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Old 07-05-2011, 01:20 AM
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Default 3-D in the movies: Getting in too deep

Though 'Transformers: Dark of the Moon' and 'Avatar' show the technique's fabulous side, increasingly its use is a commercial rather than a creative choice.

It's bad enough that animation, action, fantasy and horror have been hijacked by 3-D mania. But the ground shifted for me when Werner Herzog's breathtaking documentary "Cave of Forgotten Dreams," a Zen meditation on ancient cave paintings and peoples, came with a bulky pair of 3-D glasses and a bloated ticket price.

What I didn't get was a better moviegoing experience. The artistry of black brush strokes on cold stone brought those stampeding horses to life, not the legacy of a thousand greasy fingerprints I was forced to gaze through. I don't blame Herzog for trying, it was an interesting experiment and if anything it's the boundary-pushers, James Cameron chief among them, and tradition-breakers who've historically taken 3-D to new artistic heights.


Even B-movie horror meister William Castle was going for a better boo with the rudimentary 3-D of his 1960 campy thriller, "13 Ghosts." It's hard not to wonder how Kubrick might have reimagined "A Clockwork Orange" if he'd had all the 3-D tools available today or to have hopes for the inventive Peter Jackson's 3-D vision of "The Hobbit."

I'm not suggesting that 3-D can't be fabulous or shouldn't be something that filmmakers employ — Michael Bay just scored a big one for the team in his visually immersive and explosive "Transformers: Dark of the Moon." The technique brought an eerie hyper-reality to the stop-motion animation of 2009's "Coraline," and its midnight garden coming to bloom was glorious in all its multidimensionality. With Cameron's "Avatar," I admit to finding the pull of that blue magic irresistible in ways that simply didn't translate when I watched it on DVD at home.

It's equally clear that 3-D technology is not going anywhere, as a tidal wave of ads are pushing everything from 3-D TV to 3-D video on cellphones, turning it into a made-for-the-masses gizmo. Classic is an ad that features a frustrated dad, his kids' pingpong game and a 3-D cell. Not content with the "action" he snatches a paddle and slams the ball at the camera, something he's sure will "play" better with 3-D.

Here's what typically happens. The most exquisitely realized 3-D moment of most 3-D films comes in the first few minutes when the very proud studio, beating its 3-D chest, has its title floating "miraculously" in midair. As for all the objets d'art — the swords, spears, fireballs and the lot — that require countless hours of work to ensure that they come barreling through space towards us? I have yet to see even one person duck at anything being "hurled" from the screen. Well, there was the 4-year-old and the popcorn incident, but that's another story.

Not that long ago, 3-D films were an anomaly, two or three a year was the norm in the U.S., so the artistry question wasn't as weighty. In 2008, there were only five and the 3-D "Hannah Montana & Miley Cyrus" and "U2" concert films should barely rate a count. By the time we close out 2011, the figure will top 40.


What's troubling in the move from unusual to ubiquitous is that the choice to go 3-D has increasingly become a commercial rather than a creative one. We all realize that making movies is a for-profit business. Instead, let's talk about the fear factor. There is the worry that a studio saying no to 3-D might offend a filmmaker it seriously can't afford to offend. But more often, it's fear that "we the audience" want, desire, even demand 3-D in this technocentric age.

So does that mean it's up to us to somehow stop the madness? Or are studios simply not listening to the actual word on the street?

I ask because I asked you, or at least some of you. Not a scientifically rigorous test, but illuminating none the less. And for the doubters, it's one you can easily replicate. Ask 10 people you don't know to name the last three movies they liked, and let's just assume we get lucky and there was one 3-D movie in the group. Then ask them why they liked it. In my survey, 3-D did not make the top five reasons for most. It only began to creep into the list with 12-year-old boys, and even then it was more an "oh yeah" than "must have." What did matter was the fundamentals — a well-acted story cleverly told.

Which brings me to another gripe about the 3-D grip. It's an ego thing — the ultimate form of studio swagger. That I could live with, the industry always has been and always will be an egocentric swampland, but it leads to a narcissistic belief that 3-D will carry the day. It will not.

Usually the result is a film like "Thor," which looks neither better nor worse with 3-D — one of several I saw both ways to put the theory to the test. At other times, 3-D actually makes things worse, as it did with the latest edition of "Pirates of the Caribbean," the Walt Disney Studios and Jerry Bruckheimer collaboration. "On Stranger Tides," which "Chicago's" Rob Marshall directed, had many problems, but the dark and claustrophobic deep shadow cast by 3-D was a significant one. A major action sequence that had Johnny Depp's Jack Sparrow sword-fighting the fleet-footed Penélope Cruz's femme fatale was only a shade short of pitch black and nearly impossible to see, much less enjoy.

The subtext in all of this is that Hollywood no longer trusts our imagination. And that is the saddest 3-D ripple effect of all, because "we the audience" do indeed still have vivid imaginations, something great filmmakers never underestimate. When they believe, we believe. Then the intangibles that make humans human — fear, love, anger, surprise — can be brought to life by characters and moments that have depth as much as dimension.


Consider one example from the past — Alfred Hitchcock's 1958 palm-sweating "Vertigo" — and another from more recent times, 2007's low-tech, low-cost thriller "Paranormal Activity." Both films used the unseen and the imagined to hair-raising, heart-palpitating satisfaction (for us) and success (for the bottom line). One is still a classic more than 50 years hence, the other may become one or slip into a footnoted memory. Both understood at the most fundamental level that the mind is a filmmaker's most powerful tool, and a terrible thing to waste. No glasses required.


3-D in the movies - latimes.com
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Old 07-05-2011, 01:28 AM
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Wow misstammie, that was alot of things said, and I agree with most, but, 3-d (ditial) is new, and lets see what comes of it. It is in the hands of the movie industry, and they can make or break somthing. We all now see how fast tecnoelgy goes, it could become somthing great, or just a fad. Time can always tell.
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Old 07-05-2011, 01:45 AM
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YES. THIS. Ugh, the current 3-D thing really, really annoys me - it worked in Avatar (a bit - I found the 3-D bled out the colour and ultimately I didn't notice it), it worked in Tron: Legacy (with the switch between our world and the computer world signalled by the switch between 2-D and 3-D), but I haven't actually seen anything else where it was worth the price. And even with Avatar and Tron, I would have been perfectly happy with just 2-D.

And a number of friends actually get headaches when they watch 3-D, so in the respect, I don't think it's worth it, either. But, it's Hollywood's shiny new toy, so I suppose we have to put up with it until they get bored.
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Old 07-05-2011, 11:16 AM
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I will only watch 3D films that are filmed natively in 3D, not conversions. As far as comfort goes I'm absolutely fine- probably the result of a childhood spent staring at Magic Eye posters, red/blue anaglyphs and stereoscopic photo pairs.
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Old 07-06-2011, 03:47 AM
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Originally Posted by ISV Venture Star View Post
I will only watch 3D films that are filmed natively in 3D, not conversions. As far as comfort goes I'm absolutely fine- probably the result of a childhood spent staring at Magic Eye posters, red/blue anaglyphs and stereoscopic photo pairs.
Yeah, conversions are an instant headache for me
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Old 07-06-2011, 04:20 PM
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I wonder if people said the same about the first colour films

Of course 3D is going to be used badly by some people... it's the films that use it to improve realism and immersion that are doing it right.
I haven't seen a 3D conversion yet, but heard some very bad things about some (Clash Of The Titans )
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Old 07-06-2011, 07:29 PM
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3D conversions are really bad. Ive seen oa Clash of the Titans and it was bad! THat one was prob. not that well in 2D either tho.
The bigger movie production companies should make sure the standard for the new 3D technique is set high. Instead they go for quick money with these conversions.
Same for those bluray deals that links a movie for a long time to a certain brand. Avatar - Panasonic and How to tame a dragon - Samsung i think.
Stuff like this only slows 3D interest, and 3D quality down.
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Old 07-06-2011, 09:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Human No More View Post
I wonder if people said the same about the first colour films
It was exactly the same with color. Film critics were bitching about color films for the first five years of them at least. It was also the same with sound. They said it distracted from the visual story Film critics make me sick most of the time, for real.
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Old 07-07-2011, 06:20 AM
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Originally Posted by Human No More View Post
I haven't seen a 3D conversion yet, but heard some very bad things about some (Clash Of The Titans )
In case of Clash of the Titans I can confirm that it was indeed very bad, as far as the 3D was concerned. As for the plot itself... well, OK, that's not the topic at hand, but Liam Neeson's Zeus could never beat the original Sir Laurence Olivier's


Thinking of more 3D conversions to be afraid of, there's going to be the Star Wars movies (all six episodes), which are to be converted to 3D and thrown onto the big screen in February 2012.

I think, too, that making every flick into a 3D one, regardless of its quality or significance, reduces 3D to just another gizmo and gadget.

Avatar had the quality and significance to make it a special experience in 3D. I'm afraid that by the time the sequels appear, 3D will have become so commonplace and spoiled by bad movies (Hannah Montana??? Gimme a break!!!!) that audiences (except for us, that is!) might react in the way of "oh, just another of those 3D space fantasy flicks...".

That would be sad... very sad only.

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Old 07-07-2011, 05:57 PM
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I'm actually thinking that audiences will eventually be smart enough (if they're not already) to know when to pay the 3D price. I imagine most generally know that Avatar was something special in the realm of 3D movies, and no amount of Star Wars conversions should diminish excitement for the quality 3D experience that will be the second Avatar film. (Not that I don't enjoy Star Wars, but honestly, is it really necessary? Nevermind the fact that Phantom Menace is slated to go first and not the original film...)
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Old 07-08-2011, 04:52 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by txim_asawl View Post
In case of Clash of the Titans I can confirm that it was indeed very bad, as far as the 3D was concerned. As for the plot itself... well, OK, that's not the topic at hand, but Liam Neeson's Zeus could never beat the original Sir Laurence Olivier's


Thinking of more 3D conversions to be afraid of, there's going to be the Star Wars movies (all six episodes), which are to be converted to 3D and thrown onto the big screen in February 2012.

I think, too, that making every flick into a 3D one, regardless of its quality or significance, reduces 3D to just another gizmo and gadget.

Avatar had the quality and significance to make it a special experience in 3D. I'm afraid that by the time the sequels appear, 3D will have become so commonplace and spoiled by bad movies (Hannah Montana??? Gimme a break!!!!) that audiences (except for us, that is!) might react in the way of "oh, just another of those 3D space fantasy flicks...".

That would be sad... very sad only.

Wiggling bare toes,

~*Txim Asawl*~
That is exactly what I am talking about, so true and I agree. Some of these movies they have used 3D for? OMG....are you kidding me? LOL@ HANNAH MONTANA and dont forget that Justin Bieber movie...jeez! .(Sorry if anyone is a fan of both). And yes...I agree with you on this one my friend: "but Liam Neeson's Zeus could never beat the original Sir Laurence Olivier's"

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I'm actually thinking that audiences will eventually be smart enough (if they're not already) to know when to pay the 3D price. I imagine most generally know that Avatar was something special in the realm of 3D movies, and no amount of Star Wars conversions should diminish excitement for the quality 3D experience that will be the second Avatar film. (Not that I don't enjoy Star Wars, but honestly, is it really necessary? Nevermind the fact that Phantom Menace is slated to go first and not the original film...)
I have actually already done this. There were some that I thought would be ok and they were just garbage and then others I saw the previews for and immediately said NO WAY! And yes, Avatar was truly unique and special for sure as I haven't seen anything yet that even comes close to the 3D experience I had with it. JC knows what he is doing! Great thoughts on this!
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Old 07-08-2011, 04:56 AM
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Originally Posted by Empty Glass View Post
I'm actually thinking that audiences will eventually be smart enough (if they're not already) to know when to pay the 3D price.
It's not always a question of 'smart enough', it can be a question of 'if I want to see this movie, they're only showing it in 3D at the elevated price'. So, then it becomes a choice between watching the movie at all and not.

I didn't have any choice in the question of 3D when I saw Thor.
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Old 07-08-2011, 04:56 AM
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Originally Posted by Human No More View Post
I wonder if people said the same about the first colour films
I'm sure they did.



I dunno, like mentioned 3D has its advantages IF used correctly.

I don't like the "gimmicky" films where an arrow flies right up to your face...but I do like it when it is subtle enough to enhance the realistic-ness of the movie.
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Old 07-08-2011, 05:40 AM
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Originally Posted by Ashen Key View Post
It's not always a question of 'smart enough', it can be a question of 'if I want to see this movie, they're only showing it in 3D at the elevated price'. So, then it becomes a choice between watching the movie at all and not.

I didn't have any choice in the question of 3D when I saw Thor.
Ah, I'm sorry, I had not thought of that. Goes to show how much I go to the theaters these days!
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Old 07-08-2011, 06:30 AM
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Wow, didn't know they were converting Star Wars. That's going to be a mess, most likely
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