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Werner Herzog looks on at the German museum for film and television (Deutsche Kinemathek) in Berlin on February 16, 2010.

Cineastes may hardly believe it - and the way he describes it, neither can the famous director. Werner Herzog is going 3-D.

The German filmmaker - best known for the films Aguirre: Wrath of God and Fitzcarraldo - is taking 3-D cameras into the Chauvet cave in southern France, where he's been filming a documentary about the earliest known cave paintings.

I talked my way into it.

But Herzog isn't into stereoscopic gimmickry. As he says in a YouTube clip recorded at a talk he gave recently in Boulder, Colo., he just wanted to use 3-D to make the scenes inside the cave seem as natural as possible.

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The cave is highly secured and climatized to preserve the charcoal paintings, said to date anywhere from 26,000 to 32,000 years ago. "I talked my way into it," says Herzog slyly, about how he got permission to film inside the cave in the first place.

Nevertheless, he still had to work under all sorts of restrictions. The lights he used for filming couldn't generate any heat. The film crew also had to construct their own special, handheld 3-D cameras for the difficult shoot. "We are doing something no one has done with 3-D," Herzog says.

Needless to say, it was tough to bring equipment down into the site, too. "You are not allowed to touch the wall or the floor or anything. You have to move along a 60-centimetre-wide walkway, and you must never touch anything," Herzog notes.

Despite his efforts, Herzog, 67, insists that big 3-D spectacle tires the eyes and isn't suited to most films. So don't expect him to go all Avatar. His yet-to-be-completed documentary could introduce a new, highly muted, 3-D style.

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