Monsters Inc animator on the “blacklash” against 3D films

Pixar’s Bob Whitehall hopes “some of the backlash against 3D is ebbing” for Monsters Inc 3D

Monsters Inc 3D is in cinemas now

As Pixar’s Stereoscopic Supervisor Bob Whitehill has overseen the 3D on the likes of Cars 2John CarterUpFinding NemoToy Story 3Brave and most recently Monsters Inc 3D – over a decade on from the film’s initial release. For a man with a vested interest in 3D cinema, speaking exclusively to SciFiNow, Whitehill is surprisingly measured about the negative response that it can sometimes provoke…

There’s still a lot of debate about the use of 3D generally. Do you think it’s the best way forward for all films or are their certain films that clearly benefit from it?

I do believe that it makes for a strong and unique and fun film experience, so… I’m obviously a believer. I know when one of our movies is projected properly on a nice big screen and you sit there with the glasses on, and if you were then to switch the movie to 2D and keep going, I’d imagine that most people would ask you for the glasses back.

It’s just a more immersive and enjoyable experience. I don’t believe it’s necessarily the future of all film by any means, but you’d have a hard time convincing me that the flight through that door vault sequence is better in 2D than 3D. I’m hoping some of the backlash against 3D is ebbing a bit.

The surcharge is a challenge – as filmmakers it’s hard to have your particular discipline put in the spotlight like that. Can you imagine going to the marquee and it says ‘better editing – $3’ or ‘better costume design – $3’ – you’d do it for a time or too, but then you’d say ‘Oh, I didn’t really notice the difference, the editing didn’t seem that much better’.

I think that’s a real challenge for 3D people like myself where you’re trying to make it graceful and trying to make it play well with the lighting and the sound, the performance and everything else that is going on. When something is asked of your discipline, you’re in danger of overdoing it and making that overwhelm what’s really important, which is actually the story and the humour.

Do you think children and young people are more enthusiastic adapters of 3D? 

It could be. In all frankness I think the sweet spot might be a little bit older than children, because sometimes the glasses can be uncomfortable for kids. But I think if anyone really opens their mind to it, and it’s well done, properly projected, I guess you could complain about having to wear glasses, but other than that I don’t really see the downside. I think maybe there’s been enough product out there that’s been either underwhelming or overwhelming that people – some people – are very questioning of the technology. But if it’s done well, I don’t see how someone would not want to enjoy something in 3D.

Monsters Inc 3D is in cinemas now, while Monsters University is due 21 June 2013. Buy Monsters Inc on DVD for £11.99 and on Blu-ray for £14.75 from Amazon.co.uk.