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Notes on Hugo’s Use of 3D

I’m working on the DVD and Blu-Ray bonus features for Hugo, so I’m too close to the movie to give it a fair review. (I personally think it is a beautiful film and one of the few that tells a child-appropriate story without leaving the adult audience behind.) But I do have a few notes on the 3D which I thought I’d make public.

Lately I’ve been trying to learn about what makes good 3D and what makes bad 3D, and I saw this promo with James Cameron praising Scorsese’s use of 3D. So after seeing Hugo for months at work in 2D, I went and shelled out $35 at the Burbank AMC to take Lillian to see it in 3D, and to see exactly what Martin Scorsese, Bob Richardson, Rob Legato and the rest of the filmmakers did with an extra dimension.

Compared to some 3D movies I’ve seen lately, like Clash of the Titans 3D, the use of 3D was pretty great and I honestly did feel enhanced the film. (It’s also a great film in 2D, so if you are one of those people has already decided they hate all 3D, then just see it in 2D.) Here are my specific notes:

  • Digital snow at the beginning doesn’t move in the same 3D space. Still, shot was good enough to give Lillian vertigo.
  • The dolly shot of the dog running head on at camera didn’t seem to converge correctly for me. The shot is great in 2D.
  • Was seeing ghosting, mostly in left eye, in areas of high contrast, but only on some shots. (Maybe it wasn’t noticeable on some?) Hopefully not something baked into the image thanks to the mirror used in the Pace rig. (Shouldn’t be since I’ve seen cuts of the film that seem to be taken from different eye sides. Rough cut left eye, Academy cut which I’m using to paper is right eye.)
  • Saw in the AMC ETX with RealD glasses – didn’t look like a RealD reflective screen, but it was plenty bright enough and the motion didn’t strobe.
  • Generally good choices of when to turn up the 3D effect to poke out from the screen.
  • Depth of the elements in the credits at the end was odd. Why have the stars stick out so far? Why have the divider bars be further back than the text they are dividing.
  • Don’t think dimensionalizing the old Melies films was the right choice. They were/are flat. The decision to dimensionalize the painting and old war footage I’m less sure about. I think there is a case to be made that “Train Arriving at the Station” should have been dimensionalized. (Maybe it was, but it didn’t look like it to me.)
  • I know Scorsese has said he would like to see Citizen Kane in 3D, but I guess I’m more a traditionalist. I don’t believe in colorizing black & white movies or watching movies in an aspect ratio other than they were intended to be seen at.


  1. Definitely, Hugo is a great watch in 3D. Maybe the best use of the third dimension. The Brightness throughout the film is well maintained. And to those who hate 3D films, give this a try.

  2. The thing that makes this movie a must 3D watch is the fact that it’s a true (just the filmmaking itself of course not the robot and all the other stuff) story about one of the greatest pionneers in the history of film making,
    you see, that’s why this movie was meant to be made in 3D
    it shows a revolution in filmaking by using another revolution in filmmaking and honestly this is the only 3D movie i’ve EVER seen which didn’t give me the sense that the quality of the film itself was pulled down quite a bit then it could’ve been because filmmakers focus too much on 3D

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