Tron: Legacy director Joe Kosinski talks 3D

3D films are attracting three times more cinema-goers than their 2D rivals. Add that enthusiasm to this decade’s nostalgia addiction, and unique sounds from the world’s foremost electronica act and Tron: Legacy sounds like a winner. Luckily, we got to see some of it, as well as hear some insights from director Joe Kosinski about filming in 3D.


Before we go any further, it’s important to note that 3D usually falls flat for me. A third-dimension added nothing to Toy Story 3’s brilliance. Clash of the Titans physically hurt, and I felt so disappointed by my Alice in Wonderland experience that I had to create a YouTube video review to get it out of my system.

It seems that the art-form must be advancing, then, because to my infinite surprise, Tron really pulls you into the virtual world. The outstanding set-pieces, the beautiful special effects and the eye-catching neons jump out the screen. Not in a pantomime Thorpe Park way, but with a depth to the action that 2D films can’t manage.

In a clever turn of direction, Kosinski also uses the technology to structure the film. He presents the audience with a 2D ‘real world’, while the Tron universe gets the added dimension – making it all the more eye-popping. For the first time since Avatar, 3D makes an important – and positive – addition to the film. But how do they do it? And it is worth the effort?

Kosinski explained that one of the biggest problems with filming in 3D is the much bigger and heavier cameras. This means that even the film sets themselves have to be adapted to accommodate the equipment. It also means that, because each shot has to be filmed twice, once for each eye, directors now have to take into account the interocular distance and convergence of images when creating 3D footage.

The bulky camera set-up used in native 3D filming (as opposed to 3D conversion, used in Clash of the Titans) is always based on the traditional Pace Camera Fusion rig, developed by Vincent Pace and James Cameron for his 3D projects. For Tron, Disney used Sony’s F35 CineAlta cameras in combination with the Pace Cameron rig to provide the shallow depth of field that helps create the 3D effect.

The other major effort for 3D films is post-production. According to Kosinski, it takes much longer to finish the visual effects on a 3D film than a traditional one. For instance, Tron: Legacy took 18 months to finish in post-production. The biggest issue is that every special effect has to be rendered twice – once for each eye, slightly off-set – otherwise they don’t turn out 3D.

Thankfully, they made the effort for Tron – and the audience is all the better for it. You’ll see, and agree, December 17th.