INT: U2 3D director
Film enthusiasts, thrill seekers, sports fanatics and music lovers should get prepared for the next generation of 3D technology. If what U23Dís co-director Catherine Owens says is true, theatre and home entertainment experiences will advance to a whole new mind-blowing experience. The premiere of U23D was such a climactic and thrilling film experience, it left me speechless (read my full review HERE). If the experience of a concert film can become such an adrenaline rush, picture what it will do for sports, drama, adventure and horror films. The advanced technology of 3eality may leave men chanting, women crying and begging for commercial breaks.
Additionally, if Samsung does develop a new TV with a 3D
chip, men will never leave their homes again. Either way, the
technology has arrived and U2ís concert is the guinea pig.
Based on all the positive reaction, 3D vision will likely
explode and catapult filmmaking to an out-of-this-world phenomenon.
I was enlivened with the 55-minute version of U23D and anticipate
the full 92 minutes to be even more stimulating. I hadnít had a
more invigorating theatre experience before. Director Owens sat down
with us at the American Pavilion in
How did the premiere go
last night for you and the band?
It was fantastic. It was mad. It was really great. We really didnít know what to expect in terms of going out there with a brand new product. Itís tough to determine how people are going to react and the reaction was so amazing.
Did everyone in the
theatre wear the 3D glasses?
Yeah. They are kind of like sunglasses but after a while, you completely forgot you had them on. You just werenít even aware and then when it got to the end, you didnít really want to take the glasses off. You were like ďOh, no there must be some more.Ē In LA where weíre editing, they are developing the 3D product all the time. Iíve seen thousands of 3D screens without glasses so itís not going to be too long before the home market has that kind of development.
How did this idea for a
3D film project come about?
The company who is producing this, called 3ality Digital one of the partners came to me in 2004, Pete Shapiro and knew my work with the band as a digital content provider. They had been developing this technology with sporting partners Modelís for the sports world. You can imagine itís going to be totally sports world friendly and eventually for live broadcast of sports. So they will be able to broadcast in 3D live. So while we were waiting around for the NFL to say yes, we wanted to bring it to our side. I thought it sounded like something we might like so we decided to do a test. We took one camera to Anaheim in the beginning of the U2 tour and made a really nice little piece the band thought that this could definitely be something for them. Bono was so funny when he first saw the glasses because he said, ďHmm, fly shades Ė these could be my glasses.Ē Eventually when the film comes out, he will be sitting there with his glasses on.
Was Bono happy with the
outcome of the film?
He was very happy. He really feels the technology is totally amazing. He was very involved from the beginning. His feeling was that this could be the medium to bring their concerts to countries that canít see it.
The concert I attended during their last tour had many
more songs. How did you
pick and choose only certain songs for the film?
Yes, yes. What
show did you go to?
I attended their
concert in Toronto, Canada.
Oh ok, ok. What we did is we shot altogether 24 songs. Some of those they would have done every night of seven nights, some of them only one night, most of them at lest twice. So we had a couple of different factors because they usually play 22 songs and they would mix those up. Thereís a core that would be the same so we would use those core sets. Then we would eliminate based on what we got for the trial.
As a filmmaker, did you
instruct or direct the band in front of the camera?
In a way, we sort of did the opposite. Iím not a huge believer in telling people what to do. In this situation, we didnít want to gimmick 3D. I didnít want to do that. Thereís fine line and they are so eager to perform that we didnít want to go overboard. So, we all agreed that we would try to document the live performance as they normally perform. Bono was aware of everything so he knows how to get a good moment but he really played down going to that sort of gimmicky world.
We wanted to create case of making 3D work for the film so that filmmakers could come along who would normally never consider 3D and think that thereís something here for me. I donít have to be making a childís movie, it doesnít have to be animated, but can be for narrative and landscape based if youíre a film maker who works with space and light maybe you would b=never think about working in 3D but this film might make you think oh ok maybe I can build something with this kind of layer. We really developed the layering message.
Was this only a
showcase or will this be shown in cinema with only 55 minutes?
No, 55 minutes is the short version. It will be 92 minutes but because we had an opportunity to present the technology in Cannes and we really wanted to have the technology in the minds of people before the film was finished because itís very hard to begin when the film is finished for people to trust and believe in us. Therefore, we really wanted to show the technology and what we were doing. Weíre excited; the future of film could be excited and hope we can play it safe.
Will this be
distributed into cinemas without the 3D?
No, itís not going to go to 2D. Itís a 3D project only. That was another decision we made because people were thinking that it if it wasnít 2D they wouldnít get to see it. We decide that if weíre going to do 3D itís going to be completely 3D into the future. U2 is not doing this for profit reasons. They are completely doing this because they want to be on the forefront of what they think is the future of film technology. The film is finance by 3ality and there will be DVD releases which will only be available in 3D so people will need to see it with glasses. Right now everyone can see it on their TV with a converter box using 3D glasses but Samsung is currently putting a 3D chip into their TVís but Iím not sure what stage thatís at and Iíve seen it in plasma screens in 3D with no glasses. So, they are developing that technology right now. It is going to be unbelievable when it goes into 3D. Itís not going to be too long before it happens and then it can move into the video world.
Was the band nervous at
all while being filmed specifically for this film?
Even though theyíve done a lot of DVDís and documentaries of their concerts, the direction that I gave them was to take this very tight relationship between the band members and make it on a huger scale. So I wanted to reassure the relationship within the band and then the extension of that was the audience and let that be the only concept. They have a very strong relationship. They have their own language on stage and so the only direction was that they should be a little more conscious of their own language between the groups, which they already had on stage. Some of the other cuts you will see in the final film are really incredible. There are moments between them that are very physical and tender. They are 4 people together for so long, who are like family Ė you want to kill them, you love them Ė so there is that kind of tenderness between them.
What is your
relationship with them?
From my point of view as an artist, they are conceptual thinkers, they think and perform visually. So, our relationship is really based on my ability to kind of facilitate that pride of who they are to a greater degree and really, this film will be sort of like the rounding off of that relationship in a way where weíve managed to develop this language. They have a language, I understand that language, they know my abilities and together we sort of just said Ďhow can we make this other thing work for us and perhaps then forge a new language for film.Ē
How did you meet U2
other than you all being Irish?
When we were about 18, I played bass guitar in a band and the bass guitar player of U2 and I knew each other based on playing bass guitar. We were from a very small town so at that time we would always go to each otherís gigs. Then I went to Art College and they would come and visit me in at college when they would play in North Ireland. They are all very interested in art and all have a keen understanding of the visual form.
Are you still amazed at
how far youíve all come along?
Yes. On the red carpet last night, it felt mad and fantastic but it still feels the same. ItĎs the same drive as weíve always had. We were talking about this film last night and all of our journeys to this point, and Bono said to me ď weíve got to make a deal out here. This could be the beginning of the exciting stuff.Ē So itís that mentality. Every door that opens is an opportunity for the next door and I think thatís how they feel.
Did you use a regular
video camera to film a 3D film like this?
No, itís very, very complicated. You are working with two cameras and they are a full right eye and left eye. We used five people on each camera. The director of photography for 3D is working all the time to make sure the conversion points were with both eyes at the same time. Everytime the focus changes on one camera, the focus needs to change on the other as well. Sometimes one eye would be out of focus. We would have to go back and try to repair the shot that was not in proper focus while the other eye had an incredible moment.
Was the decision to
shoot in South America a deliberate one?
It was a very definite decision to shoot in South America. Bono felt that the South American audience had a passion that matched his Irish passion. They felt they would get a result that they wouldnít get in other places. As an actor Bono was looking at the whole stage including the audience, the camera, band.
Do you think someone
else could have made a different 3D film if it werenít for your
relationship with them?
Someone else could have made a different 3D film but I
donít know whether they would have been able to get them to this
point with as much ease as Iíve been able to go to because of the
trust. When you are
working with technology, the whole thing can crap out and fall
apart. So to get it to
this point, we were very happy.