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 U23D’s 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 U2’s 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 hadn’t had a
more invigorating theatre experience before. Director Owens sat down
with us at the American Pavilion in


to enlighten us on the challenges of making a 3D concert film, her
long-standing relationship with U2, the conception of this new film
and projections for the future. Check
out what the friendly director had to say.


How did the premiere go
last night for you and the band?

It was fantastic. It
was mad. It was really
great. We really
didn’t know what to expect in terms of going out there with a
brand new product. It’s
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 weren’t even aware and then when it got to the
end, you didn’t really want to take the glasses off.
You were like “Oh, no there must be some more.” In LA
where we’re editing, they are developing the 3D product all the
time. I’ve seen thousands of 3D screens without glasses so it’s
not going to be too long before the home market has that kind of

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 Model’s for the sports world.
You can imagine it’s 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, “Hmm, fly shades – these could be my glasses.”
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 can’t 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.
There’s 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.
I’m not a huge believer in telling people what to do.
In this situation, we didn’t want to gimmick 3D.
I didn’t want to do that.
There’s fine line and they are so eager to perform that we
didn’t 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 there’s something here for me. I don’t have to
be making a child’s movie, it doesn’t have to be animated, but
can be for narrative and landscape based if you’re 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 it’s 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.
We’re 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, it’s not going to go to 2D.
It’s a 3D project only.
That was another decision we made because people were
thinking that it if it wasn’t 2D they wouldn’t get to see it.
We decide that if we’re going to do 3D it’s 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 TV’s but I’m not sure what stage that’s at and I’ve
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. It’s
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 they’ve done a lot of DVD’s 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 – you want to
kill them, you love them – 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 we’ve
managed to develop this language. They have a language, I understand
that language, they know my abilities and together we sort of just
said ‘how can we make this other thing work for us and perhaps
then forge a new language for film.”

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 other’s
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 you’ve all come along?

Yes. On the red carpet last night, it felt mad and fantastic
but it still feels the same. It‘s the same drive as we’ve always
had. We were talking
about this film last night and all of our journeys to this point,
and Bono said to me “ we’ve got to make a deal out here. This
could be the beginning of the exciting stuff.” So it’s that
mentality. Every door
that opens is an opportunity for the next door and I think that’s
how they feel.

Did you use a regular
video camera to film a 3D film like this?

No, it’s 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 wouldn’t get in other
places. As an actor Bono
was looking at the whole stage including the audience, the camera,

Do you think someone
else could have made a different 3D film if it weren’t for your
relationship with them?

Someone else could have made a different 3D film but I
don’t know whether they would have been able to get them to this
point with as much ease as I’ve 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.


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