Ice Age 3 in 3D: The Future of Cinema?

Every day, I’d like to think I try something or do something that I’ve never done before. Yesterday, I went even further than that, and did two, or maybe even three things, for the first time ever. I drove to Gatwick, to pick up my cousin (which is a LONG way from the mean streets of West London), and I also took her to see the Phantom of the Opera at Her Majesty’s Theatre. The third, tenuous item on my list is driving on the M25, during rush hour, on a Friday, at the end of term. I didn’t have fun, and I certainly don’t advise anyone to try it.

My cousin is visiting England for the first time from Los Angeles, and despite this only being a passing visit of a few days, she insisted on seeing the ins and outs of London town. So, this morning, my cousin, myself, and my sister hopped on a bus to Marble Arch, where we procured a horrible open-top sightseeing bus. We amused ourselves with this for a while, and when we were bored of the taped commentary that was forced on us (the guide we were given when we bought our tickets insisted it was ‘digitally’ recorded, whatever that means in terms of credibility ), we hopped off, and then hopped on again, a dynamic that continued ad infinitum.

The hours went on, and evening sneaked up on us. My cousin said that she wanted to see a film, to end the night, so we journeyed to Leicester Square, where the five cinemas could only offer two films at that hour: Public Enemies, or Ice Age 3. My sister wasn’t too keen on the idea of Public Enemies, so we opted for Ice Age 3, in the end.

We were given special 3D glasses before we went into the theatre proper, and sat down wearing them, and watching the trailers, like the cool people we are. After a short while, we were instructed to put on our 3D glasses, before an interactive game (I know!) financed by the good people at O2 began. We were told we were on a spaceship in an asteroid field, and had to help the captain navigate the ship left and right, by putting our hands up, respectively, when instructed. We were seated in the middle of the theatre, but I was more right-ways, I thought, with my cousin and sister more to the left. The ‘game’ began, and the captain of our vessel soon started hollering directions at us. My side were rather rubbish. I don’t think we ‘turned’ the ship right at all, but we still made it through in the end. I’m sure they must have used some kind of nifty motion-sensing cameras to engineer this game, and while rather simple, it has an awful lot of potential. You must not forget that this experience was in 3D as well.

My only experience of 3D films, minus a few visits to the London IMAX, trigger memories of red and white 3D glasses, along with some nausea. Gone are the coloured lenses, replaced with a completely transluscent set of specs. The 3D seems to work in much the same way. There are actually two images projected on-screen, which are then spliced together through the magic of the 3D glasses, and you’re left with a fantastically colourful, full 3D image.

The actual film itself was delightful. Without spoiling it for any hardcore Disney fans out there, everything ties up nicely in the end, and I was left grinning like a loon. I’m sorry to say that I’m a sucker for Disney films, and Ice Age 3 didn’t disappoint. The 3D was also implemented wonderfully, whether there was a T-Rex lunging out of the screen, or snowflakes fluttering into the theatre, it really felt like the 3D added something special to the experience.

This brings me on to my main point. I feel the 3D was really something that you couldn’t replicate at home. The film had generic, ‘DO NOT FILM THIS FILM OR WE’LL BANG YOU UP, PROPER, LIKE’, but who would even want to? I mean, you could record it, but all you’d get is a dodgy multi-layered image. Even if the pirates were able to engineer it in such a way (which I’m sure they already have done), I just wouldn’t feel the same, sitting at home, crouched in front of a 20″ screen with 3D glasses on. Indeed, I’d feel quite the fool. Call me naive, but is this how to beat piracy? I’m not pledging allegiance to either side of this debate, but I’m sure that film buffs know all about the power of the ‘world’ of the cinema. I genuinely enjoy going to the cinema, sitting in a dark room, and forgetting about the world, and all my problems for a couple of hours. I’m sure the 3D format wouldn’t lend itself to all types of film, but it’s certainly something to ponder.

The next thing I want to consider, is the little 3D ‘game’ we all collectively took part in, as an audience, before the film began. Could this be the future of cinema? Could we turn animated films, such as this, into our own 3D ‘choose your own path’ adventure, using grouped audience reactions as stimuli? We’ve already got the technology, and from the looks of things, animation studios are really starting to embrace the format warmly. Perhaps the O2 ‘game’ was a sort of trial. A pilot, if you will, to see how many people actually participated. I may be getting far ahead of myself, but I think animated cinema might be just about to take a turn for the better. A fully 3D, interactive film? Oh, be still, my childish heart…

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