Eli Roth Talks ‘Piranha’ 3-D Technology

One of this years biggest issues in Hollywood is 3D. After the success of James Cameron’s Avatar studios began post-converting non-3D features so they could charge a bit more in theaters, and thus rape their audience of their money (and eyesight). Arriving in theaters on August 20th is Alex Aja’s Piranha 3D, another in a long line of 3D releases. While horror director Eli Roth is best known for his own films, he has also been dabbing in acting (Inglourious Basterds), one of which is Dimension Films’ remake. We caught up with Roth who talks quite a bit about the 3D process, assuring us horror fans that the 3D was not an afterthought. Details inside.
Bloody-Disgusting: You and I talked briefly about the 3D in Piranha, I’d love to share with my readers what you said. Can you explain to them how it was developed and how it was never an afterthought like Clash of the (Crappy) Titans?

Yes. 3-D is at an interesting point now. You can shoot digital 3-D and it looks great, or you can shoot film and convert and it looks great – but only if you planned to do it that way from the start,” Roth explains of the technology. “With a film like The Last Airbender, it was an afterthought. The film was never shot that way, so as a result many of the scenes look dark and unwatchable. You can’t see anything – all that beautiful photography and those amazing effects and all the design work – it’s ruined. The film looks like you’re watching it out of the back of a tinted SUV, and if you took off the glasses, it actually looked quite stunning. But that was a last minute decision and a rush job. Think of CGI – there are people who know how to use it and take the time to get it right and other films where the visual effects look rushed.

With Piranha 3D, the very title of the film is Piranha 3D,” he continues. “It was written that way and photographed to be converted. This means that when you’re setting up a shot, next to the camera is a technical adviser from the 3D company who tells you exactly what light won’t work for the 3D, how far the subject has to be from the lens if you want it to look good when it pops out of the camera, etc. The film is not completed until it’s converted, and Alex Aja began that process back in November, and it still isn’t finished 100%. The 3D looks spectacular, and when you take off your glasses you see no difference in the lighting and color.

Quickie afterthought conversions like Last Airbender are ruining the name of 3D conversion. It’s an amazing technology, but only works when the film has been shot that way. And if you’re going to retrofit a film, like Star Wars, then you have to spend a long time getting it right. It’s not easy and it’s not instant and when it’s a last minute rushed decision we can see it immediately. But to associate Piranha 3D, a film which spent years planning this, months shooting it with the technicians on set checking the convertibility of every shot, and so far 8 months working on the conversion, is not fair. The film looks beautiful.

We shall all bare witness on August 20.