• I don’t know man, when the secret door in Coraline opens up and that colorful tunnel extends away from you in three-dimensional space, it was one of the most wonderful experiences I ever had in a theater to where I paid to see it again in 3D almost just for that shot (and the garden scene behind the house). And I’m looking forward to seeing Paranorman in 3D as well for the same reasons.

    The 3D dragon flying scenes in How To Train Your Dragon were spectacular as well and, while it made me acknowledge the 3D aspect in that moment, it enhanced my viewing experience rather than detracted.

    I agree that a lot of times the 3D kind of disappears if the story in immersive enough.

    I guess it’s up to the audience to decide if the kind of movie they’re seeing is worth paying extra for 3D. If it’s animated or very visual, sure. A dialogue driven drama? I don’t know, but I’d give it a shot.

    On a separate note, would The Tree of Life been better if it was shot in 3D? I’d hazard to say yes. The movie was all about the visuals and immersion into the scene; I can totally see the shots of planets and looking up into the trees being enhanced by 3D.

    August 18, 2012
    • evanerichards

      You know Tony, I’ve only seen three animated films in 3D. I saw Up, The Lorax and TinTin. Of all the 3D films I have seen I will say they work the best for me. I feel there are two reasons for that.

      1. They haven’t gone through the often poorly executed 3d conversion process. They have a lot more control over the way the stereoscopic images are done.

      2. They aren’t live action. It’s not really real life but kind of looks like it. It’s not trying to be real life either; they are stylized.

      I feel like this fits much closer with what stereoscopic movies actually gives you. They give you an artificial depth; sort of like real life but more of an artificial stylized version. So it definitely works best with computer animated movies in my opinion.

      As for Terrence Malick, I looked for quotes from him about 3d but couldn’t find any. I think though he wouldn’t not agree with you. I’ll bet if he thought it would be better in 3d he would have shot it in 3d.

      Also I feel like there are certain types of directors who are more predisposed to stereoscopic films. You’ve got directors who are all about thrilling audiences and spectacle. Tarantino, Spielberg and Michael Bay would go into this category. They would appreciate 3d just because it is flashy and make it seem like something special. “NOW IN 3D!!!”. Then you’ve got directors who are constantly pushing the envelope on technology. Directors like David Fincher, James Cameron, and maybe Peter Jackson. These types of directors like 3d because it is something new and different. A new technology to be pioneered. Then you have the directors who love the craft of filmmaking. Who see filmmaking as an art form. Directors like The Coen Brothers, Terrence Malick. Not that those other directors don’t love the craft, but I feel like there is a certain purity to those last directors I mentioned. This last group I would expect to be least enthralled with the 3d process because they appreciate movies for the craft and for the artistry and don’t think they need to be “more immersive”.

      Maybe I’m way off on that though because I think would put both Scorsese and Herzog in that last category but they have both made 3D movies.

      August 19, 2012
  • Alessandro

    what about people with no perfect vision? It’s a bit of a hassle to wear 3d glasses on top of the prescription ones. You won’t have a decent 3D experience either if you have any level of vision disparity between your eyes.
    I’ve a slightly passive right eye and 3D never really worked perfectly to me. 🙁

    August 19, 2012
  • Oren Soffer

    Evan… I agree with you one hundred per-cent, and your very simple but astute demonstration of how we get plenty of depth information in a “2D” image is so effective, I hope you don’t mind my using it to explain to people why I am not a fan of the 3D illusion either.

    That said, I think Tony inadvertently hit on a very interesting point. Tony, did you notice that the examples you used were animated films? I think that 3D is actually an interesting and very effective tool to enhance the animated film experience. Of course, it’s not appropriate for every style of animation – traditional hand-drawn animation, for example, benefits very little from 3D because animators have to create an illusion of depth that is unlike how it works in real life – anyone who saw The Lion King in 3D saw that it basically looks like cardboard cut-outs placed at various distances from our eyes, rather than an immersive 3D experience.

    However, 3D adds a surprising new dimension to computer animated (as well as stop-motion animated) films, and I agree that How To Train your Dragon and Coraline featured the best, interesting and most immersive use of 3D I have seen yet. I have found many other animated films since most enjoyable in 3D, and I think that it’s a great new tool for animation, which is already unrealistic, so the 3D doesn’t break any illusion of reality that it might have (like it does on live-action films).

    I also think 3D would revolutionize the video game industry, but that’s a whole other discussion.

    August 20, 2012
  • Neal

    I couldn’t disagree more. I would express myself, except I’ve found an amazing blog that does it better than I ever could:


    August 25, 2012
    • evanerichards

      Well, what this article seems to be saying is that 3D is an up-and-coming technology and hasn’t arrived yet. I would agree. If you check out Rian Johnsons article linked at the end of my article here, he says the same thing. The author of the article you sent me also says people like Roger Ebert and Walter Murch shouldn’t say “movies should always be a 2D media”. If that is truly what they think, I would agree with him there too.

      He does say at the end of his article that “the number of audiences for 3D films is still growing with every passing year”. This was written of March of 2011. I haven’t done enough research on the box-office grosses and such (it would be awesome if someone could do a comprehensive analysis of 3d vs 2d movie viewership and grosses) but I think his statement there may already have proved false. According to this article written about 8 months after the one you posted, there was actually a significant drop-off in 3d viewership in 2011 and the share prices of the RealD company which leases all the 3D equipment to theaters dropped 70%. It would be informative to see how 2012 is going for 3d movies.

      I’m no 2D purist; I always interested in new technology or more immersive moviegoing experience. I just think the current way 3D is being done is unacceptable; it’s too fake and unnatural for my liking (the author of the article you sent seems to agree). Rian Johnsons compares it to the early hand painting color onto black and white negatives. That seems like an apt comparison.

      But what I do object to is an up-and-coming technology being forced on the general public to the detriment of cinemas, directors, and moviegoers alike.

      Also how old are you? I find that people under the age of 30 are MUCH more likely to embrace 3d than the older generation. Maybe older people just have more eye problems which makes it more difficult for the current illusion of 3D to work effectively. I don’t know.

      August 26, 2012
  • Eli

    good article. the illusion of depth created by modern 3d is blatantly false and exaggerated. it does not really remind me of the real 3d of real life at all…it is a crude gimmicky trick that makes the film more false by distractingly calls attention to itself. rather than “real” depth you end up looking at a series of computerized flat planes that move around annoyingly.
    the only occasions on which i have thought that 3d improves matters (or at least does not make them worse) is in CGI computer animated cartoons like toy story 3, which i thought worked very well. thanks for the cool blog. side note: would love to see some articles on the splendid work of Peter Suschitzky….Eastern Promises is but one example of his great style.

    December 16, 2012

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