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James Cameron Talks Titanic 3D

Posted on Thursday November 10, 2011, 03:12 by James White in Off The Wire
James Cameron Talks Titanic 3D

Titanic is coming back to our screens this April in a shiny, new 3D conversion. And like an approaching iceberg, there’s nothing you can do to stop it. But James Cameron, the man who wrangled the giant ship on to screens to huge success back in 1998, wants you to be happy with the idea of revisiting Rose, Jack and the rest. So he showed 18 minutes of 3D-retooled footage, and then took the stage at 20th Century Fox’s Zanuck screening room. for a round of his usual candid showmanship to explain why.

“We get to bring Titanic back to the big screen after having been gone for 15 years. There's a whole generation of people who have never seen the film in a movie theatre. I'm a strong believer in the theatrical experience in general, but specifically for this film. When people commit three hours plus a little bit of their lives to sit in a dark room and share this journey with these characters, they find that it's a very powerful, emotional experience and I have to think it's a lot more of an emotional experience than one would get watching it on video. 3D gives us an opportunity to re-invent the concept of a re-release. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don't but the 3D seems to be a turbocharger, a conceptual hook that allows people to say it will be different.”

And if you’re a sceptic when it comes to 3D films, Cameron has words for the doubters, too. “I don't care about them. If you could wave a magic wand and give everyone in the world an orgasm simultaneously, there'd still be cynics looking for a way to criticise that. First of all, what's wrong with commerce? What's wrong with making jobs for people in movie theatres around the world? What's wrong with entertaining people? If people don't show up, then we were wrong. If people show up, we're giving them what they want and if they show up again? We're really giving them what they want, because they're willing to pay for it twice. So it's really just a gamble that the film has the same impact on audiences now. And that's an experiment. Every movie is. It's business. It's art and business put together and I have no problem with that whatsoever.”

Fortunately, those who prefer their films to stay in the realms of the two-dimensional will not get short-changed either, as the director is promising a variety of formats. “We think the film is so gorgeous that even 35mm 2D prints will look better than the original release. They'll look at least as good, if not better than an original negative, of which there were only a couple made. So what most people saw in theatres back then were prints made from duplicates, so they were grainier. People enjoy a movie because they enjoy it, but we can offer a very high quality experience in 2D as well. There will be a full range of 2D prints, including IMAX as well as the 3D formats and even two flavours of IMAX 3D.”

Cameron clearly hasn’t skimped on anything when it comes to making sure his film gets the best possible treatment. He and producer John Landau have ploughed $18 million into the conversion process, auditioned several companies for the mammoth job of getting it done (none quite met the director’s typically perfectionist standards, but he’s set about changing that) and more than 300 artists are spending 60 weeks – yes, 60 – making sure every shot, every frame looks incredible. “We're not trying to illicit applause or a sympathetic reaction to the hard work,” laughs Cameron once he’s finished rattling off the various stats. “We're trying to show that there is a way to do conversion and we think that's what it requires to make something that it virtually indistinguishable from something shot in 3D.”

But there was still a chance for the man who made Avatar to rail against a particular personal bugbear: studios pumping out cheap 3D conversions in a cash grab tactic. “If you could save a few bucks by shooting a movie in black and white and converting it to colour, would you? I don't think so. It doesn't make any sense. Mainstream moviemaking. Certainly the big Hollywood tent pole films that are getting made in 3D are not the kind of films where people compromise. When they're doing the sound, they'll mix for six to eight weeks and use the best mixing stage and finest effects and best digital recorders. And it wouldn't occur to the cinematographer to compromise, to shoot with cheaper lenses. That's not how we think as an industry. But suddenly it's okay to compromise on the 3D? 'We know it's not as good, but we'll slap it on, put in on the poster, get people to show up and charge 'em more money.' That's a message to the audience that you're going to get a lesser product and you're going to pay more for it.”

Fortunately, there are those willing to go the extra miles both in terms of conversion (George Lucas’ work on the Star Wars films got a shout out here) and when shooting in native 3D. “An example of the opposite way of thinking was when I saw Hugo. Bob Richardson and Martin Scorsese had never shot 3D before, but they're both consummate artists in their own right, and they approached the idea of 3D as a new creative palette for them to work with. They immersed themselves in it, they enjoyed it, taught themselves to understand it and they've created a movie that I think it definitively the best 3D photography ever done. There is no weak shot in the whole movie.”

As a finale, Cameron dived into his personal memory banks to recall the struggle he had making the film in the first place, at a time when everyone figured he was going to sink. Even, occasionally, the man himself… “We felt the scale of the film had doomed it economically, if not artistically. There was a certain point in time before we released it where we'd been screening it and we knew people loved it, and then we found out critics loved it as well. But we still didn't think we were going to make any money. I didn't think I was going to work again. Did we make this film to make money? I don't think so. A three hour, 15 minute chick flick where everybody dies at the end? And everyone standing in line knows the end of the movie before they've seen it? That doesn't sound that commercial. It was done as a passion project.” But his lowest ebb? “Variety was running Titanic Watch and basically every day making us look like the biggest nincompoops in Hollywood history. We didn't know yet what we had. So there was just this really dark period and I had a razor blade that I taped to the screen of my Avid where I was cutting, because I was one of the three editors and above it, a little note that said, 'Use this in case the film sucks.' It was just a way of reminding myself that the only way out of this was to make a good movie. And in a way that pressure served us well because it made us less compromising.”

Titanic 3D will dock on April 6, 2012.

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Comments

1 Whistler
Posted on Thursday November 10, 2011, 23:46
Technically it won't so much dock in April as hit a big metaphorical iceberg and sink into theatres. I've absolutely no problem with him re-releasing it in theatres, but there's no need for 3D! Titanic does not need to be in 3D. If there was one film that doesn't need 3D, it's Titanic. Cameron's hypocrisy bugs me at times, considering he said: "3D movies should only be shot in 3D and never converted...Unless they're my movies." I'm paraphrasing, but that's basically what he said. Now I admire his previous work (he brought us the freakin' Terminator), and despite the strangely unified bashing of Avatar, I still really like it. But I think he's become too caught up in using 3D to make money. Instead of just focusing on something completely new and original, which he totally should do, he's just picking up his old films, slapping them with 3D and sticking them back into theatres, while simultaneously making two unnecessary sequels to his last film. Hell, I'd even be happy if he did the next Terminator!

Did I mention Titanic shouldn't be in 3D?

2 sephiroth7
Posted on Friday November 11, 2011, 08:46
More 3D bullshit.

3 NCC1701A
Posted on Friday November 11, 2011, 09:36
Agree with what Whistler said 100 %. It does not need to be in 3D this is just another money making exercise. The man turning in to George Lucas.

4 Bobby TwoTimes
Posted on Friday November 11, 2011, 10:28
Totally agree Whistler!

I'm getting a bit annoyed with how all the great directors seem to be jumping on this 3D bandwagon despite 95% of the moviewatching world pointing out that it's sh*t! Spielberg, Scorsese, Cameron - they're all at it. I understand these directors want to broaden their knowledge and skills etc... but i still can't help but feel that in 5yrs 3D will be dead and forgotten.

And as for Cameron....well I just hope that he's not joining the growing list of Directors that are past their best - Lucas, DePalma, Coppola, Carpenter have all proved in the past decade or so that they simply are not the same vibrant, imaginative, creative directors they were 30yrs ago when they were young. Scorcese is one of the only true stand-outs STILL churning out classics films like 'The Departed' and 'Shutter Island'. The rest i've mentioned have quite frankly done cr*p in the past 15-20 yrs. I would even argue that Spielberg hasn't produced a true 'classic' in the last 10yrs and the less said about Indy 4 the better.

I also think Ridley Scott has only done mediocre stuff since Gladiator - Robin Hood, American Gangster, Kingdom Of Heaven, Body Of Lies, Black Hawk Down - all decent enough but not classics in the same vein as 'Alien' or 'Bladerunner'. In fact, the more I think about it, i'm beginning to wonder if him revisiting the sequels for those films is going to turn out a seriously major disappointment...

5 whakawarewar
Posted on Friday November 11, 2011, 11:20
There are 3D conversions and then there is a James Cameron 3D conversion. Did you read the article? All those man hours and Money spent make a heck of a difference. The few minutes of Titanic shown at Big Screen, inspite of my general indifference to 3D, make me beleive that Titanic will be spectacular all over again and a must see cinema event. I just hope that Mr Cameron doesn't make up some strange aspect ratio for the IMAX prints, Avatar looked really odd because it fitted neither the full width or the full height of The Imax screen.

6 Cohaagens_Eyes
Posted on Friday November 11, 2011, 15:01
Cameron is the biggest hypocrite in the world. He just wants to be seen to be the one guy above his own god-like judgement. Do as I say, not as I do. A film which was not conceived in 3D is never going to provide a convincing experience as a conversion, simply because the director and DP were not considering the invocation of a third dimension when setting up their shots and moves.

Aside form the sinking and the dancing, Titanic is 3+ hours of people talking to each other, and I can't see how 18m dollars can be spent in the hope of making that any more particularly thrilling for anyone.

7 Tootled
Posted on Friday November 11, 2011, 19:16
It's no surprise, as long as there is money to be made.

I suppose at one point people considered the art of film making to be more important than how much they could rake in. Well we know how it is now.

Another 1.5 hours of torture, just to see the ship sink once again. This time in all it's post creation stuck on 3D effect glory. Oh joy.

8 simjamlmx
Posted on Friday November 11, 2011, 21:26
cameron is a joke. titanic was millions of times by 5 teenage girls, who fancied the young decaprio, they'd have been better watching "This boys life" that's the cameron audience, idiots. and to think he's making another avatar, the horror, the horror.

9 sagart
Posted on Friday November 11, 2011, 23:55
The best thing that happened during Titanic's showing in our local cinema in '97 was the fact that the IRA blew up the movie house about 4 days into its run.
I've heard a number of those who have seen the IMAX sequences for the new Mission:Impossible movie saying that it and not 3D is the most promising immersive movie experience and having seen good IMAX (The Dark Knight) and good 3D (Avatar), I will take IMAX all day long.
Cameron is arguably the most technically knowledgeable 'Major League' (live action) director out there but I think he's backing the wrong horse by investing so much in 3D. I know this is an old chestnut but I feel he should give more care to his characters, his stories and his dialogue which in all the best movies has provided all the immersion needed. I long for the return of the kinetic Cameron of The Terminator and Aliens, still. for my money, his best movies.

10 jermreen
Posted on Saturday November 12, 2011, 01:11
As much as this news annoys me (even though i kinda liked Titanic) Cameron is still one of the finest directors out there. I just hope he hasnt forgoten about Battle Angel which I am more excited about than Titanic 3D, Avatar 2 and 3. Come on Cameron, bring your love of Anime to the big screen.

11 themoviegeek
Posted on Saturday November 12, 2011, 15:06
You lot are a bunch of moaners! Seriously! I wouldn't mind so much except not one of you (or me) could ever possibly come anywhere close to making Titanic. So quit moaning. Back to the subject of the article, if the guy wants to do 3D, then let him do 3D. It's his life, his movie, his choices. Why're you all so critical? If you didn't have something interesting to post, don't post it.

Oh and I'm going to see Titanic in 3D, at IMAX, even if the aspect ratio is bloody wrong.

12 hughjass
Posted on Sunday November 13, 2011, 00:27
Take a look down the list of board members at Real D and you'll see why he might want people to go see his movies 3d'd! ;-)

13 El-Branden Brazil
Posted on Sunday November 13, 2011, 03:36
I'm really looking forward to the 3D rerelease of Tootsie.

14 NCC1701A
Posted on Sunday November 13, 2011, 10:55
Moviegeek happy that you are going to see Titanic in 3D but this is about people expressing there opinions. Just because you don't agree with them does not make them less interesting then what you have to say.

15 amydevid
Posted on Friday November 18, 2011, 10:49
It is pleasure a going through your post. I have bookmarked you to check out new stuff from your side.



carbon handlebars

16 AusteV
Posted on Tuesday November 22, 2011, 12:56
As a younger generation movie lover, i am thrilled by the fact that Titanic is coming back to the big screen as i was a baby when it first came out.

BUT, 3D? REALLY. He is just contradicting himself, thre is no need at all.People would still go and see it even if it wasnt in 3D. Its pointless and a waste on money that he could use on something original.

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