Roger Eberts Hates 3DComplications Ensue
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Thursday, May 13, 2010

And he uses the same example I've been using since I saw AVATAR:
When you look at a 2-D movie, it's already in 3-D as far as your mind is concerned. When you see Lawrence of Arabia growing from a speck as he rides toward you across the desert, are you thinking, "Look how slowly he grows against the horizon" or "I wish this were 3D?"
I dislike 3D because it adds nothing to my experience. I've been seeing movies in 3D since I started watching movies. That's because parallax vision is only one of the tools our brains use to judge distances. Size, obviously. If the people are really small, they're far away. If they're big, they're close. Also, haze. Hazier equals farther away. Also, focus. If the camera is focused on something that is obviously six feet away, then things that are out of focus are either farther away or closer.

When Rick walked off into the fog with Louis, I had no trouble telling that they were walking away from me.

When every other movie ends with a pull away to a crane shot, I know the camera is moving up and back.

3D is a pain to watch. I have to put glasses over my glasses. I can't tilt my head. I can't look sideways. And if I'm not in the middle of the theater, the whole experience is out of calibration.

AVATAR was gorgeous, but I doubt it would have been any less gorgeous in 2D.

Theaters are installing 3D to give people a reason not to just rent the Blu-Ray and watch it on their 50-inch plasma screen TV, which probably shows as much detail and takes up as much of their visual cortex as a movie screen.

3D is one of those bad ideas that keeps coming back. Like Videophones. Adding image to sound has been possible since the 1950s, and now it is available free through the Internet. I use Skype to show Jesse off to her grandparents, but I don't use Skype for personal calls. It is annoying to have to look at the person I'm talking to, and I can't clean the living room while I'm on it. (If you call me at home and we talk for more than 5 minutes, odds are I am picking crayons off the floor. If you have kids, you'll understand.)

Choose your own adventure: another idea that has much less to offer than you might think. Oh, and flying cars.

I hope this new fad for 3D dies down again soon. It's just another reason to wait for the DVD.


Of the three 3D movies I've seen so far, only Coraline really seemed to benefit from the treatment - they really pushed the use of enhanced depth of field to make you feel as if you were in the models, which was actually pretty cool. The other two times, it was pointless and the dimming effect of the glasses was super distracting -- that was for a free preview showing of Up, and Alice in Wonderland, where we were hopeful that they'd use 3D as effectively as in Coraline.

Overall, I'm deeply nonplussed...and find the at-home 3D TVs even sillier.

By Blogger Alex, at 10:29 AM  

I've found the people who dislike 3D the most are people with glasses, and there are many, including my wife, who wear glasses. SO that's probably not good.

Personally, I've seen two movies in 3D, Avatar and How To Train Your Dragon. I enjoyed them both and thought they were well done, but I don't know if they really enhanced the movie watching experience all that much. Quite frankly I almost forgot How To Train Your Dragon was in 3D until I started typing this. I only remember one part being enhanced by the experience.

i've seen 3D TV in action, and I was impressed, but not enough to want to get it. What I did like best about it is that you could watch it without the 3D glasses and it wasn't blurry. 3D movies would be improved by that, since some people simply don't want to watch it in 3D.

By Blogger Tim W., at 11:22 AM  

I've read that it's very uncomfortable for anyone with an astigmatism. Since I have one, that probably explains why 3D gives me headaches. I refuse to watch anything 3D anymore. I don't want to pay $12 for a migraine.

By Blogger Emily Blake, at 11:39 AM  


People pay a lot more to go to a Celine Dion concert. Isn't that the same thing?

By Blogger Tim W., at 1:41 PM  

Why have colour in film when black and white does just fine... and by the way, who needs sound when subtitles can do the job.

My point is that 3D is an added sensory tweak that adds depth immersion 'into' a film. It's not absolutely necessary, like sound or colour, but it does add to the experience of watching a film.

For haters of 3D they should provide glasses that supply the left eye image to both eyes, which would nullify the 3D effect on the big screen.

By Blogger AnimGuy, at 3:04 PM  

@AnimGuy: good idea about the 2D glasses. I want a pair.

Cute diss about b&w, but my point is that 3D does not provide any information that 2D does not. Obviously color does provide information that b&w does not.

Likewise, sound provides huge tapestries of information that subtitles do not.

By Blogger Alex Epstein, at 3:12 PM  

I agree in general that 3D doesn't add anything new because we can already process information about depth. Color does add new information and sound adds a whole lot of information, voice inflection, volume and direction for starters, not to mention all the information that music and sound fx can communicate. They all add new layers of real information. 3D merely elaborates something we can already do. It's a neat trick, but hardly necessary or new.

I wear glasses. I despise 3D glasses. They're clunky, uncomfortable and frankly, I don't want to have to deal with extra stuff when at home channel surfing so I'm really hoping 3D crashes and burns at home.

By Blogger S. Harlan Cone, at 8:14 PM  

This not the first time 3d has raised its head, and then the novelty will wear off once they over do it.

By Blogger Hugo Fuchs, at 9:57 PM  

Baby Bones
I work part-time at a place that developed the first flat-screen TVs and HDTV in the early 70s. They've tried 3D with glasses and were not happy with the result. They've elected to go with much longer term research on Integral 3DTV, which does not require the viewer to wear glasses and gives a direct spatial presence (almost a spatial hologram, but not viewable from any angle). The problem is that their method requires a bit rate of 70 gigabits per second to show an image consisting of a few thousand 3D pixels. Toshiba has another eyeglassless method that may give a good impression and it will likely be available much sooner, next year I think, for Nintendo game sets. Sharp already has a 3D HDTV camera and display for a cell phone. The display doesn't require glasses. I'm not sure if it's on the market in Japan yet.

By Blogger yyyyyyyyy, at 10:16 PM  

I saw some of the no-glasses 3D TVs being demoed a while back - very impressive.

By Blogger Piers, at 5:47 AM  

From what I undestand, 3D is also an effort to curb pirating. With movies in 3D it's pretty much impossible to actually video tape it in the cinemas.
With that in mind, I'm pretty confident 3D is here to stay.

By Blogger SomeHobo, at 9:37 AM  

3-D does affect how we view movies, and how screenwriters imagine them. Eventually, it will be less of a gimmick and more a tool in the filmmaker's toolbox.

I had an interesting experience thinking about 3-D writing on the movie Conan.

You can read my blog article about it here:

By Blogger Sean Hood, at 3:18 PM  

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