May 11, 2010
| by Jason Knott
Don’t count Francis Ford Coppola as a fan of 3D ... at least not yet.
The Academy Award-winning director of “The Godfather,” “The Godfather II,” and “Apocalypse Now” says 3D does not enhance movies and cites the need to wear glasses as a major drawback.
While admitting digital technology is well suited for 3D filmmaking and that the new technology has improved, Coppola believes 3D today is “no different from the 1950s” because of the need for glasses.
“I feel that until you can watch 3D without glasses, it’s the same thing we know,” he says. “I personally do not want to watch a movie with glasses. It’s tiresome.”
Coppola says he even removed his 3D glasses to watch portions of “Avatar,” even though it meant he was watching out of focus. He says his opinion of 3D is in sync with recent comments by Roger Ebert. He has experience in 3D himself, having made “Captain Eo” in 3D back in 1986 starring Michael Jackson.
“I don’t see why a movie is better in 3D,” he says, while at the same time making sure not to demean any efforts by James Cameron by calling “Avatar” a “fantastic” film. “I would rather make a movie in regular 2D and move to larger format for some big scenes much like Abel Gance did with ‘Napoleon.’”
Gance’s 1927 silent masterpiece introduced a “Polyvision” technique using three side-by-side projectors in certain dramatic scenes that created a triptych.
Coppola made the remarks to a handful of guests at his private winery in a 1,650-acre Rubicon Estate in Rutherford, Calif. The group had gathered as part of Coppola’s engagement with SIM2, a manufacturer of digital projection systems for home theaters.
Why the 3D Hype Now?
Coppola believes one reason 3D is being hyped is because it is so much easier to make a 3D movie today in digital vs. the 1950s when the technology was first introduced on photochemical processed film. However, he mentioned that Dr. Edwin Land of Polaroid actually made 3D on traditional film years ago using two emulsions on a single strip of film.
The film, called a vectograph, required the use of passive glasses. Coppola says Polaroid only made one film, an experimental Disney cartoon, using the process. “I saw it and sure enough it was 3D,” he says.
Coppola adds that the marketing being done by the Hollywood studios about 3D movies is just a way “to make you pay more money for a ticket.”
The 71-year-old director has similar thoughts about 3D home theater, saying TV manufacturers are pushing 3D because they want consumers to buy new flat panels at higher prices, even though it “only costs them $75 more to make 3D TV.
Loves Digital Cinema, SIM2
Coppola’s disdain for 3D does not carry over to digital moviemaking. Indeed, he is a big fan.
He refers to digital cinema as being “the genie unleashed from the bottle.” He referenced how helpful digital moviemaking would have been for him when he was making “Apocalypse Now.”
“When we shot a scene with 40 helicopters flying in the air, there were really 40 helicopters flying in the air,” adding how much less expensive it would be to re-create that digitally today.
“When I hear that my movies are being shown on digital projectors, I am relieved,” he says, calling digital cinema “breathtaking.” “The electronic image is equal or superior to photochemical film,” he adds. Moreover, he says that digital moviemaking exponentially reduces the cost of editing.