My Bono moment...in 3D

A star-studded Sundance screening of <i>U2 3D</i> felt more like an actual concert, a nod to the new generation 3D technology.

Michelle Meyers
Michelle Meyers wrote and edited CNET News stories from 2005 to 2020 and is now a contributor to CNET.
Michelle Meyers
3 min read

PARK CITY, Utah--Last night I saw U2 live in concert here at the local high school performing arts center...at least it felt that way.

Bono and I even had a moment--during "Sunday Bloody Sunday" he reached out his hand and almost touched me. He had to be singing to me, and not Robert Redford, Google's founders, or the rest of the Hollywood glitterati in my company. Right?

It wasn't actually a concert. Rather, I was attending a screening for the concert film U2 3D at the Sundance Film Festival. But same diff. It really felt like I was on the concert floor. Better yet, at times I felt like I was one of those waify teenage girls at concerts who gets hoisted onto someone's shoulders for a bird's-eye view.

Michelle Meyers
That's me, getting used to my cool glasses before the screening gets under way. Michelle McPherson, festival-goer from Rippen, Calif.

I don't use this term lightly, but I really felt like I was witnessing something "revolutionary" in filmmaking. The 90-minute compilation of footage from the band's Vertigo tour in South America was shot using a new generation of 3D technology provided by Burbank, Calif.-based 3ality, which co-director Catherine Owens said was initially conceived for sports footage. For the Sundance screening, it was projected in Dolby 3D Digital Cinema. (More to come on 3D tech following a related panel discussion later Sunday.)

What blew me away was the seamlessness and subtlety of the 3D tech, combined with the surround sound. You quickly forgot you were wearing those goofy glasses (in my case, over my own specs). It was hard to tell whether the applause and singing was coming from the film itself, or the Sundance audience members. When Bono asked the crowd to show him the light of their digital devices, the glow of cell phones from the festival audience blended right in with those of the concert audience.

Bono speaks to a star-studded crowd just before the screening of U2 3D at the Sundance Film Festival on Saturday night. Michelle Meyers/CNET News.com

Never, in my five years of covering the festival, have I seen such a hot and hyped ticket. Only two screenings of the film were scheduled, both of them taking place Saturday night. One was at 9:45 p.m. and the other at midnight.

One of the first festival-goers to arrive on the scene in hopes of getting a wait list ticket to the first showing was Nick Buckmaster, a huge U2 fan from Sausalito, Calif., who had been waiting since 10 a.m. He made the trek to the festival to see U2 (he's seen them perform 60 times) and also because he heard such amazing reviews of the film, which screened at the Cannes Film Festival among other places.

Despite their early arrival, festival staff members didn't let Buckmaster and his fellow fans start lining up officially until 7:45 p.m. And first dibs for wait list tickets went to those who had been waiting in line unsuccessfully to see the prior star-studded Robert DeNiro film, What Just Happened. Buckmaster did get into the show, which he said "was really far better than I expected."

He had worrried a little that the 3D would be gimmicky, as it was, in his opinion in some 1980s-era 3D films like Jaws. "This was more an enhancement of the experience," he said, adding that he was also happy it featured all the band members, not just Bono.

Ticket scalping at Sundance is very uncool; however, rumor has it that tickets to last night's show were going for up to $1,000. Kind of crazy for a film that opens in wide release next week both in IMAX and digital cinema.

film still
A still from the film, U2 3D U2 3D

The band's presence, however, did make the screening extra special. Bono opened the show by touting the importance of Sundance and the special mood that exists despite the "celebrity clusterf***."

"There is a lot of love and Irish whiskey in the air," he told the crowd, adding that if Sundance were in Dublin, it would be called "Raindance."

Of course, he had to sneak in his comments in between yells of "I love you, Bono." (I promise, it wasn't me.)

Owens, in her closing after the Q &: A, emphasized that the fact that she was able to put together U2 3D with no filmmaking background says much about the technology and its power as a new medium.