My excitement for the Beauty and the Beast 3-D experience cannot be contained. While at Comic-Con, I was able to watch clips from the newly rendered film, and it was absolutely beautiful.  After the Disney Animation panel, I was able to speak with the film’s director Kirk Wise, and discuss the updated version of the movie and the process of releasing it in 3-D.

In the interview, the director spoke about why they decided to re-release Beauty and the Beast in 3-D, whether or not they will convert other classic Disney features into the format, and if there will be any new scenes added to this film!

Check out what Kirk Wise had to say after the jump…

I can’t help but wonder how great the ballroom scene will be in 3-D. Can you talk about that?

KW: Oh, the ballroom, yes. Actually when we first embarked on the idea of converting Beauty and the Beast to a 3-D stereoscopic experience, the ballroom scene was one of the first tests that we did and it made sense because that environment already existed in the CG-realm, it was already rendered in 3-D and the animation itself was very dimensional, it was one of the best drawn scenes in the entire movie. It seemed like a very logical place to start. The very first time I saw that shot that comes down from the chandelier, it swoops down at Beauty and the Beast, and dances past the camera, it’s breathtaking. I felt, I was magically being taken out of my seat and into this painting and that’s when I was sold on this new technology.

How long did it take to develop the software to create this 3-D version?

KW: I honestly don’t know. I was brought on to the project about eight months ago and I think the work was well on its way. The technology was being developed to make it possible, but I don’t know how long it took.

Why do you think it’s important to reinvent this story?

KW: One of the great things about Beauty and the Beast is that there is so much affection for it out there in the market place. There is a whole generation of kids out there who haven’t seen this movie on the big screen yet and this is a way to make that experience even more unforgettable, if that’s possible. As the technology evolves, it’s really exciting to see if we can apply that to some of the movies we’ve already done and let the audiences see them in a whole new way.

Were there any issues you encountered?

KW: I don’t sense a discernible shift in the color when wearing the 3-D glasses, but I’m sure as we are better at our jobs in this brave new 3-D world, I’m sure we’ll find a way to compensate for it. I think the most important thing that we had to remember as filmmakers was that even in its original state, the movie works. There’s an emotional story that we’re telling that hooks people every time that they see it and that our 3-D moments have to be chosen judiciously. We couldn’t apply extreme 3-D in every single scene. We had to let those 3-D effects turn down a little bit and just let the characters be themselves, but then there are other moments, like the ballroom and “Be Our Guest” [scene], where we just want to let the 3-D rip and really give the audience a show.

So it was a scene-by-scene selection process?

KW: Absolutely. I would say it’s a sequence-by-sequence decision. I think some sequences particularly big, big musical numbers like “Be Our Guest”, we really wanted to pull out all the stops and then there were more subtle sequences like — having her snowball fight, where we might use some effects to make the environment seem like it has a little more depth, but we don’t want to overpower the audience or distract them.

If this one is a success, will Disney do the same thing to other classics like The Lion King?

KW: I think time will tell, if it does you could probably bet on it, but it’s not my decision.

Can you apply 3-D graphics to any scene?

KW: Yeah. I wish I fully understood it myself. It’s actually a kind of magic being woven by our engineers at the studio. I can certainly — in any given scene — sit there in the theater and say, ‘I would really like that farm house to feel like it’s receding deeper into space, or I would really like those clouds to feel as if they were a little closer to me.’ Another example would be when Belle is singing, she’s surrounded by dandelions and the pollen floats through the air; I sat in the theater and I said, ‘I want to feel like that pollen is floating in the theater.’ They were able to deliver that.

Did you have to reapply the color?

KW: We didn’t have to make any specific color adjustment for the 3-D experience. It is still the original colors that we used for the original movie.

Will they release it in 3-D on DVD?

KW: Good question, I don’t know the answer to that.

So the film is going to be theatrically released. Will there be any scenes added?

KW: This version of Beauty and the Beast that you’re going to be seeing in 3-D, this will be the same version we released for the IMAX reissue of Beauty and the Beast. For that version we put the song “Human Again,” and this will be “Human Again”[ the 3-D] version.

How about the sound?

KW: That’s a good question. We are actually going to go back in with our original sound engineer of Beauty and the Beast, a guy named Terry Porter — a masterful sound mixer — and creating an all new 3-D mix for Beauty and the Beast. It’s not only going to look amazing, it’s going to sound amazing too. I’ll find out when I get there, we’re not there yet. That’s going to happen in about six months, but we’ll sit down with Terry, and probably like we’ve done in the past, we will just brainstorm ideas about ways that we can pull the sound elements of the movie out into the theater to enhance the whole immersed effect.

How long does the 3-D conversion process take?

KW:This is my first experience on converting any kind of movie into 3-D. All told, the process on Beauty and the Beast would have taken about a year. I’m sure as we get better on it, it will take less time.

When do they plan on releasing it?

KW: That will be on Valentine’s Day of 2010.

What do you think of 3-D?

KW: I feel like 3-D is a very interesting way to tell a story. I look forward to seeing what other types of stories filmmakers choose in this new technique. What I love about 3-D is that it gives you an experience that you can only have inside a theater. It’s about creating magic and letting people fall in love with your characters and project themselves into this world we created — I think 3-D enhances that. I definitely think the future of animation will be written in 3-D.

Beauty and the Beast 3-D will hit theaters on February 12, 2010