Not long after announcing the upcoming release of the Star Wars saga on Blu-ray, Lucasfilm revealed plans to bring all six movies back to theaters in 3D, beginning with Episode I: The Phantom Menace in 2012. The announcement prompted both excitement and criticism from fans.
There's no doubt that 3D movies are the next big thing for Hollywood. With the success of James Cameron's Avatar, films like Clash of the Titans underwent a rushed 2D to 3D conversion to capitalize on the format's popularity -- and its higher ticket prices. As a result, some fans have criticized the Star Wars 3D release plans as bandwagon-jumping and money-grubbing.
Many of the exciting action scenes from the Star Wars films lend themselves to 3D; the podrace from Episode I immediately comes to mind. But if a film was originally conceived in 2D, a 3D conversion may fall flat (pun intended). Converting a 2D film to 3D is a long, painstaking process which involves separating characters and objects from the background and adding depth. A scene where all the characters are standing in the same plane gains little in 3D, and may just end up looking more artificial.
Attention to Detail
John Knoll, Visual Effects Supervisor for Industrial Light & Magic, reassured fans that the conversion of the Star Wars films to 3D won't be rushed. He also hopes his involvement in the original filming will give him an advantage when creating depth in the 3D versions. "I'm pretty familiar with the depth of the scene," he said in an exclusive StarWars.com video. "I know how far back that wall was in the reality of where we were shooting."
Even setting aside the technical issues, many fans are wary because of George Lucas' history of constantly changing his films. Do we really need a new version of Star Wars every time a new technology becomes popular? But with time, care, and attention to detail -- rather than a rush to get the 3D Star Wars films out as soon as possible -- 3D technology would enhance the Star Wars visual experience.