Sunday, November 30, 2008

Wishful thinking: Led Zeppelin filmed in 3-D

A question for all you Led Zeppelin fans out there: How would you like to enjoy your favorite musicians in 3-D?

If only this weren't just something I'm dreaming up. Maybe these thoughts of mine will go straight from my blog to Led Zeppelin's ears, and maybe it would be something to consider.

How about Led Zeppelin performing a reunion concert, another one just like last year's one-off show, and broadcasting it live all around the world with pristine sound, stunning 3-D images, and with camera angles you wouldn't be able to experience from the floor or in the stands?

I started thinking about this when I was reading this Reuters report about some new technological advances that are making fact out of science fiction.

I don't know if any diehard sports fans have ever envisioned they could go to a movie theater and watch the big game on the silver screen in 3-D. Seeing quarterbacks Philip Rivers and JaMarcus Russell throw passes in a 3-D setting may not have been a lifelong goal for gridiron fans on the sidelines.

But this technological advance is real, and it is here. They're trying it out. And technogeeks will surely pack the three participating theaters on Dec. 4 when this unprecedented display of live 3-D football occurs in private showings for industry insiders.

From a Wall Street Journal article on Nov. 24:

This isn't the first time the NFL has participated in a 3-D experiment. In 2004, a predecessor company to 3ality [Digital LLC] filmed the Super Bowl between the New England Patriots and the Carolina Panthers. When Sandy Climan, 3ality's chief executive officer, shows the footage, "people crouch down to catch the ball," he says. "It's as if the ball is coming into your arms."

Cool. But will there still be tailgating?

This marks the arrival of something monumental that was predicted less than a year ago by Michael Lewis, chairman and cofounder of Real D. He's quoted in this Wall Street Journal piece as having "long advocated the transmission of live events to theaters in 3-D."

One past example of him making this prediction came in February, when the Associated Press reported his opinion that "3D technology eventually could expand [to] turn theaters into venues showing live concerts and sporting events."

The article explains that Real D was the company whose technology was employed in separate 3-D movies showing pop starlet Miley Cyrus and rock band U2 at the time. The AP quotes Lewis as saying:
"There are a lot of places, a lot of small towns where we have Real D in place where U2's not going to go, Hannah Montana's not going to play there. ... They'll be able to see it in theaters, and in my view maybe with a better seat and better experience than if they were actually there live."
And that's a common theme among people who, as I did, experienced the movie "U2 3D" in IMAX theaters this year. Seeing that film in February stands out as one of the most memorable and moving moments in my life this year. And yes, I felt like I had some better views of the stage than I would have as one of tens of thousands of fans stuffed into a stadium.

Here's what Richard Harrington of the Washington Post had to say back in January:

In "U2 3D," the band seems so . . . up close, personal and dimensional, it's as if they're slipping off the screen into your lap.

Welcome to the future of the concert film, where you'll duck your head as the Edge's guitar neck pops out with such immediacy you'll want to retune it! Or you'll want to slap hands with singer Bono as he reaches out to you in the middle of "Sometimes You Can't Make It on Your Own."

Even better than the real thing? Maybe not, but surprisingly close and accessible.

Director Catherine Owens, who has collaborated with U2 on the band's elaborate concert visuals for 15 years, recalls a discussion with a colleague that "the future of entertainment would be that bands don't actually have to go on the road -- somehow they'll be holographically beamed. And we were joking around, 'Not in our lifetime.' But in a funny way, this film is that."

The Wall Street Journal says Real D "has rolled out 3-D systems in 1,500 theaters around the world" and that "some live events, including opera broadcasts and circus performances, already pop up on screens at theaters across the country."

But have there been any live musical performances? If not, this could be a frontier for Led Zeppelin.

Yeah, yeah, I know. Robert Plant said this and Jimmy Page said that. Of course I know it. Robert Plant only said he's against touring with Led Zeppelin for now. He never said he wouldn't do another one-off concert with Led Zeppelin. And I'd be surprised if Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones have written off that possibility either.

Wouldn't it leave a permanent historical mark if Led Zeppelin became the first group ever to perform a concert shown in 3-D simultaneously to 50 countries?

I don't care if it's a one-off performance. That's fine. Fans would get more mileage and satisfaction out of this one-off performance than they did out of the O2 show, and Led Zeppelin wouldn't have to worry about disrupting Plant's anti-tour stance.

People who just want to see Led Zeppelin, complete with Robert Plant, will go and see the 3-D film. Movie tickets are more affordable than concert tickets.

Theaters can keep showing it over and over again. Midnight showings. In 3-D. All over the world. For a decade. Maybe forever. As long as there is a demand for it. And few bands have the cross-generational staying power of Led Zeppelin.

Heck, it would be in the spirit of Led Zeppelin to do three concerts, shoot all three in 3-D and broadcast them live worldwide in 3-D. That way, the band can improvise every night and change things up the way they always did. A longer guitar solo here, a melody line shift there, an impromptu jam one night, you name it.

This would give fans like Eddie Edwards of The Garden Tapes something to look forward to in repeat showings. And to really keep the fans on their toes, the theaters should never indicate which of the three concerts they are playing on any given night. Fans might never realize it could be one of the three until they start noticing the differences on their own.

This would be a throwback nod to the ingenious plan to release six different In Through the Out Door LP covers in 1979. Since the album covers were hidden underneath the seal of a plain brown bag, and because the plot was initially a guarded secret, consumers had to buy multiple LPs before they knew they were possibly collecting six different covers.

I'm just thinking aloud here. But I hope my words don't fall upon deaf ears. I hope Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones, Robert Plant and Jason Bonham take this into serious consideration.

The technology has arrived to present 3-D concerts live on a large scale. We have a barrier to break, a frontier to bust through. History will be made whether or not Led Zeppelin is on board. I just think it would be a whole lot cooler if Led Zeppelin were on board, and I'm sure a lot of other people would agree.

This could only further cement Led Zeppelin's already immense position in the history of music, plaster casters and all.

You thought playing at the Olympics would lend some visibility? Just you wait.

1 comment:

  1. WOW! great idea! Plant said he needs a good reason, there it is!


Comments are moderated prior to publication. Comments will not be published if they are deemed vulgar, defamatory or otherwise objectionable.