NAB 2016: Ang Lee tries to convince us that 3D in 4K/120fps is the future of cinema

After the monumental failure of 3D on the consumer front five years ago, Ang Lee tries to convince us (again) that somehow watching movies in 3D captured in 4K at 120 frames per second is the best things since movies got sound. Apparently the latest 3D presentation of his latest movie “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk” at NAB in Vegas yesterday was some earth shattering event leaving people in awe of the exquisite cinematic visuals that apparently were indistinguishable from real life… The 11-minute sequence from “Billy Lynn” was projected on a couple of high-end Christie laser projectors in its native capture format – in 3D at 4K DCI resolution and headache inducing 120 frames per second for each eye. Some people who were in attendance during the presentation report that the format takes some time to get used to, but once it kicks in (like crystal meth) it’s an out of body experience.

Ang Lee

Sadly for us 24fps purists, we’ll now have to probably put up with this new fad in addition to the 4 upcoming AVATAR sequels that good ol’ Jimmy Cameron will torture us with in the next decade, which I am sure will be filmed in 3D/4K at 120fps. According to various reports, Jon Landau – JC’s best bud and Avatar producer was also in attendance and though the presentation kicked major ass.

I wasn’t there and I can’t comment on how it looks – but apparently it’s the best 3D screening technology ever. Of course it looks like TV daytime soap opera, but apparently it’s not as vomit inducing as the Hobbit in 48fps, which was the worst. I saw the Hobbit I in 24fps (thanks god) but still though the film looked like shit in 3D.

NAB 1953

Variety reports that some studio head honchos, industry leaders and other notable people in the business had a major Oh, Jesus moment after the presentation when the audience looked like they had just witnessed the 2nd coming of Christ.

SMPTE boss Howard Lukk – “I’m stunned. It’s a really powerful film, and a really clear presentation. It’s the best 3D I’ve ever seen in my life. The 3D is really, really good on this thing. Absolutely amazing.”

Pat Griffiss, VP of Technology at Dolby called the “Absolutely spectacular.”

“When it first started up … I thought ‘Oh, this is going to look like a video newsreel.’ But it was in 3D, the realism and the brightness and the frame rate, it was literally as if you were there.” Griffiss added, “This is undoubtedly the best 3D I’ve ever seen.”

Some may say that I have a beef with 3D, and they are probably right; I hate 3D with a passion, it suck. It just does. But more than with 3D and higher frame rates for theatre projection, I have a beef with the man himself – Ang Lee. What!? Wait..? Look at him – he’s looks like your high school chemistry teacher – he exudes honesty and good vibes… How can you have a beef with the dude? What’s he ever done to you?

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That may be, but the fact that he didn’t even bother to thank Rhythm & Hues, the VFX company that made his Oscar winning Life of Pi film possible, when he accepted his Oscar was a bit too much for me. And not just me, I remember the uproar in the VFX community over this incident – a fact made even worse by the fact that R&H were going bust during that time and had to let go their workforce.

Remember seeing people on Facebook and Twitter replace their avatars with Green Screen coloured square?

I do. And I did, not that I work in VFX, but I know people who do, and what Hollywood and in particular Ang Lee were a part of – the system, which relies so much on VFX expertise but is not willing to pay for it and even acknowledge the fact publicly with a simple – “Thank you to all the hard working VFX artists who helped create the world of Pi, without you this would have not been possible…” but no he didn’t say any of that… and that really rubbed me the wrong way.

Because it’s selfish, disrespectful, and down-right rotten ungrateful behaviour. Ang Lee used to make good movies – Ride with the Devil and The Ice Storm are really well made; but pretty much everything after Crouching Tiger is downhill… remember Hulk? ouch…

But that’s just my opinion. Go ahead trash me in the comments. Brag about your new 3D 4K TV with 240Hz refresh rate. I am sure it’s awesome. I really am.

4K 120fps in 3D may not be my cup of tea even if I haven’t seen it. But its existence and future acceptance will put even more reliance on gimmicks and snake-oil salesman trickery to get people into movie theatres to see bloated big budget Hollywood shlock. And you’ll pay $50 for it. Because it’s in 3D and in 4K HFR.

Most cinemas are not even equipped for 3D/4K at 60p hardly 120fps – so the re-tooling budgets and hundreds of millions of dollars that cinema chains would have to spent to satisfy the latest whims of millionaire hollywood darlings like Ang Lee and James Cameron would be paid for by you.

For me, I’ll just sit at home and watch old DVDs and blu-rays on my 5 year old Sony Bravia 40 inch 1080p TV.

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  • Rob Leickner

    Love the attitude. Love the site. Refreshing to read an article that isn’t just a copy and paste puff piece. I too find 3D and HFR an annoying distraction. And yes Ang Lee’s best days are behind him. Keep up the good work. I’m in your corner.

    • Thank you Rob, that;s nice of you. Appreciate your kind words. Glad to have you in my corner buddy and thank you for reading our little blog 🙂 Cheers, Ogy

  • Evan Thies

    I totally agree with you. It seems to be a debate on realism versus art. For me I go to see a movie to have a group of artists tell me a story, not to “feel like I was there”. Although I think there is a place for that, with VR/360° content or a ride at Universal or the like, I like feeling like you’re there and part of the experience. But I view the cinema experience as something different, it’s viewing a piece of art – and I don’t need 3D/HFR to “enhance” my experience.

    It’s almost like a painting vs. a photograph – the painting is an artistic interpretation of a subject and naturally lacks things seen in real life. A photograph of the same subject will feel more “like you were there” but won’t have someone crafting it to tell a specific story (as much). I remember seeing The Hobbit in HFR 3D and found it distracting, I remember going back to the theatre specifically to see it in non-3D 24fps so I could focus on the film more, instead of the tech. Anyway, just my opinion. Enjoyed the article, I always find interesting content on this blog!

    • Rick Bogan

      I totally disagree with your painting vs. a photograph analogy. What a slight to both painters and photographers.

  • Florian Lostix

    “Of course it looks like TV daytime soap opera”
    haha omg I thought I am the only one, all my friends now have TV’s with motion interpolation and shit like this and it’s absolutely impossible to watch for me.
    Is everyone totally blind, because else I don’t get how this is still a thing :(?

  • Rick Bogan

    Right on! I agree with Florian, Evan and Rob (except Evan’s painting – photo analogy).

  • TH

    I saw it and it is totally different than you’d think. The extra bump in FPS does something perceptually that changed the whole viewing experience for what I was expecting. Lee is not a big one for sharing credit but I hope that he thanks Doug Trumbull and his MAGI process for helping make this work.