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Do movies need so much 3D?
See a sampling of movies available in 3D
3D or not 3D?
Okay, so this is one of my pet peeves with movies lately, so some of you may feel very differently, but I'm starting to get a little sick with all the 3D movies that studios are trying to jam down our throats.
"Oh, but 3D is the next big thing in films," you may be saying.
Well stop interrupting while I'm ranting. Also, I beg to differ.
Some try to compare the move to 3D with the move to color or the move to "talkies" or the move to ... moving. You know. Moving pictures rather than photos.
Well, yeah, we don't really have any new silent movies as such. And people do tend to like this "color" fad. But I still say it's not the same.
(Personally, I'm waiting for all of you to finally realize that movies are just a fad and eventually we'll be going back to good old hand puppets. Now that's the future.)
But you have a point. When TV came along, people totally stopped listening to radio. It's completely gone, right? And when movies came around, people stopped looking at photos or reading books. And just forget picture books. Gone!
But, more seriously, what about Schindler's List or Good Night, and Good Luck? Now, it's true that those are the exception, and not the rule. I point those out to illustrate that a film maker should focus on what would most work for their movie rather than defaulting to what everyone else is doing.
Or how many of you are familiar with Some Like It Hot? Marilyn Monroe had it in her contract that her movies would be in color. They had to talk with her specifically about getting this one done in black and white. Why? Because Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis were ugly women in color. They just couldn't make it anywhere near believable. Their complexions were just terrible. But by switching to black-and-white, they were able to make it more credible.
That's just another example of film makers making a choice based on what helps their movie, rather than what the latest technology is.
The move from silent to talkies was natural. Reading your movie dialog can be distracting. And going from black-and-white to color, in most cases, is hardly a problem. But suddenly seeing color is much less distracting than having to pay extra to see a 3D movie, wear glasses (especially if you already wear glasses of your own) and maybe get no more depth of story than you would have gotten in 2D.
When Inception came out, movie reviewer Jeff Bayer interviewed Christopher Nolan. In the interview the subject of 3D came up. Nolan admitted that there was studio pressure to convert the movie to 3D.
His response? The movie just didn't need it. He felt that the movie lacked nothing by not being in 3D and gained nothing by conversion.
In fact, I would say that the movie would have actually suffered from 3D. One plot element revolves around creating geography and architecture that simply can't topologically exist in the real world. The endless stairs, for instance. So, if it simply can't exist in 3D, how do you include it as a visual element in a 3D movie?
Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that we should completely abandon 3D altogether. I've had some great 3D experiences.
Avatar and Tron Legacy worked well for me. They were creating completely new worlds and the 3D effect added to the immersion. The use of 3D in How to Train Your Dragon was very well done. It actually added to the sense that you were flying along on a dragon of your own.
On the other hand, I saw Toy Story 3 in both 2D and 3D. Personally I didn't feel that the 3D really added anything to the experience. It was well done, but there really wasn't anything in the movie that utilized the full potential of 3D.
And don't even get me started on PPC (Post Production Conversion). That's when you film a movie in the standard 2D format then pretend you actually filmed it in 3D. The conversion has always been underwhelming and distracting for me. My eyes are constantly pulled toward elements that they weren't able to convert as convincingly as they might have liked.
For instance, in the latest Harry Potter, there's a scene where Harry is looking through a latticed window at Snape and Volde...You-Know-Who. (That was a close one.) Since the window is so much closer, the slats in the window are greatly blurred.
In 2D, that wouldn't stand out as odd at all. But in the 3D conversion, the image appears to bevel from the slat inward toward the glass in the center. It's not realistic in any way, Snape or form. When things like that happen, I'm pulled out of the movie and plopped in a theater seat, watching a movie.
Granted, that movie is still good, but the 3D actually ruined the immersion. Rather than making me feel like I was actually in a world where wizards drink pumpkin juice and talk with snakes, I was constantly reminded that I was simply watching a good movie about it.
It's like when they take old black-and-white movies and "improve" them by adding color. Early attempts were unconvincing. They've gotten better, but in the end, they actually add nothing of real value to the movie. I definitely prefer original b/w movies over their colorized counterparts.
Now, I know that there are those who just love 3D in every instance. I won't say you're wrong--mostly because it's so obvious that it'd be rude to point it out, like telling a short person they're short--but I find I tend to take it on a case-by-case basis. Sometimes it's right, other times it's very not.
But what do you think? 3D or not 3D?