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Do movies need so much 3D?

Updated on September 2, 2011
What do you think about 3D?
What do you think about 3D? | Source

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?

What's your general feeling toward 3D?

See results


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    • wayseeker profile image


      7 years ago from Colorado

      Point well taken. Technology can't save bad art, and that's a grace if you asked me. If that were the case, everyone would be Speilberg or Nolan. Sorry, but the elite are elite for a reason.

      Happy movie watching,


    • Garlonuss profile imageAUTHOR

      Ryan D Peterson 

      7 years ago from Saratoga Springs, Utah

      Yeah, thanks wayseeker. And honestly, even the movies that I felt used 3D effectively still had to be good movies on their own to make me care. People seem to think that adding 3D will boost a bad movie.

    • wayseeker profile image


      7 years ago from Colorado


      I'm a great lover of movies, but I have to admit, since my children came along, movie going has slowed way down. I have, in fact, never seen a 3D movie. While I'd love to, I have to fully agree with your opinion about artistic integrity. Hollywood loves to go where the money is, so if 3D is the new "thing", many will jump on board just because of this. Great artists, like Nolan (love the guy even more after learning about your comment on him), focus on what works for what they are trying to create. New inventions in an art form are merely different, not necessarily better.

      I also enjoyed your tone of voice here--quite humorous! Voted up and interesting.


    • Garlonuss profile imageAUTHOR

      Ryan D Peterson 

      7 years ago from Saratoga Springs, Utah

      You know, you're right. I completely forgot to put a poll in. I've got one now, though.

      And you're right that 3D can distract you from other aspects of the movie. But the same can be said in 2D. For instance, they can do a rack focus onto one thing on the screen that blurs everything else out and draws your attention there. There's no way to choose a technique that's 100% transparent. But people are more familiar with the 'tricks' in 2D.

    • ModdedLife profile image


      7 years ago from Lexington Kentucky

      I personally don't care for 3D. I've only seen a few movies in 3D, but i found that 3D movies focuses more on the characters than the whole scene. I saw Avatar in 3D, don't get me wrong - it was still amazing. The second time I saw Avatar in theaters i watched it in regular 2D. I found that the details of the highly designed environment and surroundings was much more noticeable in 2D because 3D focuses so much on the main objects and in a way "hides" the detailed scenery. I also so Clash of the Titans in 3D, which was terrible lol. I know clash of the titans wasn't shot with 3D camera's so the quality of the 3D was drastically reduced. I also hate how watching movies in 3D is a lot more expensive than watching the same movie in 2D.

      My vote is for 2D movies. (You should put a poll on this hub to let readers vote)


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