A few days ago Roger Friedman over at Showbiz 411 claimed (via his sources) that Joss Whedon was "definitively" shooting The Avengers in 3D. It's not all too surprising to hear that Marvel wants its Avengers movie in 3D. Both Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger will arrive in theaters in 3D, and it only makes sense to have their biggest, most buzzed-about superhero mash-up in 3D in order to give the fans more options, as well as make as much as they can from the box office (that smashing ensemble cast can't be cheap). However, new quotes from Captain America director Joe Johnston lead us to believe that Friedman is wrong on one count: The Avengers won't be shooting in 3D. Instead, they'll most likely be shooting in 2D and converting it over after the fact, like they're doing with Thor and Captain America.
Speaking about why he decided to shoot Captain America in 2D and convert versus filming in 3D, Johnston told Earth's Mightiest, "The cameras and their necessary hard and software made up one of the most cumbersome and unwieldy packages I've ever had the misfortune to work with. I couldn't move the camera at a high rate of speed, I couldn't fit it through tight spaces, lens changes took 45 minutes...if the two lenses weren't perfectly calibrated to the exact same focal plane, the shot was unwatchable. It's harder to fast cut an action sequence because your eye needs time to re-establish the depth of each shot. The biggest drawback is that it would have added 30 days to the schedule. For all these reasons and more, I decided to shoot the picture 2D and convert it."
Other filmmakers have complained about similar issues, which means it's highly doubtful that Marvel and Joss Whedon would want to attempt filming in 3D for The Avengers. But what about the recent crappy conversions? Johnston talks more after the jump ...
Johnston admits that some 3D conversions are turning out poorly primarily because studios are rushing the conversion process. "Conversion has gotten a bad rap," he told the site, "because of pictures that have done it badly. If you shoot the movie and decide at the 11th hour to convert it to 3D, you don't have the necessary information to process what we call the 'left eye'. We're shooting a whole separate pass on every setup to record the information necessary to convert to 3D in a seamless and undetectable way. When conversion is done right, you can't tell the difference between it and full 3D. Everyone touts Avatar as the new standard for 3D. It's beautifully done to be sure, but it wasn't entirely shot in full 3D. The filmmakers wisely chose to shoot about 30 to 35 percent of the picture in 2D and convert. I challenge anyone, myself included, to watch the picture and spot the 2D conversions."
The director goes on to talk about 3D motion sickness, saying you have more control over preventing that when you convert from 2D, and, quite frankly, he makes a pretty good argument. The Captain America footage screened at Comic-Con was in 2D, so we can't say for sure whether Johnson's conversion process will turn out better than all the rest. We did see Thor footage in 3D, though, and it wasn't all that impressive. Granted, it could've been the screen, the angle I watched it from, or the fact that the conversion is nowhere near done yet. We'll see.
Regardless, there's definitely a lot of negative buzz floating around right now with regards to 3D conversion -- not to mention the fact that 3D ticket sales have gone down instead of up this summer, potentially proving that moviegoers are beginning to see it more as an expensive gimmick than an experience that's worth the money. There's no doubt the 3D conversion process will get better as studios and filmmakers have more time to study the technology and plan further ahead, but when will that happen and how long do we have to wait? In all likelihood, moviegoers will remain on the 3D bandwagon through 2012, but if ticket prices keep going up and the quality just isn't there, expect more people to walk away sooner rather than later.