'All 3-D not created equal'

As CEO of DreamWorks Animation, Jeffrey Katzenberg is afraid that his fellow Hollywood motion picture executives are going to kill the goose that laid the golden egg. The proverbial goose is 3-D technology, and Katzenberg says Hollywood is now at a “genuine crossroads” as to the future of the new medium.

He was critical of Warner Brothers’ 2-D to 3-D conversion of “Clash of the Titans,” which he termed “cheese ball.” The critics almost universally agreed with him, although audiences are coming in large numbers to see the film, which is currently in movie theaters.

If the experience of “Clash” is replicated and becomes the conversion standard, the 3-D phenomenon will fade away within a year, Katzenberg said.

“We’ve seen the highest end of [3-D] in ‘Avatar,’ and you have now witnessed the lowest end of it [in ‘Clash’]. You cannot do anything that is of a lower grade and a lower quality than what has just been done on ‘Clash of the Titans.’ It literally is “OK, congratulations! You just snookered the movie audience,” he said.

Katzenberg warned that all 3-D is not created equal. “It is first and foremost a very, very powerful creative storytelling tool,” he said. “Starting with a filmmaker who designs and shoots his story with 3-D as part of that storytelling, it’s is going to be a huge difference from a 2-D film that is put through a down and dirty post-production technical process. It is absolutely analogous to taking a black and white film and colorizing it. It’s technically possible to do, but it’s not what the creators designed, and it doesn’t look right.”

As for TV, Katzenberg said some post-conversion of 2-D to 3-D “plays sensationally,” and there will be a market for conversions on home TV. On a smaller monitor, the images hold up in a much more compelling way. But in movie theaters, “if we as an industry choose this 2-D to 3-D post-production conversion, it’s the end. As quickly as it got here, that’s how fast it will go away,” he said.

Katzenberg spoke at the NAB Show and advocated 3-D for TV, where, aside from DVD sales, he said he thinks sports and gaming will be most popular.