EDITORIALS

Sorry DreamWorks, But Your 3D Super Bowl Trailer Sucked!

by
February 2, 2009

DreamWorks

I've got a bone to pick with DreamWorks Animation. Ever since I first saw Kung Fu Panda, I've been starting to warm up to them, and now with Monsters vs Aliens on the horizon, I've begun to occasionally support them as often as I do Pixar. But today during the Super Bowl they tried to wow audiences with a very gimmicky 3D TV spot for Monsters vs Aliens and it fell apart. Well, maybe not for everyone, but in my eyes (pun intended), it was a fumble that cost them the game. It may have taken a while for me to actually get a pair of 3D glasses, but even with a pair of them on, their TV spot looked terrible!

Back at the 3D Entertainment Summit in December, James Cameron commented on the old and outdated anaglyphic 3D technology, meaning the red and blue kind of glasses that were used today, saying that it is "stunting 3D growth" and hurting the progression of 3D in the industry. When the news about this TV spot first hit, I was contacted by a marketing rep at DreamWorks and told that they were using new technology from Intel called InTru 3D "which delivers a more immersive story and an incredible visual experience" while still using the red and blue lenses. Suffice it to say, I wasn't impressed at what I saw.

Everyone knows I'm not easily sold on just the novelty of 3D. It takes a lot to really impress me, and this didn't even get mildly close to doing so. What I saw, in a heated frenzy of "where's my glasses?!" and "how do these stay on?!", was the same red and blue crap that I used to see as a kid. Anaglyphic images were first invented in 1853 and comic books were printed in red and white back in the 1950s. So why are we still using this incredibly old technology today? Oh right, because people like Jeffrey Katzenberg demand that 3D is the future, then force this kind of contrived marketing down our throats and claim it's the next big thing when they "successfully" broadcast this crap to millions of viewers during the Super Bowl.

Will we ever see something that truly pushes the limits of 3D technology? Not until Avatar. I get that the whole idea of this was to give audiences at home a small taste of what it will be like to watch Monsters vs Aliens in theaters in 3D. Or at least give them a glimpse of the cheesy effects, like how the explosions fly right off the screen and so on. First off, this isn't at all what it's going to look like in theaters. Secondly, the trailers that people are talking about the most from the Super Bowl are those for G.I. Joe, Land of the Lost, and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, not Monsters vs Aliens! Better luck next time, Katzenberg.

Here is some honest criticism - the Super Bowl is really the worst time to try and coordinate this kind of massive 3D effort. Most people are gathered in huge groups, crowded around TVs (like myself), and usually in a heated frenzy over the game. Sure we all love watching the commercials, but I can clearly say that during this commercial, all I was caring about was whether I could see the 3D properly and if the red and blue would ever disappear. I didn't once think about the story, or for that matter, even what I was watching. Without going back and watching it again, can anyone remember any of the major scenes they saw?

This whole Monsters vs Aliens gimmick, or publicity stunt, or whatever you want to call it, only achieved the act of being a gimmick and nothing more. All of those millions of people who did have glasses were caught up in a frenzy of enthusiam over the novelty rather than genuinely interested. This is coming from my own experience, and the experiences of the 10 people who were watching the game with me. By comparison, I just saw Coraline a few days ago and Henry Selick got it right. Hardly anything "popped out" of the screen, instead, he used 3D to completely immerse the audience in the world of Coraline. And in turn, I could get further engaged in the actual story and enjoy the filmmaking rather than the novelty of the 3D effect.

I challenge Jeffrey Katzenberg and DreamWorks Animation to actually show me that they're using 3D as a filmmaking technique to further progress the industry and the technology, not just make a few extra dollars from gullible audiences. The day I finally see Katzenberg, or any true innovators in this industry, put 3D to good use and market it in a way that doesn't involve stashing anaglyphic glasses in grocery stores, I'll admit that we've finally developed an impressive and groundbreaking technology. But until then, I'll continue to despise these kinds of marketing gimmicks. Bring it on Katzenberg, it's you and me now, mano-a-mano!

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  • I totally agree. I didn't know if I just couldn't process the effect or if it wasn't working at all. It seems like there were a couple of times when an object almost would become 3D, but it never quite achieved the desired effect.
  • Yeah, that trailer made me a bit googly eyed without the glasses. By the way, here is article I wrote analyzing the current mainstreaming of 3D Cinema - http://tinyurl.com/btlck7
  • Hey Alex - we agree on something 3D related! Fundamentally, their marketing concept for this promotion is flawed for exactly the reasons you stated. However I do give credit where it is due and that is DWA has gotten a lot of attention with this effort. Is it sustainable? My opinion is no and the marketing dollars should have been spent elsewhere or in a better way at the Superbowl. I think there will be about a weeks worth of interest generated to the DWA website. But thats it. Doesn't mean the movie is not awesome though. To the contrary. As with any marketing campaign there are the immediate and measureable benefits of website hits, but the real story here is how long will the benefit last in other ways for DWA? How do you measure awareness? Well Coraline for one - which opens this Friday. Let's see how well it does as it is launching so close to this 3D marketing effort.
  • Marcus
  • Zso
    "Without going back and watching it again, can anyone remember any of the major scenes they saw?" I only saw it once, when it aired at halftime. I remember... 1. Two security guards lounging in the security room and one hits a paddle ball at the screen 2. A guy in a war room 3. Some war general telling a higher up that over the past 50 years or so he has been collecting monsters 4. The blob monster running out of a building at the ufo or whatever 5. The giant girl jumping from one building to another and then acting like she was slipping off the edge but ended up just putting her feet on the ground and saying "oh" 6. The giant girl fighting the alien, which I guess was also giant? 7. An explosion 8. The characters dancing with football players in the very next commercial But the movie still looks like crap regardless of whether it's 3D or not. On the subject of 3D, I agree that the gimmicks have to stop (meaning forced scenes that use the 3D effect such as the paddle ball part of the trailer or the axe-throwing in My Bloody Valentine) and that people need to move on to something other than red/blue, but I still think 3D could be really big a couple of years down the road if they can figure out how to make it work.
  • Zso
    Personally, I wouldn't mind watching a movie with cross-eye 3D (Example: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L39NVJ71djc ), but obviously the majority of people would complain about how they either can't get it to work and want their money back or how they keep getting headaches. Also, I don't know the effects of keeping your eyes like that for 2 hours. >.<
  • ?????
    I 100% agree with you and was personally not impressed...
  • Okay, let's face facts here: Dreamworks commercials suck. I can't think of a single Dreamworks project that looked good in a trailer, but more often than not they're pretty decent films. *eyes SharkTale with contempt* And while I appreciate the 50s B-Movie SciFi vibe that Aliens vs. Monsters is trying to put out there, I can't help think that it was done much better by movies like Mars Attacks or even Iron Giant (specifically the excellent scene where Hogarth stays up late to watch the late night movie).
  • Moviegimp
    I like the idea of this movie. Kids will love the monsters and aliens and the whole 50s sci fi take is funny. The commercial though, I thought it was me as well that wasn't seeing the 3D correctly. Besides the paddle balls right at the beginning I'm having a trouble discerning the effects. I thought there would be a huge amount of 3D effects in this. The best 3D I have ever seen is on a video by 80s rock band Skid Row. The VHS came with two pair of glasses and they don't use red and blue, they are kind of silver, and there are no scenes of things coming at you. It's just the band playing but it really works nicely. I think those cheesy 3D movies in the 80s did this whole thing better than the newer technology.
  • Whoa... Alex Billington Strikes Back! I may have to agree with you that all of the 3D stuff from last night's Superbowl commercials was underwhelming. It was just difficult to watch -- made my eyes burn, if you know what I mean. But aside from the corneal STD treatment, I've still got hope for Monsters vs. Aliens. It should be solid.
  • -Peter-
    It was a bit of a letdown. But my main concern is whether or not I'll be able to sit through a whole movie of 3D. It's the kind of thing that would have me leaving the theater with an aching head.
  • riffic
    okay, get your facts straight. The 3D technology in the television commercial will not be what you see in a movie theater. On television, the process used was ColorCode 3D, which is somewhat similar to the old red/blue glasses. This is not InTrue 3d, which is actually a meaningless marketing term invented by Intel and not a specific process. In the movie theater, the technology is based off of circular polarization filters and is known as Real D Cinema.
  • Aravena
    It sucked. I noticed it on obvious things but nothing more. A key probably is the how it was filmed and format in which it was broadcasted. 3D movies and theaters use different technology, like the shows at Universal or something. We're watching some cartoon not really meant to be like that on possibly a projection TV. Meh, it happens. What I hate most is that I have to watch one of my fav shows like that, Chuck. Ugh!
  • Daniel
    This was absolutely horrible. It doesnt matter if it's not what we're going to see in the movie theater. this was supposed to give you a taste of what "tru3D" is. The commercial did little to explain the movie but give you these gimmicky moments, like the two security guards and the paddle. I was Extremely unsatisfied with the commercial and actually am rethinking taking my daughter to that trash.
  • Tim "Cloverfield"
    It was dissapointing at best. Agree Alex, good job!
  • Tim "Cloverfield"
    Agree Alex....really really WEAK!
  • Spider
    Well, I at least give DreamWorks Animation an E for Effort. However, I look forward to James Cameron's "Avatar". I believe that he's gonna knock our socks off (and then some) with his use of the 3-D technology!! If someone can revolutionize the movie industry with his intelligence, it's Cameron!
  • drew
    yea the only thing that i saw 3d was the bouncy ball in the beginning but after that nothing was for me.
  • DCompose
    Kung Fu Panda sucked, Billington!
  • Seductive Flamingo
    I agree with Drew(13). I wasn't sure if it was just my terrible eyes or if it was just me. In my opinion, I hope this whole 3D idea is just a kick that will fade out.
  • I didn't see the spot because I am overseas at the moment but I saw Bolt in 3D earlier this week and thought their 3D was really well done. It was not intrusive and used purely as a storytelling medium. They had no visual gimmicks at all. I hope more film makers do that so people don't think poorly of the possibilities the technology could hold.
  • Nikhil Hariharan
    I think that in terms of 3d technology, the amber/blue glasses that were handed out for the 3d Superbowl commercials doesn't do this technology any good. They just make people question whether or not it would be comfortable for them to watch an hour long movie like that. But im so for 3d technology, especially since Sony has already created a camera that incorporates 3d image when capturing footage. And with LCD technology incorporating the functions of 3d, there really isnt a need for glasses when used for consumers. But as you know, companies and theaters arent pushing for the consumer base since they want it to be incorporated in theaters fully.
  • dave13
    Bolt in 3D was well done. I'll see Coraline in 3D this weekend and I'm sure it won't disappoint. but that Dreamworks commercial made everyone's eyes hurt as we watched it (none of the group of 20 had glasses, and I was the only one that even knew about it ahead of time anyways). as for gimmicks of something flying out at you, i disagree. I think a 3D movie should use those, but sparingly. i think they're quite fun, and one or two things flying in your direction can really shake you up. however, if the whole 3D experience is just gimmicks, forgetaboutit. and @14, Kung Fu Panda was hilarious. I woke my roommate up when I watched in on dvd. i couldn't stop laughing.
  • Steven
    For now, I just want some 3D technology that doesn't make my eyes cross and gives me a migraine 15 minutes into the movie. Then we can put a stop to the gimmick. Every 3D movie i have ever seen i have missed half of it because I'm busy rubbing my eyes from the strain. Hopefully James Cameron has something brewing that would get rid of this with Avatar.
  • chris
    if they can sort 3D out, films like Speedracer, The Matrix or Transformers in 3d would completely own everything, ever. Bolt was good and My Bloody Valentine was OK (3d bouncing boobs!), especially the 3D 'bullet time' style shot near the end which was completely out of place for the movie but showed promise!
  • ebbie
    They have a really good 3D movie/show at Universal for the Shrek attraction. Why can't they do it like that? It wasn't a bunch of objects randomly flying at you. I felt that the 3D effect contributed to adding interesting depth to the movie.
  • ALEX, TVs ARE NOT MEANT FOR 3D!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The technology in theaters are much more advanced and look 100% better. I do agree Katzenberg shot himself in the foot with this attempt, probably turning people off of 3D if they still haven't seen a movie in RealD yet.
  • james
    yeah, the super bowl ads suck! If you saw Bolt in 3D, that's the real 3D experience, which included a preview of Monsters vs Aliens 3D and it looks nothing like the shitty Super Bowl Ads. So don't let the very bad gimmick Super Bowl 3D ads prevent you from seeing the "Real D" 3D experience in theater.
  • Berko
    I always laugh at the Avatar comments... "Avatar will push the limits of 3d" and "I hate 3d" and blah blah blah. You havent even seen a split second of footage
  • Get used to 3D, its not going anywhere. And it doesn't matter why they use it. It makes more money. To buy a ticket to see a 3D film, you pay a 2.00+ premium on top of ticket price. And if its there, people will see it. I want to go make a 3D movie just to piss everyone off!
  • dennis
    What a waste of time and electricity! Vincent Price House of Wax 1953 - must be turning in his grave over your feeble 3D attempt.
  • Matt
    A moot point but it wasn't red & blue anaglyphic but more like a brownish-orange and blue. The biggest problem I had with the glasses is that the blue side isn't as optically clear as the non-blue side. ...And since neither are perfectly clear the whole picture is pretty much just a blur. Oh well, it was something goofy to do. Everyone's gotta complain about something but I don't think it'll hurt MVA's grosses. However, I won't be able to drink SOBE without remembering the nauseous headache I suffered watching that 3-D commercial.
  • SS
    I used to think InTru3D meant "no more glasses". I guess we're not quite there yet. Also, I seem to have missed a trick here, wasn't anaglyphic 3D already beat out long time ago by the newer shutter technology? (ie: IMAX)?
  • SS
    Also Alex, Congratulations.. This is a great article. For once, your indignation is well-placed.
  • SS
    Also great article. Writer makes well-placed criticism. Congratulations.
  • SS
    Oops... triple post!
  • Peter Altschuler
    I now understand why Eisner at Disney years ago had a problem with Katzenberg's proposed promotion at Disney from studio head to presidential executive (which later lead to Katzenberg's resignation and his co-founding of Dreamworks). Now I would like to know what technology James Cameron is deploying in theaters showing Avatar using 3D projectors. Will it be double projections with polarized-filter lense glasses that must be worn or another method? I have experimented with 3d technology and learned that it is possible to provide stereo viewing without the need of using glasses and without a hefty price tag. Doubling the refresh rate and alertating left eye/right eye every other frame is the basis for this. In one method I developed, I applied a vibration to a lense in front of the screen. The lense focuses the light to the eyes of the viewers and the vibration frequency is synced to the frequency of the frame rate. The degree of the angle the lense is allowed to move matches that of our eyes. So on each frequency cycle the light is directed at the angle for left eyes then it angles and focuses light to the right eye, matching the frame for the right eye and then the frame for the left eye for the next cycle, and so on. In a further development, I used the above technique and added a series of mirrors and magnifying lenses with the resulting 3d video testing have a near holographic quality.
  • Philbert
    It was crap and only served to further damage the reputation of a good 3D presentation in IMAX 3D or one of the new digital 3D process available in some theatres. Anyone who has not seen one of these processes and viewed the cheesy superbowl presentation will only assume all 3D looks as bad as this did. What was Dreamworks thinking?
  • Rob
    I don't get the complaint, You're saying companies with money should NOT try new and innovative things? I applaud them for making the effort.
  • I watched the entire Nightmare Before Christmas in 3d and by the end of it I just wanted to take off my glasses ad stomp on them. I LOVE that movie, but I walked out with such a migraine. I mean think of all the other stuff we can do. If they are going to not let a dead dog lie then they need to teach it some new tricks. I mean paper glasses for 2 hours is just not worth the extra 5 bucks for a 3d movie rather than the original. -Jess
  • Also to number 39....this issue is that nothing has changed...they claim something has, but nothing has really changed. Its just them trying to get money. I mean when I was in Walmart and saw the 3d glasses I was like "OMG this is going to be SOOO cool" and so did all of my family. My mother and father went out and picked themselves up a few pairs...and it was a let down.
  • also to 25... I spent all freaking year looking forward to SpeedRacer...it had all this hype about a new way of shooting films. They were going to take live action and cut the film to make it more like a cartoon without the animation...Instead it looked like something I could have made with my computer.....I was not impressed...3D is NOT going to help that movie... I think 3d should be saved for Animation films, but in moderation. If my son walked out of a movie going "Mommy, my head hurts" because the technology just isn't where it should be and gives EVERYONE I know who watches it for more than 30 minutes a migraine..then its not worth it..Work on it and THEN release it...Not release it and tweak it.
  • Lopretni
    The only 3D I ever liked was Bolt. The only gimmicky bit was the start with the "True 3-D" logo. All it did was add depth, and that's all it really should do until someone can figure out how to get into 4-D. You know, adding time into the mix.
  • Joey Marione
    Who gives a fuck! Get a life! You have to be a loser to even care about this film anyway so why would you care about the commercial? Playing it during the SuperBowl is even more of an indication of how the country is going brain dead, because the marketers count on the retards tuning in. The age group this movie is geared towards shouldn't even be watching the SuperBowl, which is merely a bunch of over-paid, over-hyped a-holes who add nothing to society but the ability to chase each other, run into each other, and throw and catch a ball really well. Why the fuck would you have your children huddled around to watch that shit? Why the fuck would you put on a pair of 3-D glasses to see the really cool effects? What a dick! You sound like the same supposed adult morons who go crazy for the Harry Potter books and films, which were geared towards fifth graders and rip-off the themes of every other legitimate, classic fantasy tale, i.e., The Lord of the Rings.
  • Rob
    41, You were on to something...but then you stopped :( You and your family were all excited picking up the 3D glasses, talking and waiting for a trailer for a specific movie which have of the States was as well. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED! That's their goal in marketing, it had the whole movie world talking and every youth in the states who could get a pair of those glasses. get it? complaining that it was a let down? a let down compared to what other innovative commercial I wonder... hmmm..
  • jaybear
    45.. well it was such a let down because my sister and I both saw the other preview prior to this and it completely turned everyone I know off of the movie. So they'll lose more money in the long run. They don't have our ticket now. I really love seth rogen, but if its going to be in 3d I'll wait and hope to see it on starz, Encore, HBO or Showtime eventually.
  • jaybear
    44...I assume you've never played a sport in your life....
  • jaybear
    Also...I'm definitely sure you don't realize who Harry Potter is ACTUALLY aimed at based on content of the book...Nothing in the last two books should be made for anyone under 16 to see. Infact they killed off almost 17 characters in the last book in quite a brutal fashion. If it were to follow the supposed "5th grader" books then it would get a "R" rating. Maybe you should investigate before you open your mouth.
  • 5OnIt
    I have seen My bloody in 3D and was quite impressed by how far they have come with the technology. The whole movie was 3d not just parts (like old) and they have a new type of glasses (which I kept for future movies... saves on the up price for tickets) that look almost normal, besides the poindexter look and feel. No headaches for me. The commercial on the superbowl sucked could not see a damn! thing in 3d even with my new glasses, so do not be turned off by the commercial for 3d purposes because it will be 100x better in the theater. Caroline 3d was great! Now bring on the movies like Dark Knight, Spiderman, XMen, Texas Chainsaw, Saw, Freddy or Jason.....hell, any horror movie 3d would take these movies to a whole new level that I'm totally looking forward too. depth is better.
  • Rob
    There's several fake and multiple posts here... and those particular ones are gushing in love for the article and writer. Coincidence?
  • Phil Bint U.K
    Re Super bowl trailer. This was not the actual 3d process that will be used in theatres this was ONLY A TRAILER in colorcode 3d. The new 3d processes such as Real 3d by Pxar and disney is far far more advanced than the analglyph process you mention. The difference is very clear and much more easier to view with.
  • Kenneth
    Hey guys did you us the intru 3d glasses they are different they made every thing pop out you guys must have used the old school ones sorry but the trailer rocked it use the right glasses the are blue and orange

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