Saturday, April 23, 2011

3D: The Future or a Scam?

I am getting annoyed with 3D.  We do not get out to the movies very often and when we do, it is often at second run theaters without 3D projection systems.  For the big movies, like Avatar, we do try to get out to see them in 3D, but now that so many movies are coming out this way, we cannot get to them all.

And I've started wondering, is it even worth it?  Watching them in 2D at the local second run theater or at home on DVD I worry that we are missing out on some important part of the movie experience.  Then again, we watched Monsters vs. Aliens last week, and I forgot completely that the movie was originally released in 3D until we were watching one of the special features which talked a lot about the "3D experience" of watching the movie.  Somehow, I doubt I would have liked it any more or less if we had seen it in its "original" form.

Then again, what about movies like Avatar.  Let's face it, most of the movies worth came from the digital effects and the native use of 3D while filming it.  Walking out of that movie, I felt that we had just seen a real game changer, that this was,. potentially, to 3D what The Wizard of Oz and Gone with the Wind was to color back in 1939.

And maybe Avatar was as big of a benchmark as those movies were, but still...  How many decades after 1939 for most movies to be shot in color?  How many great black and white movies came out after 1939?  One of my favorite mantras is, just because we can do something doesn't mean that we should do something. And yes, I am looking at you George Lucas.  Star Wars does not need to be 3D.

This is another concern of mine.  Converting 2D movies to 3D.  In fact, this is how most 3D movies are being made right now.  It brings to mind Turner's great colorization crusade back in the 1980s.  The movies that were colorized looked awful, terrible, but back then, a lot of younger people would not watch movies unless they were in color and the great idea was that, by colorizing old movies, the younger generation would be interested in them.  And they could make a killing selling the broadcast rights and VHS tapes.

I think most of those old colorized movies have pretty much fallen out of the mix these days, but one will pop up on occasion.  Over Christmas this year, we watched an old Laurel and Hardy movies that had been colorized.  The colorization was distracting and annoying, and as someone who enjoys photography, I found it insulting, painting over the cinematographer's original vision.  Let's face it, colorization was more about Ted Turner wanting to make money.  And, for the most part, so is 3D.

What it really boils down to is that more and more people like me are going to the movie theaters less and less often.  This is an attempt to offer in the theater an experience that, for most of us now, is not available at home, drawing us back into the theaters.  In some ways, it works.  I feel like I want to go see more movies in the theater.  But, bottom line, my family and I are not getting out any more often to first run theaters now than we were two or three years ago.  3D hasn't changed that.

Anyway, this is a good article on 3D.  He has a good argument about Avatar, even, being better in 2D.

The 3D scam: Reject and repeat (By Jason Hiner | April 22, 2011, 7:00am PDT)

So, what about movies that are natively shot with special 3D cameras, such as Avatar? I’ll admit that when I first saw Avatar in the theaters I was impressed at how well it wove in the 3D effects. But, my admiration wore off once I saw it on Blu-ray on a 240Hz LED TV and quickly realized that all of the colors and action shots suddenly came to life and really popped off the screen. That’s when it fully dawned on me what a horrible scam 3D really is. They are making us pay more money for a gimmicky, inferior experience. Sure, there are a few neat moments in most 3D movies, but the novelty wears very off quickly and it’s certainly not worth the trade-off in picture quality or action sequences.

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