'Avatar,' 'Wolverine' Editors Say 3D Should Be Part of the Creative Process

Speaking on a panel at the American Cinema Editors' Editfest LA, Oscar nominee Matt Chesse said that when used correctly, the format "can be transcendent."
Peter Zakhary / Tilt Photo
American Cinema Editors' Editfest LA panel on Aug. 3.

Several top feature editors encouraged 3D planning at the start of a production -- not as an afterthought -- during a panel discussion at the American Cinema Editors’ Editfest LA at Universal Studios on Saturday.

They also said they want to be involved, noting that if it's used as part of the storytelling, the amount of depth does impact editorial decisions.

Speaking of The Wolverine, which was converted from 2D to 3D, editor Michael McCusker, an Oscar nominee for Walk the Line, said: "Because of the schedule we didn't see any [3D] until the movie was locked.... It is very different to judge convergence out of context, and it affects the editing. I spent four straight days resetting convergence on 2,200 shots [working with the stereo team]."

He said he was happy to have been given the opportunity to be involved, though he felt the process should have started earlier.

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Oscar nominee Matt Chesse (Finding Neverland) had a different experience on his most recent feature, World War Z. Noting that the decision to convert to 3D was made "post-post," he said, "I didn’t have an opportunity to interact with [the 3D version]." He said that if he had, he would have made different editorial decisions.

"It is about the intention and the art. [When used correctly] it can be transcendent," Chesse said of 3D, citing Avatar, Hugo and Life of Pi as examples.

Oscar nominee Stephen Rivkin -- who edited Avatar with James Cameron and John Refoua -- was the master of ceremonies for Editfest. Rivkin said that "Jim [Cameron] was committed from the beginning that Avatar should work in 2D and 3D."

"3D should be as carefully worked out as any other part of the film," he emphasized.

Panelist Alan Edward Bell, who is currently working on The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, agreed that 3D needs to be part of the editorial decision-making process.

Avid’s Michael Krulik moderated the discussion.