At the Metreon Theater in San Francisco on February 22nd, the world premiere public viewing of new 3D technology featured in the upcoming Journey to the Center of the Earth dazzled its watchers. Present for the unveiling was Journey‘s star Brendan Fraser, producer Charlotte Clay Huggins, and visual effects editor Ed Marsh. The audience was offered the trailer for Journey to the Center of the Earth followed by five scenes from the film to judge the quality of the visuals.
“No film was hurt in the making of this movie,” Fraser informed the audience during a question and answer session after the showing. Journey to the Center of the Earth was shot completely digitally, giving the filmmakers more control over any visual convergence (the way our eyes focus on objects at different distances) problems by getting instant feedback to ensure the proper positioning of cameras. The consensus of the panel was that the new 3D technology is substantially more satisfying to watch because it does not use a mix of digital and analog media as previous classes of 3D. The visual teams and the director, Eric Brevig, could instantly look at what was just shot by the cameras and make horizontal and vertical changes to prevent eye strain and nausea as well as create 3D effects to trick the mind. Fraser touted the new technology as “the pointy end of the spear.”
Journey to the Center of the Earth is being flaunted as the first 3D live-action movie. “There is no cheating in 3D. Every texture has to be believable,” explained Huggins. “The audience is there with them [the characters in the film].” Everything within reach of the actors had to be tangible but everything out of the range of the actors, in most of the movie, was generated by computers.
The newest 3D technology doesn’t limit the writers’ or filmmakers’ ability to conjure up new ideas or scenes on a whim any longer. The flexibility and ease of shooting allows “Run and Gun Shooting,” as it was called by Ed Marsh. A scene in Journey to the Center of the Earth featuring Venus Flytraps was imagined near the end of shooting and was shot after midnight during the last week of production. Marsh and Huggins bragged to the audience that the scene, which was one of the featured scenes during the screening, was no harder to shoot than a typical scene and required no extra planning. Huggins vaunted that “3D is now as easy as color or sound.”
Charlotte Clay Huggins told the gaggle of 3D fans, “Everyone wants to make 3D movies.” Ed Marsh even let the audience in on the news that George Lucas has produced, at least in part, a Star Wars episode in 3D.
The newest version of 3D technology is a gigantic technological leap from blue and red and is monumentally easier to watch than previous generations. My eyes did not strain to rectify the dimension. I didn’t become nauseous at all during the half-hour exhibition! During the screening, there were no shortage of typical “3D for 3D’s sake” scenes, but what is remarkable are not those scenes that are meant to flex the muscles of the technology. The characters are always in 3D so the audience feels as if they are wandering through the scenes with the actors. Even bad dialogue is a little more forgivable when you feel like you are part of the conversation.
Journey to the Center of the Earth opens on July 11, 2008, and stars Brendan Fraser (The Mummy, The Mummy Returns, and Crash), Josh Hutcherson (Firehouse Dog, Bridge to Terabithia), and Anita Briem (Cold Trail, The Evidence). It is directed by Eric Brevig (Xena: Warrior Princess).