3D technology may have a new acolyte. JJ Abrams has joined Peter Jackson and James Cameron in championing the format after Paramount convinced the director to convert his latest film, Star Trek Into Darkness, to 3D. Abrams initially opposed the post-production conversion of the film, but he’s since been won over. “3D was something that, frankly, I was not a big fan of to begin with,” said Abrams during a recent press conference. “Essentially in order for us to make this movie, the studio said ‘You gotta do this in 3D’. So we said, well, we can do a 2D version that we love that can also be converted to 3D.”
“And the truth is that I’ve actually been having a lot of fun with it,” admits the director. Unlike Jackson’s The Hobbit, Abrams’ Star Trek film was not shot in 3D, but converted in post, a technique that some critics call “fake 3D.” When you shoot in 3D, you film every scene from two slightly different perspectives, using two cameras. But in converting a film shot with only one camera, you’re faking that second perspective. Rotoscoping can create the layers needed to give the film the look of 3D, but those layers lack the depth they’d have if they’d been shot with two cameras.
Abrams takes issue with that view: “This is kind of the myth, that it only looks good if you shoot the movie in 3D, which is completely not true.” He thinks that the post-production conversion has actually given him and his team “an amazing amount of creative freedom.”
“In fact,” he adds, “we’re doing a bunch of things with the 3D in this movie that have not been done before, using techniques that have not been seen. All the exterior shots, including the shots in space, are all either shot or rendered in IMAX format. It’s the first time a movie has been shot in IMAX to this scale and converted to 3D.”
Star Trek Into Darkness doesn’t come out until May 2013, so we’ll have to wait until then to see if Abrams is making 3D lemonade out of his 2D lemons.