5 3D directors – and what we can expect from them

3D is coming at us from several angles at the moment, but has yet to prove that the medium is not the message. I take a look at five directors who drive 3D forward and try to predict what role they will play in the future of stereoscopic filmmaking.

Rise to Power: Made two of the best, action packed Science-Fiction Sequels and created some of the most memorable effects scenes in cinema history with Aliens, the Terminator films and The Abyss. Then went off and realized the highest-grossing film ever. Twice.

Claim to Fame: Almost single-handedly convinced the movie industry that 3D is worth pursuing.

Defining Characteristics: Epic epicness coupled with sentimentality of the highest degree.

Lined up: Two sequels to Avatar that will continue to explore the world he created.

The Verdict: Cameron is a force of nature. What his films lack in artistic merit, they make up for in sheer, inescapable, gripping bombast. There are no signs of this changing in the near future.

Rise to Power: Married effects, character drama and the manipulation of the space-time continuum in classics like the Back to the Future trilogy and Forrest Gump.

Claim to Fame: Pioneered and developed “perfomance capturing”, and with it digital 3D, in a series of films that were really not great but succesful enough to keep him going.

Defining Characteristics: Creates settings that eerily sit between animation and live action aesthetics with few cuts and sweeping camera moves to explore 3D.

Lined up: As producer, Mars needs Moms for Disney in which Seth Green plays his inner child. As director, Yellow Submarine, the remake of a film about a band whose latest achievement is making it onto iTunes.

The Verdict: Zemeckis has left his mark in the development of 3D but his style has become a bit predictable and even seems slightly old-fashioned compared to the general zeitgeist.

Rise to Power: After directing several commercials, he revived the American zombie film and brought a new quality of aestheticized violence to Hollywood cinema with 300 and Watchmen.

Claim to Fame: Directed an animated fantasy film about, of all things, owls, which looked stunning but suffered from an overcrowded story.

Defining Characteristics: Applies 3D to both space and time with his signature slow motion fight scenes. Seems to like the grandiose iconography of fascism.

Lined up: His first original screenplay, Sucker Punch, will be converted to 3D, while he tackles the next reboot of the most boring of all superheroes, Superman: Man of Steel.

The Verdict: One of the most challenging visual directors around, to whom 3D seems to come naturally. However, the quality of his films seems to be very dependent on that of the source material.

Rise to Power: Gave stop-motion animation its mainstream groove back by directing Tim Burton’s phantasmagoria The Nightmare before Christmas.

Claim to Fame: Coraline, a film that reads like the book on how 3D should work, especially in animation.

Defining Characteristics: Builds worlds that are slightly askew, both visually and storywise.

Lined up: Has returned to Disney/Pixar to work on more stop motion films.

The Verdict: Might produce the first film for Pixar that actually embraces 3D in its mise-en-scene.

Rise to Power: Made films about maniacs of all colours as part of Germany’s new wave in the 70s, then became one of the most leftfield directors around, creating motion pictures in every genre, form and country.

Claim to Fame: Got exclusive access to ancient French caves to film them in 3D in Cave of Forgotten Dreams.

Defining Characteristics: Embraces everything that fascinates him and turns it into something strange … and good.

Lined up: No word yet if there’s more 3D to come.

The Verdict: Herzog, with his oddball mentality and his talent for tearing down cinematic borders, might be one of those who leads 3D from childhood to maturity.

Photos by Steve Jurvetson, David Shankbone, rwoan, Thomas Crenshaw and erinc salor, used under a Creative Commons 2.0 licence.