Fake 3D films score 13% lower on Rotten Tomatoes

by phil on Sunday Nov 27, 2011 3:49 PM

I run RealOrFake3D.com, a site that delineates "real" 3D films that were shot with 3D cameras, from "fake" 3D films that were up-converted to 3D in post-processing. I decided to take all the 2011 films that have been released, check their Rotten Tomatoes score, and see if I could find a pattern.

And to no surprise, fake 3D films scored lower, with an average of 46%, versus a 59% average for real 3D films. Here's the data:

Fake 3D films are contributing to the death of 3D. It's almost like the studios focus test their films, find out they're poor, then decide to up-convert to 3D to recuperate their expected losses.

Apparently James Cameron is going to pull out some special tricks for the re-release of Titanic in 3D, but you can't just magically extrapolate content from one eye to the other. There will always be an authenticity gap between real and fake 3D films, and I think moviegoers sense this intuitively.


Petri said on November 27, 2011 4:23 PM:

"I think moviegoers sense this intuitively." That's exactly what I've been saying for a while now! And although I've seen some recent blockbusters where converted 3D appears to work pretty well for the most part, there's no getting rid of an odd feeling that something is missing, something is out of whack. Spider-Man reboot proved that shooting in 3D does not have to cost more or take longer than shooting in 2D, so Hollywood producers, why not shoot in native 3D if you know you're going to release the movie in 3D?

h said on November 27, 2011 5:38 PM:

I thought Deathly Hallows was legitimately filmed in 3D. Thats waht I was hearing

Josh Wood said on November 28, 2011 7:07 PM:

Transformers Dark of the moon was shot in 3D - or "Real" 3D.

Petri said on November 29, 2011 9:53 AM:

Josh, Transformers 3 is not 100% native S3D. Plenty of sources agree that it's at least partly converted. Some say most of the live action stuff is converted while others report that all the CGI footage and scenes combining CGI with live action plates were converted. I think Phil's site listed it as "Hybrid" instead of Real or Fake 3D.

Josh said on November 29, 2011 1:18 PM:

I know I am slitting hairs here, but for the purposes of this data I think its unfair to say Dark of the Moon is Fake 3D.

Even films shot in stereoscopic 3D go through a post process that cleans things up, but even considering that OR a few scenes that may have been post converted (I don't know of any) this film was shot in stereoscopic 3D. While the film as a whole fell sort of flat, there are some really amazing 3D elements - certainly doesn't go in the same trashy 3D category as Clash of the Titans.

From Michael Bay -

"Wow, I read these morons on the internet who think they are in the know. "We have problems with our 3D????" Really? Come into my edit room and I will show you beautiful 3D. There has never been a live action show that has pushed the boundaries of 3D like Transformers 3. We shot the entire movie with 3D cameras. I actually loved shooting in 3D.


And don't watch this movie in 2D, we made it for 3D."


Phil Dhingra said on November 29, 2011 1:22 PM:

Please read the footnote on realorfake3d:

"However, between one-third to one-half of is converted, with 78 minutes converted from Legend3D. All of the CGI was converted, which may not be a problem in most movies, but considering the transformers are the stars of the film, if they're not rendered natively in 3D (which should be the case with all 3D CGI), then viewers are kind of not getting the real deal."

And keep in mind, the studios have been mounting an aggressive campaign to whitewash fake 3D. This is how they've been making their real money the past two years. I'm one guy, with no real financial incentive. I want 3D (real 3D) to succeed, and poor 3D films are ruining the future of the technology.

Petri said on November 29, 2011 1:27 PM:

Legend 3D did 78 minutes of 2D-to-3D conversion for Transformers 3:



But I certainly agree that it shouldn't be compared to Clash of the Titans when it comes to 3D. As for the real/fake table on top of the page... I would probably list is as Real instead of Fake.

Petri said on November 29, 2011 1:36 PM:

Companies like Legend3D saw a juicy opportunity when 3D movies were making pots of money but studios couldn't make real 3D films quick enough to profit from the boom. So conversion shops stepped in and shovelled tons of BS at clueless producers who bought the hyperbole hook, line and sinker. It really grinds my gears to see conversion companies say things like "conversion can be as good or superior to stereo camera capture". Superior, really? Rrright...

Greg said on December 1, 2011 12:43 PM:

Films are no longer simply 3D native or converted. Most films are now hybrid with some shots converted and some in native 3D. Making things even more complex is that many films have single shots that contain many layers. Some of these layers may be native and some may be converted. This is certainly the case in most most recent blockbusters. This makes the discussion of "fake" versus native a lot more complex.

Clearly, there are examples of bad conversions. There are also some examples of bad native 3D. This discussion is not unlike the controversy in the 1980's of moving away from physical models into CGI. A lot of people hated CGI as "fake". The first film to use all CGI instead of models was Last Starfighter. Today, CGI is normally used instead of models and is successful in films such as District 9. The reason this is relevant is that not all shots can be captured natively at this time. Issues with differing specular highlights, reflections, particles too close to the rig or just lacking the option since the master may be archival footage (such as in parts of Hugo).

Phil Dhingra said on December 1, 2011 1:58 PM:

The delineation to me is ultimately not as important as movie experience quality. I believe you cannot get the full immersive effects of a 3D environment if it's fake. I understand it's a gray area, perhaps, with some elements being native and others being fake.

Ultimately, the hesitation to go native is the director of photography's lack of familiarity with stereography, and we need the industry to learn the new cameras quickly before people are turned off completely from 3D and we have to wait another 10 years for the next 3D wave (without glasses), rather than holding onto the 3D wave we have now.

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