U2 3D is exactly what the name suggests; the band’s Vertigo Tour shown in cinemas in 3D for those fans who didn’t make it to the gigs, or for those who did and want to live it again. The idea is for this experience to give audiences the palpable thrill of actually being at a U2 concert.
3D is undergoing something of a revival with films like The Nightmare Before Christmas and Beowulf being (re)issued in 3D as well as artists U2 and Hannah Montana bringing their live tours out as 3D movies. It is fairly common practice for bands to being out a recording of their live tour on DVD, but U2 3D takes concert recordings to a whole new level.
The movie, shot in South America during the final leg of the Vertigo Tour, brings innovative digital 3D imagery and multi-channel surround sound together, with the excitement of a live U2 concert. U2 are noted for their spectacular live shows and their willingness to embrace new technologies and incorporate these into their concerts, the Vertigo Tour was no exception. The use of dimensional, lighted-bead video curtains above the stage was an incredible piece of set design and translates brilliantly into the 3D show.
U2 3D is designed to enhance the audience’s immersion into and connection with what they were experiencing on screen as if it were a virtual reality, and it works incredibly well. The show is filmed in such a way that the audience feels as though they have the best seats in the house for the gig. You may even think that someone in front of you in the cinema has got a bit too into the whole experience, as crowd members hands wave in front of some of the shots. There are also moments where the band gesture towards the camera and the immediate instinct is to duck, as you really feel that they are reaching their hands out of the screen.
The decision to film in South America was taken after a preliminary shoot of the Vertigo Tour got the thumbs up from the band; “Bono felt that if we were going to do this right, we had to do it in South America, since the band’s presence after an eight-year hiatus from the continent was certain to draw vibrant and enthusiastic crowds” says Peter Shapiro, co-producer of the project. Swooping shots of the crowd bouncing vigorously during the fast songs, proves that U2 were right about their choice of venue, although this passion and excitement for the band would arguably have been a factor in all of their shows.
The movie was recorded at five different shows throughout the South American leg of the tour – On February 15-16 in Mexico City (Azteca Stadium), exclusively medium-length shots were recorded. Several days later, on February 20-21 in Sao Paulo, Brazil (Morumbi Stadium), two cameras were used to capture mid-distance shots. For U2′s February 26 concert in Santiago, Chile (Estadio Nacional), a single overhead camera caught the shots of drummer Larry Mullen and surrounding action. The close-ups of the show were recorded during a special recording session for the movie, when the band performed 10 songs for the cameras only.
U2 are not the only band to come up with the idea of showing their concerts as a film. Take That did similar with their recent Beautiful World Tour – they showed one of their London concerts via live feed in Vue Cinemas for fans that did not get tickets for the sold out tour, and now Hannah Montana is bringing out her tour in 3D movie format too. Does this mean that we are headed towards an era where live concerts are going to be played at one venue only and for those of us not lucky enough to be at the gig, we have to watch it at home? This doesn’t seem likely somehow, as most fans love going to see bands live, but films such as U2 3D allow fans to relive the spectacle of the live show while losing none of the sound and picture quality that makes the show worth seeing. The experience of seeing the show in a packed cinema with other fans may not be quite on a par with the real thing, although it must rank pretty close, the benefit is not going home covered in mud, sweat and other people’s beer!
The whole experience of U2 3D is adrenalin fuelled, and it is hard not to sing along with the songs and get carried away by the excitement of the crowd and the enthusiasm of the band. U2 wanted their 3D movie to be a love letter to their fans but it is that and so much more. For those who couldn’t make the pilgrimage to one of U2′s shows the film is worth checking out because it is such a visual treat and for the die-hard fans out there it is a chance to relive what is essentially, an incredible gig. So don your Blues Brothers-esque glasses, and get ready to experience U2 as never before.