ENCOUNTERS IN THE THIRD DIMENSION (3D)


3DManiaPoster01_250px1999

sPG

CANDLES 5

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DIRECTOR:  Ben Stassen, Sean MacLeod Phillips

May contain spoilers!

…Or Encounter In The Thrid Dimension….

NO! There is no spelling mistakes, okay well there is a deliberate one, one which appears in the film’s title as a moment of, (cough) comedy…

Originally presented back in 1999 on duel-strip 70mm IMAX 3D, this short 40 minute contrivance is a so-called comedic documentary, the sort that children would have been shown on a trip to a museum with an IMAX screen back in the day. It supposedly takes a look at the history of 3D cinema through a CGI laboratory in which the film is set. This is a blending of CGI and real photography with our host, guide and mad scientist (Stuart Pankin) who will lead us through the world of the third dimension.

But this tour begins on the wrong foot. One of the first so called historical 3D clips is the Lumiere’s and their “Train pulling into the station”, often regarded as the first real public presentation of film. Later in the 1930’s, they would revisit this footage and convert it into early 3D though the footage has yet to be recovered, but this film not only claims that they were making 3D films in 1896, which is WRONG as last year saw the centenary of 3D, with the first public showing taking place in New York City in Jun of 1915. It also decides to replace the original footage with a terrible 3D CGI abomination!

But is not all bad, with the inclusion of a clip from T2-3D, the now defunct Universal Studio Tours ride, making this the ONLY DVD to have any of this particular footage included to date, as well as few clips from actual 3D films from 1950’s and a selection of 3D photography.

But when all is said and done, this was a misjudged IMAX movie with a childish tone for a subject which is now considered to be more historically significant than when this was made.

The DVD on the other hand, I would consider to be rare, yet it is cheap. It is rare because nobody wants them and I get it, they are only for the enthusiast. At the time when I picked these up, the early 2000’s, 3D was still limited to a few IMAX theatres and would not break into the mainstream until 2009’s Avatar, even though it began it resurgence in 2007 with Disney’s Meet The Robinson’s and the low budget horror flick, Scar 3D.

These discs provide TWO 3D options. The first is an Anaglyth variant known as Color-Code 3D and the second was known as Field Sequential, which is basically the forerunner of todays LCD shutter glasses. So with this in mind, it occurred to me to dig out my copy of this disc and see if my DLP 3D projector would play the format and…

it does!

The problem is that this format was designed way back when for CRT TV’s and it appears that it lowers the resolution from DVD’s 525 lines to Video Cassette’s 200 or so lines. The result: A pixelated image that you would expect from a lower res image of Youtube which has been blown up.

So, this is the down side. The upside however is the colour is vibrant and the 3D is astonishing. The DTS sound, taken from the IMAX negative is rich and powerful, the image would be better if not using the Field Sequential option but the 3D image is worth the sacrifice.

This is just a fun 40 minute three dimensional extravaganza for fans of IMAX or 3D, providing not the greatest experience that can be had with home cinema by any stretch, but something different and unusual as not many people will be watching this film anymore and certainly not like this.

I would strongly recommend this cheap and unusual DVD to fans of either IMAX or 3D and whilst you will not be blown away by the picture clarity if using the F.S. option, the Color-Code will still work and the 2D Version is included, the F.S. 3D is IMAX  at its most bold and brash from the time it was made, a time when 3D was just a quirky idea from the past.

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