Why 3D just isn’t good enough

Eyes are amazing devices. When you look around your eyes focus on what you are staring at directly, and everything else you see becomes softer in focus. But as soon as you move your focus the new thing you are looking directly at comes into focus.

Continually your eyes are moving changing the place you are focusing on. Everything in your field of vision is available to focus on.

But when you go to see a 3D movie. The director (through the lens of cameras) has chosen what you should focus on, keeping everything else in soft focus. This is okay for a flat image, because it shows you where to look on the screen. We have become used to it (to some extent) and see it as artful direction.

But when we go to see a huge screen (such as an IMAX movie) in three dimensions, this just does not work.

When you are looking at a massive screen in 3D and only a small proportion of it is in focus, it is just annoying. The issue is that for a 3D movie to be totally immersive, you need to be able to see everything in sharp focus, not just the center of the director’s intent.

When you are watching a forest in a movie (such as Avatar) you want to see all the vines in sharp focus. This gives you the impression of being totally immersed in the movie. But the director chooses to keep just the section when the camera is focused in sharp focus and the rest in soft focus. This just ruins 3D.

Now when a scene is computer generated (CGI) there is no reason to create a depth of field. And when they choose to keep everything in focus, it works so much better. All of a sudden you are totally immersed in a 3D world. That’s how 3D should be!

The only 3D movies worth seeing on a big screen are computer generated. Cameras with lenses need to be focused on a specific spot. That technology just doesn’t do it for 3D.

As filmmakers learn to shake of the shackles of 20th century movie making and adopt a pure system for 3D making, the genre will have a future. If they continue to hold onto depth of field photography along with low frame rates to add creative blur to movies then the life of the cinema may be coming to an end.

If when you go to the movies to watch a 3D movie, and you find the effect makes you a little queasy then that is because of the low frame rate, and forced soft focus. If the whole image is created using CGI and is at a faster frame rate, you would feel you were part of a 3D world on screen, and not on a rollercoaster of blur and enforced head shaking movement.

I suspect the move to create move immersive 3D movies has a couple of groups fighting against it.

Firstly there will be those who are firmly convinced that “traditional” rules are film making must be enforced, in the same way that those who though movies were better without sound fought for their art (and the jury is still out on that one of course).

And secondly if a movie is made to be an immersive 3D experience (as I’ve described) the costs of production would be much higher and the resulting film wouldn’t look as good without a massive 3D screen, reducing the revenue possibilities from smaller theaters and home viewing.

So the chance of seeing really great 3D is limited my tradition and greed.

Two huge factors which are (if history is any guide) likely to win.

Here’s hoping for fully immersive 3D
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