FIVE QUESTIONS: PAUL W.S. ANDERSON
Director Paul W.S. Anderson is entering the 3-D fray when his next film, “Resident Evil: Afterlife,” hits screens September 10. He’s a champion of the technology, and many of his movies, including the “Resident Evil” films, “Event Horizon,” and “Mortal Kombat” are the kinds of films that draw viewers into a immersive world — which seems to be the ultimate goal of 3-D. The tech-savvy director is one of the featured keynote speakers at the 3D Gaming Summit, to be held in Los Angeles on Wednesday and Thursday, and allowed Hero Complex contributor Jevon Phillips a few minutes to chat.
JP: Is 3-D TV the next phase or the next plateau for entertainment?
PA: Absolutely. I’m cutting a movie in 3-D at the moment — we shot the new “Resident Evil: Afterlife” in 3-D — so I’m in my cutting room every day and I’m watching 3-D televisions and I’m watching the movie in 3-D … and then I go home in the evening and in my home theater and I watch regular movies. I’ve got to say, I’m really disappointed. My TV at home is not a 3-D TV and I’ve really gotten used to having the depth of 3-D images. So, without a doubt, I think it’s definitely the future and I think you have a whole generation of kids who are growing up now who are watching 3-D movies and are being immersed in 3-D and they’re going to want that. Not only are they going to expect their movies in 3-D, but if TV and the gaming experience can be in 3-D, then so much the better. That just makes the whole movie experience that much better.
JP: So you don’t think it’s a phase or a cyclical technological movement?
PA: Oh no, it’s completely not. I think it’s like the introduction of color photography. When Technicolor came in, everyone said, “Oh, it’s just a fad” or “It’s just for big movies — you won’t be making every single movie in color.” Cut to 10 years later and you were now making an artistic decision to make a movie in black-and-white at that point because color became the standard. I think 3-D will become the standard for filmmaking and for television and whatever you watch your gaming platforms on. Just because it’s so good. It’s great and it’s immersive and then I go home and I watch flat-screen TV and I go, “Ugh! Why is there no depth here? Why is it all flat?” I went home and watched my favorite movie, “Heat,” and I just went “Ugh, Why is it so flat?”
JP: The differences between 3-D techniques and technologies is a hot topic among filmmakers and moviegoers. Where do you weigh in on this in terms of things that you’ve had to research — you ultimately went with James Cameron’s camera …
PA: Well, it’s not really James Cameron’s camera. We shot the movie with a Sony F35 camera, which in my opinion is the best digital camera in the world with the best image quality. But Cameron and Vincent Pace had
built that camera into a 3-D rig, and that was the rig that we used: the Fusion Camera system, which is the same system that Cameron had used on “Avatar.” Cameron very generously allowed us to see a chunk of “Avatar” last year when it was still in production. Two things became very clear: One was he’s making an amazing movie, and the other was the 3-D imagery that he was capturing with this camera system that he’d built out of the Sony cameras was raising 3-D to a completely different level. I had always been unsure about 3-D because I’d felt that it was a difficult experience in the cinema. It had given me a headache or it hadn’t worked very well, or if you didn’t sit in the right part of the cinema it wasn’t very good. Cameron was raising 3-D to a completely different level where it was an experience that you’d never had before. And that’s why I decided to use that camera system. For me, originating images in the 3-D system is completely different than doing a dimensionalization process in post-production, which is, for example, what “Clash of the Titans” did. The images that you get are nowhere near as good because you’re shooting a 2-D movie. It’s like shooting a black-and-white movie and then colorizing it afterward, or shooting a silent movie and then dubbing all of the dialogue afterward. It’s not the same thing. It’s like drinking a fine bottle of Champagne or cheap Thunderbird. Both of them will get you drunk, but I can tell you which is the better experience.
JP: Nice, I get it. So, how much influence does the game have on you when you’re making the movies?
PA: I played the first three games and was immersed in the world, and that’s what sucked me into the idea of making the movie. I’ve approached each of the films almost as if they were another installment of the video game. The Resident Evil video game franchise is very long-lasting and it’s been very successful over a long period of time, whereas a lot of other franchises have kind of floundered — for example, the Tomb Raider video game franchise. And one of the things that I think Resident Evil does well as a video game franchise is that they’re constantly reinventing themselves. They’re introducing new stories, new characters and new locations. They’re not stuck doing the same thing over and over again, which I thought was one of the weaknesses of Tomb Raider.
JP: Always good staying with the fan base. And speaking of your fan base, are you planning a Comic-Con trip at all?
PA: Yeah. Well, we just did WonderCon and that went very well. We showed the teaser trailer for “Resident Evil” and got an excellent response to it. We launched our teaser at the same time that “Clash of the Titans” came out, and at pretty much the same time that “Clash” was getting criticism about how weak the 3-D was, we were getting a lot of positive comments about how strong the 3-D was in our movie. That eventually leads to the difference between something where you go to great lengths and expense to originate 3-D images or you jump on a bandwagon and do it cheap in post-production. And that’s a message that we’re going to continue to get out there — and a trip to Comic Con will be a part of that.
— Jevon Phillips
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Photos: Director Paul W.S. Anderson. Credit: Courtesy of Paul W.S. Anderson. His technological inspiration, James Cameron, at the Hollywood premiere of “Avatar.” Credit: Getty images. Tomb Raider heroine Lara Croft was a hot commodity, but cooled quickly. Credit : Eidos.