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 article goes on to explain that In-Three's technology will work in regular movie theaters rather than only IMAX and other specialty theaters.
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]
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.