Nearly a decade ago, Pixar brought us a story about an anxious clownfish who embarks on a life-altering adventure through the ocean, desperate to find his son, who was snatched up by a fish-collecting dentist. Last month, I had the opportunity to visit Pixar Studios to screen the film ahead of this week's 3D release. Not only was it a dream come true to get to visit Pixar Studios, but going there to see one of my favorite Pixar movies was a treat, to say the least. And Finding Nemo 3D did not disappoint. It helped that I hadn't seen the movie in a while, but seeing it again on the big screen, added to the 3D upgrade made the movie feel almost new again. From the sound of it, Pixar put a lot of work into the movie's 3D upgrade, and it shows in the finished product.
As I mentioned when discussing the Partysaurus Rex screening, the Pixar Studios lobby is decorated with various statues and artwork, paying tribute to Pixar films. This includes a really cool Brave tapestry, and a 3D display featuring Dory and Marlin swimming face-to-face with Bruce the shark. Just outside of the building are statues of well known Pixar icons Luxo Jr. and his ball. It also looks like they set up a big stone arrangement, similar to the one featured in Brave in the grassy area. You can check out some photos in the gallery below.
The trip to Pixar Studios included a screening of Partysaurus Rex, an interesting lesson on how 3D technology is being used to upgrade older Pixar movies, some dinner (a tasty buffet and cupcakes for dessert!), and finally, the screening of Finding Nemo in 3D. The in-house theater is pretty roomy, with red chairs and a dark ceiling that lights up with twinkling (and shooting) stars when the rest of the lights go out. Once I was able to get over my excitement at getting to see Finding Nemo on the big screen at Pixar Studios, I focused on the movie itself. With its vibrant colors and beautiful ocean setting, Finding Nemo is a film that benefits well from a 3D conversion. The colors and textures seemed especially enhanced, offering a really great visual experience in addition to a fantastic story. As an adventure story and a tale of friendship, family and bravery, Nemo holds up really well. It's still as funny and heartfelt as it ever was. I'd definitely recommend fans of the film (especially those who haven't had the opportunity to see it on the big screen) check it out.
The next day, we visited the Aquarium Wing of the Academy of Sciences to speak with co-director Lee Unkrich, Stereoscopic Supervisor Bob Whitehill and Director of 3D Production Josh Hollander to talk about revisiting the movie and its 3D makeover.
Unkrich sounded very pleased with what Bob Whitehill and his team did with Finding Nemo, in 3D.
They're really good at creating these really visually dynamic, immersive 3D experiences, but without distracting from the story-telling at all. For these - we don't really call them conversions - these 3D versions of the film, as well as the new films that we make, that we put out in 3D - we love 3D but we never want the 3D to distract in any way from people's experience. We don't want to have a bunch of gimmickry and stuff flying out of the screen. It's just not our core philosophy about how to us 3D.
From what Unkrich says, it sounds like CG animated movies have an advantage over live action films when it comes to 3D conversion. He compares the process to having a time machine, in a way...
The whole process of converting 2D to 3D is getting better - getting more sophisticated, but at the end of the day, it can't be replaced by actually shooting in 3D in the first place. And that's where we're lucky in our world - in this world of CG animation - that it's like we're able to get into a time machine and go back and reshoot the movie. It's the same movie. The movie hasn't changed in any way, but it's like we're able to go back in time on the set and shoot the movie with a 3D camera instead of a 2D camera. So everything that you see, every bit of dimensionality is all true 3D. When we make our movies, we construct virtual sets. Everything is virtual, it's in a computer but it's a set. And there are objects and characters in space, and if you're now filming it with a 3D camera, you're getting a true dimensional experience. And it's just never the same with the conversions, I think.