Francis Ford Coppola: 3D is ‘Tiresome’


Oscar-winning director Francis Ford Coppola says he doesn’t “want to watch a movie with [3D] glasses. It’s tiresome.”

Oscar-winning director says 3D does not enhance movies and that 3D glasses will hurt technology's popularity.

May. 11, 2010 — by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

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.

That enthusiasm for digital technology is one reason Coppola is collaborating with SIM2. Coppola says he researched all the digital projectors on the market and sought out a relationship with SIM2.

Coppola has used SIM2 projectors in his post-production facility for the past two years. Together with his engineering team, Coppola assisted SIM2 in developing solutions that bring together the specific technologies needed by Hollywood producers - SIM2 projectors now reproduce all the essential frame rates used in production and post-production processes.

“This [SIM2] is the one I wanted. I say this about SIM2 because I believe it. I have sincere admiration for the company and the projector. The bright, crisp image is ideal for working on digital films and for really beautiful projection,” he says. “SIM2 paid me nothing. There were no agents [used to establish the relationship]. I sought them out. I flew to Pordenone, Italy (SIM2’s headquarters location).”

Coppola pinpoints the Texas Instruments DLP chip as the “basis for the digital revolution in filmmaking. It emulates the powerful beam of light that goes through a piece of photochemical film.”

SIM2 has announced a marketing campaign that includes advertisements, point of sale materials and brochures using Coppola.

“SIM2 is committed to achieving a sustainable society, continuously striving to reduce the effects on the environment by developing environmentally-compatible products and processes,” says Maurizio Cini, president of SIM2 Multimedia. “It was very important to us that, in such a monumental campaign, we stayed true to these values.”

OLED is the Future
Coppola believes OLED technology is the wave of the future for displays. But he still favors plasma over LCD flat panels. In his Napa home, he has a large Panasonic plasma.

“For the last few years, I always thought that plasma TVs were more beautiful than LCDs,” he says. “I recently bought an LCD because plasma has difficulties and eats a lot of power, but I don’t feel that the new LCDs look as good as a plasma does.”

“The technology that everyone is interested in is OLED. Right now you can see small versions and the picture looks amazing. I heard that the 20-inch ones will soon be out and people are talking about 30+ inch units. I don’t know. But it looks like OLED is going to be the way its going to be, for iPhones and other devices. I know the screen on the iPad is amazing and that is not even OLED,” he adds.

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