Man in the Dark 3D Blu-Ray

It’s a general misconception that the first major studio 3D film to be cinematically released was Warner Brothers’ 1953 horror “House of Wax” (which came out in the US on Blu-ray in 2013). In fact the first major studio 3D release was “Man in the Dark” from Columbia Pictures. The film was rushed into production and shot in just 11 days in order to get it rush released and into cinemas ahead of “House of Wax”. In fact Bwana Devil actually preceded both of them, however United Artists was not considered a major studio in the early 1950s.

Man in the Dark (1953) is a classic film noir, complete with tough-guy protagonist (Edmond O’Brien), heart-of-gold moll (Audrey Totter), and plenty of underworld action—but with handsome stereoscopic imagery directed by the prolific Lew Landers (The Raven). Focusing on a thug who undergoes brain surgery to eliminate his criminal tendencies, the film utilizes spectacular 3-D effects to simulate the newly decent hero’s disorientation as he tries to remember his life of crime, even as he is pursued by former cohorts who want in on the spoils of his latest robbery.

The film is available for pre-order on 3-D Blu ray now from Screen Archives, in a limited run of 3000 units.

Top 3D Films of 2013

2013 has actually been an amazing year for 3D in film. Not only have 8 of the top ten grossing films of the year been 3D productions, but arguably the best 3D film of all time was released this year. With that in mind here’s my countdown of the top 5 3D films you should have experienced this year.

5. Jurassic Park 3D/Wizard of Oz 3D

Okay I’ve cheated here and squeezed two into this fifth slot, but such was the quality of the conversion and amazing results from these films they are both well worth seeing again for the added experience that dimensionalisation brings to them.

To see Dorothy exploring the technicolour land of Oz in three dimensions was truly astounding while experiencing the T-Rex chase and velociraptors on the rampage in IMAX 3D glory was awe inspiring.

If you didn’t see this pair of conversions in the cinema do yourself a favour and grab them on 3D bluray while you can!

4. The Great Gatsby

I have mixed feelings for The Great Gatsby; the 3D was beautiful and some of the performances were excellent, however Baz Luhrmann’s overly slick, hyper-polished, Jay-Z  soundtrack driven, music video styling was a bit over rich for me.

Leonardo Di Caprio is as charismatic as ever and certainly the drink fueled scene in steamy New York city where Tom Buchanan (Joel Edgerton) confronts Gatsby (Di Caprio) was explosive, but this was one of possibly only two or three scenes that delivered any impact. Considering it’s classic source material I felt it lacked an emotional heart and ended up being a slightly vacuous, albeit stunningly visual, experience.

That didn’t stop me watching it twice for the sheer joy of the 3D, so in balance it’s one for your collection.

3. Despicable Me 2

How could anyone not love another visit to the world of Gru, Margo, Edith, and Agnes plus of course a cast of minions?

Despicable Me 2 features loveable characters and an entertaining plotline but it is definitely the minions who steal this show. The lightweight plot revolves around Gru’s recruitment by the Anti-Villain League to help hunt down super villain El Macho. It’s a kids film so not challenging but has a good heart and loads of great gags, well worth your entry fee!

If you haven’t seen this and get a chance remember to wait until the end as there’s some fantastic over the top 3D silliness during the credits as the minions attempt to outdo each other in the 3D stakes.

2. Oz The Geat and Powerful

Sam Raimi delivered a stunning film for Disney with this beautiful prequel to the 1939 classic Wizard of Oz.

From the very opening which plays out in 4×3 black and white, this film oozes quality. Raimi who has always been a master of originality understand perfectly the range of options he has when adding 3D into the mix and uses subtle 3D during this intro sequence and expands it gloriously as the film enter Oz in it’s panoramic rainbow burst of colour. Again mimicking the 1939 original he uses a bold and exaggerated technicolour palette with 3D being used in and out of the screen to great effect.

Needless to say as a fan of the original I loved every moment of this film, even though my interest in children’s films is minimal this genuinely felt like a film for all the family.

1. Gravity

The best 3D film ever made. Need I say more?

Alfonso Cuarón has, in my opinion, created a 3D film like no other, in fact he has created THE 3D film. Watching Gravity was like being in space for 90 minutes; I felt myself shifting in my seat trying to help Sandra Bullock manoeuvre through zero gravity as she bumps and is thrown about in the vast and completely uncontrollable environment. A tiny human ragdoll lost in the vastness of space. The fact that after the first few minutes I was completely unaware of the film being in 3D was testament to the fact that it was used so perfectly – I was in space, I was floating alongside Sandra and George totally oblivious of this being an illusion and totally engaged. Its was as perfect as a great edit, a great soundtrack great grading – it added to the film but was invisible at the same time.

This isn’t to say the plot or film is perfect as a story, at times as a writer you can feel the process and see the next problem being manufactured as the tension is ramped up to drive our heroine to the edge of her ability, and beyond. However at just around 90 minutes you are blasted through it so fast you come out the other end exhausted, exhilarated and bizarrely appreciative of walking out of the cinema in one piece, on your home planet, on the ground, safe.

You must see this film, and must see it in 3D.

Cash vs Opinion

That’s my thoughts on the best of this years 3D output, for those of you interested more in the financials and in 3D box office figures Box Office Mojo has got a 3D specific chart on the top grossing 3D films from 1980 onwards.

Splitting 3D MTS Files to Left & Right Videos

One of my biggest disappointments of the Vision III QuickS3D Plug-in that came out to handle stereo 3D “quickly” and “natively” in Adobe Premiere Pro was the fact that it didn’t work natively with the stereoscopic MTS files that came off my Sony NX3D1. I did have some hope when I got my hands on some footage from the Panasonic  Z10000 that there might be a simpler workflow than my current splitting prior to editing. Well unfortunately not.

In fact this appears to be even more problematic. It doesn’t have the simple splitting utility that Sony supplied (even though that is still a hassle) and looking around for tutorials I found an Adobe tutorial that suggested I look out for Pixela Corporation’s 3D to LR Converter – excellent I thought perhaps I’ve found a splitter that works better than the Sony one… well it may do but I’m not spending $795.95 US to find out!

I can’t say how disappointed I’ve been with the Vision III plug-in – all I want from Adobe is a simple way to import my file straight off the camera into Premiere Pro without having to reprocess to split the files in order to work with my 3D footage. Instead between the manufacturers and the software developers we’re left with an almighty mess! As it is I could pretty much achieve the same as the plug in using Enhanced Dimensions free Stereo 3D Repair kit – although admittedly that’s in Adobe After Effects following the edit and possibly a bit more challenging if you are not used to After Effects.

I’ve spent some time today looking into Cineform, however it doesn’t look like it will help – unless I’m misunderstanding the process it still requires me to split the files prior to converting to it’s own intermediate format!

The only hero in all this are the guys over at 3dtv.at as they offer a splitter for 29 EURO that actually works well although it does generate files considerably larger than the original camera files and is a little slow. However they are definitely my hero’s for today as I’m ripping through the Panasonic z10K files and will start working from the demuxed files as soon as the process is done. Glad it’s not a 48 hour film project shoot!

3D Resources

We’ve been doing some tidying up of the blog and have introduced a funky new Stereoscopic 3D Resources Section where you’ll find a range of (hopefully) helpful links to 3D related items and information.

Currently we’ve included 3D Books, 3D Websites, 3D Software, 3D Film Festivals and our own Enhanced Dimensions 3D Tutorials. Also included is our small selection of reviews of 3D Blu rays.

We’ve also moved our Free 3D Downloads into the resources sections to keep it all neat and tidy!

Our resources section is far from comprehensive currently, so if you know of anything that we’ve missed please do let us know.

Free Stereo 3D Repair Tool for After Effects CS6

Following my learnings during an intensive week at the 3D Bootcamp at Ravensbourne College, and having hands on with the incredible Mistika system, under brilliant tutelage of Dr Who stereographer David Wigram, I’ve updated the eD-3D Stereo Repair kit to add in keystone correction and tweaked some of the functionality and order of the controls.

Using the new set-up I repaired the sample image within minutes. I also stuck to the basic order of the repairs as David taught us on Mistika.  The addition of keystoning repair should now allow you to repair the most common flaws from a simple to use interface. I’ll create a new tutorial including the keystoning error fixing soon but in the meantime I’m making the file available for AE CS6 immediately.

Currently available for Adobe After Effects CS6 only. So if you need to fix some stereoscopic 3D footage come on over and get your FREE copy of the eD-3D Stereo Repair Kit for CS6 right here.

“Diableries” 3D Book from LSC

Having just got back from three amazing weeks in the US (Los Angeles, St Augustine then Orlando) I had a few exciting Amazon packages awaiting my return, one of which contain the brilliant new book “Diableries” from The London Stereoscopic Company.

The book has information as well as fully digitally retouched reproductions of the series of stereoscopic cards dating back to the 1860’s onwards. These cards, called ‘Diableries’ (which translates roughly as ‘Devilments’) depict a whole imaginary underworld, populated by devils and skeletons in dramatic or humorous dioramas (depending on your take on this) .  The cards are really stunning works of art themselves and the books explanation of their production process shows how much attention to detail was included in their manufacture. They are known as FRENCH TISSUES, and are constructed in a special way to enable them to be viewed (in a stereoscope) illuminated from the front, for a normal ‘day’ appearance in monochrome, or illuminated from the back, transforming the view into a ‘night’ scene, in which hidden colours magically appear, and the eyes of the skeletons leap out in red.

The book is really stunning and comes with its own Owl Stereoscope neatly contained within the package and I believe this would make an awesome Christmas present for anyone interested in stereoscopic 3d or unique historic curios from the period.

The London Stereoscopic Company is owned by Queen guitarist and stereoscopic enthusiast, Brian May and photographic historian Elena Vidal.

The book is currently available from Amazon with a saving of nearly 40% off the cover price. Find out more here

Diableries: Stereoscopic Adventures in Hell