9/30/10 Latest Update News:
> Star Wars in 3D Drives Rift Among Diehard Fans » News that George Lucas is re-releasing his Star Wars franchise in 3-D has created a schism within one of the world's most passionate fan communities.
> Star Wars Trilogy in 2 Minutes - Papercraft » Eric Power used paper to summary the Star Wars trilogy to the tune of a Jeremy Messermith's Tatooine.
> The Star Wars Saga in 3D! »
DVDTOWN Editor's Note:
George Lucas embraces 3D for STAR WARS Saga!
For a few years now, there's been speculation as to when, not if, the STAR WARS series of six films (and perhaps the SW animation series) will be processed for 3D viewing (see DVDTOWN Message Board from 2008). Also, last July, Thomas Arnold of the Home Media Magazine blog made a report as to which films are the 'fan favorites' for releasing on Blu-ray 3D (see article further below).
Well, USA TODAY has reported the following news on Sept 28, 2010 (followed by reader comments - thru link above)...
'Star Wars' films going 3-D, starting with 'Phantom Menace'
By Anthony Breznican, USA TODAY
Star Wars has always taken place a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away. Now it will take place in another dimension: 3-D.
Lucasfilm has decided to reprocess the series into that format and release the films in theaters again, starting in 2012 with the 1999 prequel The Phantom Menace. It's only one-sixth of the news that "Star Wars" fans have been waiting to hear, but it's the first step toward converting the other prequels and original trilogy.
"The process is really extensive, and we want to make sure each of the films gets the attention it needs, so we're not ready to talk about the release patterns of the other films," says Lucasfilm spokeswoman Lynne Hale.
The highest-quality 3-D is achieved by shooting with cameras that capture two images simultaneously, just as two eyes would, which was the process used to film Avatar. But films that are not originally shot with 3-D cameras, such as the Star Wars series, can undergo a computerized refinishing that creates the illusion of depth.
It requires that each image in the film be scanned and slightly adjusted to create two images, as if viewed from two eyes. When those images are projected on a screen and viewed through polarized lenses, the brain perceives three dimensions.
But when the process is rushed, it can — in Star Wars terms — give people "a bad feeling about this."
Some recent 2-D films, such as the Clash of the Titans remake and The Last Airbender, were hastily converted shortly before their releases to claim the prestige (and higher ticket prices) of a 3-D experience, but audiences and critics balked at the low quality of the presentation. Even relentless 3-D prosthelytizer Jeffrey Katzenberg of DreamWorks Animation has scorned such quick changes as sloppy.
That's why Lucasfilm is being cautious and not locking itself into a strict timeline. Even the approximate season of release for The Phantom Menace in 2012 is being left open.
To oversee the conversion, the series is getting its own Jedi knight of digital imagery: John Knoll, visual effects supervisor for Industrial Light & Magic (and coincidentally the co-creator, with his brother, of Adobe Photoshop).
He described the process of converting the films as a partnership between a human artist and the digital precision of a computer, intricately studying and adjusting every frame.
"You're generating a synthetic second eye," Knoll says. "You're finding out where the boundaries of objects are in the scene and what their distance is to the camera, and you're using that information to generate (3-D)."
Only so much of the work can be done automatically by computer, and even then it has to be studied closely by a human being. "If you see a round object, you're reconstructing what is behind it," Knoll says, since both "eyes" see a slightly different perspective than the 2-D image allowed.
Although the prequels were shot more recently than the original trilogy, converting them will be more complicated because there is more intricacy to the background effects. Knoll cites a chase scene through a galactic city's floating traffic in "Attack of the Clones" as a particular challenge. "There are thousands and thousands of flying images," he says. "But the nice thing about stereo (visuals) is you get this wonderful immersive effect if it's done right."
Related DVDTOWN News:
—> STAR WARS Saga on Blu-ray! Coming to our galaxy Fall 2011 (all 6 films) » (Aug 14, 2010) - "Blu-ray is the absolute best way to experience Star Wars at home – in pristine high definition," said George Lucas. "The films have never looked or sounded better." Includes extensive special features!
—> DVDTOWN.com Archive of 3D articles » (numerous info articles from 2009-on)
(original article from July 3, 2009 below)
HOME MEDIA FORUM: Fans Pick Top Classics for BD 3-D
Star Wars in 3-D? It's a dream come true for Blu-ray Disc fans, who picked the celebrated sci-fi franchise as their No. 1 choice to watch in three dimensions once a 3-D standard for Blu-ray Disc is approved and studios start releasing movies in 3-D en masse on the high-definition format.
Members of the Home Media Tastemakers Forum, a blu-ribbon panel assembled by Home Media Magazine as an industry consumer panel, overwhelmingly chose Star Wars as the movie they'd most like to see in 3-D.
"3-D gives you the feeling of 'being there' in a way that 2-D cannot," said Forum member David Wertheimer, CEO and executive director of the Entertainment Technology Center at the University of Southern California (USC).
In addition to Star Wars, Wertheimer's top choices — each panelist was asked to pick three movies — include The Matrix and Apollo 13.
"3-D could also give you this sense of claustrophobia in the Apollo 13 capsule, which I also chose because 3-D will ultimately make dramas better, even ones without action sequences," Wertheimer said.
Many industry experts consider 3-D a potential "killer app" that will accelerate Blu-ray Disc's adoption by the masses. Both the Blu-ray Disc Association and the Consumer Electronics Association have created groups to spur development of a standard for 3-D on Blu-ray Disc, with expectations that the first titles could appear as early as next year.
The Home Media Tastemakers Forum is a small, private group of academics, technology experts, bloggers and early adopter families from select cities around the country. Members — carefully screened by an outside agency — get to experience new products, concepts and technologies in home entertainment before anyone else. They will be used as something of an industry sounding board, both by Home Media Magazine and other media outlets and by studios and suppliers.
Like Wertheimer, blogger Scott Hettrick included Star Wars as one of his top three picks. His two other choices: Tron and Titanic.
"All movies would benefit by 3-D to bring viewers into even scenes of ordinary dialogue," he said. "Every scene from these movies would be so much more impactful, particularly Luke flying into the trench from the original Star Wars, the light cycles on the grid in Tron, and Leonardo and Kate floating in icy water in Titanic."
Gary Collier, an IT technician in Santa Ana, Calif., consulted with his wife and came up with the Harry Potter films, the Spider-Man movies and the Indiana Jones series.
"Seeing Spider-Man fly through New York City and shooting webs would look really great in 3-D," he said.
Brian Stark, a computer software engineer from Carlsbad, Calif., based his picks on what he'd like to watch with his two sons, Cameron, 13, and Ethan, 8.
"Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire would be nice to see in 3-D because of the flying scenes," Stark said. "The Polar Express — well, that's already out in 3-D. And Dirty Harry — I'm going way into obscure land, but it might be cool to look down the barrel of Clint Eastwood's 44 Magnum while he said, 'Do you feel lucky, punk?'"
Wally Hastings, a visiting professor at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J., picked the original Star Wars trilogy, the Lord of the Rings trilogy and Saving Private Ryan, although he noted, "Having the opening D-Day landing in 3-D might almost be too intense for some viewers."
Ken Sweeny, a program coordinator at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts, picked three films that were shown in 3-D in theaters.
"House of Wax is arguably the most famous and trend-setting of the 1950s' 3-D craze movies," he said. "Dial M for Murder is one of the few crowd-pleasing 3-D efforts to be created by one of the world's most important and influential filmmakers. And Coraline is one of the most interesting and accomplished of the recent string of 3-D animated films to hit theaters."
Cass D'Arlon, a trade-show account executive in Santa Ana, Calif., is the lone naysayer.
"I really don't want to see any movies in 3-D," he said. "If a filmmaker cannot make a watchable movie in 2-D, 3-D isn't going to make it better. 3-D reminds me of Quadrophonic sound from the early 1970s. It was all the rage until everyone woke up and figured out it was an audio gimmick, just the way 3-D is a visual gimmick."
Source: Thomas K. Arnold
(Home Media Daily, July 1, 2009)