Ridley Scott, director of the new film Robin Hood, told reporters today that he is already hard at work on his Alien prequel. "We're doing that now," Scott said during a news conference Friday in Beverly Hills, California. "We're on the fourth draft. It's alright - yeah, pretty good." When asked if he might consider shooting it using 3-D technology, Scott immediately replied, "of course it will be 3-D."
Needless to say, James Cameron's Avatar is thus far the gold standard in 3-D filmmaking. But Scott indicated that any film shot in 3-D now would use even more advanced technology than what Cameron employed to bring the Na'vi to life. "I think we've already moved beyond," Scott explained. "Jim said that 'this technique, this process has taken me four years,' and he said that now you could probably do it in two." Scott also indicated that he considered converting his new film into 3-D, but elected not to after he got a mixed reaction from the film's distributor.
"The technology's shifting all the time. I could have converted Robin Hood. Like if they had said yes last October, I could have squeezed it under the hammer and got it in as a 3-D version of Robin Hood."
While there already have been several instances in recent months of both good and bad 3-D filmmaking, Scott said he wasn't intimidated by the technology. "It's not a big deal," he said casually. "People always agonize over whether it's 1.85 or 2.35 and I don't really give a sh*t. It's all your eye and how you're going to fill the frame, so if you've got an eye, it's not a problem. If you don't have any eye, then the [suits] turn it into science. So you get a lot of conversation going and it takes forever - and it shouldn't."
Apparently, Scott already discussed the process of creating or converting the Alien film in 3-D with Cameron, who did offer the caveat that the technology requires a significantly greater amount of light in each frame, which will necessarily cause changes in the visual construction of a scene. "That's the downside," he acknowledged. "That's what Jim said. He said you're going to have to grade it later; you're going to have to grit your teeth and light it not the way you'd like it, and then later, you're going to have to re-grade it and repaint it.
As far as converting 2-D material into 3-D, Scott said simply, "you can virtually order it. I can go virtually to a company saying, can you re-3D this? It would be quicker if I sat there and did it with them, which I would. But it's when you're grading a movie, I'll sit there with a grader, and we flick through one scene, and I give them two frames and say, like that. You grade it and they say okay, I got it, and then you go and do the whole scene. And then you can do the whole film that way."
When asked whether the tone and style of the original Alien can still stay scary in today's atmosphere of immediate shock (and gratification), Scott said he thought the material would connect easily with modern audiences. "Yeah. I think it will work, don't you?" he asked rhetorically. "But that's 29 years ago. Now, to say, 'do you want to recut it?' At the time, I thought, 'not really. I should leave it alone. It is what it is.' But would things move faster today? Yeah."
Scott remembered the decidedly lower-tech approach he was forced to take on the original film: "I had no technology at all," he said. "I had no digital technology at all. So even the ones that followed started to have tech - like, digital rails and tracking and computers. I had no computers at all. Alien was literally all physical. So even the spaceship, which would be about as big this table, you'd hang it from a wire and the camera would slowly push – and I was the operator – and I would slowly push in underneath and try to keep it as steady as possible with a fan and a lot of dry ice blowing at it to give some sense of movement. That was it!"
Robin Hood opens in theaters nationwide on May 14, 2010.