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3-D or not 2-D… ahem. September 4, 2010

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Art, Culture, Film, Film and Television.

I wonder how many times that’s been used? Anyhow, having only this last month or so actually ‘enjoyed’ the dubious benefits of 3-D cinema – Toy Story 3D as it happens, and yes, it was grand, but I preferred Inception (and indeed Up! Now I think of it), this caught my attention, a piece in Slate which argues that:

…the prognosis for 3-D seems dire: There’s either too much supply or not enough demand. For mainstream movies that can be viewed in either format, the added benefit of screening in three dimensions is trending toward zero.

This should give pause for thought to anyone thinking of shelling out for the even more dubious pleasures of a 3-D TV, assuming that is that they can afford the incredible price…

Not that the Irish Times sees it quite like that in a recent article where it waxes, well, not quite lyrical but y’know. TV channels in 3-D arriving soon, not much content though. And everyone wearing glasses abhaile? Hmmmm…

Although one way it could lever in, might – stress might, be through gaming, as also noted in the IT, although hows this for a pessimistic/realistic appraisal:

Microsoft’s Lewis also said it’s too early for 3-D gaming to take off. “We are two to three years away from that, till the price point comes down, till the experience is sufficiently social, that you don’t sit there with big glasses on and don’t talk to your family,” he said. “That will happen, there’s no doubt.”

But when Mr. Microsoft man? When?

Coincidentally I saw a TV series in/on(?) Blu-Ray recently for the first time, and quite a few episodes too.

And it was sort of the same experience, in other words, yes, it’s better but it’s not astounding, or even that remarkable. There are those who would even argue that – it being True Blood, we can do without seeing Sookie’s spots. Or that the pristine clarity of the bar set isn’t really that much to write home about.

As it happens months ago I heard a discussion on TechTalk, a good-humoured US tech podcast which is always worth a listen, where a group of tech experts and commentators came to much the same conclusion. That the leap from video to DVD was so great that the further leap from DVD to Blu-Ray while okay is a bit – meh…

I wonder is that one of the reasons Sony et al are so keen to push 3-D? It’s not that Blu-Ray is failing, per se. How could it be – at least in terms of numbers of players – when every PS3 on the planet has a Blu-Ray player, but rather that people are happy enough with DVD, particularly in the face of the current recession.

More on this debate here


1. Dotski - September 4, 2010

I think that to a certain extent its inevitable that 3D tech will be developed (in a number of formats), and one day will be used widely, but the Q is what forms it will start out on successfully for the ‘early adopters’. I think gaming is certainly one possibility, given a percentage of gamers do this as a solitary pass-time. Given a similar reason, no doubt there will be some porno which will be a silent draw to the technology.

I enjoyed a Ken McLeod (near future) sci-fi book earlier this year where most people had contact lenses with video that acted as computer monitors and video cameras (enjoyably enough, sometimes linked to their “iThink”!) That’s a good bit off (if ever likely to happen) but an intermediate stage might be ‘wrap-around’ 3-D spex you could use with your PSP or phone (or whatever way that tech merged). It’d be off he beaten track stuff for a while, but experience suggests that people find uses for these things. Also, ppl I think already like to use their MP3 players/phones/PSPs when commuting as a way to detach themselves from the communal experience, to withdraw into a ‘private’ space, and I could see a 3D spex thing, where you could play games, surf the web, watch TV etc, could be attractive (imagine, they could avoid making eye contact with anyone!) If you have that tech, you could easily extend it to home entertainment systems. Before long you’ve a critical mass and a commercially viable industry.


2. Garibaldy - September 4, 2010

Anyone who saw Clash of the Titans in 3D knows what a disaster it can be. Inception not in 3D, but it was over-rated.


WorldbyStorm - September 4, 2010

Sorry, should have made that clear in the piece.

Dotski, I think that’s the way it’ll be, tho knowing – and I use contacts myself – how much people have an aversion to using them, wow, that’d be a learning curve.


3. Anon - September 4, 2010

Outside of certain technical areas where it’s genuinely of use (i.e. photogrammetry), there’s not much practical use for so-called ‘3D’ tech as it stands at the moment.

We’re still waiting for the Princess Leia/R2D2 tech (which genuinely would revolutionise entertainment).


WorldbyStorm - September 4, 2010

And it’s funny, I think that that would entail an awful lot of moving around. If you look at Google today you’ll see there’s an animated ‘3D’ buckyball which one flips around, etc. Nice, but sort of the process overwhelms the function.


4. irishelectionliterature - September 4, 2010

Went to see Toy Story 3D today and couldn’t really see why , other than a marketing bumph, it needed to be in 3D. It was the story that made it.
There’s also the fact that I wear glasses, so having my own glasses with 3D glasses on top was rather awkward.
I agree that its games where you can really see a use for 3D and a few years ago I was at a 4D show in Portugal.
The 4D was as scary as shit as things actually jump out and even appear to go past you from the screen…
For horror movies the 4D would easily add to the terror of the audience.


5. Ramzi Nohra - September 4, 2010

I thought 3d really added to the experience with avatar ( just as well as it had little else going for it) but can’t seeing it adding much for most films.

Sometimes “good enough” is good enough – hence the slow take up of blue Ray as World says.

It’s an interesting comment on western society that consumer electronics have been advancing so fast that people have become bored with some aspects of the advance – I think the move to DVDs was too fresh in people’s memories when blue-Ray emerged. I also don’t detect a huge appetite for 3d TVs.
I suppose one could point to Apple mania to show how technology can still grab the imagination,but to my mind that’s more about design than the technology per se.

And I can remember when we all though digital watches were pretty hi-tech!


6. Tomboktu - September 5, 2010

Hmmm … I do not have binocular vision, and haven’t tried it because of that. Should I? And, to add to the fun, I am red-green colour blind, and when there was a 3-D thingy on the telly a few years ago, it involved viewers putting on the special glasses supplied with — um was it the Radio Times or the RTÉ Guide? — which used — would you believe — a red and a green filter to generate the two images for your brain. Bah!

(On which, given that r-g is the most common form of colour blindness, I do wonder why the Luas people chose to label the two lines red and green, and why the Dublin Bike people chose to label the two types of bike station red and green.)


WorldbyStorm - September 5, 2010

I’m presuming that you’d simply see the image as you normally do, I don’t think the contemporary 3D does the red green thing in the same way, or that the glasses break down the image in that fashion.


7. Thinker - September 5, 2010

Irish Times said how could that movie Illusionist was I went to see it last what a load of shite.


8. Pope Epopt - September 6, 2010

Never mind the experience – I only saw Avatar and thought – ‘Interesting but I don’t really need to do that again’, the commercial motives ensure new technology is forced on the punters.

3D films are reputedly harder to copy (although technically I can’t really see why that should be) and the market charges a couple of euros more. And HD is also harder to share on the internet because there are more bits – having said that eventually physical media will be a thing of the past and it will all be streamed. In those parts of the world with decent broadband infrastructure, that is 😦

It really doesn’t matter IMHO. What makes a good film is

a) A great script or a miraculous improvisation process that has not been mucked about with by focus groups.
b) A really good cameraman that has looked at painting and knows her compositional / colour palette onions
c) An editor with an uncanny sense of visual rhythm
d) Actors that can get out of / over themselves
e) and a director that can pull it all together.

Watching ‘Some Like it Hot’ on a grainy VHS is always going to be better than watching, say, Inception in HD 3D. And DVD is fine in terms of quality to watch, say, ‘A Prophet’.


EWI - September 6, 2010

e) and a director that can pull it all together.

Absolutely. James Cameron (in large part due to his background) has a superb grasp of the technical aspects of such things. The innovations he pioneered for this film are of more interest to myself, personally speaking, than the rather clichéd plot.


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