3D Is Exciting But Not Appropriate For All Films - Home Theater Forum and Systems - HomeTheaterShack.com

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post #1 of 6 Old 07-18-09, 11:04 AM Thread Starter
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3D Is Exciting But Not Appropriate For All Films

3D Is Exciting But Not Appropriate For All Films

As a filmmaker the question I am most asked is; will my next film be filmed in 3D? To be honest I'm astonished by this question for I really only have one film to my name and while I'm gearing up for my second I'm still just trying to get my bearings as it pertains to the technology I chose to use when making a movie; 4K. Though, despite my relative inexperience, people still want to know how I feel about 3D. I recently had a conversation with the president of a major theater chain regarding this very topic. I'm going to paraphrase but the gentleman told me that if I were to film Dancing Carl (my next film) in 3D he'd be more apt to book me on a greater number of screens. Sounds good, at least to an independent filmmaker like myself however I had to respond by saying, when I feel that I can use 3D as a story telling tool then I'll use it but I don't simply want to film in 3D for the sake of 3D.

Case in point, I recently screened the latest Pixar movie Up in both 3D and non 3D and I have to admit, Up didn't need to be released in 3D. I'm not going to discuss the merits of the film as a whole, but simply look at the reasoning behind releasing it in 3D. Let's face it, 3D is Hollywood's version of Moses come down from the mountain top for it is going to re-energize audiences to want to return to the theaters. This is true, I guess, but I'd argue that good movies or event movies will energize audience to want to sit in a theater not a gimmick like 3D.

Up did not benefit in anyway, in my opinion, by being shown in 3D, in fact, I quite enjoyed the non-3D version of the film more. In 3D, Up was nauseating at times and once you get past the first few balloons flying towards your face the effect gets somewhat old and cumbersome for there are limits to what 3D can do. First of all, for 3D to be successful (in its current form) your field of vision has to remain fairly still for the effect to be convincing, which can be frustrating not to mention tiresome. Secondly, for me, it creates a sort of diorama like effect where by there is an extreme foreground, middle and background but never shall the three meet, which is weird to sit through for 90 minutes. Lastly, at least with the film Up, a large portion of the film wasn't even in 3D and could be viewed without the glasses proving to me that this "effect" was an after thought versus an artistic decision.

In comparison, viewing Up in its non 3D form was a far more engaging and rewarding experience, not to mention cheaper in terms of ticket prices. The image was absolutely stunning and the clarity and color was a sight to behold something the 3D version is robbed of. While cinematography is not often discussed with CG movies Up proved to be one of the most beautifully shot films I've seen in a long while. The whole film had a very classic, old school feel (as did the story) and it's an aspect of the film I missed out on via the 3D technology. While the 3D version had artificial "depth" the traditional version had real depth and when projected digitally (in my theater) the image itself felt more dimensional and real than the 3D version did.

Now, I'm not going to be an old curmudgeon and say 3D is a fad or that the world doesn't need 3D. I'm simply saying not every film needs to be 3D. I know it's all the rage at the moment and seemingly every film that can be made to be 3D is, but I think, like any Hollywood gimmick, time will temper people's excitement and 3D will be used more judiciously if not more artistically. I absolutely think 3D has a purpose in filmmaking and I don't want to see it go away, I just feel it needs to be viewed as a story telling device versus another way for studios and theaters to charge you an extra two to five dollars for your ticket without giving you two to five dollars worth of added enjoyment.

At the end of the day audiences become immersed in good story telling, which Up has in spades, not in gimmicks. If Hollywood would focus more on getting back to telling solid stories and not finding new and interesting ways of inducing seizures from their audience people may be more apt to return to the theaters. Going to a movie theater is supposed to be special however films are becoming less and less special competing with themselves in an endless battle for our YouTube span attentions. Fewer movies made to higher standards that engage audiences more of the time is what Hollywood needs. Do that and then let's look at what 3D brings to the table.


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post #2 of 6 Old 07-18-09, 09:27 PM
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Re: 3D Is Exciting But Not Appropriate For All Films

The modern implementation of 3D is nicer than the old red blue glasses type deal of the past. However most of the 3D films I've seen, past and present, use the same sort of "cheesey" over glorified "look it's 3D" type effects.

An old classic, "Metalstorm: The Destruction of Jared Syn" had the bad guy shooting goo at his victims to make it look like it was shooting out of the screen on to the audience. It also had objects being thrown at the audience and such. Fast track to a recent film, "Journey to the Center of the Earth" and they still threw cheese at the audience. Like water shooting out and similar "cheese".

3D is a gimick and a fad just like it has shown in the past. It can be entertaining if done right but it will die out and the true art of film making will endure. I think that the old fashioned traditional producers of movies are going to have to find something more interesting to keep movies in theaters rather than everything going straight to video.

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post #3 of 6 Old 07-19-09, 06:07 AM
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Re: 3D Is Exciting But Not Appropriate For All Films

Well I do know something about 3-D since I made "Run for Cover" in the format
back in 1995.

The problem for any filmmaker attempting to do a dimensional movie is audience
expectations for the process. The very first 3-D feature, "Bwana Devil" promised
viewers a lion in their lap. "House of Wax" had Can Can dancers kicking out of the
screen for their poster. In other words, 3-D was sold through it's ability to
create 'off screen effects' or shots where something appeared to emerge and
poke you in the eyes. That's not the only way to make a dimensional movie as
Hitchcock proved with "Dial M for Murder" which used the illusion of depth dramatically
and had very few off screen shots.

Nothing has changed over the past 50 years regarding what audiences expect
from 3-D movies. In fact, if you don't deliver the goods (off screen shots) then
the viewer will be disappointed. As a result, filmmakers are forced to include as
many of these shots as they can logically incorporate into the narrative which
gives some limitations of how to compose the image for each scene. So while it
doesn't have to be a 'gimmick' process, it usually is because of these factors.

The main problem with any 3-D process (and many different kinds have been used
in theaters) is that they are only effective when either a polaroid or shutter glass
method is used for the viewers. This allows an accurate color balance in the
movie although the theater has to increase the light output of the projector
(35mm or digital) to compensate for the increased darkness of watching a film
through polarized glasses.

Unfortunately there is no practical system for polarized images for home video at
this moment in time. And the abandoned shutter glass system flickered too much
for comfortable viewing. Which leaves DVDs with the older anaglyph (red and blue
glasses) format which is an eyestrain and less effective than polarized or shutter
glass because when you tint the image it changes the color values and eventually
your eyes will absorb some of the tint which negates the dimensional illusion.

Audience expectations factor into other film processes, not just 3D. Widescreen
films of the fifties had the characters spread out on either side of the screen
when they were talking (i.e. "Ben Hur", "The Robe") because directors and viewers thought
you should fill up the frame with people rather than just set design. It created
awkward compositions and made you wonder who people didn't get closer when
they spoke. This technique was gradually abandoned although widescreen
films tended to look less dramatic as a result.

Cinerama movies were expected to have a rollercoaster sequence that gave you
motion sickness. Even when they switched to a single film process they included
them in movies like "Battle of the Bulge" (the train sequence) and "2001: A Space
Odyssey" (then climatic light show). When a film released in Cinerama lacked enough
of these scenes, audiences were disappointed.

Early IMAX films like "Speed" had the same expectations since the Imax ratio isn't impressive
compared to the widescreen Cinerama and Todd-AO which did generate more of a peripheral
illusion. However, IMAX was capable of giving motion sickness so a lot of the films featured
the equivalent of a rollercoaster ride in that system.

"Color by Technicolor" meant to audiences of the thirties through the sixties that the color
would be vibrant if not exagerated. There's no question is looked spectacular but bright
colors were not always appropriate for the story. Later Technicolor films featured very
subdued colors (i.e. "The Godfather") but the term 'Color by Technicolor' lost it's meaning
for viewers.
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post #4 of 6 Old 07-19-09, 07:26 AM
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Re: 3D Is Exciting But Not Appropriate For All Films

You might want to look into the 3D systems for DLP that use true shuttering on discrete frames, Richard. The technology has been around for a couple of years.

Looking for me, just google my username. I have used the same one for most sites for many years.
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post #5 of 6 Old 07-19-09, 10:20 AM
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Re: 3D Is Exciting But Not Appropriate For All Films


Can you give me a link or company name regarding this technology?
Many thanks.
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post #6 of 6 Old 07-19-09, 06:04 PM
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Re: 3D Is Exciting But Not Appropriate For All Films


There are lots of links to sources for the glasses, etc. Just google it.

Looking for me, just google my username. I have used the same one for most sites for many years.
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