To celebrate the forthcoming re-release of Titanic to
mark the 15th anniversary of its original release, and
the centenary of the famous vessel's maiden and last
voyage in the Atlantic on April 15th 1912.
Twentieth Century Fox granted myself an exclusive look
at eight scenes from the second biggest grossing film
in history in the new 3D format. Following this
there was a brief Q&A with the producer of both
Titanic and Avatar, Jon Landau, the long time
collaborative partner of James Cameron. Here is
a review of that footage and the brief time with Mr.
Landau ('please call me Jon').
The footage we see did mark out a Reader's Digest
version of the movie, a bite size form of the 194
minutes of Titanic. What initially hits you of
the footage, is how clean the film looks now in a
digital form shot so cleanly and properly. The
first scene we see is of when Rose (Kate Winslet) is
about to board the vessel and she speaks of not
knowing what the fuss is all about; the depth is so
lush, you forget how vast the film was in its original
form - the last great Hollywood epic that was built
from scratch; an 800ft set built in Mexico, hundreds
of extras on set every day, the making of the film had
enough worries and material for a film of
itself. There were many fears for the film's
release, and yet the sentiment of the film and the
benefit of a narrative story with universal appeals
plus a unique female character that was inspiring to
young female cinemagoers. It was these females
who kept going back to see the film not only for
inspiration from Rose, but also to fawn over Jack,
played winningly by Leonardo di Caprio.
After the footage, the first question was what would
you have done now if you were shooting Titanic in
terms of stock?
JL: If we were doing it today, we would shoot the film
in 3D. James wanted to but we did not have the
technology, so the reason we are re-releasing it is
that we feel that there is an appetite to see it again
on the big screen. In regards to the 3D release,
we are giving people the option, as we are
re-releasing the 2D also, yet the 3D will be the
archival master of our film for years to come.
Yet we feel the narrative storytelling is a selling
point, and the ability to use 3D allows the audience
the 'transport of experience' and to escape thanks to
the storytelling, the characters and the performances.
What was the task of changing it to 3D?
JL: It was a mammoth task, every shot of the film is
now a visual shot, every frame (24 per second) had to
be looked at in terms of stereo depth
processing. It surprises me how films release a
3D format in conjunction with their original 2D
release, as they must only have six weeks to turn it
around, and sometimes I feel that is the detriment to
their product. We had 60 weeks to work on the
conversion, and before that we had a year and a half
of research and talks with vendors about the
possibility of converting; the wonderful thing about
conversion is that it is a creative process that uses
technological tools, so we have not gone into the film
editing it and doing a directors cut, we are
converting not changing. We had 450 people
working full time on the film; defining space and
figuring out where objects sat in the shot. We
used $18m on this conversion, more of a budget than
What was the hardest shots for 3D?
JL: The toughest scene to actually do for example, was
the scene where Jack joins Rose for dinner at the
captain's table, there is so many objects on the table
and so much attention to detail in the original
production in the foreground and background, that to
figure out which depth a glass should sit in.
And also close-ups, because our faces have depth, so
sometimes a face looks bloated or a nose may look
flatter than they appear. However, the audience
came first so we had to make sure the sentiment of the
film was not lost.
Why do you feel 3D is getting the wrong end of the
stick of late?
JL: I think not every film needs to be in 3D, you look
at a film like The Artist is black and white, and
silent and it is just as powerful a movie. I
feel part of the problem are the glasses, they are
part of a deterrent. So I have gone to the
glasses' manufacturers asking them to think of it as
an opportunity, to make them cooler, classier and more
aesthetic value to when you are sitting there.
Because 3D is becoming more applicable to our lives as
it appears in our homes, computers and mobile devices,
so why not make it better viewing experience. I
also don't think 3D is the future, for me we have to
try and make a move to 48 frames per second; which
will give us a crisper, sharper look giving the
audience a heightened sense of reality and transform
the exhibition experience. I think Peter
[Jackson] is doing it for The Hobbit, so that will be
exciting - and Peter is thinking of returning to the
Lord of the Rings trilogy and convert them for 3D
What is the future for you and Mr.Cameron?
JL: Well we are working on the Avatar sequels, we have
recently leased a facility for 5 years but we have
built in-house a building for the technical, post
production crew so they are a part of the
collaborative process. We learned so much from
Avatar to help us with the Titanic conversion than you
realised; 3D is not the be all and end all in action
sequences because of the sharp editing, 3D is key in
dialogue scenes where the nuance of performance can
still be captured and still grab the audience.
And we don't want to own the rights to 3D filmmaking,
we invite Steven [Spielberg] and Peter [Jackson] to
learn from us as we are all storytellers and we want
to push and improve the future of film.
Here is the trailer for the re-release out on 6th