By: Addison Wylie
Disney has seemingly hit an oil spring within the past year. As The Lion King’s anniversary was approaching, Disney released a print into theatres where long time fans and youngins new to the film could experience the now-classic tale in a different dimension. Sure, it’s gimmicky but it worked; not only for me but for the movie going public. The Lion King 3D made a boatload of cash. It’s two week engagement turned into a full length theatrical release.
What I appreciated about the post conversion job in The Lion King 3D was that it allowed us to take an in-depth look at how hard these animators worked on the project and just how many layers there were to a scene. For a single shot, we could make out numerous animated cells on top of other cells. For budding animators, this was an experience not worth missing.
With the success, Disney, without hesitance, announced that numerous other classic Disney movies were going to be getting the 3D conversion as well, such as Finding Nemo, The Little Mermaid, Monsters Inc., and Beauty and the Beast.
One problem that many filmmakers run into with the 3D post conversion process is that their film may not be lit for a 3D movie. When an audience puts on their 3D glasses, the colours and the lighting are both muted. Therefore, when shooting a 3D film, a Director must instruct to their Director of Photography that the lighting should be brighter so the images can still be seen clearly with 3D glasses.
Having seen Beauty and the Beast 3D, I can confidently say Disney has dodged this obstacle. Even though the film was made in 1994 and, of course, not suited for high tech 3D technology, Disney has done a terrific job taking the animated film and restoring the colours. This means, the picture is much brighter and the glasses don’t obstruct our viewing experience.
The problem with this conversion for Beauty and the Beast though, and it’s an odd one at that, is that the film takes on a convex look. I haven’t experienced anything like it; even in other post conversion movies.
As we watch the effects play out and watch characters like Mrs. Potts, Lumiere, and Cogsworth bounce around on the screen, I couldn’t help but notice everything stick out more when it crept towards the middle of the screen. To use an extreme example of what I was seeing, imagine looking into a fisheye lens from the outside in. Very, very weird indeed.
The Lion King 3D did not have this complication so it made me think; why was this happening to one animated movie and not the other? After spinning my head around the issue numerous times, I came to the conclusion that maybe it has to do with how old the movies are. With Lion King, there were multiple layers of animation at work and, thus, we could make out a lot of detail. With Beauty and the Beast on the other hand, it’s an older film with basic layers of sparsely detailed animation. This means, there isn’t a whole lot of things that jump out at us or add depth. Perhaps, the technicians at work felt the need to force things out of the screen in order to make the movie goers happy with the fact that they are shelling out an extra 3D fee.
That all being said, I’m not an animator nor an expert of animation but I do know what looks right and what looks wrong and this botched result leans more towards the latter.
So, maybe these older, basic and traditionally drawn films shouldn’t be touched with the 3D magic wand. Maybe they should be cherished for what they are and enjoyed that way. When The Lion King was released during it’s 3D run, there were many theatres that were playing the normal version sans glasses. Hopefully, the same will be done with Beauty and the Beast.
It’s great that Beauty and the Beast is accessible to a younger crowd this way. With the colours being as vibrant as they are and the romance and the humour still resonating at full force, people should be seeing this and enjoying this masterpiece in a theatre. However, don’t feel the need to shell out the extra fee and dawn the glasses because without them, you still have a perfectly fine experience to welcome the new year.