Yesterday, I was watching The Adventures of Tintin with the kids, and I was struck — not for the first time — by the way some images that were obviously designed for 3D can look a little odd, composition-wise, when viewed in a 2D format.
I have never had a problem watching movies like, say, Up in 2D, because those films used 3D to accentuate the existing depth of their images, without trying to poke you in the eye; when the third dimension is stripped out, you can still appreciate the image for what it is, even for its depth of composition. But whenever I watch animated films like, say, Kung Fu Panda 2 at home, I am struck by the way they often throw in gratuitous shots of people wagging objects at the camera; it is almost as though they were trying to remind you, the viewer at home, that you’re watching a less-than-optimal version of the film, which is kind of odd when you think about it.
But then the kids and I watched another movie which made me wonder if I was becoming a bit too sensitive to this sort of thing. Specifically, we watched A Bug’s Life, a film that came out way back in the 1990s, years before the digital 3D trend got going. And here, too, there was a scene where someone waved an object — well, actually a character, namely Slim the Walking Stick — right at the camera:
Now, if this movie had been made at any point in the past three to seven years (the digital 3D format basically got going, on a commercial level, with the release of Disney’s Chicken Little in 2005, and of course it hit its tipping point with the release of Avatar in 2009), I might have assumed that the image above was generated with 3D exhibition in mind. But, unless someone at Pixar was really forward-thinking about this sort of thing, that almost certainly wasn’t the case.
Footnote: A Bug’s Life is one of the few early Pixar films that has not been reformatted for 3D yet. Toy Story and Toy Story 2 were re-issued as a 3D double-bill in 2009, and both Finding Nemo and Monsters Inc. will be re-released in 3D later this year. What do those films have that A Bug’s Life doesn’t? Sequels, imminent or otherwise!