Tag Archive: James Cameron


A new 3D Spectacle: Life of Pi

“In the night, the stormy night..Away she’d fly…
And dreamed of para- para- paradise….Para- para- paradise….Para- para- paradise
Whoa-oh-oh oh-oooh oh-oh-oh!”

When it comes to 3D entertainment, James Cameron’s Avatar is the unofficial benchmark which the filmmakers and audiences alike look up to in terms of visualization and how 3D effects can be more than just a gimmick and play a pivotal role in the screenplay. As mentioned by the genius himself, Avatar was a beautiful memory that wouldn’t have come to fruition in real world was it not for the latest 3D and CGI technology that made the memory come to life.

Since then, there have been many movies which have hit the screens in both standard and 3D but haven’t even come remotely close to James Cameron’s 3D masterpiece. The only two titles worth mentioning for their 3D effects in recent years are “Hugo” and “Prometheus”. But things are about to get very interesting as Avatar might have to share the spoils soon. The latest 3D caper to hit the screens this week is Ang Lee’s “Life of Pi”. The movie is about a young kid who encounters and survives a ship wreck and is stranded on a boat with a ferocious Bengal tiger with whom he soon forms a friendly bond and a union of allegiance. The two brave the turbulent waters and witness many beautiful discoveries and thrilling adventures.

The book’s author Yann Martel has himself said that even while penning down this story he believed that it was unfilmable. That in itself was a big challenge as despite of several cohesive ideations the project never picked up. When Ang Lee finally committed to the project, it took him a good three years and the creative backing of 3D technology from Cameron’s pace group to put the movie in place. 3D has been ridiculed by majority in India and abroad for being nothing more than a gimmick and in spite of TV makers bringing 3D TV’s in the market place, the 3D hysteria is yet to actually gather pace. It’s creations like “Life of Pi” that can intrinsically salvage the 3D cause and present a strong counter argument against the visual stereotypes by highlighting the true significance of 3D. From the trailer and the short snippets that I have seen, two really tend to stand out; the night scene with the leaping whale and the other with flying shoal of fishes. Watching those scenes in 2D wouldn’t really excite you but an added 3D dimension to it is certainly bound to be breath-taking! And even if that doesn’t impress you, then you my friend are stuck in a medieval age (no pun intended.)

My first thought on seeing the trailer ranged from being curious to being eager to bask in the visual effects and I am surely watching Pi’s adventure this weekend. Shame about the fact that Delhi doesn’t have an IMAX 3D theatre because that movie-viewing experience is really something else….

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I remember going to Nehru Planetarium quite a few times during my schooling days in Delhi in the name of class trips. The whole ethnicity of the place used to leave us kids amazed and the space show was the cherry on the cake. Just seeing planets, moons and stars revolving around you in a dome-shaped structure gave the heart-thumping feeling that you were actually in space. I can still recall that the next few days were spent with lingering feelings of the experience. At the time I believed that it was the closest one can get to virtual reality and then 3D happened.

The first Indian 3D film “Chhota Chetan” was released way back in 1984 and then re-released in 1998. That is when I first came to grips with how 3D works. As funny as the flying skeletons in the film were, it revealed a whole new avenue of entertainment. And since 3D was still in a very beginning stage, we watched it with Red CYAN 3D glasses. But that was it during the time for 3D as nothing concrete developed on that platform. The second half of the first decade of 20th century was the emergence of HD entertainment as people were still reveling in the massive SD (240-480p) to HD (720p) upgrade. And along with that came the LCD TV’s to replace the bulky CRT’s.

But the real renaissance period of 3D has coincided with the emergence of the IMAX cinemas in India. Industry insiders still believed that 3D was never going to be commercially viable, but IMAX changed that. After being a rip-roaring success across US, the IMAX 3D technology was made readily available for Indian audiences. My first IMAX experience was during my 2008 internship in Hyderabad when I got to seeBeowulf” and my was I left impressed. The combination of high definition and digital 3D made the protagonists come alive on screen. And that is where my love affair with 3D started. Major consumer electronic powerhouses after seeing the positive reaction of audiences towards 3D started to pump the moolah towards 3D home entertainment and engaged their workforce to produce 3D projectors and TV’s.

The initial 3D TV’s came with active-shutter in both plasma and LED technologies. While the majority of the masses were enthused about the concept of being able to watch 3D at home, there were not too many takers as the technology was exorbitantly expensive at the time. And there were major flaws of flickering and ghosting on these TV’s along with the bulky electronic glasses which were a constant source of headache for users. Eventually, the likes of Toshiba and LG did some more homework and decided to part with their active 3D technology in favor of passive 3D. And it did come as a welcome relief for the growing community of 3D consumers to have 3D technologies which was similar to the 3D in theaters. At present, the 3D medium is silently gaining popularity with most companies investing big time and more and more in the crowd showing favorable enthusiasm towards 3D. And a real blueprint that the 3D is here to stay has been the vote of confidence from James Cameron (creator of the blockbuster “Avatar”) and his constant pursuit to make passive 3D mainstream; one thing which he believes can only be defined by TV’s.

Now the ground reality is that only a certain part of the population can afford 3D TV’s at the moment because their cost factor hasn’t dropped significantly over the years, but the early adoption of the technology by manufacturers seems to suggest that mainstream and household 3D domination isn’t too far away.

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