Top Gun has always been, for me, one of those films that simply screams out for big screen presentation. The epic aerial photography, the over-the-top action, the pounding soundtrack — unless you have a truly monumental home theater with a >100-inch 4K screen and gigawatts of power behind your sound system, you just can’t do justice to all of those elements at home. That’s one reason I could not wait for Top Gun‘s recent IMAX revival; the other reason, of course, was the film’s 3D conversion.
But a curious thing happened to Top Gun on its journey into the third dimension. Parked in the money seat of my local IMAX theater, I found the 3D effect rather reserved. By comparison, the Blu-ray positively pops! At home, the film is everything I expected its 3D presentation to be on the big screen.
To find out why Top Gun 3D feels more dimensional on a smaller scale, I chatted with Barry Sandrew, founder, CCO and CTO of Legend3D, which did the conversion on Top Gun and other recent standouts like Transformers: Dark of the Moon. Sandrew was kind enough to give me some insight into the differences between 3D on large and small screens, as well as the challenges involved in converting an older 2D film into 3D:
Jeff Kleist (The Digital Bits): When viewing Top Gun 3D as an IMAX presentation, I noticed the 3D wasn’t popping as much as it had on the Blu-ray. What are some of the potential reasons for this? Is it simply the larger screen or the fact that the film’s fast-cut photography wasn’t originally captured with 3D in mind?
Barry Sandrew (Legend3D): Though Top Gun 3Dwas not adjusted specifically for the larger IMAX screen, that should not have negatively influenced your experience. In fact, much of what you describe could have been the result of the location in the theater where you were sitting as well as where you were watching the 3D Blu-ray on your TV. IMAX, conventional theaters like RealD and 3DTV viewing provide inherently different stereo experiences that cannot easily be equated. However in all three cases, the further you sit from the screen, the greater the disparity will appear. As I’ve pointed out in my blog, you simply need to find a distance from the screen that provides you with the most satisfying, personal stereo experience. That distance can change depending on the movie and genre. The disparity on Top Gun was optimized for conventional 3D theater screens such as RealD as well as any 3DTV, tablet or cell phone, so your Blu-ray will faithfully exhibit the conversion produced by Legend3D and approved by Tony Scott. Precisely how it’s being experienced is up to each individual.
Read on at The Digital Bits for more info on Legend3D’s 2D-to-3D handiwork, Sandrew’s favorite 3D scene in Top Gun, and his thoughts on giving new 3D life to other, older classic films.