioned that CGI-animated movies are easier to convert to 3-D by the new processes because they're already separate elements that the conversion techs can go back to and work with, while live-action has to be cut out. With TPM, more elements are already CGI so it's possible they can go to the source files part of the time, which is why I thought doing ANH first would be the most impressive since there's no source NOTHING left with which to work with so they'd have to be pretty skilled to get it right.


    Chux, I doubt there will be changes to the films this time around, I bet we'll get the DVD versions of the movies. I say that because those are Lucas' "most recent" versions, and ILM isn't doing the 3-D conversion, In-Three is and they're not too likely to make artistic changes to someone else's movie if they wish to continue doing business.


    A month apart would be awesome, but the article did say it takes a year per movie to create these. Then again, they could have been working on the conversions since late '04, the digital natures of the PT could make those conversions go quicker, or they could simply have multiple teams converting multiple movies at once. My totally-out-of-the-blue guess is they'll be 6 months apart each film though.
    Darth Vader is becoming the Mickey Mouse of Star Wars.

    "In Brooklyn, a castle, is where dwell I"
    The use of a lightsaber does not make one a Jedi, it is the ability to not use it.

  10. #10
    So this means that we're definitely getting 3D versions soon, and 99% certain to get the long-rumored "Archival Editions" afterward.

    There will soon be more versions of the OT than there are versions of Falco's "Rock Me Amadeus."
    Tommy, close your eyes.

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