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Clash of the Titans

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Scott Roberts
Clash of the Titans
on Apr 5, 2010 at 2:58:13 pm

What a mediocre movie! I definitely didn't hate it. But I definitely didn't like it. It's just sort of there. It's equal parts entertaining and boring. I think the best way to describe it is that I'm happy to have seen it I guess, but I'll probably forget that it existed a month from now. It seems doomed to be a movie that will be frequently played on TBS in 2013, that will be it's overall legacy. I can already see the commercials for it...

It's not that it was bad filmmaking really, the special effects were really good, the cinematography was at the very least interesting to look at. It's probably the clunky episodic story that didn't take the time to really invest in the emotions of any characters that brought it down a notch. I suppose it also didn't really do anything that astonishingly new from the 1981 Clash of the Titans, aside from the obvious visual upgrade. But if this were to be based solely on being a very fun, cool action movie that character development takes a back seat in (some movies want to be that), then it really wasn't that bad.

Then again, I feel like someone took the time to give John McClane an emotional connection to the audience in Die Hard. So, I don't know.

I saw it in 3D as well. I knew this was a 2D film converted after-the-fact, but for some reason it seemed at least better than Alice in Wonderland's 3D. Or maybe it just seemed like a better fit for this kind of movie. There were a number of scenes that looked like a shoe box diorama, with characters and backgrounds all seeming on very obviously different layers. But then other times (I believe they were in action scenes from what I remember) it seemed to work. I was expecting to be really disappointed by the 3D, but ended up thinking it was just "meh".

So I guess it's fun for what it is, but I'd probably suggest waiting for DVD rental, or an inevitable TBS Wednesday night movie a few years from now.

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Tim Wilson
Re: Clash of the Titans
on Apr 5, 2010 at 10:03:26 pm

[Scott Roberts] "I was expecting to be really disappointed by the 3D, but ended up thinking it was just "meh"."

My rant-to-be has been building up steam, but you've brought up a number of very good points - not least of which is the 'meh' factor. That is, I agree with your whole post - you've just given me the platform for my still-forming rant, the theme of which is that"

The quality of the 3D has precisely ZERO to do with when it comes into the moviemaking process.

Let me tell you a little story.

I'll give you a variation on this theme. I was talking with a guy from one of the biggest hardcore nerd sites on the net. They're all about processors, motherboards, next-gen IT interfaces, yap yap yap. This guy was going on and on about 4K and DI and VFX and stereo 3D (did I mention yap yap yap?) and he threw down: nobody who knows anything would buy anything other than a RED.


I said, Avatar. Have you seen it? Turns out that he had, and he thought it was great. Yeah, but did it LOOK great I asked. He said yes. 1920x1080, I said. The next Tron movie? 1920. I gave example after example. After a pause, he replied....

...Now that you mention it, Avatar gave me a headache. Then the guy looks around the table and says, It gave you one, too, right? That 1920 just didn't look right.

(Ron will testify to this exact exchange.)

The point being, whether or not Avatar works for you, whether the 3D experience works for you, whether or not you think the story is compelling -- has nothing to do with whether it was shot at 1920x1080. Anybody who says that it did is a liar or a goofball.

Same with Titans. The 3D either works for you or it doesn't. The movie is boring or it isn't. That's fine. But none of that has anything to do with the 3D being added in post. If somebody hadn't told you, would you have known? Would you have KNOWN???

And you know what, even if you had, it still doesn't say anything about the actual technology -- only the quality of the implementation.

Here's why: Post is post. An individual instance either works or it doesn't. But you know what? Post mostly works. For every example you can find of a stupid key, I can show you another that you didn't even know was there. For every stupid grading "look," I can show you...well, pretty much everything else you're seeing everywhere...color grades that are just dandy. For every ridiculous virtual set, CGI fireball, or even a stupid edit - there are examples that WORK.

Can you imagine what movies would be like if the ONLY legitimate approach to ANY kind of VFX was in-camera? In fact, part of the reason why post EXISTS is because in-camera-only ISN'T REALISTIC. It's not realistic for every production process, and more important - much of what happens in camera isn't "real" enough. You color grade to bring up lighting, or to highlight colors that the lens or emulsion couldn't properly capture. You remove airplanes from the sky. You add elements, even in quiet domestic dramas, that could never be shot.

And on and on and on. You don't always use post to create extreme departures. Sometimes you use post to GROUND your images in reality. The problem isn't post as an idea, or even a set of technologies. The problem is that some of it stinks, and when it does, pundits start saying things like the problem with today's movie is all the CGI. Well, by definition, they're only saying that about BAD CGI...of which there's plenty. But there's plenty more that nobody knows is even there.

Of course, many of you reading this know exactly what I'm talking about, because you make the GOOD stuff.

These are among the reasons that adding 3D in post will become more and more prevalent: in many circumstances, it's cheaper, it's faster. It can create a more realistic 3D experience. You don't have to FIX shooting errors if you don't MAKE them. Most important, deft post adds artistic flexibility.

As one tiny example: there is precisely zero prospect any time soon of changing a shot's focal point on the fly with a dual-camera set-up. For the time being, every one of those changes is a separate setup. But using systems available today, I can animate the depth of up to 20 elements at a time, literally in the blink of an eye. It's easy.

Here's what James Cameron said about the process I'm talking about when he saw it in 2005:

"Though I still love 3D original photography, the technical solution provided by In-Three was a welcome addition to our palette of stereo film-making tools [for "Aliens of The Deep"]. They were able to add real depth to the 2D video images captured by our robotic vehicles, and these shots blended beautifully with our 3D shots. I predict that their innovative techniques will continue to expand the possibilities for 3D content."

(We had more about this particular process in the COW Magazine, in an article called '>"Freeing Artistic Vision from 3D's Limitations."

Did you hear ANYONE complaining that the 3D was added after the fact when they saw Aliens of the Deep in 2002. NO. Because nobody knew. Because it was done WELL.

Also worth noting: it was done alongside "conventional" 3D photography. That's the nature of most of the post that most folks do - some good stuff in camera, some good stuff added, blended together well. How is it even vaguely conceivable that 3D in post won't become part of every "in-camera" 3D shoot? And with the virtually unlimited potential offered by eliminating limitations, why not do more in post, rather than less?

I happen to like more of his movies than not, but the top proponent of in-camera effects is Michael Bay. Yet it's extremely rare for people to say, "Wow, nothing is as satisfying as real pyro." It's simply not relevant.

Anyway, I'm still working on articulating some of this stuff, and I appreciate your indulgence, and respect your decision if you haven't read this far.

Yr pal,

Do it right, it works. Do it wrong, it doesn't. The technology hasn't been a problem for years, and is getting better.

Tim Wilson
Creative Cow Magazine!

My Blog: "Is this thing on? Oh it's on!"

Don't forget to rate your favorite posts!

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Scott Roberts
Re: Clash of the Titans
on Apr 6, 2010 at 2:59:39 pm

Touché...! I will be the first to admit that I had a negative stance on converting 2D after the fact based pretty much on opinions I've read in articles and comments by filmmakers. Had no one told me that Clash of the Titans was after-the-fact converted, I most definitely would have had a more positive stance going in if someone had said they were shooting it with 3D in mind and were laboring over the 3D from the first day of shooting onward. I guess for myself, and a lot of other people, it's kind of just like if someone points out at a restaurant that all the meat is actually a meat-alternative. Even if it tastes just like meat, I'm going to be skeptical because it's not what I would normally expect. Had no one told me that the hamburger I just ate was actually the best soy burger I've ever eaten, then I would have gone on living my life thinking "Man, that was some delicious beef!", instead of "That was pretty awesome... ...for a soy burger..."

I guess I'm just saying that some kind of negative attitude has been put in my head about the after-the-fact 3D. Call it ignorance, call it OCD, call it what you will, but if no one told me any of the methods or procedures involved, I'd still say Alice in Wonderland's 3D was not good, Clash of the Titans' 3D was 50-50, and Avatar's 3D was mostly great.

I get your point now that it doesn't matter if it's after-the-fact 3D or shot with intent of a third dimension, it really just matters that they do a good job on it.

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Tim Wilson
Re: Clash of the Titans
on Apr 8, 2010 at 12:51:58 am

[Scott Roberts] "...based pretty much on opinions I've read in articles and comments by filmmakers...."

See, that's the thing. People can that the right way to shoot things with cameras. Well sure, of course it is. Unless it's not. Where would movies be if the only way anybody made them was on sets and locations, PERIOD? Nothing added at all.


At the end of the day, it's post. I like post. I believe in post. It can't solve everything, but yeah, you can fix some stuff. And sometimes, you can create stuff. That's not necessarily a shortcut for hacks and bottom feeders. It can be one brush of many that an artist uses too.

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