Sunday, December 11, 2011

In Support of 3D?

In a recent post I Don’t Hate Stereoscopic Films, Alexis Van Hurkman makea an interesting defense of 3D films. Firstly, he takes apart the argument that 3D adds nothing to narrative story telling by wondering what cinemascope adds to narrative:
Now, I’m not saying there aren’t cinematic advantages to be mined from the different shot compositions that widescreen allows. However, plenty of spectacular films have been made without it...
Then acknowledging there are good examples (Hugo) and bad (Clash of the Titans) of 3D, he also lists the drawbacks:
I’ll be the first to say that the reduced light output in projected 3D venues is depressing, and the reduced and shifted color that results saddens my colorist’s eye. Similarly, I don’t wear glasses in my everyday life, and I’m not terribly thrilled at having something sitting on the bridge of my nose in the theater.
But then he gets to the most interesting argument:
Rudolph Arnheim, an early film critic and theorist, was a well-documented opponent of synchronized sound/dialog in film, believing it to push cinema towards an undesirable level of realism, defeating the symbolism that a more purely visual cinema manifested.
He goes on to argue that other film technologies, including sound and color, had their neigh-syers too (and look how wrong they were.)

There's nothing worse than being wrong in the face of advancing technology, and who among us hasn't thought or said some new gadget or technology would never be popular, only to be proved wrong? But - and this may be surprising - I wasn't around when sound and color were introduced, yet while I'm sure there were those who questioned these advances, was the public as ambivalent about "the Talkies" as they seem to be about 3D? And don't forget that 3D is currently on it's third revival; I don't think they brought out sound in movies, didn't get it quite right, and tried again twenty years later.

So I'm not convinced by stories of those that questioned sound and color. I am moved by his anecdote about an 11 year-old that saw the movie "Up" in 3D, then in 2D, and then in 3D again:
At the first and third showing, she was so emotionally involved that she cried. At the second, while she still enjoyed the film, she didn’t.
If 3D creates a heightened emotional experience for viewers, then it will be a success. Oddly, this is the first time I've heard someone suggest that it can. I have heard before that younger audiences seem to be more enamored with 3D than older viewers. So perhaps I can't really even judge the effectiveness of 3D.

If you're interested in 3D production, check out this article (listed in the comments section of Alexis' article) Cutting in the Third Dimension by Gordon Burkell of

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