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Movie Lovers We Love: Lawrence Kaufman Wants Hollywood and Indies to Embrace 3D Filmmaking

Movie Lovers We Love: Lawrence Kaufman Wants Hollywood and Indies to Embrace 3D Filmmaking

In our corner of the movie universe, people (for example, Roger Ebert) often grumble about the coming onslaught of 3D films in our theaters.  You’ll also see many of the same people dismissing the phenomenon because of its bulky glasses and higher ticket prices celebrating the stunning visuals of something like “Avatar.”

There are some people who are happy that studios are putting money into coming up with better ways to do 3D transfers, though.  Even as studios are just converting films into 3D to make their blockbusters more failproof at the box office. 

At the end of July, Lawrence Kaufman, the President of the National Stereoscopic Association, will convene a group of 3D afficianados at the annual 3D-Con in Costa Mesa, California.  Kaufman told Indiewire about the event, “3D is a passion for me.  It’s my 8th year as president, our 38th year as an annual convention, we do everything 3D — we have people that have put together shows, professional shows too, we get to see 3D projection in a great theater – the same Real-D circular solar glasses you get in movie theaters.  We’ll have Victorian stereo views, 3D comics.  Anything 3D.”

3D Con will also host two keynotes:  one from Queen guitarist (and astrophysicist) Brian May, who will present “Brief History of 3D,” and Lenny Lipton who was the CTO of Real-D before he retired.  Enthusiasts and industry professionals from all around the world will watch what the world has to offer in 3D entertainment and art, while spending some time playing around with the latest technologies in capturing 3D images. 

Kaufman himself got involved with the community as an award-winning 3D photgrapher.  But as President of the National Stereoscopic Association, Kaufman is a leading communty member who fights for 3D technologies on all fronts.  He’s happy that Columbia and Sony are working on restoring their old 3D presentations.  He’s also happy that the studios are getting out of the business of doing quick and sloppy conversions for their films.  “Most of the conversions are coming out really well now, and they’re investing more now that they’ve seen what it can do to the box office bottom line.  The ‘G.I. Joe’ sequel, for instance, is going to have a 3D version when it comes out next spring.  I will fight for native 3D filmmaking, though.  I wish ‘G.I. Joe’ was shot in 3D, but I’m happy they’re converting it.”

Kaufman is also insistent that 3D filmmaking doesn’t have to be any harder than 2D filmmaking, just bring a 3D cinematographer on set.  “They are teaching 3D filmmaking in film schools.  Companies like Pixar and Dreamworks have been hiring people to do 3D work for them right out of college.  USC donated the screen we need to project 3D films at this theater in downtown LA, and USC students can come to screenings for free.  There’s a montly 3D university in Los Angeles.  We have monthly 3D movie meetings and regular meetings.”

And though the 3D revolution may feel like a new phenomenon, Kaufman was quick to remind that “Kiss Me Kate” and “House of Wax” (both from 1953) were 3D movies.  “1939 was the first real memorable polarized presentation, at the New York World’s Fair in the Chrysler Building,” Kaufman said.  “In 1951, the UK hasd a short series had a popular 3D television series, and in the 1950’s Hollywood pushed 3D, and for two years it was fabulous.  But Cinemascope [widescreen] won out for an easy way to immerse audiences.  In the 1980’s, there were a few more 3D movies, but they weren’t made very well. 

“Now, with Real-D or similar projectors, you can see a flawless 3D presentation.  James Cameron and others are masters.  In December, ‘The Hobbit’ will be released, and it was shot in 3D at 60 frames per second!  At a higher frame rate, the 3D will look even better!”

Favorite 3D Film:  “The House of Wax” – I loved it on TV when I first saw it in 2D.  But in 3D, you see the chandeliers, the lamps, and one scene where Charles Bronson stands up…all in 3D, just shot phenomenonally for the time.

Favorite 2D Film:  The original “King Kong,” “Citizen Kane”

Favorite Director: “House of Wax” director, André De Toth.  Maybe having lost vision in one eye, made him appreciate vision more.  He was able to point out a lot of the flaws with the ways most people were using 3D. 

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