You know, if you want us to pay extra to see a movie in 3-D, you'd better put on a real show. I mean, some of us have girlfriends or kids, and $20 a ticket times two, three, four... well, Resident Evil: Afterlife director Paul Anderson feels our pain.
"If you want people to pay a premium, you have to deliver a premium," Anderson said in an interview Saturday at San Diego Comic-Con. "People are going to see this movie and go, 'Oh, that's why we're paying an extra three, four, five bucks to go see these movies.' When they come see this movie, they'll say, 'That's what 3-D is supposed to look like.' Damn right, because you're supposed to shoot it in 3-D using 3-D cameras. You're supposed to build sets for 3-D and shoot it in a way."
Afterlife is the first movie to be filmed using Avatar's Phantom cameras since James Cameron. So everything James Cameron designs works perfectly, right? Well, not exactly. The cameras were built for use in a motion capture soundstage. Anderson had to build new equipment to lug the cameras around real world sets and locations.
"It was funny because the cameras are big," Anderson said. "Each camera is two, slaved together. You realized there was no steadicam because there's no steadicam rig that can hold that. We had to build our own motion control rig. You realize in the last 10-15 years, cameras have been miniaturized and the lenses got lighter. All the Hot Heads and technology is built for lightweight cameras. 3-D cameras come along and they're beasts."
The Hot Head camera mounts were a real problem. Sometimes, the crew just had to beat the cameras into shape to get the shots you'll see in the movie. "I was looking at the Technocrane one day," Anderson said. "One of the Hot Heads and the camera starts vibrating and it just goes wank [falls over], a really loud BAM and the camera just pointing straight towards the ground. The gears in the camera had given out, they couldn't take the weight. There's a man with a huge hammer banging on the gears. All this expensive technology, and I say, 'Is that really how you solve the problem?' He goes, 'Yeah.' It was funny."
It also takes more work to make Milla Jovovoich and Ali Larter look hot in 3-D. Normally, you can point a camera on them and they're hot. In 3-D, they have to wear makeup designed for 3-D. Thank you for that, by the way.
"A little more rouge than I'm comfortable with," Larter said in a separate interview. "They'll say cut and the crew is in 3-D glasses and there's monitors all over. Then there's the beauty tent. Makeup has to run in and see how that looks. Sometimes you could be totally washed out. Other times you have to have makeup to even see that you have any features."
Larter also dished a little gossip on the 3-D cameras. "We got the camera straight from James Cameron's Avatar, but this one's in slow motion," she said. "This camera can only shoot 23 seconds and then it breaks. Then wait two hours to start again. There's a lot of new kind of technical difficulties that come along with shooting in 3-D, but also how many times do you get to work in a new medium? Part of it is that it takes extra time and you might make mistakes. We're the second people to get these cameras. They were building rigs because never been used outside. Some days we'd only shoot 30 seconds worth of footage but you have to be patient. The people are just learning. You have to be sweet and delicate with these bad boys. Too cold they freeze up, too hot they steam up. It really brings a freshness to this Resident Evil."
Anderson doesn't sweat the hassle though. It's all worth it to make a 3-D ticket worth the money. Plus, he had James Cameron's tech support to work out the kinks. "Vince Pace, who built the cameras with Cameron, was very attentive," he said. "They provided very good support for us. Listen, I don't want to make too big a deal out of it. It's like any new technology. It's a little more difficult to work with. It's slower, not as many setups, the movie costs more money [to make]. It doesn't worry me because I think people are still excited about 3-D."
Resident Evil: Afterlife opens Sept. 10.