Gravity's 3D supervisor attacks 'crap' 3D effects in superhero blockbusters

Chris Parks says Alfonso Cuaron used the technology properly

Click to follow
The Independent Culture

The man behind the acclaimed 3D effects in Alfonso Cuaron's Gravity has attacked the "crap" 3D in this year's superhero blockbusters.

Chris Parks, stereo supervisor on the hit sci-fi epic, claimed that while 3D was lovingly incorporated into the storytelling process on Gravity, that's often not the case – and it's putting audiences off.

He told The Independent: "I have gotten tired this year of watching films in 3D – I have to for professional reasons. The majority of the films that I've seen in 3D this year were not worth seeing and I'd have much rather seen them in 2D.

"I would say that your typical studio blockbuster, your typical superhero blockbuster, doesn't necessarily approach 3D in the same way as we did on Gravity - it doesn't have the director using it as part of the storytelling process."

Among the superhero films released in 3D this year were Iron Man 3 and Man of Steel.

"It doesn't add anything to the film," Parks continued. "There's only a point to watching a film in 3D if you're going to get more from it than if you watch it in 2D, because you've got to pay more for the tickets, wear dark glasses and see a less-bright image."

When Avatar arrived in cinemas in 2009, 3D was heralded as the future of cinema. But audiences in the US and the UK are now less keen on the format.

Alice in Wonderland and Clash of the Titans were the first big 3D blockbusters to follow the success of the James Cameron film, and many people thought their special effects were superfluous.

"The approach of some studios and some films has been to use it as something to get people into the seats, not caring about what happens to 3D film-making as a whole," Parks said.

"I've had conversations with directors where all they were interested in was the impact on their film, and didn't care how that affected the industry as a whole.

"Crap 3D will ruin a perfectly good film… There's a lot of crap 3D out there, but when it's used properly it can enormously enhance the experience."

Gravity, starring George Clooney and Sandra Bullock, is being touted as the film that shows 3D isn't just a gimmick.

Some 80 per cent of the film's opening weekend gross in the US came from 3D screens.

According to Parks, the "whole thing was conceived in 3D", and he was brought on before Bullock and Clooney had even agreed to appear in the film.

He said Cuaron attempted to use the technology in "emotive" ways. "He was trying to use the 3D get across the narrative to the audience. There are big, incredibly dynamic scenes of destruction, but there are long, intimate moments where we tried to use the 3D to communicate with audiences and break down a bit of the front wall of the theatre," Parks said.

In one particular instance [spoiler alert], Cuaron wanted to make the moment Clooney grabs Bullock's hand more impactful.

"When their hands touch, Alfonso wanted the 3D to be effective and he challenged the 3D [team] to do that," Parks said. "We massively increased the amount of depth in the shot to five times what it had been – it's something you would never do."

Parks is now working on another Warner Bros project, the Tom Cruise vehicle Edge of Tomorrow.

Gravity has already grossed $427m (£265m) ahead of its UK release.