Two Dee Or Not Two Dee

If you go see only one movie this year, let it be Toy Story 3.

(People say I might change my mind in a few weeks after seeing Inception, but I doubt it.)

Toy Story 3 scores on every level and it scores very, very highly.

I have ranted about my experience with 3D movies on this blog before, because I care about the picture quality and the overall presentation of the movies.

As a filmmaker, I am pedantic about the way my films are shown.

I can sense it if the aspect ratio is out with 5% – it turns out I am always right about this – and I get really itchy if the sound is not perfect.

So I also care about the presentation of movies by fellow filmmakers.

I largely agree with a post Roger Ebert published earlier this year. I feel that the quality of the movie experience is not improving with the current state of 3D. We’ve gone back. We’re paying serious money for a technology that is inferior. Let’s face it, 3D is still in its infancy. It looks clumsy; the projection may be flawless but the whole spiel with the glasses is really a bit of a joke.

But let’s get to the point.

Today I saw Toy Story 3 for the third time and so did my 5-year old son Baxter. We both enjoyed it as much as the first time – if not more.

I wanted to see it again because on Tuesday I am publishing an analysis of the key story points, based on a minute-by-minute breakdown.

When I see a movie this many times, it is a great opportunity to compare the different format versions. I did this with Avatar before as well as with Up.

This film is superior in story to both these other films, who I think were great though not in the same league as Toy Story 3.

Repeated viewings in different formats have also shown me something that may not surprise you.

The stronger the story, the less the format matters.

That’s why I twittered earlier this week:

Toy Story 3: perfect film, in 3 or 2D,
colour or B/W on a cellphone.

Don’t worry, I won’t go into much detail because I wasn’t really thinking about all this unless where it really bothered me. So my feedback is pretty rough, like any punter’s would be.

The 2D version.

I had free tickets to the 3D ‘special event’ version but paid to see the 2D version first.

Even though I knew there was a 3D version playing in the cinema next door, at no point in the movie did I feel I was missing out on anything. The picture was crisp and beautiful. The sound was good.

At no point in the movie was I distracted by any technical issues.

The perfect movie experience, really.

The 3D version

This is the second Pixar movie in 3D (not counting the re-released 3D versions of Toy Story 1 and 2) and you can tell that since Up, they’ve really upped their game. Depth of the images if even more stunning, direction is sensational and the opening shot shows off what you can achieve in 3D that you never will in 2D.

However, the screen felt a lot smaller than in the 3D version. The stupid glasses re-frame the screen and this is a horrible disadvantage. I wear glasses already, so it’s not ideal having to balance another pair on top. The kids glasses were slightly too small for my son’s head; the adult ones were way too big. As opposed to Up, this time he didn’t complain about that.

The individually wrapped glasses were of good quality and worth the extra 1$.

The IMAX 3D version

Today I saw Toy Story 3 at the Sydney Darling Harbour LG IMAX, which claims to be the world’s largest IMAX screen. Sydney has another IMAX screen at the Hoyts Entertainment Quarter but I will NEVER pay money to go see a movie there. It’s just ludicrously little. The sound is sensational, though. So it may be an idea for the blind (and I’m not kidding here, as I know blind people do go to the movies, too) to go there. It is surely overpriced for its value.

But back to the Darling Harbour Sydney IMAX.

The screen is BIG. And the picture is … awesome.

However, don’t leap up as yet: a ticket costs you $28 and THEY GIVE YOU THE CRAPPIEST RECYCLED GLASSES.

I don’t get this.

For the $17 normal 3D you get superior glasses than here?? That just ain’t right.

Still, if you can live with the scratches (you can complain and ask for another pair but chances are they’ll be worse) and the horrible glare, this IMAX is a better experience than the ‘regular 3D’.

I almost forgot something: the short film Day & Night, preceding the feature film, has some shots with extreme contrast: an image cutout against black screen. Here, the 3D fails miserably. You effectively see a double, echoed ‘ghost’ image, instead of a smooth 3D picture. Sorry, not acceptable.

Someone twittered today that some home systems are superior and they don’t have these artifacts. I haven’t seen any of these yet, so I can’t comment. Anyone?

To conclude the IMAX review, as usual the sound is downright spectacular. No ordinary theatre beats this. And believe me: great sound is half the experience.


If you’re a perfectionist like me, you’d want to see the 2D version. Whatever they tell you, 3D is still in its infancy and it does NOT look good yet. We’re in friggin’ 2010 and I don’t want to see artifacts while watching a movie for which I’ve paid upwards of $15.

If you’re after effects and thrills and you don’t care for the story much, go for the IMAX 3D version.

As for the regular 3D: if you have the choice, don’t bother. Not worth it.

I would love to hear your comments on this.

Toy Story 3 Mania

Watch out for more Toy Story-themed articles over the next few days: we’ll have a story breakdown of all three Toy Story movies.

This Tuesday, I will publish my breakdown of Toy Story 3, followed by the earlier installments next week.

And here’s a goodie: if you click on the image below, you can download the 16×9 version of the screensaver. It looks great on my laptop!

– Karel Segers

Karel Segers is a producer and script consultant who started in movies as a rights buyer for Europe’s largest pay TV group Canal+. Back then it was handy to speak 5 languages. Less so today in Australia.

Karel teaches, consults and lectures on screenwriting and the principles of storytelling to his 5-year old son Baxter and anyone who listens.

He is also the boss of this blog.

4 thoughts on “Two Dee Or Not Two Dee”

  1. I couldn’t agree more with the current state of 3D. This is especially true with the rush to post-process films to 3D. It’s more of a distraction than an integral part of the film. Once someone figures out how to do 3D right (shoot in stereo, make it meaningful to the story and not just a gimmick), I might give it another shot. But right now, I’m still opting for the 2D versions, like we did when we saw TS3 opening night.

  2. Right you are Karel! Story is king and it really doesn’t matter what the format. Personally, I think this current 3D stuff is a fad but that’s not what the media is preaching. I agree with you on the quality experience thing! I’ve been so disappointed with my theatre going experience in the past that I’d much rather watch a 480p DVD version on my 37″ LCD TV than pay twice the amount for theatre tickets. Ever since I heard Robert Rodriguez on an audio commentary complain about how theaters run their projectors at half brightness to conserve bulb life, I’ve been amazed at how much more vivid colors (especially in animated fare) are on my old 720p LCD as opposed to what you see in the theatre. And since I’ve aged a bit and my eyes aren’t what they used to be, I think that really effects my enjoyment of 3D. About six months ago the family visited Disneyworld and I was sorely disappointed in the quality of the visual 3D image in their movie venues. If you’ve got to have perfect vision to see it, what’s the point!


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