U23D' made its public debut at the Cannes Film Festival last weekend - and got rave reviews
But the fifty-minute cut for Cannes was a work in progress, the final edit is still being worked on and won't arrive on screen until later in the year. One of the key people in bringing the band to 3D screens has been Director of Photography Tom Krueger, whose previous work, in 2D, has included everyone from David Bowie and Bob Dylan to REM and Public Enemy.
We tracked down Tom to ask him how it all came together - and how different the 3D film is from a conventional live concert film.
How did first get involved in 'U23D' ?
I shot a video of 'Original of the Species' for U2 which Catherine Owens directed and the band liked the look and we had a good rapport. So when this project came up, Mark Pellington, Catherine and I began to talk it through. On the one hand I was incredibly reluctant as a cinematographer to get involved in the 3D machine - which is a completely different entity to traditional filming - but on the other hand it was so ground-breaking that I couldn't turn it down.
Why the reluctance? What's the big difference shooting in 3D?
In 2D you want to make your film look as three-dimensional as possible and you use the lighting of the foreground, mid-ground and background to create layers within the 2D image. In 3D you have to enhance that further but the challenge is in how the human eye works. The mind is not used to seeing artificial 3D - we just see the world in 3D at the distance our eyes are from each other - so in shooting in 3D you use two cameras to create the illusion we are using two eyes.
So the shows in South America required a totally different set-up?
Yes. In a show shot in 2D, 99% of it consists of a handful of cameras up and around the stage that are out of the way and relatively unseen by band and audience. Perhaps another dozen or so long lenses capture dynamic stuff to create depth through long-lens focus - maybe a glowing wall of people or the lights behind the band. But in 3D you work with much wider lenses, and so it's a completely different experience for the band. We are much closer to them and we're using cameras which are much bigger than normal because each camera is two cameras - one for each eye. There are only about ten of these cameras in existence and I think we had pretty much all of them for our shoot.
Could you tell the difference as soon as you saw the first rushes ?
Even looking at the film in 2D was amazing because we had been allowed to capture the performance of the band in both an intimate way and also in such a wide way. The first thing you become aware of is this powerful sense of how the band relates to one another during a show as musicians, it's something never captured on previous 2D live films of the band. Shooting in 3D is large format so even a wide shot is a close up, which means the viewer gets a sense not only of the band interacting with each other but also sees them larger than life.
We had wondered if the finished film might just be too wide and too slow for our MTV world where people are used to fast-moving, close-ups which is not the 3D experience. But what you get with 3D is something completely different, you feel as though you are literally standing on the stage with the band - that Bono or Larry is there two feet in front of you. I think it's a hundred times more intense than if you are standing in the front row at an actual U2 show because watching in 3D you are not in one place, you are in every place.
It's still in the editing process but what moments really stand out for you?
I get goose bumps when I hear Edge's opening guitar chords on City of Blinding Lights and you know the band are about to arrive on stage. It's almost more intense than being at the show - I'm holding on to my seat, like I'm in a U2 flight simulator.
Then there's a moment in Sunday Bloody Sunday where Bono is talking about co-existence and all of a sudden he is looking to the camera, one foot away and you get this amazing sense of his conviction - I remember all the techs on the headphones going wild at what was happening. But you're also aware of the rest of the band projecting the same intensity of sentiment.
I think another powerful element is the sense of what an incredible visual artist Catherine Owens is. She has added depth to the visuals that you won't see in most music videos, layering the stage show into the film in 3D. So a lot of those graphics you see behind band in a show, are now happening at the side and in front of the band. She been given this canvas which no one else has ever had and has created a work of art in itself.
So cinemagoers will be impressed ?
This will be the most enhanced visual experience a music fan has ever had, a front-row turbo-charged ride which will blow peoples minds. I have a feeling that even the band will experience the show in a way they have not before, that they will get a new sense of what everyone else is doing - Larry on his drum riser or Edge in his world of pedals.
Can you see this other bands taking the 3D route ?
Without a doubt. If a band has a choice then compared with 2D, I can't imagine any band who sees this film would choose 2Dever again. It really is the ultimate rendering of a live music experience.
More on Tom's work here