‘Godzilla’ Cinematographer Speaks Out Against 3D, Go See ‘Godzilla’ In 3D!

Godzilla 3D
Photo: Warner Bros.

It’s not as if Seamus McGarvey hasn’t worked on films that have been released in 3D. For example, he shot The Avengers as well as this weekend’s Godzilla, but both were post-converted into 3D. As for his thoughts on the format, well, in an interview with Pushing Pixels he doesn’t seem to be much of a fan.

I think it’s very much a marketing gimmick. I saw “Gravity” last night, and I thought for the first time that it made really good use of that. “Hugo” looked pretty good in 3D as well.

As a cinematographer I absolutely despise it. To shoot native 3D is so complex. The machinery involved completely goes against any kind of fluidity to the camera. It takes so long to set up. We actually started shooting “The Avengers” on real 3D using Red cameras and AnimaTechnica rig. After one day of shooting the director said that we’re not doing it. Sam Jackson and Stellan SkarsgÃ¥rd said that we better get our act together or they are out. It really got that serious. Each lens change was 45 minutes, it was a disaster to align the cameras up. In the end we did it in post which is a much better way of doing it. You can dynamic shifting dimensionality during the shot, play with it quite a bit. But I really hope it goes away.

There are a couple things here. First off, he believes 3D is a gimmick and as everyone who doesn’t like 3D, but refuses to speak ill of Martin Scorsese or Alfonso Cuaron’s films, Hugo and Gravity still get love as if complimenting the 3D somehow makes either film better.

Next, he clearly has no interest in shooting in 3D, which I’m sure any DP comfortable with shooting in 3D would probably argue against, but he goes a little further with his reasons against shooting in 3D when it’s suggested that if it’s merely about the technical side the equipment will likely improve:

I’m sure it will. But the problem is that aside from the technical difficulties of achieving a 3D shot, there’s something about the film in 2D. We don’t want an impression of reality when we go to the cinema, we don’t want that brightness, I mean I don’t want it anyway. I like the inherent flatness, and creating depth with lighting cues, with focus, with darkness and light. That is, to me, essentially cinematographic.

Then, when we get to the exhibition stage, everything’s darker. You wear the glasses which is actually a pain that corrals your vision and experience. It’s just not fun in cinema, and I always get a headache when I watch a 3D movie. Everything seems fuzzier. I don’t think that it looks as good, and I’m hoping that it will go away. 3D sales are dropping significantly, and kids in the cinema are not responding either. A lot of the studios are staying away from it now. In fact, “Godzilla” will get a predominantly 2D release, with a 3D version.

When it comes to Godzilla, which I am actually about to walk out of my house and go see in IMAX 3D, McGarvey says, “We shot Godzilla as though it were a 2D movie.” Great, good to know I’m seeing it how it was meant to be seen.

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