A sign that 3D movies aren’t necessarily the modern fad that some believe may come in the unlikely form of Will Smith’s 2004 movie I, Robot, which is to become the first library title to be re-worked into the stereo visual format for Blu-ray release, instead of theater re-release, when it hits stores at the end of this month.
The movie is one of what studio Twentieth Century Fox is calling “a handful” of movies from its library that will be converted for Blu-ray re-release in the 3D format, although no other titles have been named at this time (Entirely conjecture, but considering that Fox owns the rights to the Alien movies, is it really going to pass up the chance to at least put either Ridley Scott’s original or James Cameron’s Aliens into 3D? After all, both are at least as well-known as I, Robot, and in the same genre, as well…). According to a Fox spokesperson talking to the Hollywood Reporter, associates of Will Smith have seen the results of the 3D-conversion of I, Robot, and were apparently happy enough with it to ask about the possibility of other Smith movies receiving similar treatment.
The movie has been converted using JVC Kenwood’s 2D3D workstation, which made its public debut at last winter’s Hollywood Post Alliance Technology Retreat, with Fox already attached as a business partner at that time. One of the benefits of this system when compared with other conversion techniques, according to Fox SVP of Advanced Technology Ian Harvey, is that it allows for faster conversion by minimizing manual rotoscoping or paint work, which in turn can cut costs considerably. Estimates for 3D conversation have ranged from anywhere from $30,000 to $100,000 per minute in the past, which would considerably add to the budget of any movie project; Harvey won’t be drawn on the cost of the JVC system, but will admit that it is “less than other techniques” that Fox has previously considered.
The conversion for I, Robot was handled by a creative team including a specialist stereographer, but director Alex Proyas wasn’t involved, according to Fox (Again, it’s unknown whether other directors will be involved in their movies’ conversion in future, especially considering that the titles of said movies have not been made public as yet). Currently, the JVC system is aimed primarily on movies – and, presumably, potentially television shows aimed at the home market, rendering in HD but not beyond at this point; according to Fox’s Harvey, that’s the way it should stay. “They should shoot new films in 3D,” he said, adding that in his opinion, “there are still issues on any conversion. It is not like Avatar.”
The new, 3D I, Robot is released on Blu-ray October 23.