15 October 2007

Top Twenty list of the Best 3-D Effects in Film

Wanting more

OK, there are quite a few more great objects that have come at ya in 3-D film history, so here’s number 11-20 of the list. Or you could call it a second top 10 list, whatever sounds better.

The Top Twenty List - numbers 11-20
Of items coming out of the screen in 3-D films
As composed by Alexander Lentjes of 3-D Revolution Productions

11. Wasps - Pirates (1999)

Pirates by Iwerks 3-D
Dancin' like a butterfly, stingin' like a wasp

Pirates Is a 4-D show, so the chair buzzes as the wasps come close to the face. that kind of a connection makes story sense. The telescope of the opening sequence is a better 3-D effect, but the bees are very original indeed. It is difficult to find objects small enough to come out of the screen and still integrate with the story, at that small a size.

Apologies for this image not being in 3-D; it is almost impossible to get 3-D plates of 4-D attractions. If you know of a 3-D version, do let us know!
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12. Borg medical probe - Star Trek: The Experience – Borg Invasion 4-D (2004)

Star Trek: the Experience - Borg Invasion 4-D
Resistance to the 3-D effects is futile

On this list because the 4-D use of the chair is one of the most original employed, other than the bird poo simulation by water sprinklers in Pirates, that is. As the Borg implant approaches the viewer in 3-D, something in the 4-D chair pokes one in the back. This is a true surprise and pretty darn freaky. It magnifies the primal reaction to volumetric imagery, which has the viewer on his toes already. Extending it to real-world touch, in a way that perfectly integrates with the story.

Apologies for this image not being in 3-D; it is almost impossible to get 3-D plates of 4-D attractions. If you know of a 3-D version, do let us know!
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13. Rebecca Morbidus - The Incredible Invasion of the 20,000 Giant Robots from Outer Space (2000)

The Incredible Invasion of the 20,000 Giant Robots from Outer Space
I come in pieces

Yes, we made this short and we’re voting on our own work here, but it’s one of the three stop-motion releases in 3-D in film history and the first one to include CGI as well. That deserves a good mention, doesn’t it? The girl coming out of the UFO and out of the screen is Rebecca Morbidus, and this is the first time we see her. So it's the most dramatic entrace possible for a protagonist of the story. Because she is a stop-motion model - and the audience knows this - it is possible to have her come out of the screen and be as small as she is. It's an acknowledgement of the format and the medium, even referencing Ray Harryhausen style stop-motion. It’s very meta-cinematographic 3-D that way.

14. Metal T-1000 claws - Terminator 2: 3D (1996)

Terminator 2: 3-D
The future is not a happy, fluffy place

James Cameron’s early practise with 3-D and still shot with a proper 65mm twin-camera rig. As the T-1000 reaches for the viewer with his metal (CGI) claws, a basic concept of 3-D storytelling is employed: first-person camera work. You become the person being reached for by the T-1000, so basically with this shot you are John Connor and are watching through his eyes.

Apologies for this image not being in 3-D; it is almost impossible to get 3-D plates of 4-D attractions. If you know of a 3-D version, do let us know!
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15. Severed arm - Jaws 3-D (1983)

Jaws 3-D - floating arm
3 Dimensional fish bait

The storyboard department was clearly struggling with ideas for stuff to come out of the screen in 3-D for this movie. In fact, the severed arm is only one of three proper in-your-face objects employed in the 90-minute film. It certainly beats the climatic 3-D shot of the shark itself swimming towards the camera (Jaws doesn’t actually come out of the screen in that shot). And it’s always nice to see prosthetics rather than CGI come close to the face – it’s got that realness to it that is difficult to approach with computer effects.

16. Bath bubbles - The French Line (1954)

Jane Russell in 3-D - The French Line
After building that Chrysler engine in 3-D, J.R needed to scrub herself clean

J.R. in 3-D – need we say more? Well yes, actually, because Jane Russell was yesterday’s pin-up, and probably not well known any more with today’s movie going audience. She was a kind of a 1954 Jessica Alba. So besides knocking BOTH our eyes out, why is this 3-D shot in the nr. 11-20 3-D shot list?

Because it’s so incredibly rare to see a quality lead in 3-D, let alone a singing and dancing one with endless legs! The French Line and it’s focus on a 3-Dimensional J.R. is a great stereoscopic musical treat. This particular shot with the bubbles is an imaginative one, which ties in with the story and doesn’t overdo it. A very nice balance is struck, and that, too, is rare in 3-D.

17. Floating hunter robots - Terminator 2: 3D (1996)

Therminator 2: 3-D - Battle Across Time
Hunter Killer robots: it's the future

Before Avatar and even before Aliens of the Deep, James Cameron did Terminator 2: 3-D. The floating robots come out of the screen as they are searching for the Terminator and John Connor. These floating robots are in CGI, while the action behind it is all pure live-action film. They do make sense in the story and the 3-D is not out of place in this movie because it is preluded and followed by real actors on stage. I needn’t mention that the terminator also sticks his shotgun out of the screen multiple times throughout this Universal Studios 3-D theme park movie.

Apologies for this image not being in 3-D; it is almost impossible to get 3-D plates of 4-D attractions. If you know of a 3-D version, do let us know!
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18. Jared-Syn’s arm - Metalstorm (1983)

Jared-Syn of Metalstorm 3-D
Reach out and touch someone

In this hallucinogenic sequence Jared-Syn, the bad guy of the story, comes walking out of some background smoke and approaches the camera in slow-motion. He then reaches out to the camera and is thus reaching out for you, the viewer. Because being touched by him means dying (as is often the case with out-of-screen objects), it can be a scary effect. The fact that it is in slow-motion makes this shot very effective – it is truly hallucinogenic to see an actor move in 3-D in slow-motion.

The biggest beauty of this shot, though, is Jared-Syn’s costume, which is very round and volumetric. Probably the best costume design for 3-D film ever employed. This film was made for 3-D release and almost all shots are set up for impressive 3-D. Too bad the story is rubbish and the acting forgettable...

19. Hungry Giant’s head - Barbie and the Magic of Pegasus (2005)

Barbie Pegasus 3-D - Giant's head
Lunchtime - and one dream of Bratz is very close to getting fulfilled

I could be called a rubbish movie with sections in 3-D purely for extra sales of the DVD (it’s a straight-to-video release), but this one shot employs a clever trick that is really only possible in 3D CGI. The head of the giant grows physically smaller as it approaches the (virtual) 3-D camera, so that it can stick further out of the screen. The thought of Barbie being cooked up and eaten by this giant is also a most pleasurable one. Sorry, girls.

20. Spraying canister - Medium – Still Life (2005)

Jaws 3-D fish head
Fish head!

Small particles like water splashes, dirt, sparks, etc. normally don’t work well in 3-D because they move too fast and are too many to focus on. Objects coming out of the screen, so those with negative parallax, require individual attention. On top of this, objects can only come so close to the camera before they become unfusable to the eyes. This then destroys the 3-D results. The spray canister, though, still works because it’s a cloud rather than independent particles and a glass plate was used to stop the spray before the camera and before the closeness to the camera that is unfusable.

At 3-D Revolution Productions we can seriously help you to create compelling, thrilling and well thought out 3-D shots. Just contact us for more information on how we can assist you with your 3-D Film, TV or Web Production.

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