Friday, November 18, 2011

Third dimension in movies - The adventures of Tintin in 3D

Sometimes we like the whole movie or sometimes we like it in parts - with 'The Adventures of Tintin - The Secret of Unicorn' it was both. On the whole, the movie was good but it was most enjoyable in parts however, I could not figure out how 3D had added to the cinematic experience. After watching the movie I really wished it was not in 3D, wonder if the next two movies of the proposed Tintin trilogy by Spielberg will also be in 3D. The movie had enough live action for a fast-paced-Indiana Jones-style-mystery-thriller-entertainer using motion capture technology.The drawings of Herge' were completely reengineered and taken to incredible heights with whatever best could be done for the digital medium.

From comic book to 3D movie
The transformation from the medium of print to digital should not be seen as an adaptation and it should not invite comparisons for these two media are as different as chalk and cheese. The only common aspect is the storyline serving as a base to explore, experiment and enthrall the audience. When the character and the story (as famous as Tintin) has enough for that rare cinematic treatment, why was the movie made in 3D? How did it add value from entertainment point of view? It would have been better in 2D itself .

These days, with the invasion of 3D movies, one is forced to watch them whether we like it or not -not all animation movies have the 2D option. For the movie Rio, I preferred the 2D version and avoided 3D. Avatar in 3D was a strict no-no! But there was no option for Tintin.... Perhaps, 3D is a selling point for some but it makes a strenuous viewing for many. The only movie I thoroughly enjoyed watching in 3D (IMAX version) was The Polar Express. I felt the use of 3D in this movie was every effective in creating the larger-than-life feel of the story. Others 3Ds movies like Toy Story 3, Despicable Me and Shrek 3 left me with mixed feelings coz I ended up with a headache after watching them.

My team member Arun Kaushik, who has a Masters in Animation from IDC, IIT-Bombay, oftens shares his ideas and expertise on film making and animation films. Occasionally, I chat up with him on technical aspects of such movies, especially motion capture techniques, and this time I approached him to share his thoughts on 3D. This is what Arun has to say:

When does 3D suit the most?
"I think 3D works really well when coupled with movies that allow the viewer to experience grand expanses or complex volumes at a leisurely pace. Grand expanses, because cramped spaces might as well be shot on 2D, and leisurely pace, because frenetic editing and camera movement ends up forcing your eyes to refocus faster than the brain can handle. I imagine watching documentaries on Mt. Everest or about outer space should be an amazing experience with 3D."

Advantages of 3D in movies
"3D helps you experience spaces to a greater extent. If the 3D is effective, you can actually feel the distance between an object close the camera and an one that is a kilometer away. I think that is essentially the feature that people like Cameron and Spielberg are excited about, and trying to capitalize on. And since it offers a tangible advantage over 2D, I think 3D is here to stay in it's inferior form, until the technicians manage to fine tune it over the next few years to remove the elements that cause headaches."

Side effects and appropriate use of 3D
"For an excellent explanation of why one gets headaches when watching 3D movies, I'll direct you to this letter from Walter Murch (arguably the greatest living film editor) to Roger Ebert (an extremely popular film reviewer). I don't think anybody can offer a clearer explanation."

Going by what Arun has to say, I wonder what it would be like to watch 3D film on a TV, now with advanced technology you don't need to wear the 3D glasses!

However, wouldn't it be better if the third dimension is left to the viewer to figure out, create, imagine or visualize - at least in some movies?

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Between the 'said' and the 'unsaid'
Lines inspired by Facebook and some Hindi movie songs:)

'Pal pal dil ke paas tum rehete ho...'
Par tum Facebook aur twitter se chipke rehete ho!

Status update: 'Zindagi ek safar hai suhana, yahan kal kya ho kisne jaana...'
Agar yeh maante ho to zaroor mera status 'like' karna

'Yeh dosti hum nahin todenge'
Dosti virtual ho to tootegi kaise?

'Tujhse naraz nahin zindagi hairan hun main...'
Itne profile pics badalne par bhi kisi ne nahin kiya 'like' mujhe:(

'Khuda jaane ke mein fida hoon , khuda jaane mein mitt gaya...'
Khuda jaane yeh mere mobile Facebook ko kya hua!

'Dost dost na raha pyaar pyaar na raha, zindagi hame tera aitbar na raha...'
Yeh tha mere friend ke mind me jab usne badla apna status from 'in a relationship' to 'single'
Aur is pe kiya ek aur friend ne comment:
"Dude..take it easy, remember the song, 'zor ka jhatka ...shaadi ban gayi umar qaid ke saza"

'Yaron dosti badi hi haseen hai...'
Kyun na ho? Jab sab kuch virtual ho: greeting, inviting, meeting, gifting etc.

'Baatein kuch ankahee si, kuch unsunee si hone lag...'
Jab se main itne puraane aur naye doston ke 'updates' me kone lagi

'Saari umr hum mar mar ke jee liye, ek pal to ab humein jeene do jeene do'
'Give me some sunshine give me some rain, give me another chance wanna grow up once again'
Haan once again, mujhe is virtual social network se real ki duniya main jaane do!

'In dino dil mera mujhse hai keh raha...'
Teri life beet jaayegi yun hi 'Like', 'Unlike', 'Comment' aur 'Share' karte karte
Na kisi ka phone, na kisi ke aane ki aahat
FB me hai mere 549 'friends'
Par sirf 2 hai asli dost - main aur meri tanhayee.

Take it easy friends!
'Na juda honge hum kabhi khushi kabhi gham...'
Hum tum aur FB:)

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Yeh mera India: the week that was - a recap
Last week saw some interesting things happening around. One got to see how desires are fulfilled and ambitions are realized in many different ways in a nation where affluence and poverty co-exist with mutual indifference. Again, we showed how our mixed bag of priorities favors the glamour and glitz of international recognition than the truth of less privileged classes of society. To recap some headlines:

F1, Ra.1, 7 billion...It's all a game of numbers!
Yes, numbers of a different kind made last week's headlines. Numbers to fear and cheer about! For a change it was not the numbers we've been hearing from 2G and other scams. If Baby Nargis Yadav is the 7,000,000,000th kid in the world,  Sushil Kumar had the unique distinction of winning the highest ever amount in a game show (KBC) of Rs.5,00,00,000. And of course , the crores spent on Ra.1 and F1 that were being discussed endlessly- proudly displaying our ability to go international in sports and entertainment business. One quick look at these events and we know how our country is uniquely positioned as a nation of stark contrasts and mixed priorities.

When an 'aam aadmi' shot into fame!
While some need F1, some others need the bare minimum to make the ends meet.True to the spirit of the game show KBC5, the winner immediately shot into fame, from being 'aam' (common) to 'khaas'(special). Doesn't every ordinary person yearn for that 'special' status of achieving something. Ok, what does it take for someone common to become special: hardwork, luck, opportunity etc. For that matter, for most of us, life is a symbolic journey from a present state to better and improved one . However, not everyone is fortunate enough to make this transition from one social status to another.Unfortunately for millions of other aam janta who are toiling hard, there are no game shows to improve their condition.

Of fasts, yatras, jails and bails
Leaders and followers all aiming or getting attention with the tried and tested weapon of 'fasting' - the most misused Gandhian instrument. This has become a regular spectacle at least in my region. While some thought they could garner support for a revolution (a la Egypt or Libya) to wipe out corruption and other vices plaguing our county, some others believe tha yatra is the most powerful way to gain attention. As seen earlier, yatras on wheels or on feet, was a sure fire way for political wannabes to become a minister, a chief minister, wonder if it works for the post of a prime minister as well. And what about those who already had such positions and have landed up in jails. When those in jails fail to get bails would the jails be managed by prestigious star hotels?

Petrol, diesel and electricity
Who said the song from Pipli Live "Mehengayi daayin..." presents only the condition of the hapless farmers! Soon, the song could be equally appropriate for the city dwellers as well. The rising prices of fuel and power are bound to affect every aspect of life. The solution is not as simple as changing to a diesel car or the govt levying extra taxes on diesel vehicles. This will only add to the vicious cycle of demand and price rise dynamics.And what about electricity? Thanks to power politics in Hyderabad, most of us wake up to darkness every morning with scheduled load shedding , what with the government's supposed reluctance to buy power from other states.

Some wishful thoughts and...
If only, the taxes earned from high value events like F1 could be efficiently utilized for the benefit of the aam aadmi. But then, the question remains: what is the definition of aam admi - one who is below the poverty line (BPL)- one who's waiting for a job with MNREGA scheme or needs to depend on Aadhaar card for every transaction? Or, one who earns the livelihood on the pavements of a city or performs hardest of tasks possible with human labor? Or, one who...well, the list is definitely longer. Whoever he or she is, every politician would certainly get interested in them just before the elections.