EXCLUSIVE: Joe Johnston on Shooting Captain America 2D vs. 3D
Hollywood is fixated on 3D these days, and The First Avenger: Captain America definitely falls into that category, though in this exclusive interview director Joe Johnston details to Earth's Mightiest why he's elected to shoot the film in 2D for a later conversion.
"We did a one day test shooting full 3D, as a feasability study to determine whether we should shoot CAPTAIN AMERICA in 3D or to shoot it in normal Hi Def and convert it to 3D in post. What an eye opener our test day was!" he explains. "The cameras and their necessary hard and software made up one of the most cumbersome and unwieldly packages I've ever had the misfortune to work with. I couldn't move the camera at a high rate of speed, I couldn't fit it through tight spaces, lens changes took 45 minutes...if the two lenses weren't perfectly calibrated to the exact same focal plane, the shot was unwatchable. It's harder to fast cut an action sequence because your eye needs time to re-establish the depth of each shot. The biggest drawback is that it would have added 30 days to the schedule. For all these reasons and more, I decided to shoot the picture 2D and convert it."
Which is enough to make a lot of fans nervous given the mixed results of previous converted films — Clash of the Titans for one immediately coming to mind. "Conversion has gotten a bad rap," he differs, "because of pictures that have done it badly. If you shoot the movie and decide at the 11th hour to convert it to 3D, you don't have the necessary information to process what we call the 'left eye'. We're shooting a whole separate pass on every setup to record the information necessary to convert to 3D in a seamless and undetectable way. When conversion is done right, you can't tell the difference between it and full 3D. Everyone touts Avatar as the new standard for 3D. It's beautifully done to be sure, but it wasn't entirely shot in full 3D. The filmmakers wisely chose to shoot about 30 to 35 percent of the picture in 2D and convert. I challenge anyone, myself included, to watch the picture and spot the 2D conversions.
"The other thing about conversion versus shooting in 3D...when 3D gives you motion sickness it's almost always full 3D. With conversion you have more control over where the right and left eye converge. The bottom line is that the added expense of shooting 3D meant money would be coming off the screen...fewer sets, fewer extras, fewer vehicles. I have a great cast and crew, and MARVEL has given me the necessary time and assets to make a great movie. I felt that I could make a better, more entertaining picture without the huge restrictions of shooting in full 3D. I find that after 20 minutes, I forget I'm watching 3D anyway."