Curmudgeon time: Death to the Third Dimension!

Just a short rant here about my dislike of the recent trend to make and show movies in 3D.

More and more the movies I want to go watch in the theater are coming out and being shown almost exclusively in the 3D format. At lest half the time I end up not watching the film due to the format.  Why?

1. It bugs out my eyes. My eyes naturally try to focus on background images and can’t. The illusion plays havoc with my brain and the result is a constant mild irritation.

2. It looks fake. While at times the illusion works, I am very aware its an illusion and a trick which fights agaisnt rather than aids my immersion. The only films where I don’t get this experience are animated ones because as animation it is already artificial and so it feels like technique rather than artifice.

3. The glasses are annoying. I don’t like wearing them and they often darken the screen so the image is not as attractive and the colors muted.

4. They charge more to see a film I enjoy less.

The only 3D film I have purely enjoyed was Coraline and I can’t say the 3D added a lot to the experience but I feel it did enhance it enough to overcome the annoyance factors. I sincerely hope this means of presenting films does not become the standard for “entertainment” films as it seems to be. My brain is perfectly able to imagine the third dimension without any technical assistance, thank you very much.


3 Responses to “Curmudgeon time: Death to the Third Dimension!

  • Brett Lentz
    13 years ago

    I almost agree with you, but I think you’re overlooking some crucial information.

    I agree that charging extra for 3D is lame and seems like more of a money-grab than justifying the costs of the tech.

    I agree that because it’s not Truly a 3D image in the same way that real life is, you can’t look at background objects and have them be in-focus (to the limits of your eye’s capability), which tends to bug some people’s eyes.

    I disagree that they should stop making them. I’m a fan of old films. As such, I’ve seen a bunch of silent films, early “talkies”, old Technicolor films, and at least a few films from just about every era that includes one technological innovation or another. It’s here that I think your argument falls down.

    Would you have them give up on color films just because Technicolor sucked so badly at first?
    Would you have them give up on sound in film just because they weren’t quite up to the standards of THX at first?

    Ultimately, film makers need to figure out the best way to incorporate new technologies into their films. This requires that film makers use new technologies, often poorly. Trial and error is often the only way we figure out what’s good and what’s bad; we can’t make comparisons without both good and bad.

    Also keep in mind that 3D movies have been attempted pretty much since the dawn of cinema. Wikipedia documents the first 3D movie at 1922. Yet, it wasn’t until the 1950s that a viable technology was available. Consider how far the technology has come in the last 60 years.

    As film makers’ use of the technology improves, and as the technology itself improves, the whole experience will get better. If what I’ve heard from Sony and other manufacturers is true, the first no-glasses 3D TVs should be arriving this year or next.

  • karin corbin
    13 years ago

    The 3D is here to stay at least for a good long while. The new TVs, laptops and monitors are all coming out in 3D versions. The one hopeful thing for you is that some of the new models don’t require glasses. The bad thing is you can’t move your head. The good thing is at least one of the no glasses required 3D laptops is using the web cam to track your eye movements and use that information to adjust the screen image to match your location.

  • A very rational and reasonable argument. 🙂

    I would say that given that the technology has been at play so long, I’m not brimming with confidence that it will ever get past the pitfalls I outline. Which is strange considering the things I think science will achieve in my lifetime.

    I would point out its only an illusion, but the fact that movies move is only an illusion as well 🙂 and one that works quite flawlessly.

    Actually 3D TV might be fine because they could broadcast it in both formats and let the viewer pick which they prefer. I’m all for that. But with the movies, as a consumer I seem to rarely have a good option to see it 2D now and I often have chosen not to see it for that reason.